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Beyond the ward: Broadening horizons in Sri Lanka

John Wilkinson is currently in his fifth year studying Medicine at King’s. As part of his medical elective placement, he spent four weeks in Sri Lanka researching and gaining an understanding of the different treatments and methods they use. We caught up with John to chat about his experiences.

Embracing the new  

Having never been to Sri Lanka, John was keen to use the opportunity to do his elective there. He was eager to experience a new culture and a healthcare system that offered enough differences to learn new methods of care, but similar enough to be able to get stuck in.

“Work the World (the organisation that planned my placement) helped me plan and customise the placement by asking about my clinical interests before I went,” John said.

As a result, he got good exposure to general medicine, neurology, surgery, and psychiatry as part of his placement.

 

I learnt that despite a lack of resources, many medical practices were the same in Sri Lanka and I was able to help just as I do on placements back home in the UK – John
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Ayurvedic practice

One of the most interesting parts of the experience for John was spending a week in a rural community clinic within a village. He got to find out all about the ancient practice of Sri Lankan Ayurvedic medicine or ‘tree medicine’ based on natural herbs, oils and diet, and he carried out some traditional Ayurvedic treatments himself.

John found this practice totally different to anything he’d done at home - it involved going into the forest with a doctor who looked for natural ingredients to use to make various Ayurvedic medicines.

John then helped make and apply treatments with others. “This experience was one of the highlights of my trip because it was so different,” he said.

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Enjoying Sri Lanka

As a bonus, John also got to explore Sri Lanka’s beautiful countryside while there during his time off!

On weekends, John visited Mirissa for a beach trip, went on a train journey to Ella through mountainous tea plantations, saw elephants on safari and climbed up the famous Lion's Rock. He also visited the ancient ruined city of Anuradhapura.

“The day we spent touring the ayurvedic village, we rode an ox cart through gardens of tropical fruit, went on a boat across a lake covered with water-lilies, and ate one of the most best meals I've ever had.

“Sri Lanka is a great choice of country for learning as well as visiting and exploring. I came back as a better doctor and person and have really expanded my horizons for my future medical career.”

 

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Work the World specialise in tailoring overseas medical placements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their destinations provide eye-opening insight into the challenges associated with delivering healthcare in the developing world.

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