Sri Lanka Medical Placement
Invaluable practical medical experience in a developing country
Book now for £49
Group Size: Max 20
Trip code: MEDSL
Duration: 2-12 weeks
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.
- 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
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:
- Teaching Hospital Karapitiya - 3rd largest hospital in all of Sri Lanka with 2,000 beds, 54 wards and several other specialised units
- Government Ayurveda Institute - this hospital specialises in the traditional medicine of Ayurveda.
- 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:
- General Medical Units – bedside teaching, patient management, ward rounds with the consultant and the medical staff, attending lectures with local medical students
- 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)
- 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
- Cardiothoracic Unit – joining the ward rounds with the consultant and the medical staff, joining the lectures, checking vitals of patients, observing live cardiothoracic surgeries
- 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
- General Paediatric Wards – studying the history of the patients, joining the ward rounds, performing activities to socialise with children (with parental consent)
- Paediatric Cardiology Unit – attending paediatric cardiac catheter lab on diagnosing heart defects, observing live paediatric cardiac surgeries, attending clinical sessions with consultants.
- Vascular Surgery (available only for advanced medical students - 3rd year or above in their medical studies) - observe and assist on vascular surgeries and treatments
- 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
- 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
- Observation of Special Surgeries (availability dependent) - observe surgeries on a rotational basis (including vascular, plastic, urology, neuro, casualty, and oncology surgeries)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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Most expensive: £1,019 December, 2023
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 is in a shared volunteer house for the duration of the programme, The house is in southern Sri Lanka in the Galle area. You’ll be just 100m from Unawatuna Beach, looking out over the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean, with the colonial town of Galle just 15 minutes away.
There are 11 en-suite bedrooms, each of which sleeps a maximum of 6 people (but most rooms only accommodate 4) and are single sex. If you’d like a private room however, upgrades may be available at an extra cost. Speak to your travel advisor for more information.
The house is split across 4 floors and is airy and spacious. It features 3 kitchens, 3 common areas and a dining area. Outside there’s a leafy private garden and swimming pool. Hot water and Wi-Fi are included but there’s an additional fee for air conditioning and laundry facilities. You’re based in a safe, residential area but the house also has CCTV and a night security guard for extra peace of mind.
Please note: During busy seasons (and for all travellers for the remainder of 2023) your accommodation will be in a secondary house located less than 100m from the main house. The secondary house has excellent facilities and is right on the beach front! Rooms are triple share with other volunteers of the same sex. You will be able to use facilities at both houses and will always be grouped with other volunteers.
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.
Food provided on the project is a mix of Sri Lankan and Western. Typical dishes include red rice and sambol, bread and fruits, rice and curry, rotis, pasta, fresh salads, wraps and soups.
Let us know in advance if you have any dietary requirements and we will be happy to adapt your meals to suit.
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:
- Current CV
- Motivation statement or letter of intent, describing your personal background and your reason for wanting to join this internship
- University reference letter
- Enhanced DBS police record check (we can assist you with this)
- Copy of your passport
- Passport sized photo
- 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!
All tourists visiting Sri Lanka can apply for a 180-day visa through the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) website. The fee for this is 50 USD. You can also obtain an on-arrival visa in Colombo Airport at a cost of 60 USD, but this visa will only be for 30 days. If you are planning to stay in Sri Lanka for longer than 30 days, we recommend that you apply for your visa in advance, so you don't have to extend your visa with the Immigration Department during your stay.
Please note: Visa, passport and entry restrictions can be subject to change. Always check foreign travel advice before your trip.