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Gain medical experience in
a busy government
hospital

Shadow local professionals across multiple departments

Apply now
  • Duration
    1-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    17+
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Saturday
  • From
    £190
  • Duration
    1-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    17+
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Saturday
  • From
    £190

Sri Lanka medical experience

Gain invaluable experience by assisting within a busy government hospital located on the shores of the South West coast in Sri Lanka. You will get up close clinical exposure and learn all about the health care in this developing country.

From observing and following the local staff, you will gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the problems faced. You will get to witness a variety of cases and observe different medical practices that offer a fantastic contrast to what you find in your local hospital at home – such as dengue fever, snake bites and rabies to name but a few.

Whether you are taking your elective placement in Sri Lanka or are just wanting to gain some medical experience, this is a unique chance to experience a brand new health care system while exploring everything this amazing island has to offer.

This unique experience will open your eyes to the world of medicine in Sri Lanka and will provide you with vital international work experience that will set you apart from others.

Sri Lanka Medical Programme

I did the Sri Lanka medical programme for 4 weeks! It was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made! The family we stayed with were very accommodating and lovely to be with. Would recommend to anyone !

Sophie NelsonMarch 2020

Sri Lanka Medical Experience

Sadly, I am back in England after 4 AMAZING weeks in Sri Lanka with Charith & his wonderful family.

As a student nurse, I was given the fantastic opportunity to volunteer in Balapitiya Hospital (a local government hospital in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka). Over the course of vo... Read More

Sian AliciaJanuary 2020

Medical Experience

I have shortly returned home after staying in Karu’s guest house for 4 weeks. The purpose of my journey to Sri Lanka was to complete an NPE placement organised through my university and to volunteer within their local government hospital as a student nurse. 

Our first day of volunte... Read More

Courtney ParkinsonDecember 2019

Sri Lanka Medical Experience

I volunteered with TMR for 2 weeks in August in Sri Lanka and couldn't recommend them enough! We had the trip of a lifetime and couldn't have felt more welcome by Charith and his family! Any healthcare students considering an oversees elective placement then i wouldn't hesitate at all! Reasona... Read More

Zoe RyallSeptember 2019

The most amazing experience! 4 weeks medical program

Had the best time in Sri Lanka. The whole family out there really want you to have the best time and are so funny and lovely (even if they don’t speak much English). The accommodation is fab with nice air conditioned rooms, really comfy beds and the beach across the road is just amazing. I was... Read More

Katie AyresSeptember 2019

Thank you!

I did the medical programme, it was a great experience and TMR made an effort to accommodate our needs on placement because as a group of student midwives we wanted to be placed on maternity wards. The Sri Lankan people were the loveliest people I’ve ever met and couldn’t do enough for you, in... Read More

Ella MarshSeptember 2019

Amazing 3 weeks in Sri Lanka

I spent 3 weeks during August in Sri Lanka doing the medical programme. It was a very eye opening experience and was great to see how healthcare in other countries is carried out! As well as this I was able to help at the teaching project for an afternoon and also got involved with the turtle ... Read More

Phoebe MeadowcroftSeptember 2019

Overview

Who is it for?
Medical students and volunteers with no experience
Departments avaialble
Out patient, emergency treatment room, general medicine, obstetrics, gynaecology, antenatal, postnatal, labour room and paediatrics.
Elective placements
Medical, midwifery, nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy
Background to the medical programme

The Sri Lankan medicine system dates back thousands of years and has a rich history stemming from their extensive kingdoms. It is widely believed that the concept of a hospital was actually introduced by the Sri Lankans, with their kings demanding to have their own hospital homes built with their own practitioners.

The healthcare system in Sri Lankan is universal to all local citizens, offering both traditional Ayurvedic and modern healthcare for free across government hospitals - a similar system to what we experience in the United Kingdom. Many citizens in Sri Lanka will choose to follow Ayurvedic medicine practices for certain illnesses or accidents and western medicine for others. 

The ancient practice of Ayurveda is deeply rooted in the Sri Lankan medical system. It is known as being one of the oldest healing sciences around the world, originating in India over 3000 years ago. Using holistic and natural health practices, Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.

The majority of hospitals do follow a more "western medicine" approach, using procedures and medications that are seen worldwide. As you spend time across the multiple medical settings, you will see that services are still fairly basic and outdated. Along with this, there are often long waiting lists with a very limited capacity, low staffing numbers and scarce resources. Despite this, Sri Lanka does have a higher life expectancy and lower infant death rate when compared to the neighbouring countries. 

Where will I be volunteering?

The current status of your studies will determine your placement timetable for your time in Sri Lanka. Generally, those who are currently studying a health related degree at university will be placed at one of the government hospitals and applicants from a non-health related background will be placed at the private hospital.

Balapitiya Base Government Hospital - You will spend most of your time volunteering within Balapitiya Base Hospital, just a short 15 minute drive from the volunteer accommodation. This government funded hospital is the leading and largest base hospital in the whole of the Southern Province and provides services to over one third of the population living in the Galle district (220,000+). The large hospital currently has over 500 stations, with 20 doctors, 5 surgeons and over 190 nurses. During an average month in 2017, the hospital had over 4,100 inpatients, just under 14,000 outpatients, carried out 852 surgeries and successfully delivered over 215 babies.

We can place participants in the following: Out Patient, Emergency Treatment Room, General Medicine, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Antenatal, Postnatal, Labour Room and Paediatrics.

Village Ayurveda Government Treatment Centre - All volunteers will get the exciting chance to learn more about the traditional Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) by spending one day at the special local clinic. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical systems (dating back over 3000 years) and promotes the use of herbal compounds, special diets and other unique health practices. During your time here, you will get to observe how patients are treated, learn all about it’s history, what it’s role is within the healthcare system in Sri Lanka and have the chance to ask any questions to the specialist.

Ambalangoda Private Hospital - You will also have the opportunity to spend some time within a small private hospital located in the nearby fishing town of Ambalangoda. Although the hospital is much smaller and only contains an outpatient department, you will get much more one to one interaction with the doctor on duty. Here you will be able to see the more common everyday problems people face and learn what practices are used to help cure them.

What is my role?

Your role on the medical programme will be largely observational, however, you may be assigned some very basic hands-on involvement. This could include taking blood pressure and sugar levels, administering IV injections, dressing wounds, taking temperatures etc. and will be undertaken under the supervision of a medical professional. Although we cannot guarantee this and it is at the sole discretion of your local supervisor, feedback from past volunteers suggests most students get involved with basic activities as listed above.

During your time in Sri Lanka, you will discover new perspectives and cultural attitudes towards medicine, learn how to collaborate with people from a different culture and develop a range of new skills. You will gain hands on training, supervised by experienced English-speaking medical experts. This is your chance to vastly increase your own knowledge by being fully involved in the day-to-day activities of the hospital, observing the doctors and nurses and helping out in simple but practical ways.

You may encounter different scenarios that are not so common back at home, including dengue fever, rabies, snake bites and motorcycle accidents.

Our Sri Lanka medical experience welcomes people from all backgrounds. So if you have just left school and are looking for experience to boost your university application (pre-med) or are currently a university student organising an elective placement overseas - this is the perfect programme for you.

We are able to offer a more specific programme for medical, midwifery and nursing students looking to take part in an overseas elective. We are able to tailor the programme to provide you with a unique experience that will meet all of your requirements and maximise your time abroad. Our UK and local teams are able to complete any necessary paperwork for your university or other scheme.

At the government hospital, you will have the opportunity to be placed across several departments so that you can receive a broad overview (a full list can be found above). Our local team will do their best to match any specific requirements, but this cannot always be guaranteed. We recommend a mixed timetable in order to experience many different hospital settings. 

You will be assigned to a local supervisor within each department to mentor you throughout your time there. However, it is important to understand that the local staff are extremely busy and you should be proactive in asking questions and be assertive in requesting additional guidance where needed.

What will a typical day look like?

Your varied role and the ever-changing scenarios that come with a busy hospital will mean no two days are the same. You will generally be volunteering from Monday to Friday between 9am and 12pm, but depending on your course requirements this can be increased if required. Throughout your time in the hospital there may be major surgeries or labours occurring and you will have the chance to stay longer and observe. 

On the first Tuesday you will spend the day at the Village Ayurveda Government Treatment Centre to learn all about this local medicine practice.

Where will I be staying?

We cannot think of anywhere better to stay when volunteering in Sri Lanka! Our volunteer accommodation is just a stones throw away (10 second walk) from a quiet golden sand beach that is lined with palm trees – paradise! It’s the perfect place to come and relax each evening and witness some incredible sunsets. Not only this, but you can snorkel in the crystal clear waters that have an abundance of colourful fish swimming around the coral reef and you may even see a sea turtle swim by!

The touristy backpacker town of Hikkaduwa is just a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride away where you can visit many restaurants and bars that back right onto the beach. A favourite town amongst most volunteers, there are many supermarkets, quirky shops and water activities on offer – including surfing. The fishermen town of Ambalangoda is just another 10 minute tuk-tuk ride away in the other direction and offers a more local and traditional way of life. You can visit markets, devil mask museums and also see the largest laying down Buddha statue.

The accommodation is also conveniently located close to the historic town of Galle and well known beaches including Mirissa and Unawatuna.

Other things to consider

Level of involvement - Although your role at the hospitals is largely observational, the majority of volunteers are assigned basic hands-on tasks such as taking blood pressure and blood sugar levels, dressing wounds, administering IV injections, recording temperatures and more. Please note we cannot guarantee your level of involvement and this will be at the sole discretion of your supervisor in-country.

Government hospital placements - Please note, anyone who is not currently studying a health related degree at university, will not be able to be placed at the government hospital.  This medical programme is not suitable for trained or qualified professionals. This applies to all organisations and is imposed by the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka.

Top destination - Sri Lanka is widely considered by our volunteers to be our best volunteer destination. The majority of our feedback suggests that this is due to the superior local support offered by Charith and our local team, the volunteer programmes making a real difference, value for money and accommodation location. With this in mind, we believe that Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for first-time travellers, under 18's and families with younger children.

Helping on multiple projects - Whilst in Sri Lanka, you will also have the opportunity to get involved with our teaching or childcare programme for no additional cost.

Weekends and free time - You will have every weekend off from volunteering and this is the perfect time to explore everything this beautiful island has to offer. You are more than welcome to simply relax around the accommodation and enjoy the nearby beaches, but most volunteers will use this time to travel and see the country. Further down this page you will come across many suggestions and ideas on where you could go. Alternatively, if you are looking to see as much of the country as possible during this time, travel with other volunteers and be accompanied by one of our local team members, then you may be interested in one or more of the organised weekend trips we run.

Conserving sea turtles in Sri Lanka

There is no better feeling in the world than watching a hundred or so baby turtle hatchlings scrambling along the shoreline to the sea, the determination and drive to reach the ocean, it never gets old.

Martin's story

Volunteering in Sri Lanka with my partner

Our visit to Sri Lanka on the Sea Turtle program was nothing but incredible (other than a little hot and sweaty). Our 3 weeks was amazing from day one, with a massive warm welcome from everyone.

Catherine's story

Teaching and turtles in Sri Lanka

I went to Sri Lanka in January 2019 to volunteer on the sea turtle program, but was also able to help teach English. I had a huge sense of fulfillment from both projects in completely different ways.

Esther's story

Volunteering with my family in Sri Lanka

My family and I chose to volunteer in Sri Lanka last August for 3 weeks. We wanted to introduce the children to volunteering so that we could all help give something back to a local community.

Sue's story

Sea turtle conservation in Sri Lanka

My daughter and I volunteered with sea turtles last August and we would 100% recommend The Mighty Roar; we have even looked at doing another project in the next year.

Jennie's story

A month helping turtles in Sri Lanka

I have just come back from spending 4 weeks at The Mighty Roar in Sri Lanka and I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life.

Courtney's story

The real Sri Lanka Experience

Seeing all of Sri Lanka and meeting the amazing people there could have not been any more perfect. An incredible 3 weeks that I will never forget.

Samantha's story