I was a final year med student at Wollongong University, Australia, when I took my 6-week medical elective in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
My elective was a blast from the start; I arrived in Sri Lanka at 2am and was met by Yashika, a member of Work the World staff, who was very lively and welcoming – what a way to start my elective! The first couple of days involved orientations and introductions, which included meeting the always helpful and upbeat Nandika and Mewan – the destination’s Programme staff – and enjoying a town tour that they took us on. It was fun to see a couple of Western restaurant chains pointed out just to help us feel a little more at home. That being said, Shane, our house chef, was an amazing connoisseur so we rarely ate out during the week.
General medicine was a wonderful learning experience and I got the chance to get hands-on. Some interesting cases for me included tropical diseases – dengue fever, typhoid and tuberculosis, and also seizures and strokes.
My elective was split into 3 weeks in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OnG), and 3 weeks in General Medicine. There are so many people on ward rounds (doctors, med students, nurses, nursing students) that space in the hospital is limited, but it was one of my favourite parts of the elective as it usually included some teaching in English. Be prepared to ask questions, have a go at answering, put yourself forward and show your interest. I know that if you come with an open mind, are understanding and remain flexible, your elective will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
Some of my special moments in OnG included using the USS to visualise babies and observe births in theatre and the birthing suite. General medicine was a wonderful learning experience and I got the chance to get hands-on. Some interesting cases for me included tropical diseases – dengue fever, typhoid and tuberculosis, and also seizures and strokes.
In addition to the clinical placement, each weekend the other students and I travelled to different parts of Sri Lanka. I cannot recommend this enough. Our weekend trips included cycling around Anuradhapura, climbing Sigiriya Rock, washing elephants, hiking to World’s End through the morning fog, tea drinking in enormous tea plantations, snorkelling and relaxing in Trinco or Marisa, and travelling by train from Ella to Kandy.
This elective was immensely enjoyable and I’m so fortunate to have experienced Sri Lankan culture and healthcare, and learnt new skills to take back home. Furthermore, I will relish travelling the globe to meet up with my new friends from this elective.
If you are considering an overseas elective – I highly recommend both WTW and, most particularly, Sri Lanka!