Gain invaluable medical experience in Sri Lanka, an opportunity not to be missed in this gorgeous part of the world by those pursuing a career in medicine.
PMGY’s Sri Lanka Medical Experience is an elective scheme for medical students and school leavers looking to pursue a career in medicine. School leavers and applicants from a non-health related background will be placed at a private hospital. Those who are studying a health-related degree at university will be placed at a government hospital. Please note that the government hospital will not permit applicants who are NOT studying medicine or nursing at university. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this rule.
This programme is not suitable for qualified medics and nurses. Such candidates are best suited to our medical programmes in India, Ghana or Tanzania all of which offer a much more in-depth medical experience.
All participants on PMGY’s medical programme will have the opportunity to participate in an Ayurveda Medicine Seminar. Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices. The earliest references of Ayurveda medicine in Sri Lanka are associated with a great physician; Ravana a king of Sri Lanka dating back to the prehistoric times.
You will have the chance to attend a lecture from a local Ayurvedic specialist. They will teach you all about the history of Ayurveda, its role within healthcare in Sri Lanka and how it is implemented to treat a variety of cases.
You should arrive into Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (airport code CMB) on the selected Saturday start date. Programmes start on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
ESSENTIAL PROGRAMME INFORMTION
For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.
It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly.
Can I use this programme as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Private Hospital – We work with a private hospital in Ambalangoda. Usual working hours are between 09:00 and 12:30. The following departments are available:
Physiotherapy, Dental Surgery, Radiology (x-ray machine and computerised radiology), Laboratory, Phlebotomy, In-Patient Ward, Out-Patient Ward
The private hospital provides a structured observational and informative approach to give participants a broad insight into a medical facility in Sri Lanka. Your role is purely observational, so you should not expect any hands-on involvement. Depending on your interests, you will be placed within different departments and you will be attached to an English-speaking member of staff. If you have any specific departments of interest then please outline this in your online application under ‘Special Requirements’.
As the role is purely observational, we recommend that applicants sign up for no more than 2 weeks on the medical programme. In our experience, whilst you will gain invaluable medical insight and knowledge at the private hospital, after a while most people are eager for some hands-on work. Whilst PMGY cannot offer you hands-on medical volunteering, we can welcome you onto our orphanage and/or teaching projects. Our local team will go through the options with you during your in-country orientation. You can join one of these projects in the afternoon and attend the private hospital in the morning – it is completely up to you. Furthermore, it is absolutely fine for you to sign up for 2-weeks on the medical programme and then go on to do another project for the remainder of your stay, if you’d like to join us for longer than 2 weeks. If this is something you’d like to do then please drop us an email to discuss the idea in more detail.
Government Hospital – PMGY partner with a government hospital located only a 10 minute journey from Ambalangoda. It is a medium-sized hospital with over 500 stations. There are 20 doctors and 2 surgeons at the hospital. We can place participants at the following departments:
Out Patient, Emergency Treatment Room, General Medicine, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Antenatal, Postnatal, Labour Room, Paediatrics
If you have a specific preference of department/s then you can outline this in the ‘expectations’ section of the online application form. You can choose to spend your time across several departments or just one or two.
Whilst you will be assigned a specific member of staff within the department to mentor you, it is important to understand that the staff are extremely busy. Therefore, you should be proactive, ask questions and be assertive in requesting additional guidance should you require it.
Your role at the government hospital is largely observational, as this is an elective placement. Whilst this cannot be guaranteed, you may be assigned some very basic hands-on involvement such as taking blood pressure and blood sugars etc. This is all undertaken under the supervision of the staff you will be attached to, and such permission is at the sole discretion of the staff.
If you wish to use this programme as part of your medical degree placement then we can sign off any paperwork you may require. Furthermore, if you work at the private hospital you will be provided with a medical certificate at the end of your placement.
Working in a hospital in Sri Lanka is a great opportunity to get close up clinical exposure and learn about a health care system in the developing world. You will witness a variety of cases, which offers a fantastic contrast to what you might find in your local hospital! PMGY’s medical programme in Sri Lanka is the perfect way to gain invaluable hospital work experience whilst exploring the wonders that this amazing island has to offer!
You as a volunteer
Your level of involvement at the project is dictated by medical experience, duration of programme and willingness to get involved. The medical staff are accountable for you whilst you’re under their supervision, so it is completely up to them if you are permitted and want to get involved in hands-on procedures. Whilst previous PMGY volunteers have been given the chance to administer IV injections, dress wounds etc, we can never guarantee or promote hands-on involvement for participants regardless of their medical experience or background.
Generally speaking those with little or no medical experience assume a largely observational role. If you are studying medically related degree, then you should have more opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement. However, to reiterate we can never guarantee or endorse hands-on experience should you choose to get hands-on, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff.
IN & AROUND AMBALANGODA
PMGY volunteers are based in Ambalangoda, which is a lively oceanside town situated on the South West Coast.
It is traditionally a fishing community but is famous for being the major production centre for demonic wooden masks. The traditional masks were originally designed to be worn by performers in kolam and other southern Sri Lankan dances, but are now mainly used as souvenirs. Many families hang a mask on their front door to ward off evil spirits.
The town has all the amenities you could require such as banks, hospitals and shops including a very popular ice cream shop. There is also a central bus and train station, which has good links to all the major destinations you are likely to go to. Plus, the beach is only a 5 minute tuk tuk ride from the Volunteer House.
Hikkaduwa has long been among the most popular of Sri Lanka’s beach spots. It has a lively and fun vibe – definitely a backpacker town. It is also your best bet for evening drinks and meals out during your time with us. Furthermore, the surfing in the
Hikkaduwa region is quite well known and gets the best surf during its dry season, November to March.
Bentota is a good option for those looking for a relaxing weekend by the beach. It is one of the more established beach resorts on the west coast of Sri Lanka with a number of activities available to you. You can go on a river cruise, visit a turtle hatchery, check out Sri Lanka’s tallest Buddha statue or try out some of the many water sports available. There are also plenty of affordable guesthouses as well as beachside bars and restaurants to keep you entertained at night.
Galle is always a favourite of ours. The UNESCO World Heritage protected Galle Fort is an 18th-century Dutch walled town with chic shops, grand colonial houses and beautiful beaches. Unawatuna beach is the place to be for a lazy weekend by the sea. There are plenty of places to stay, of differing price and quality. Unawatuna has a good nightlife and a number of activities you can get up to – jet skiing, scuba diving, glass boat cruises and even surfing (although you may need to head a little further up the coast for this to the town of Habaraduwa or Ahangama).
You will be met on-arrival by a member of the PMGY Sri Lanka team who will be wearing a PMGY T-shirt and holding a PMGY sign. We advise all volunteers to wear their PMGY t-shirt (if they’ve purchased one) as this helps us identify you at the airport.
Once you’ve met up with our local team you will be driven to our Volunteer House in Ambalangoda. The journey takes around 2.5 hours.
During your time with PMGY in Sri Lanka you will live in our Volunteer House/s. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. You’ll be living with other PMGY volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
The majority of our projects are NOT within walking distance of our Volunteer House. PMGY will take you to and from the project each day. This will either be by tuk tuk or minivan; in most cases it will be tuk tuk. The cost of this service is included in your programme Fee.
The Volunteer House is located just outside of central Ambalangoda, in a peaceful part of town. Each room has bunk beds, up to 9 people per room (same-sex rooms only, unless a couple). Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bed linen. You will have cupboard space to store clothes and accessories; we encourage you to bring some small padlocks and/or store any valuables with Ashika in the safe located at his house.
Bathrooms are shared. Each bathroom has a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Sri Lanka is hot and humid all year round! The house has Wi-Fi (although intermittent) and a communal area for volunteers to hang out. There is also a kitchen with a refrigerator to store any items you need to keep chilled.
A member of our local team will also live at the house. This ensures you have round the clock support and security.
Please note that in the summer months we do use extra accommodation to cope with the extra number of volunteers when the main volunteer house reaches capacity. Such accommodation is again basic but comfortable with a western bathroom and located a short distance away from the main volunteer house. You will be sure to mix with volunteers as a whole at projects as well!
You will be served three meals per day at the Volunteer House. Most meals are traditional Sri Lankan dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Sri Lankan cuisine consists of a lot of rice and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available. A weekly menu has been introduced that blends Sri Lanka cuisine with Western cuisine so you will know in advance what is on the menu for that day! Below is an example of the meals we serve our volunteers:
Breakfast – Egg, toast, fruit with tea.
Lunch – Dhal and spinach curry, poppadums, paprika tofu and rice.
Dinner – Mixed vegetable noodles, tomato curry, omelette and poppadoms.
All meals are freshly prepared each day. If you fancy some western comforts, you will find plenty of restaurants serving western meals in the nearby town of Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is a 20 minute journey from Ambalangoda and the cost to get there by tuk tuk is around £3 per way. This is a popular place that volunteers go to in the evening, as it is a trendy backpackers town.
* Please inform us in your application if you have any dietary requirements.