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Sue PullonEmeritus Professor of Primary Health Care

Background and interests

Sue is Emeritus Professor of Primary Health Care, and Immediate-past Director of the Otago Interprofessional Education (IPE) Centre, Division of Health Sciences. She became a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) in 2009.  Sue has been in the department since 1994 and was Head of Department 2010-2017. She was a practising GP for over 30 years, with a special interest in sexual and reproductive health. She is the author of the New Zealand Pregnancy Book – a leading and enduring book in the New Zealand health education field. Sue’s key research areas of interest were latterly in interprofessional education, collaborative practice and effective teamwork in primary care settings.

Teaching and learning

Interprofessional education ( IPE )

Sue set up and directed the internationally known Tairāwhiti IPE programme from 2012-2021. The programme expanded to Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast) in 2020-2021. It continues to provide clinically based interprofessional learning in high needs rural areas, with specific hauora Maori, rural health and chronic condition management learning objectives.

From 2016-2021, Sue was the inaugural Director of Otago’s IPE Centre (Division of Health Sciences). The Centre continues its innovative work under the current leadership of Associate Professor Eileen McKinlay. The IPE Centre’s main functions are to deliver on the Division’s IPE Strategic Plan, coordinating, fostering and supporting activities and staff, developing resources, guidelines and monitoring processes across the Division.

Undergraduate medical education

Sue has held many teaching positions and prior to 2010 was Undergraduate Teaching director for the department. For over twenty years she taught students in the 4th, 5th and 6th years of the undergraduate medical programme as well as other health professional students. She served on the Otago Medical School curriculum committee 2016-2021.

Postgraduate health professional education

From 2000 – 2010, Sue led and consolidated the steady development of the interprofessional Postgraduate Diploma and Certificate Primary Health Care qualifications, serving on a number of associated Board of Studies. Sue is an experienced PhD and Masters supervisor, and is currently a Convenor of PhD Examinations.

Research activities

Sue’s research activities have included a wide range of topics relevant to primary care, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, books and book chapters as a result – see a selection below. Principle research themes include interprofessional practice, health professional teaching and learning, interprofessional education, health education, and women’s health. Sue is currently an Associate Editor for the journal ‘BMC Medical Education’.


Darlow, B., Brown, M., McKinlay, E., Gray, L., Purdie, G., & Pullon, S. (2023). Influence of a rural interprofessional education placement on the rural health workforce: Working in primary care, rural settings, and with Māori [Short research report]. Journal of Primary Health Care, 15(1), 78-83. doi: 10.1071/hc22136

Elkin, L. E., Stubbe, M. H., & Pullon, S. R. H. (2023). ‘Fuzzy and context dependent’: A critical discourse analysis of manipulation in online vaccine information. Communication Research & Practice, 9(1), 67-82. doi: 10.1080/22041451.2022.2137251

McKinlay, E., White, K., Garrett, S., Gladman, T., & Pullon, S. (2023). Work-place cancer and palliative care interprofessional education: Experiences of students and staff. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 37(1), 29-38. doi: 10.1080/13561820.2021.1981259

Darlow, B., Brown, M., McKinlay, E., Gray, L., Purdie, G., & Pullon, S. (2022). The Longitudinal Interprofessional study: Impact of pre-registration interprofessional education on the attitudes and skills of health professionals during their early careers. Proceedings of the New Zealand Primary Care Research Colloquium. (pp. 2-3). Retrieved from

Barthow, C., Pullon, S., McKinlay, E., & Krebs, J. (2022). It is time for a more targeted approach to prediabetes in primary care in Aotearoa New Zealand. Journal of Primary Health Care, 14(4), 372-377. doi: 10.1071/HC22089

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