Fifth year medical students Thomas Currie and Tristan Symonds (pictured above) have recently returned from the trip of a lifetime, spending four weeks in Sri Lanka as part of their medical studies.
Thomas said the experience was ‘absolutely brilliant’.
“This trip was the highlight of my medical school studies,” he said.
“I was incredibly impressed with the work ethic of the Sri Lankan staff.
“For these medical students, medicine is their life. They work at least six days per week, sometimes staying overnight at the hospital.
“The calibre of doctors they produce as a result is incredible; their level and skill is outstanding.”
Tristan said the doctors managed to do a lot, with less.
“There were definitely less resources available, sometimes with two patients to a bed or spending the night in a chair,” he said.
“But despite this, patient outcomes were really positive.”
Tristan said working in a developing country meant they were exposed to diseases that they otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
“We saw conditions that you would have otherwise only seen in text books,” he said.
“In Australia, medical conditions are often caught early, allowing treatment to start right away.
“In Sri Lanka each day we would see more medical conditions that were much further progressed than we would see in a life time in Australia.”
Thomas said despite a language barrier with patients, the pair found it easy to converse with their colleagues.
“English is very common amongst all medical circles so we found it very easy to converse with our colleagues,” he said.
“There was definitely a language barrier when we were gathering patient histories; however, the other students were very helpful translating.”
The pair said the experience certainly gave them perspective.
“It really improved my work ethic,” Tristan said.
“I’m definitely more appreciative of the flexibility we have here.”
Thomas said he recommended the experience to all medical students.
“The Sri Lanka placement is part of many new offerings available to fifth year medical students at James Cook University, with other placement programs available in Fiji, PNG and the Soloman Islands,” he said.
“Applications open in fourth year and I can’t recommend it enough.
“It’s a great opportunity to further the experience and capabilities of medical graduates”.