Hi, my name is Joanne Yates and I am currently undertaking an elective placement in Sri Lanka for six weeks. I am a mature student studying at the University of Central Lancashire as a third year mental health student.
I chose to do an elective placement, as I knew I would never get this opportunity again as a nursing student. After attending the presentations regarding international placements at university, I chose Work the World as they do all the legwork, giving me the opportunity to research the country and what it has to offer without the worry of placement and accommodation etc.
The Work the World team came into action as soon as I landed in Colombo. I was met at the airport, along with another student from Australia, and we were driven to Kandy - stopping for some traditional Sri Lankan food along the way. As far as I’m concerned, the journey was effortless, which was just what I needed after a long haul flight.
On arrival, we were given a tour of the house then left to catch up on some much needed sleep before being presented with a lovely dinner, where I met the remaining students in the house, who had lots of information and stories to tell us. We were given a brief tour of the town, shown the banks, money exchange, SIM cards to purchase and other important things that are needed to know to get us settled. After a good night’s sleep we met with the Programme Manager, who took us to the hospital and introduced us to our individual departments of choice (I was the only mental health student).
I was left chatting with the nurses, who were all very keen to get to know me and answered any questions I had
My initial feelings involved a little fear, apprehension and nervousness, all of which turned out to be completely unnecessary. The housemaster, who showed me round the wards and day centre, welcomed me. I was left chatting with the nurses, who were all very keen to get to know me and answered any questions I had. Some of the nurses spoke better English than the others, however they all tried their best. During my time there, Iwas given the opportunity to observe ECT, take part in ward rounds (which were delivered in English), and interact with the patients. I was also fortunate to be taken by the housemaster to a rehabilitation centre that was 20km away. I also spent time with the psychologists and in the outpatient clinics. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble.
To summarise, regarding mental health, I would say they have the same theory as the British but have limited resources. So they do the best with what they have. Their treatment methods are the same, the patients receive the same therapies that we deliver in the community and have follow up appointments after discharge, which is something I didn’t expect.
Currently, I am in the Orthopaedics Department. I chose orthopaedics because this is an opportunity I will never get when I am back in England as a mental health nurse. So far, this has been amazing - to be able to go to theatre and watch an orthopaedic surgeon perform a double fracture forearm restructure and fix two plates was amazing. During the operation he spoke in English, so not only could I watch from two feet away, he also talked me through it. I have observed the most horrific wounds being cleaned and redressed. This is something I will never forget and probably never get to repeat in my own country. I am also planning and looking forward to watching a full knee replacement in the coming week.
About the house
This is well equipped and provides great food every evening by either ‘Uncle’ or Shane. All the staff are very accommodating and will help in any way they can. There is so much to do in Kandy and if by some miracle you exhaust all the great spots to visit in the city, there’s even more to do around Sri Lanka and the staff team will help you fulfil your wishes. I have done everything from riding an elephant to climbing Sigiriya, and lots more, with the help of the team and my fellow housemates. Your room is cleaned regularly, along with the rest of the house. It has three floors so there is plenty of room, especially if you need some quiet time. You always feelsafe, as there is a gatekeeper who guards the property all day, everyday.
All I can say to whomever may read this is, do not hesitate or make excuses. If you want to have the time of your life, get it booked.