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Sri Lanka Medical Placement

Invaluable practical medical experience in a developing country

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Group Size: Max 20

Trip code: MEDSL

Duration: 2-12 weeks

Open to medical students & recent graduates
Experience in a variety of fields & specialities
Accommodation & meals included


If you’ve got a prior background in the medical field and would like to get some first-hand experience in a developing country, this is the project for you! If you’re currently enrolled in, or have recently completed, a medical degree, you can spend time working in local medical institutions and staying in our beachside volunteer house in Southern Sri Lanka. You’ll get a really broad range of experience across various units, working closely with an experienced medical project coordinator, doctors, and nurses. You’ll make a real difference to the local community as well as having invaluable learning opportunities. Explore the beautiful surrounding area in your spare time, from golden beaches to atmospheric colonial towns, and come home with an upgraded CV, lots of new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.  

Trip Highlights

  • Stay in our awesome volunteer house, near the dazzling sands of Unawatuna Beach
  • Get practical experience in a clinic setting and in a range of community projects
  • Gain real insight into the medical system of a developing country
  • Learn about tropical diseases under experienced doctors and nurses
  • Explore the beaches and colonial towns of the Galle region in your free time
  • Make new friends in the volunteer house
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What's included
  • Accommodation in our volunteer house
  • 3 freshly cooked meals a day
  • Airport transfer on arrival
  • Medical project coordinator
  • Experienced local team
  • Detailed orientation and training programme
  • Health and safety training
  • Culture training
  • Project specific training
  • Orientation tour around Galle
  • Local transportation to and from the project
  • Experience working in various wards and units in a hospital / clinic setting
  • 24 hour emergency support
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Transport to units when participants have chosen to undertake additional volunteering
  • Optional activities
  • Meals from the hospital cafeteria when hospital shifts coincide with mealtimes
  • Extra snacks and drinks
  • Return airport transfer
Further trip information

Spend between 2 and 12 weeks (longer durations available upon request) working as a volunteer intern in a range of medical settings in Southern Sri Lanka.

Where you’ll be volunteering

You’ll be working within the following institutions:

  1. Teaching Hospital Karapitiya - 3rd largest hospital in all of Sri Lanka with 2,000 beds, 54 wards and several other specialised units
  2. Government Ayurveda Institute - this hospital specialises in the traditional medicine of Ayurveda.
  3. Various community projects – local schools and community organisations where you’ll have a more intimate experience working with children and senior citizens.

All locations are within a 30-minute drive of the volunteer house. We’ll provide all transport to the projects (apart from when you choose to undertake additional voluntary work).

What you’ll do on the project

You’ll get exposure to a wide range of cases and patient types. Your work in the hospital will be mostly observation based, but certain units may offer more hands-on work, depending on your experience, skill, and the relationships you build with the team.

You’ll have access to a broad range of wards, units and institutions including:

  1. General Medical Units – bedside teaching, patient management, ward rounds with the consultant and the medical staff, attending lectures with local medical students
  2. General Surgical Units – joining the ward rounds with the consultant and the medical staff, assisting the medical staff for wound dressing, checking vital signs of patients and observing live surgeries (e.g. cholecystectomy, appendectomy, hernia repair, thyroidectomy)
  3. Neurosurgical Unit – studying the history of the patients with the support of medical and nursing staff, joining the ward rounds, observing live neurosurgeries with the consultant or surgeon
  4. Cardiothoracic Unit – joining the ward rounds with the consultant and the medical staff, joining the lectures, checking vitals of patients, observing live cardiothoracic surgeries
  5. Emergency Treatment Centre (ETC) – bedside teaching, patient management, ward class with ward rounds, checking vital signs of patients, observing live surgeries in casualty operation theatre and post casualty theatre
  6. General Paediatric Wards – studying the history of the patients, joining the ward rounds, performing activities to socialise with children (with parental consent)
  7. Paediatric Cardiology Unit – attending paediatric cardiac catheter lab on diagnosing heart defects, observing live paediatric cardiac surgeries, attending clinical sessions with consultants.
  8. Vascular Surgery (available only for advanced medical students - 3rd year or above in their medical studies) - observe and assist on vascular surgeries and treatments
  9. Psychiatry Ward (available only for advanced medical students - 3rd year or above in their medical studies) – assist local team that specialises in the treatment of mental disorders
  10. Rheumatology Department (available only for advanced medical students - 3rd year or above in their medical studies) – assist in the treatment and care of patients with diseases of the musculoskeletal system
  11. Observation of Special Surgeries (availability dependent) - observe surgeries on a rotational basis (including vascular, plastic, urology, neuro, casualty, and oncology surgeries)
  12. Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Unit – supporting patients to carry out their daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy exercises, carrying out group activities to support the patient's mental well-being and other similar activities
  13. Community Projects – working at local schools, villages, and community groups to create awareness and education on first aid training and basic hygiene practices, attending medical campaigns under the guidance of medical officers, attending active teaching/practical sessions with special needs/differently abled children, and socialising with senior citizens in elderly care centres
  14. Ayurvedic Medicine – learning about the traditional eastern practice of Ayurveda, which is based on a natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health and remains one of Sri Lanka’s most popular and respected traditional health care systems

You’ll usually need to be assigned for a minimum of one week in the units/wards in the main hospital (numbers 1-12 above). For community projects and ayurvedic medicine (numbers 13 - 14 above), the placement is generally for 1-3 days each (not the full week).

The average week on the project

The project runs all year round from Saturday to Saturday. Volunteer work is from Monday to Friday (4 – 7 hours a day). The weekends are yours to explore the local area.

Training and monitoring

When you arrive, you’ll take part in a detailed training and orientation programme including health and safety, culture training, an area orientation tour, and an overview of the Sri Lankan medical industry. You’ll be given ongoing guidance and support by our experienced medical project coordinator and the wider team.

Where you’ll stay

You’ll stay in our awesome volunteer house in the Galle area of southern Sri Lanka, just 100m from the golden sands of Unawatuna Beach and a short drive from the historic city of Galle. The house has a private garden, swimming pool and tons of communal space.

Real customer reviews
Sri Lanka Facebook Group Discussion

Hey, I just booked the Sri Lanka Intro starting on the 15th of October . Was wondering if anyone else is going to be on this trip and wanted to join the group chat thats been made? x

Hey all 🙂 I'm heading to Sri Lanka in June for the turtle conservation project for 3 weeks, any one else in here going around that time? 🐢

Hey!! Is anyone going on the Sri Lanka adventure starting 22nd of July? 🐢😁

Booking options

The prices will load here automatically, if this does not happen for you: Click here to view Prices

Longer durations available. Please contact a travel advisor for prices. Please note that there are various religious and public holidays during the year and on these days no volunteering takes place (in particular April and December). Please contact us for further information.

Online booking is unavailable for this trip

Online booking isn't currently available but if you'd like to enquire please use the form below. Alternatively if you'd like to discuss alternate trips or if you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
Call us on: 01892 527392
Email us at: [email protected]
Flights from £373

Cheapest flights between London and Colombo for the next 6 months.

*Prices updated every 72 hours

Cheapest: £373 June, 2024
Most expensive: £786 July, 2024
Arrival information

Arrive at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport on day 1 of your stay. 

There will be 2 shared airport transfers every Saturday (one in the morning plus one in the afternoon/evening) as follows:

A morning transfer will cover flights arriving between 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Our driver will arrive at the airport by 6:00am and will meet all participants who arrive between 6-10am and then collectively take the group to the volunteer house in Galle after the last person has arrived within this range. Those arriving earlier than 6am will have to wait in the arrivals area of the airport where they can sit in the air-conditioned lounge, get a local SIM card organized and even have some refreshments at the onsite food court/bakery if they choose. Our driver will also provide every participant with a complimentary bottle of drinking water.

Afternoon/Evening Transfer will cover flights arriving between 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM. The same conditions will apply as the morning transfer described above, except for the change of time.

If your flight arrives after 6:30pm or on any other day which is not a Saturday, a private transfer can be arranged for USD 100 or you can make your own arrangements.

Departure transfers are not included, but can be arranged as above for additional cost if required. Alternatively, you can book this locally once in country.

Accommodation & meals

Accommodation at one of three shared volunteer houses is included for the duration of your stay. All accommodations are within 100m of each other in the Unawatuna district of Galle in Southern Sri Lanka. The volunteer houses are all within 5 minute walk of Unawatuna beach and turquoise waters of the Indian The historic city of Galle is just a 15 minute drive.

There is maximum of 6 per room, although most rooms are are only 4. Rooms are single sex, but private room upgrades are available at extra cost. The main house is split over 4 floors and has 3 kitchens, 3 common areas, a dining area, private outdoor garden and swimming pool, which are available to all guests regardless of volunteer house. The accommodations are located in a safe and quiet residential neighbourhood. The houses have hot water and wifi included. 

While you’re staying on the project, you’ll be provided with 3 freshly cooked meals every day. Hospital hours may sometimes coincide with mealtimes (usually with lunch) and on those occasions, you’ll have to purchase your own meals at the hospital cafeteria. However, food here is very affordable. Typical dishes include:

- Red rice and sambol
- Bread and fruits
- Rice and curry
- Rotis
- Pasta
- Fresh salads
- Wraps
- Soups

Please let a travel advisor know if you have any dietary requirements, as most can be easily catered for with local ingredients.

Minimum age & eligibility

You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to join this trip. You’ll also need to be currently enrolled in, or have recently completed, a medical degree from a recognised university and to be able to supply the following documents:

  1. Current CV
  2. Motivation statement or letter of intent, describing your personal background and your reason for wanting to join this internship
  3. University reference letter
  4. Enhanced DBS police record check (we can assist you with this)
  5. Copy of your passport
  6. Passport sized photo
  7. Elective information sheet provided by the hospital

Another important requirement for entry to the programme is an open mind. Medical standards in a country like Sri Lanka differ greatly from what you may have experienced at home, and you’ll need to be ready to take that on board, be respectful to local staff, and eager to learn.

If you have not yet started a medical degree, then you can apply for our Sri Lanka Pre-Medical Internship instead!

You can get and pay for a Sri Lanka e-visa online. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days or more. To enter Sri Lanka, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you arrive. 

Please note, enhanced DBS (criminal record) checks can take 6-8 weeks to come back, so please ensure your start date allows enough time for your DBS check to be completed.

Please note: Visa, passport and entry restrictions can be subject to change. Always check foreign travel advice before your trip. 

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