My arrival at Colombo International Airport on Saturday, May 28th 2016 marked the beginning to a memorable learning experience. Why Colombo South Teaching Hospital and more importantly why Sri Lanka? Firstly, it was a very easy placement to organise and also the cheapest one I could find within the limited amount of time. Secondly, my desire to travel to a new country where I do not speak the native language yet can relatively easily travel made me look no further. Thirdly, as a teaching hospital that treats 150000 inpatients every year, it offered me a platform that could fulfil my project goals.
One month of Medicine in Sri Lanka
My first week was at the Department of Forensics. It provided a once in a life time learning opportunity. With absolutely minimal to no forensic teaching at medical school, I was looking forward to see what this department had to offer. Clinical forensics was a very useful experience overall which will always play a role in my future practice as a clinician. I was taught about medico-legal issues and formality procedures in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, having not only attend an autopsy but also to assist in one really challenged my limits.
With the head of Department of Forensics and senior staff.
Week two was at the Department of Medicine. Although five days seems to be a short duration, I was able to achieve a good grasp of what is medically achievable in an under resourced setting. I had good exposure to tropical diseases such as dengue and malaria. It was difficult to see how at one instance four patients had to share a bed in an over-crowded ward. Finally, the time with final year native medical students, broadened my cultural experiences of teaching and learning practices.
With the hardworking midwives of Colombo South Hospital
In my final two weeks, I was placed in the labour ward. I made most of my placement by being enthusiastic and helping with labour ward duties. This is when I mostly faced the challenges of having a language barrier. I learned an enormous amount regarding importance of clear communication and team work.
Buddha statue at Dambulla cave temple
A visit to the elephant orphanage
I explored Sri Lanka to the best with the limited budget and time spanning from the sacred city of Anuradhapura(N) to Galle(S) and from Colombo(W) to Ella (E). I was introduced to Buddhism and also the vibrant natural reserves Sri Lanka takes pride in. The heritage sites were priceless visit which gave me an insight to the history of this beautiful Island.
Overall I am grateful to Principal’s Go Abroad Fund for the support that made this project financially feasible. The fund contributed to my placement fee and accommodation. I appreciate this opportunity which has certainly broadened my horizons with the new experiences that are invaluable both in my personal and professional life.
Cultural dance at the Tooth Relic Temple, Kandy