The 2015 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to two University of Otago School of Medicine students who will travel to Thurso and the Orkney Isles in Northern Scotland for eight weeks to further their rural health education.

Mr John Farry, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, announced that Mr Jono Paulin and Ms Anna Charles-Jones will both receive NZ$5,000 to assist their elective travel in August and September 2016.

Jono Paulin and Anna Charles-Jones, successful recipients of the Pat Farry Trust 2015 Travelling Scholarship.

“The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship assists young people to spend valuable time in innovative and challenging overseas situations, to return, and to become the new generation of idea generators here in New Zealand,” said Mr Farry.

The Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust was established in 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 who are considering careers as rural GPs, to travel internationally to observe new concepts, develop their own skills and share their learning with other students when they return.

Since 2010 the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust has raised NZ$140,000 through donations and NZ$50,000 through fundraising events to fund its awareness raising activities to provide scholarships and grants. To date the Trust has provided eight scholarships and eleven grants totaling just under NZ$50,000 to medical student recipients to pursue rural health educational experiences overseas.

Mr Paulin, from Invercargill, and Ms Charles-Jones, from Blenheim, are both fifth year students at the University of Otago School of Medicine Dunedin campus. Mr Paulin initially studied Physical Education at Otago before studying Physiology on a Fulbright Scholarship to the United States.

In 2015 both Mr Paulin and Ms Charles-Jones chose to spend their year based in Masterton as part of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP).

The RMIP was established by Dr Pat Farry in 2007. Annually 20-25 medical students considering a rural based medical career choose real life experiential learning in one of six rural centres. Transferring to one of the centres to live for the year, students learn, under the guidance and mentoring of experienced general practitioners, rural hospital generalists and tertiary hospital specialists. The rural community becomes their own learning and living environment.

“The Rural Medical Immersion Programme has given me the taste for working in more isolated areas and I have absolutely loved it,” says Ms Charles-Jones.

“There is a level of innovation and problem solving needed when resources are scarce and I thrive on the challenge of making diagnosis and deciding how to treat patients when you are further away from tertiary care.”

In awarding the scholarships, Mr Farry noted the passion both Mr Paulin and Ms Charles-Jones expressed for a rural based medical career.

The Orkney Isles are 70 islands, 20 of which are inhabited, with an overall population of 20,000.

“In this setting, rural practitioners have to be pragmatic and highly skilled,” says Mr Paulin.

“Not only are clinicians in this area of Scotland tasked with providing primary care, but they must also have advanced pre-hospital and retrieval medicine skills. I believe spending time in Orkney and Thurso will challenge me to further my skills in these areas and set me in good stead for returning to New Zealand as a junior doctor.”

It is a big week for the duo with the announcement of their scholarships coming soon after completing their end of year exams and in the week leading up to their wedding. The wedding will be held at Ms Charles-Jones’ parent’s home in Blenheim on Saturday 14 November. The couple met at the University of Otago while studying medicine.


Claire Dooney: Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust

Tel: 027 632 0821