Gain invaluable experience assisting in a hospital in Sri Lanka, where you will get up close clinical exposure and learn all about the health care system in the developing world.
Our medical volunteers are placed in Hemas Private Hospital in Wattala, just north of the capital, Colombo. This busy hospital currently sees over 15,000 out-patients and over 900 in-patient visits per month! With 100 beds, 5 operating theatres and a large array of extensive departments you will have the opportunity to witness a variety of cases that are a large contrast to what you may find in your local hospital.
This unique experience will open your eyes to the world of medicine in Sri Lanka and offers you the chance to gain vital international work experience. You will get hands on training, supervised under experienced English-speaking medical experts. Be fully involved in the day-to-day activities of the hospital, observing the doctors and nurses where you can help out in simple but practical ways, vastly increasing your own knowledge.
Our medical work experience welcomes people of all backgrounds. So if you have just left school and looking for experience to boost your college or university application or are currently a nursing / medical student organising an elective placement overseas – this programme is perfect for you. This amazing programme is suitable for anyone wanting to become doctors, nurses, paediatricians, dentists, midwives, medical researchers, pharmacists and more!
You will have the opportunity to be placed in many different departments so that you can receive a broad view of the hospital. Your time in the clinics can involve a variety of work, including time spent in maternity wards, operating theatres and recovery wards (a full list is below).
We are also able to offer a more specific programme where we can tailor your placement around your needs and design a schedule to meet all of your requirements to maximise your time in Sri Lanka. Our UK and local teams are able to complete any paperwork required by your university or other scheme.
During your time in Sri Lanka, you will get to visit an Ayurvedic indigenous medicine centre, which will give you a well-rounded understanding of medicine and healthcare in Sri Lanka. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical practices, dating back over 3,000 years. Promoting the use of herbal compounds, special diets and other unique health practices, you will get to learn all about the history and about its role within Sri Lanka.
Not only do you get an amazing insight into the medical practices, but you also get to explore the amazing country that is Sri Lanka. During your free time you will get the opportunity to enjoy the exotic beaches and jungles, the hustle and bustle of the busy capital (that offers a great night life and shopping) and to making new friends and memories.
Your varied role and the ever-changing scenarios of a busy hospital will mean no two days will be the same. Each year over 800 babies are delivered, 3,000 surgeries occur, 300,000 laboratory tests are carried out and 25,000 emergencies are dealt with – there is no better place to gain such first hand experience.
Upon arrival, you will receive an in-depth orientation that will go through your schedule and working patterns. You will general be assisting from Monday to Friday on a shift basis, working between 20 – 25 hours per week. On your first day, you will be introduced to your supervisor whose role is to ensure that you have the opportunity to learn as much as possible during your placement.
Depending on your duration at the programme and if there is anything specific you wish to be involved in, you will get the opportunity to observe and assist with many departments. Some of the these may include:
- Emergency Treatment Unit (ETU) – Treatment of life threatening conditions, such as road accidents, strokes and heart attacks
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
- Radiology – X-ray and Computerised Tomography (CT) scans
- General, Orthopaedic & Laparoscopic Surgery
- Gastroenterology – Endoscopy & Capsule Endoscopy
- Maternity & Midwifery – Antenatal, Labour Ward & Postnatal
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Eye Care Unit
- Laboratory – Services include Biochemistry, Haematology, Serology, Microbiology and Histopathology
- Out-Patient & In-Patient Wards
- General Medicine
Your level of medical experience as well as the enthusiasm and effort you show to the local staff will determine your exact role within the hospital.
During your time on the medical programme you will be staying within the volunteer house located close to Colombo. With the beach and the hustle and bustle of the capital just down the road, your free time can be spent exploring this amazing country.
The accommodation is basic, but clean and comfortable. You will be sleeping in single sex bedrooms with up to 3 other volunteers where bedding, celling fans and mosquito nets are provided. There are western style bathrooms that provide hot water.
You can sit back and relax in one of the communal areas where you can socialise with the other volunteers and play some board games, card games and even darts. Wifi is available throughout the accommodation, although it is intermittent.
Wifi – Yes
People per room – Up to 3
Single sex rooms – Yes
Nearest ATM & shops – 5 minute walk
Airport Transfers – 20 minutes
All meals are provided at the volunteer house and are included within the programme fee. Meals are aimed to be as varied as possible across the week and include many traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. You can expect some of the following meals:
Breakfast – Toast, string hoppers, fresh fruits, tea, milk
Lunch – Rice, vegetables, chicken, fish
Dinner – Noodles, pasta, hoppers
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers that are thinking about or currently studying anything medical related. As long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 17 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it dose not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (CMB) on your selected start date, being the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. You will be met by one of our local team members or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign and who will then take you straight to the volunteer accommodation.
The programme ends on a Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day. Our local team will be happy to help organise any onward journeys or book transport back to the airport.
Are there any age restrictions?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 17 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive and we regularly have volunteers of all ages.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise that you apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates. Some of our programmes have limited capacity and spaces can get filled up quickly.
If you are wanting to volunteer within the next few weeks, then please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
It is possible to change your start dates once you have been accepted, however this is subject to availability and can attract a small administration fee.
What duration would you recommend?
On gaining feedback from previous volunteers, we believe 2 – 4 weeks is the ideal time to get settled in and really involved with the programme. This also allows you to make the most of your free time, to explore this beautiful country and to participate in any activities.
What will my itinerary be?
Please make sure you arrive into Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (CMB) on Saturday.
Day 1 (Saturday) – Arrival
A member of our local team will be waiting for you in arrivals holding a named sign. You will be taken straight to our volunteer accommodation in Wattala where you will have the rest of the day to settle in and meet the other volunteers.
Day 2 (Sunday) – Orientation
After a good nights rest and a delicious breakfast, it is then time for your orientation. Harsha and the team will go through all of the health and safety information as well as show you all of the local amenities nearby. The rest of the day will be for you to explore the stunning beaches and enjoy what the capital has to offer.
It is today that we will go through all of your requirements for the medical programme and design your schedule to ensure you get the most out of the project.
Day 3-7 (Monday – Friday) – Volunteering
Your volunteering begins! Most of our programmes run from 9am to 5pm. After introductions, you will be shown around the hospital and have a small induction into their practices and methods. Volunteering times can vary from day to day to ensure you get maximum exposure to all activities within the hospital.
Day 8-9 (Saturday – Sunday) – Weekend
Being in the capital and with so many great sights and activities to do nearby, weekends are never boring! Whatever you plan on doing, our local team can advise and help organise any trips. You are more than welcome to travel down to our volunteer accommodation close to Galle, to explore the beaches and relax.
The following weeks
The following weeks will follow the same kind of pattern, with volunteering between Monday and Friday and exploring Sri Lanka at the weekends. You will find that time will really start to fly by, so it’s important to make the most of your time! Don’t forget, our local team are there to support you and to answer any questions you may have.
Last day (Saturday)
Time has flown by and it is already time to leave. If you are heading home then our local team can arrange your return airport transfer (not included within the programme fee) or recommend plans for your onwards journey.
How will I get to the project?
You will be transported to your project by either a private car or tuk tuk. The hospital is located within 20 minutes of the volunteer accommodation and a member of our local team will accompany you.
Is there Internet and phone signal?
There is Wi-Fi within the volunteer accommodation although this can be intermittent. If you are wanting to call home or use the internet while out and about, we recommend that you bring an unlocked phone and purchase a local sim card – our local team can assist. Alternatively, you can buy a cheap phone while in Sri Lanka for under £15.
What is Colombo like?
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and is not just a sprawling city that you travel to for the airport. A worthy destination in its own right, there are plenty of sites to see and activities to do.
The bustling city has many traditional markets, stylish restaurants and bars, shops full of character and quirky gifts as well as stunning beaches like Uswetakeiyawa Beach. All amenities are close by and the great transport links allow you to get pretty much anywhere on the island easily and relatively cheaply.
Some places we recommend that you check out while there, include Fort, Pettah, Slave Island and of course the amazing beaches!
The Mighty Roar Local Team in Sri Lanka
Our programmes in Sri Lanka are run by our dedicated local team, who are committed to ensuring you have the best time ever. Harsha and other team members provide the structure for your stay, including the accommodation, meals, airport pickup, in-country orientation and of course support.
They are sure to become your good friends and you will not meet nicer people that are willing to do everything in their power to make your stay the most memorable.
Will I get an in-country orientation?
Yes. Your orientation will be on Sunday morning and will go through everything you need to know for your time in Sri Lanka. You will be shown around Wattala, where the shops, ATM and the best place to get a tuk tuk will all be pointed out to you. If you need to, our local team can assist with any currency exchange and help you pickup anything you may need.
We will also show you the main points of interest, such as western restaurants, the stunning beach, bars and other attractions.
Our local coordinator will go through all of the important health and safety information that you should follow during your time in Sri Lanka. You’ll learn about the Sri Lankan way of life and the cultural differences.
What is the weather like in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has a rather complicated climate due to the fact that the island is affected by two separate monsoons. This does mean however, that there is good weather somewhere on the island at most times of the year.
As Sri Lanka is positioned close to the Equator, it does mean there is a fairly consistent temperature all year round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26-30°C, which often rises to well into the 30°C’s during the hottest part of the day.
Humidity is high everywhere, rising to a sweltering 90% at times in the southwest, and averaging 60 to 80% across the rest of the island.
If you have checked the weather report on your phone then no doubt it will say rain or thunderstorms all week. This simply is not the case. Even during the wettest months, rain will come in short bursts, so although there may be a lot of rainfall in a day, it does not mean it rains for a long time.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are. The majority of volunteers that we host, come from the UK, US, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
We have many volunteers that travel with their friends, family members or with their partner. If required, we can ensure that you are based on the same project and stay within the same accommodation. On request, we can normally organise a private room to.
Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?
We regularly visit and participate in each and every one of the programmes we offer in Sri Lanka to rigorously check all aspects of the project and accommodation are safe and that all procedures are being followed. These include but are not limited to checking the living conditions within the volunteer accommodations, checking the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, tasting the food you’ll be eating and going on any weekend trips recommended by us or our local team.
We monitor the stability of all of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis and have constant contact with our overseas teams to ensure that our volunteers are safe.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive volunteer handbook when you choose to join us on one of our programmes. This detailed document addresses a large range of issues such as health, safety, visas, as well as going into details about local cultures and traditions.
When you arrive in-country, you will be given a safety briefing during your orientation that will cover things like emergency procedures, how to use local transport and any cultural differences.
Our in-country team are on hand to help with any issues or to answer any questions and please do not forget that our UK office is available 24/7 in case of any rare emergencies.
While we can never guarantee your volunteer experience will be 100% trouble free, we have taken all of the necessary precautions to minimise all risks and to ensure the programme is as safe as possible.
Before You Depart
When do I pay? Can I pay in instalments?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of £129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due to less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payments methods, such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application has been successful.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a compulsory part of your volunteering trip, that’s why we have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy. It is suitable for all of the programmes we offer and can be taken out at any time. You can read more about our insurance here.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, that all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try are best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would effect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that effect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. Its recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that £50 – £100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week..
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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