PROGRAM TYPES

CONNECT WITH US

Medical Internships in Sri Lanka - Kandy
Work the World Header Image Work the World Header Image

Medical Internships in Sri Lanka - Kandy

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

One of the best summers I’ve had.

‘Clare, I’m going to Sri Lanka for 6 weeks to do a placement with an elective company called Work the World, want to join?’ That was all the encouragement I needed to sign up to one of the best summers I’ve had.

I was a third year medical student who, due to my course, had done very little clinical work and thought this would be a brilliant way to get stuck in before I started my clinical years in September. I soon discovered that this trip was so much more than a way of gaining a bit of extra experience.

We ran into some of our housemates as early as arrivals at Colombo airport where we flew in. Meeting up with other students who were at the same stage of their medical training made me feel more positive as others would be feeling as overwhelmed as I was. On the train ride from Colombo to Kandy we were thrown right into Sri Lankan living… it was a lot more fun than a train into London, and the views were better too.

The first experience of the teaching hospital was definitely a culture shock, walking past animals on the wards and patients lying in the corridor made me wonder what I had let myself in for. I was handed over to the doctors on my first ward; pediatrics. I was fortunate enough to have a group of medical students with me, who were able to translate patient histories. They were nearing the end of their placement and so also helped a lot with examinations. I soon realized that getting to know the students would make my time in Sri Lanka a lot more fun, and I am still in contact with some of them. Starting on my first ward by myself was pretty tough, and although I really enjoyed some British company when it arrived, having to be proactive of my own accord was a really good learning experience.

I next spent a week on general surgery, with a few other elective students. This was better than the pediatrics (apart from being able to make faces with the children) as it was more hands on and the consultant really got involved with our teaching. I also discovered that I don’t have the patience to sit through surgeries for longer than about an hour. Obviously not a career path for me! However, casualty theatre was a real eye-opener, and the doctors’ willingness to help us learn meant I got a lot of opportunities to assist in surgeries that I would rarely get back home.

My final two weeks were spent on Obs and Gynae. This was such a contrast to the previous placements. I was in for longer and had a steeper learning curve, but had a great time. Again a fabulous group of medical students at the hospital made the experience hugely enjoyable, and a couple of really friendly junior doctors meant I got a lot of experiences that I may never get in the UK. It was here that I was really able to see the differences in patient care, and when 300+ patients need to be seen by about 5 doctors in a morning, speed was the focus in consultations.

Despite the long hours put in over the last two weeks our trip was as much about seeing the island and absorbing the culture as it was seeing how the hospital worked. The other fantastic students we met in both houses meant that our evenings and weekends were full of amazing memories and road trips. Students who had already been there a while advised us on where to go for the best weekend away, and coupling this with the knowledge of our project managers and the tuk tuk driver we used regularly we were never short of options. We got to see the beautiful landscapes found in the hill country on a fun trip to Nuwara Eliya, test our metal against the 5,800 steps to reach Adam’s Peak (we didn’t make it). Absorbing the culture in the ancient cities and Dambulla cave temples was amazing.

A short break to the beautiful beaches found in Trincomali was a brilliant contrast to our busy lives in the hospital and Kandy town. I counted myself as fortunate that I was able to travel up to the northern part of the island.

Closer to home we learned our way around Kandy via tuk tuk, essentially a rickshaw with a moped engine. Using a few regular tuk tuk drivers we soon discovered where to find the best smoothies (downstairs in the KCC shopping Mall), and how to haggle at the local market (normally aim for at least half price in the off season). We were able to fit a lot of Sri Lankan culture into any free afternoons, including a visit to the Temple of the Tooth and seeing some Kandyan dancing. One of the highlights of staying in Kandy was getting to see the annual Perahera, which is the biggest festival in Sri Lanka. Seeing elephants decorated with lights, more dancers and other traditional shows was amazing!

We were able to finish off our fantastic trip with a visit to the cricket – not my scene, but if you haven’t gained at least a basic grasp of Sri Lanka’s national sport by the time you’ve finished, you haven’t spoken to enough locals! I’m still not converted, but an afternoon out with our tuk tuk drivers and other friends we made in the hospital was a great way to round off our time there. I really enjoyed my 6 weeks in Sri Lanka with Work the World; the country was amazing, the locals welcoming, the other students there have become good friends, and the staff are so friendly, supportive and pro-active. The hospital experience was invaluable, and the time outside of the hospital was just as memorable.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The general hospital was unlike any hospital back home.

Before I began my elective I had spent three weeks travelling so my arrival in Sri Lanka was a welcome relief from the craziness that is India.

The Work the World Program Manager in Sri Lanka, is the perfect person to welcome anyone to Sri Lanka. He is friendly, enthusiastic and was able to provide all the information I needed to make my six week stay so easy. During the time I was in Sri Lanka he helped us all organize trips and activities, solved any problems we may have had, and more importantly became a great friend.

The Work the World house was great with fantastic views from our balcony over Hill Country. The housekeeper kept the place spotless which spared many a row in a house with so many people! The cook made lovely food, varying between Western dishes, traditional Sri Lankan food and the weekly barbecue. Staying in the Work the World house was the perfect opportunity to meet other medical students and hear about their medical school experiences.

THE GENERAL HOSPITAL WAS UNLIKE ANY HOSPITAL IN THE UK AND UNLIKE ANYTHING I HAD EXPECTED.

The general hospital was unlike any hospital back home – everything appeared much more basic and lacking in resources. Infection control barely existed and there was no such thing as patient consent. However, it soon became evident though that although there were these differences, the basic medicine was all the same; patients generally received all the same treatments as they would do at home.

I spent half my time attached to the Pediatric Ward and the other half attached to General Medicine. The language barrier posed a problem; very few of the patients spoke English, so history taking was virtually impossible. However, all the doctors and medical students spoke in English all the time and all the patient notes were in English so we were not at a disadvantage.

Every day in hospital generally began at 8am with a ward round conducted by the consultant. This provided excellent teaching opportunities, I was able to see conditions that I would never see in at home and identify many clinical signs that I had never seen before. After ward rounds there were formal teaching sessions alongside the Sri Lankan medical students, which was quite similar to the teaching we receive at home. After lunch we had the option to revisit the wards or attend any lectures that were on. All the medical staff were very welcoming, keen to teach and intrigued to hear about any differences between healthcare in Sri Lanka and healthcare in the UK.

Kandy, although one of Sri Lanka’s larger cities, was easy to navigate and had everything we needed. Here, there was plenty to do including boat trips across Kandy Lake, watching traditional Kandy dancing and visiting the world famous Temple of the Tooth. During my stay I was lucky to experience the Buddhist festival of Esala Perahera. Lasting nearly two weeks it included fire displays, dancing, music and an amazing nightly elephant procession.

From Kandy, we took daytrips to go whitewater rafting, visited world heritage sites, tea plantations and different temples. At the weekends there was plenty of opportunity to see the rest of Sri Lanka. It is quite a small country so generally anywhere could be reached within a day. I visited Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka, and although it has some amazing hotels and good shops it isn't somewhere I would be keen on staying in for too long. Visiting Unawatuna was definitely the highlight of my trip. It is a little village down in the south of the country and is truly paradise; clear sea, blue sky and white sand. The locals were laid back and welcoming, there were lots of opportunities for water sports and was the perfect place for meeting others who were traveling.

My Sri Lankan experience was fantastic; excellent learning experiences, friendly locals, lovely weather, great beaches... I could go on forever, but needless to say I'll definitely be back!