University of Birmingham 2012

Nursing, Sri Lanka Kandy

Sri Lanka is described as the pearl of Asia and I could not think of a more fitting description. With its breathtaking sites, culture and friendly people I found my time there unforgettable. 

For my elective I choose to travel with Work the World and it was the best decision I made. The staff in the UK were very helpful, they were available to answer any questions I had. The team provided an information pack that was useful as it explained what to expect in Sri Lanka as well as having links for organising flights, visa, vaccinations and currency. This I found took a lot of stress out of travelling.

The Work the World house where I stayed was a home away from home. The staff and other students made my trip - everyone was so friendly!

Fun aside, one of the unique parts I foundtravelling with Work the World was the benefit of living with students from a range of disciplines. Staying together in the house meant that we formed our own little community where we could share both the good and bad parts of our day and learn from each other. Furthermore having people enter the house at different times meant that those who had been there a while, could advise newcomers on places to visit. I was often given suggestions that otherwise I would not have thought about.

Being part of a big group made weekend trips even better - the mix of characters meant there was never a shortage of laughter. Weekend trips I found was the best opportunity to take part in exhilarating activities such as: rock climbing, visiting cave temples, tea picking and spending time at picturesque beaches. The highlight for me was the elephants as I am an animal lover, so being able to ride and wash elephants and go on safari where there was a herd of wild elephants just ten metres away was a dream come true.

Besides travelling around Sri Lanka, my time in Kandy was a real cultural experience, from haggling in the markets to watching a spectacular ten day religious festival on the streets. The festival contained hundreds of Kandyan dancers performing with fire and feathers, as well as elephants in elaborate costumes that gave praise to Buddha by carrying relics of Buddha’s tooth.

Culture was also evident in the day to day running of the general hospital, as although there are similarities between UK nursing and Sri Lankan nursing there were also differences. For example, instead of just doing IV’s for your patients, you had one nurse doing all of the IV’s.

During my placement I split my time in Sri Lanka between cardiology and oncology. I was able to assist with drugs, carry out ECG’s, cannulate patients’ as well as watch procedures such as angiograms. The staff at the hospital were friendly and willing to explain the rationale for what they were doing, which was great for learning.

If I could give one piece of advice that I found to be very important for my elective, it is to be proactive and go in with an idea of what you want to learn. Be motivated and, if possible, try to learn parts of the language. Even if it is not quite right they will really appreciate the effort. After all you only get out of something what you put in.

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