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The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust has announced application details for the Travelling Scholarship for 2021/2022. The latest of the annual Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarships will award up to $2,000.00, and may be divided between two recipients. The scholarship assists medical students to travel within New Zealand to a rural situation to observe new concepts, develop their own skills and share their learning with other students on completion.

“Scholarships offered by the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust assist young people to spend valuable time in innovative and challenging rural situations, to return, and to become the new generation of idea generators here in New Zealand,” said Mr John Farry, Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Chairman.

General Practitioner Dr Pat Farry was a tireless advocate and champion of rural health before he passed away in 2009. He devoted much of his career to advocating and lobbying for improvements and funding for rural medicine as well as mentoring and teaching rural healthcare professionals. 

The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust was established in March 2010 to support the sustainability and quality of health services to rural communities.  One of the ways in which the Trust does this is by providing scholarships for undergraduate medical students and young rural health professionals, said Mr John Farry. 

Since 2011, 26 medical students have benefitted from the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s scholarship programme. While the Trust is based in Dr Farry’s hometown of Queenstown and has links to the University of Otago School of Medicine where he taught, the student’s own home bases and careers are New Zealand wide.

Recipients to date have originally come from places across New Zealand such as Thames, Paraparaumu, Otaki, Nelson, Masterton, Blenheim, Tauranga, Ngatea, Matamata, Dunedin, Fielding, Darfield, Christchurch and Auckland before studying at the University of Otago School of Medicine campuses in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington or on RMIP (Rural Medical Immersion Programme) placement in Dannevirke, Blenheim, Greymouth, Queenstown, Balclutha and Masterton.   

“The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s vision is for our work and the experiences that these students and young health professionals gain to ultimately contribute to the quality of rural health services in all regions of New Zealand,” said Mr John Farry.     

Application forms can be downloaded at and close on 26 September 2021. Finalist applicants will be advised mid October with the scholarship recipient(s) announced late October 2021. 



Claire Dooney

Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust

Tel: 027 632 0821

The Trustees of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust have announced their decision not to award any scholarships for 2020/21 due to the travel restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s vision is for our work and the experiences that these medical students gain on their international electives to ultimately contribute to the quality of rural health services in all regions of New Zealand,” said Trustee, Mrs Sue Farry.

“Given the current environment with COVID-19, the Trustees do not foresee that there will be any overseas travel for these students within the 2020-2021 timeframe and, as a result, have decided not to award any Travelling Scholarships this year,” said Mrs Farry. 

The vision of the late Pat Farry and the core purpose of the Trust established in his name is to create sustainable and quality health services for rural communities and small towns of New Zealand through education. In the past decade the Trust has awarded 28 scholarships to 6th year medical students most of whom have been enrolled in the Rural  Medical Immersion Programme. The scholarships provide financial support to undertake trainee intern electives in innovative and challenging overseas situations. 

“Since 2011, 28 medical students have benefited from the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s scholarship programme receiving scholarships and grants totalling $105,000,” said Mrs. Farry.

Earlier this year, 2019/2020 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship recipient Cameron Toogood traveled to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The plan was then to travel to Darwin, Australia.  However, his plans were dashed by travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Cameron subsequently returned to New Zealand and took up a position at Gisborne Hospital. Cameron has documented his experiences via blog on the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s website and Facebook page.

“On behalf of all the Trustees, we wish all this year’s 6th year medical students the best of luck for their final year, electives, and examinations. We look forward to offering the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship in 2021/22,” said Mrs Farry.



Claire Dooney

Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust

Tel: 027 632 0821


Eleven (Afterword): Tūranganui-a-Kiwa

My original plans, to spend a month in Colombo and then travel to Darwin, were dashed by COVID-19. After a few weeks in self isolation and a few more weeks going bonkers attempting to get a new placement signed off locally at the worst possible time for an elective medical student, I was offered a spot with Gisborne Hospital.

Gisborne might just be the most beautiful region in NZ

I hadn’t been to Tairāwhiti before, but I’ve always wanted the chance. For someone keen on rural practice, Gisborne definitely fits the bill, being nearly impossible to pass through by accident. It’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful region, with a fascinating (and sometimes terrible) history of tangata whēnua heritage and colonial contact with Captain Cook and the settlers. Unfortunately, it is also one of the places most impacted by healthcare inequity in New Zealand. As someone interested in working in this space in the future, I took this as an important learning opportunity and definitely found the experience to develop my understanding of the health inequity we have within our own borders. › Continue reading…

Rural Health Champion

Former University of Otago student and staff member Dr Pat Farry devoted nearly 40 years to providing rural health services and was intimately involved in rural health education for most of that time.

The late Dr Pat Farry: “I came to realise that, in the rural environment, we are always ‘the loss of one GP’ away from a crisis.”

Born and raised in Gore in a proud Lebanese family, Farry graduated from Otago with a medical degree in 1967. Following an initial interest in surgery, he went to Queenstown as a locum GP in 1971 and stayed. After five years, he opened the Queenstown Medical Centre, at the time only the second facility of its kind in New Zealand. His wife Sue, a physiotherapist, worked next door. Farry also served two terms on the Southland District Heath Board in the 1970s.

Farry’s experience as a Queenstown GP – with clinics in Glenorchy and Kingston at the far ends of Lake Wakatipu – fed his passion for rural medicine. He noted that outsiders found it funny that Queenstown was classed as rural, but it was two-and-a-half hours from specialist care and GPs had to deal with emergencies: the couple’s Combi van served as an ambulance, in high demand during the ski season. › Continue reading…

Surely this can't be the last time I see Sri Lanka? There's still so much left to do.

If you’re reading this now, you’ll know that things didn’t go as planned.

Friday passed by in a blur of morbidity meetings, motor vehicle accident patients, and fractures. After work, I got drinks with some of the local and foreign students, and we talked about how COVID-19 was becoming a bigger concern. One of the Australian students mentioned that someone had pointed at him in the street and yelled “Corona!,” which we put down to a bit of hysteria as we’d heard was happening back home too. › Continue reading…

Leaded up and discussing the ERCP. Nurses here all wear these classic-style uniforms.

I kicked off the day with an exciting opportunity – today was a scheduled list of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a top Scrabble word well worth memorising. It’s also a highly specialisedway to examine diseases of the pancreas and bile duct using real-time x-rays, fluorescing contrast injections, and a long controllable tubal scope passed from the mouth through down to the stomach and duodenum. This hospital is renowned for its surgical work in these areas, so it was a good chance to see the masters at work. › Continue reading…


Eight: බඩ

Finally, surgical scrubs that double as a St. Paddy's outfit.

Day 2: No snakebites, no mosquito bites, and no enforced shaving. I’m thriving!

I joined in the morning rounds with the surgeons, and just as I was warned, the questions started firing. The head surgeon didn’t see me at first, so I escaped the few rounds as my new German and Australian friends fielded. But now he was pointing intently at a nasty looking wound on a man’s leg and expecting an elective student answer, and I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to dodge these much longer. › Continue reading…


Seven: කොහොමද?

Demonstrating the IV line tourniquet. This is actually pretty genius and works fine.

I feel like I’m in an American medical drama walking around in my white coat. Standards of dress are very important here, though I was alreadyin formal ‘surgery-mode’ from the get-go. I’m striking out in one way, though: I’ve been told local students aren’t allowed facial hair. I’m constructing elaborate camouflage plans to hide my beard. Trundling through fields of deadly snakes is one thing, but dealing with weeks of patchy regrowth? Pass the snakes.

Down the path to the left, around the corner, service lift up, and you’re in Ward 25, the male surgical ward. I’ve started familiarising myself with my surrounds. It took me a bit of experimenting to figure out how their cannulas work for putting in lines, which look very different to what I’m used to. No tourniquets here for popping out veins when you take blood; a bit of IV tubing tied in a knot looks basic but still does the job perfectly. No pre-packaged alcohol swabs either – you make your own swab on a stick and dunk it in the alcohol jar. The drugs sit in beautiful multicoloured jars like a lolly shop, and I can’t help but rummage through them. › Continue reading…


Six: මොකක්ද?

Welcome to the Jungle, We Got Snakes and Pain

We were out of time to see more of Anuradhapura, but my friend had invited me to visit his village, and I’d jumped at the chance to see another side of Sri Lanka beyond the bustle of busy Colombo. Rajanganaya was a short trip away by car, and Kasun’s family welcomed me in. I got a motorbike tour of the township and his local clinic, and started working on my Sinhala. I’ve picked up a few bits and bobs: ස්තුතියි (stūtiyi, thank you), මොකක්ද? (mokakda?, what is it?), ඇයි hospital එකට ආවේ? (æyi hospital ekaṭa āvē?, Why [did you] come to [this] hospital?). I’m trying to pick up some basic Tamil phrases, too (வணக்கம்! Vaṇakkam! Hello!). There’s really not enough time to work on language skills to any functional level, so I’m just getting what I can as I go. Luckily, the doctors all speak English. › Continue reading…


Five: Saṃsāra

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. This as close as it gets.

I feel like months have already passed, but I’m still just finishing my first week here. Monday is Navam Poya, a public holiday, so I’ve got a brief opportunity to see some of Sri Lanka before I go back to CSTH’s surgical wards. Sri Lanka has no shortage of amazing historicalsites, and has had complex influences from India, China, the Netherlands, Portugal, Britain, and more. With only a brief window moment to explore, though, it was impossible to pass up Anuradhapura, home to some of the world’s most famous Buddhist sites. › Continue reading…

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