Annelise Brown and Annabel Merrett, fifth-year medical students at the University of Otago School of Medicine, have been announced as the 2018/2019 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. Annabel Merrett, from Nelson, will travel to Pisa, Italy and then to Peru, while Annelise Brown, from Christchurch, will travel to Guatemala.

“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.

Annabel Merrett – Italy and Peru

Annabel begins her first elective in Pisa, Italy, she will be working in the local radiology department. This will allow her to be immersed in the local health system while testing her ability to learn new skills within radiology. After this Merrett will travel to Peru, where she will be working in the Emergency Department in Trujillo.

Annabel Merrett

“My aim on this elective is to be immersed in the health system of these two very different countries in order to widen my skill base and broaden my understanding of different cultures,” says Merrett. “As New Zealand becomes progressively multi-cultural and multi-lingual, I believe it becomes increasingly more important to understand different cultures. Thus, my goal of this elective is to completely immerse myself into the Italian and Peruvian way of life”.

Annabel has been based in Southland on her RMIP placement programme where she has been able to further develop her passion for rural health.

Annelise Brown – Guatemala

Annelise Brown will be in Guatemala on elective, initially based in Hospital Vita Mundi which is in a small rural area called Patzun. The hospital provides for a large geographical area populated by indigenous Mayan people. The area has had a number of political issues in the past which has made provision of medical care difficult in the past.

Brown believes “It would be particularly interesting to learn and understand the challenges that are faced in a hospital with not only limited medical resources but also political challenges. This is a reality for many under-resourced areas and something I am sure I will face in the future”.

Annelise Brown

Her trip will involve learning Spanish and taking trips to a remote field hospital and then being immersed in variations of medicine and practice. Brown has chosen to be based in Guatemala for the entire elective as she values the importance of forming a good relationship with colleagues and patients as an important part of medicine.

Brown understands that she will be exposed to situations where she will be challenged and of the steep learning curve, but she also has experienced the challenges of living in impoverished communities as she spent time in hospitals in both Pakistan and Nepal during a gap year in 2016.

“It will be more challenging than rural medicine in NZ but the same factors attract me. The ability to build relationships with patients, working with limited resources and coping with the unexpected. These are all skills that will benefit me back in rural NZ” says Brown.

Annelise will finish her placement in Queenstown, Otago before moving to Nelson to complete a year as a trainee intern for the Nelson Hospital.

Both women have been part of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP). 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 2011, 26 medical students have benefited 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 $100,000,” said Mrs. Farry.

Earlier this year, 2017/2018 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship recipients Mark Owen-Cooper and Natasha Austin traveled to Vanuatu, Scotland and the USA.

The pair will document their experiences via a 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