Is a Medical internship in Sri Lanka right for me?
This medical placement is ideal for anyone with a strong interest in medicine. It’s an excellent way to add work experience to your CV and supplement your applications for medical school or university.
You’ll have a medical supervisor for the duration of your internship. They will ensure that you get the most out of your experience, and that you are well looked after.
You’ll be able to choose which departments you’d like to work in. This means you can pursue your interests if there’s a particular area of medicine that you’d like to focus on. Or you can choose to rotate through the different departments for a broader experience. The longer you stay, the more departments you will be able to spend time in.
Your role at the hospital will be purely observational. You’ll be able to witness consultations and procedures, and ask questions. However, there is an opportunity for you to take part in hands-on work during the medical outreaches.
You can join this internship from two weeks onwards. It is available year-round, so you can choose a time that suits your schedule. Please note that you need to be 18 years old or older to join.
What will I do on this project?
With a range of observational and hands-on activities, this internship gives you a well-rounded medical experience abroad. You will be able to get involved in:
- Observe local doctors and medical staff during their rounds
- Participate in medical outreaches which serve disadvantaged communities
- Learn about traditional Ayurvedic medicine practices
- Raise awareness about important healthcare issues
Your work will focus on the following areas:
Observe local doctors and medical staff
Your main role on this internship will be to learn from doctors and other medical staff. You’ll have the chance to witness consultations and procedures, and ask questions about what you’ve seen. Wherever possible, doctors will take the time to explain what they are doing, and how they came to the diagnosis.
Participate in medical outreaches which serve rural communities
Get involved in practical work on our regular medical outreaches. These provide basic yet important medical care to members of disadvantaged communities, as well as free food and medication. They serve over 100 people at a time.
You’ll assist the doctors in checking vital signs such as blood pressure and sugar levels, and dispense medication under supervision.
Learn about traditional Ayurvedic medicine
We offer interns an exciting opportunity to learn more about traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Sri Lanka has special hospitals that are dedicated to this practice. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical traditions. You’ll get involved with preparing herbal medicine, caring for patients, working in the clinic, and much more.
Raise awareness about important healthcare issues
We also run educational outreaches and workshops in local schools and community centres. You’ll give presentations on specific healthcare issues, with the goal of raising awareness around prevention and treatment.
What types of medical placements are available in Sri Lanka?
With several departments available, you can truly enhance your medical knowledge. Or pick an area in which to specialise:
- General Medicine
If you’re interested in finding out more about traditional medicine, then you can also spend time in an Ayurvedic hospital. Let us know if you’re interested in this option when you apply.
Please note that you will only be able to spend time in one or two departments if you’re staying for two to three weeks. The longer you stay, the more departments you will be able to rotate through.
Where in Sri Lanka will I be working?
You’ll be working in one of several towns in Sri Lanka. There are placements available in both government and privately funded hospitals. The country has an affordable and extensive public transport, so it is easy to get from place to place.
All the towns where we work are situated on the coast. This is great news if you’re a fan of the beach or thrilling ocean activities such as scuba diving.
Interns in Colombo will work in the southern parts of this bustling city. Colombo is the former capital and the largest city. It’s also the financial hub of Sri Lanka, and a popular tourist destination.
You will be based in a major teaching hospital, a hospital focusing on women’s health, or a private hospital.
Located on the west coast of Sri Lanka, Panadura is an unusual town in that it is surrounded on all sides by water, namely the Indian Ocean and the Bolgoda lake and river. It’s situated 27 km from Colombo.
You will be placed at a local base hospital here or in a hospital focusing on women’s health. There is also the option to work at a hospital in a neighbouring town 18 km away.
Galle is a major Sri Lankan city, located at the southwestern tip of the country. It is situated 119 km from Colombo. Here you will have the chance to work at a major teaching hospital, or at a private one.
The old part of the town is a designated UNESCO heritage site, due to its historic fortifications and blend of European and South Asian architecture. It’s a charming city to explore in your time off, with a variety of beautiful buildings, museums, cafes, and small shops.
Balapitiya is another town on Sri Lanka’s west coast, and can be found 80 km south of Colombo. You will either work at a teaching hospital, or intern at a private one.
The town is situated next to two lakes, which together form the protected Madu Ganga wetland. Over 300 species have been discovered so far, with many more still to be encountered in the depths of the mangrove forests. Some of the country’s oldest temples can be found on the islands in the wetland area.
A typical day on the Medicine Internship
After waking up in the morning and enjoying a delicious breakfast with your host family, you’ll travel to your placement by bus or rickshaw. In some cases, you’ll live close enough that you can walk to work. On your first day, our staff will accompany you to show you the way.
A typical day will run from Monday to Friday, from 8.30am - 12.30pm, and then from 2pm - 4pm. However, these hours may vary. The exact schedule will be discussed during your induction.
The specifics of your day will vary according to which placement you choose, and which department you’re in. In general, you’ll follow the doctors in the department as they complete their rounds, update charts, review case files, and assess patients for admission. There may also be the possibility to observe surgeries.
We run regular workshops for all our medical interns. Here you’ll have the chance to ask local doctors questions about procedures you’ve seen, or simply find out more about medical practice in Sri Lanka. They will also provide you with basic training.
Other days you may find yourself visiting a school or community to raise awareness about a particular health issue. This may involve giving presentations or organising activities, such as demonstrating how to correctly wash hands for improved hygiene.
On community outreach days, you’ll travel with other medical volunteers to a disadvantaged area. You’ll assist medical staff in setting up the outreach session, as well as checking vital signs, dispensing medication and generally lending a helping hand wherever needed.
At the end of your working day, it’s time to relax. Swap stories about your day over dinner with your host family, or fellow interns and other volunteers, or spend time getting to know them at one of our regular socials.
What are the aims and impact of this Medicine Project?
There are two main aims to this project: to provide you with an educational experience and to assist those in disadvantaged communities.
Many of the medical interns who join us are looking for international work experience. One of our aims is to encourage the cross-cultural sharing of knowledge. You will learn from skilled local medical staff, and in turn share your own experiences with them. It’s a wonderful way to not only learn about healthcare practice in a developing country, but to discover everyday life in another country.
This internship also aims to benefit those in local communities. You will take part in regular medical outreaches in disadvantaged communities. While Sri Lanka does provide free healthcare services to all its citizens, these can sometimes be limited or inconsistent. You’ll work alongside medical staff to provide basic yet vital medical services to vulnerable groups of people.
We have committed to achieving four main long-term goals in our healthcare work in Sri Lanka:
- Improve hygiene practices
- Improve access to basic healthcare for disadvantaged groups
- Promote awareness of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease
- Help to reduce the number of cases of Dengue fever
Join us and gain medical work experience in Sri Lanka while helping people.
Medical electives for students
This project is also perfect for university medical and healthcare elective students. The real-world insight and knowledge you gain will help shape you as a future medical professional. You will also learn to work with different people and get a broader perspective of global healthcare systems and issues. This benefits your career for years to come. We can organise a placement that meets all of your university's requirements.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
Sri Lanka is well-known for its diverse landscapes. From beaches to tropical jungles, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant country.
The buzzing Pettah Market is a must-see. You can chat to friendly vendors, buy handmade products, and enjoy the electric atmosphere around you. For cultural enrichment, you can spend an afternoon in the National Museum of Colombo. The Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple is also a highlight, with its vast collection of artefacts.
The town of Galle is a sea port with a strong Dutch heritage and plenty of old colonial buildings to explore. You can also venture inland to hike in the hills, swim in the cool waterfalls, and visit traditional hill towns.
Sri Lanka's national parks include safari parks where you can spot wildlife like leopards and elephants. Or spend an early morning bird-watching in one of the wetland sanctuaries. There are also rainforest reserves crammed full of tropical biodiversity.
You’ll be sharing this unique experience with many other volunteers. This means you can travel solo or spend your free time with the friends you make during your trip.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
This placement is fully researched, safety audited, and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.
Meet the team in Sri Lanka
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