The 2012 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to two University of Otago Medical School students who will travel to Ecuador, Nepal, Zambia and Tanzania to further their rural health education.

John Farry, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, announced that Nicola Shaw and Kerry Short will both receive NZ$5,000 to assist their elective travel in the first term of 2013.

Scholarships 2012“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.

Kerry Short departs mid-November for the Chitwan District of Nepal where she will join a travelling rural clinic based programme called “Hope and Home Nepal”. On Christmas Eve she will arrive in Katete, eastern Zambia to begin a six week placement at the St Francis Hospital, a small base hospital serving a very large rural population. Kerry is a keen pilot and while in Zambia, she has also arranged to join the Flying Medical Service in Arusha, Tanzania for four days.

Travelling to Ecuador in late February, Nicola Shaw will join a mobile surgical bus operated by the Cinterandes Foundation for five weeks. Prior to departing, she will join New Zealand’s Mobile Surgical Bus for a taste of what is to come. From Ecuador, Nicola will also travel to the St Francis Hospital in Katete, Zambia.

Nicola Shaw and Kerry Short are both 5th year students at the University of Otago Medical School Christchurch campus. In 2012 they chose to spend their year based in Greymouth as part of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme.

The programme 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.

In awarding the scholarships, John Farry noted the passion both young women expressed for a rural based medical career.

Nicola Shaw said “I am passionate about rural medicine and I want to learn about other countries challenges and solutions to the problems created by location and resources. The elective I have chosen will give me a wide variety of experiences and at times I will be frustrated by our inability to help people. This will be a valid feeling, and it will teach me lessons in medicine that I will never forget, and hopefully be able to bring those lessons home.”