When I first got to my placement hospital I was surprised by the size of it! I couldn’t believe how many patients they saw every day and how far these patients travelled to get there.
Heading out on the first day was slightly daunting, but the Work the World team were so friendly and always on-hand to help in any way they could.
I quickly came to realise how friendly the people of Sri Lanka were in general. In the hospital, they welcomed us into their teams, as long as we were willing to make a little effort with them.
As a trainee clinical physiologist, I was bowled over by the way Work the World accommodated my requirements. They put me in touch with all the relevant people who then assisted me during the elective. It was especially impressive as they’d only had a few trainees like me before!
The knowledge I gained from Sri Lanka’s healthcare system was, first and foremost, what I needed to achieve my learning outcomes (yawn). But the placement also helped me challenge my preconceptions about developing healthcare systems.
The local healthcare professionals were amazing, especially considering how limited resources were. I came away from the experience wondering why I ever expected anything different. It was humbling to say the least.
I was impressed at the quality of cardiothoracic surgery provided for patients. Especially true when I considered the cost of such procedures back home.
Complex surgeries such as atrial myxoma excisions were carried out as standard procedures, and even the first cardiac transplants took place last year.
In order to practice in Sri Lanka, consultants had to have undergone training overseas — in the UK or Australia for example. So local guidelines and practices were similar to what I was used to.
However, there were stark differences when it came to patient confidentiality, privacy and dignity. Having said that, it was important to understand that these differences were — in large part — due to limited infrastructure and funding. And, in spite of these limitations, quality patient care was upheld.
By making an effort to use Sinhala — the local language — I felt the appreciation of local hospital staff. In return, they were more than willing to help me learn.
Many staff members wanted to know about me as a person. Where was I was from? Who were my family and friends? This helped break down any barriers there may have been.
If you’re considering a placement with Work the World, I say take on the challenge. Put yourself outside of your comfort zone and jump straight in with an open mind!
I love opportunities like this, not least because they offer new perspectives on aspects of your own life.
Sri Lanka, and Kandy in particular, are beautiful places and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather have gone to undertake my elective!