Jordan Gibbs and Ursula Poole, sixth year medical students at the University of Otago School of Medicine, have been announced as the 2016/2017 recipients of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship by Sue Farry on behalf of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s trustees.

The scholarships are worth a total of $10,000 and will assist the students with costs associated with undertaking trainee intern electives in innovative and challenging overseas situations next year. Jordan Gibbs, from Picton, will travel to Tonga and Tanzania while Ursula Poole, from Dunedin, will travel to Vancouver Island and Sri Lanka.

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

Jordan Gibbs begins her eight week elective in Tonga in which she aims to increase her cultural knowledge. Given that so many of our Pasifika neighbours are living in New Zealand, Gibbs believes that cultural competency is essential in managing their health.

“I wish to continue my experience in rural medicine as well as balance a love for understanding indigenous cultures. These are my two greatest passions in medicine and I want to make them work to provide an excellent experience,” says Ms Gibbs.

After this Gibbs travels to Tanzania where she will learn about the issues that face this nation in day-to-day care such as maternity care and infections.

“I believe that both locations will offer a diverse and unique experience of not only what it means to be in a remote area, but also, what it means to practice medicine in a developing nation with limited resources”, says Ms Gibbs.

Ursula Poole aims to spend two months on placement under the University of British Columbia elective programme working in family medicine on Vancouver Island. Poole has been involved in research with the University of Otago Department of General Practice and Rural Health, looking at the location of general practices and the needs of the communities surrounding them.

“Now I would like to further my practical understanding of these issues by experiencing the day-to-day work involved in providing care to remote settlements”, says Ms Poole.

For the last month of Poole’s elective, she has applied to be placed at the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka. This is a 400-bed maternity hospital which services the entire Southern Province of the Island.

“I am really interested in learning about conditions that are rarely seen in New Zealand medical practice and experiencing health provision in a less well-resourced setting”, says Poole.

While based at the Dunedin campus of the University of Otago School of Medicine, Jordan Gibbs and Ursula Poole have spent the past year living and working in Marlborough and Dunedin respectively. Gibbs has been part of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP) and Poole has been working in Rural Health with the Department of General Practice. The RMIP was developed by Dr Farry in six rural locations around New Zealand and sees around 20 fifth year students a year learn under the guidance and mentoring of experienced general practitioners, rural hospital generalists and tertiary hospital specialists.

“Since 2010, 20 medical students have benefitted from the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s scholarship programme. The latest scholarships will bring the total amount awarded by the Trust in scholarships and grants to $60,000,” said Mrs Farry.

Earlier this year, 2015//2016 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship recipient Mr Jono Paulin and Mrs Anna Charles-Jones travelled to Orkney Islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland. They both have jobs at Nelson Hospital next year.

The duo have documented their experiences via blog on the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust’s website and Facebook page




Claire Dooney

Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust

Tel: 027 632 0821