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Mentoring Tomorrow's Rural General Practitioners

Trust’s Work Makes Significant Contribution to Mentoring Tomorrow's Rural General Practitioners

For the third successive year, the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust is offering an undergraduate scholarship to fund up to two sixth year medical students’ trainee intern elective in innovative and challenging overseas situations.

“Since 2011, 15 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 since 2011 to more than $50,000,” saidMr John Farry, Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Chairman.

The annual Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship awards up to $10,000.00, which may be divided between two recipients, to students of the University of Otago Faculty of Medicine to travel internationally to a rural situation to observe new concepts, develop their own skills and share their learning when they return.

“Just as Dr Pat Farry did in his career, the Trustees expectation is that scholarship recipients will return and their experiences will contribute to them becoming the next generation of rural health leaders here in New Zealand,” said Mr Farry.

Four of the 15 recipients to date have been awarded the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship and the other 11 recipients have benefitted from grants that fund the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Monash/Western Australia Exchange.

“My elective helped me further appreciate the difficulties of providing healthcare in isolated settings. It was really interesting to see how local needs were met with the resources available and altogether it again affirmed my desire to do rural medicine,” said Mr Neynens who is completing his University of Otago Faculty of Medicine 6th Year studies based at Kew Hospital in Invercargill.

Fellow 2013/2014 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Travelling Scholarship recipient Miss Rebecca Craw travelled to The Falkland Islands and Nepal. Ms Craw is completing her University of Otago Faculty of Medicine 6th Year studies in Christchurch and Timaru.

"Travelling to some of the most remote places on earth fuelled my passion for rural medicine. It allowed me to grow as a doctor and gave me an appreciation of the issues that millions of people in third world countries face. I hope one day I can give back to the communities who embraced me like family,” said Miss Craw.

In July, University of Otago Faculty of Medicine 5th year students Natalie Ron, Meaghan Kelly, Clare Ogilvy and Gracie Souter travelled to Gippsland and Kalgoorlie in Australia for the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Monash/Western Australia Exchange.

“Overall the experience was a fantastic opportunity to observe other medical systems, practice clinical medicine overseas, make new friends and explore an area of the world I never knew existed,” said Miss Gracie Souter, a 2014 Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust Monash/Western Australia Exchange participant.

All of the Trust’s 15 scholarship and grant recipients to date are or will be graduates of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme established by Dr Farry in 2007. Annually the teaching programme sees up to 20 University of Otago Faculty of Medicine fifth year medical students considering a rural based medical career chosen to be immersed for the academic year in Dannevirke, Blenheim, Greymouth, Queenstown, Balclutha and Masterton. Students learn, under the guidance and mentoring of experienced general practitioners, rural hospital generalists and tertiary hospital specialists.

Academic results from the RMIP confirm its success as a teaching programme says Dr Branko Sijinja, Trustee of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust and Course Director, Rural Medical Immersion Programme.

“In 2013 an RMIP student achieved second place among all 5th year students and 25 per cent of the students passed with distinction,” said Dr Sijnja, adding that “above all, the sense of enjoyment of the rural programme has been a sentinel time in their undergraduate study.”

In 2012, 76 RMIP alumni were surveyed as to their experiences and their future intentions for working in a rural environment. Eighty five per cent intended to return to rural communities after completing training and that this outcome had been positively influencedby their experience in the RMIP.

“This internal survey supports Dr Pat Farry’s original thinking that doctors who are trained rurally are more likely to return to rural settings. While he may not be here to see the results of his work, the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust will continue to work to see his vision realised,” said Dr Branko Sijnja.


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