The Department of Community Medicine offers elective programs for undergraduate students from oversees universities. Many have thus far made use of this opportunity. Quoted below are the reflections of some of these students
“The 1 week attachment with the community medicine department in the University of Colombo was truly an eye opening experience for me. Coming from a developed country like Singapore, I did not know what to expect from the healthcare system of a developing country and was looking forward to learn more about the healthcare system in Sri Lanka.
On the first day, we got a comprehensive summary of the Sri Lankan healthcare system that put us in good stead to better understand the programmes that were going to be planned. One of the many things that I am grateful for would be that we were given an immense amount of flexibility to plan our own schedules according to topics that we were interested in. In addition, all the doctors and staff whom we were in contact with were extremely helpful and willing to teach.
Launching into the programme proper, I was given the opportunity to learn more about the tuberculosis situation in Sri Lanka and the various measures that have been put in place. Also, I got a chance to get a glimpse into disaster management all in the same day. Besides these, there was also hands on learning at the antenatal, well child and well women clinic in the suburbs. The doctors there were actively teaching and were very encouraging.
Another interesting activity that I got to participate in would be that of the field survey, which included house to house visits by a team of healthcare professionals comprising a doctor, public health midwife and a public health inspector.
In essence, this short one week attachment was full of awesome experiences and choosing to do community medicine to start off my one month elective here really allowed me to see the Sri Lankan healthcare system from a macroscopic point of view, instead of the microscopic perspective that I’ll get if I launch into a specific specialty from the start. In addition, there were ample opportunities to explore around Colombo and its outskirts as the venues are located away from the faculty.Lastly, this elective has sparked my interest to learn more about the healthcare system in my own country.
Huang Huiling, 3rd year medical student , National University of Singapore
“We did a 1-week elective with the community medicine department in University of Colombo. Our mentors were very friendly and welcoming. We were told about the various components of community medicine, and given the choice to customize our own schedule based on our interests; it was very flexible and hence suited us perfectly. Once we indicated our preferences, the doctors were very efficient in liaising with the various departments to get us permission to meet the heads of the respective departments. Our mentor also went through with us briefly an overview of the Sri Lankan healthcare system on the first day, which went a long way in helping us understand how the different members work hand-in-hand to create a very strong preventive healthcare system.
Over the week, we visited the tuberculosis campaign building, the chest clinic in Colombo where tuberculosis cases in the area are managed, the disaster management department, the well women’s clinic, the antenatal clinic and the well baby clinic. The doctors were all very willing to teach, and they each gave a comprehensive overview of their field of work. The disaster management piqued our interests because we do not have such health services in our country, so it was quite an opportunity that we got to meet the director of disaster management, who was more than willing to share with us and answer our questions. Other highlights included the field survey trip and the monthly clinic conference in Kotte.
Choosing to do my elective in community medicine first was a very good decision on hindsight, because it allowed me to see the big picture and the kind of healthcare problems and services at the community level before I start my hospital posting proper, where I will be seeing a different side of healthcare, and where public health might not be explained to such details.
After learning so much about the Sri Lankan healthcare system, it spurred a desire in me to understand my own country’s healthcare system better; the big picture did not seem as important when we just concentrated on playing our individual roles well in the hospital, but now I am more able to appreciate the beauty of seeing the macro perspective.
Chia Yet Hong, 3rd Year Medical Student,Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore”
During my elective with the Department of Community Medicine at the University of Colombo I was able to develop my understanding of the use of meditation and mindfulness and its impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The week started with a discussion about meditation and the Noble Eightfold Path. The meditation technique was taught to me and I practiced this throughout my elective. It was very valuable to be able to discuss meditation and my own experiences with it with other doctors who were more experienced meditators. I found all the staff in community medicine department to be friendly, welcoming and helpful.
We visited the International Vipassana Meditation Centre in Colombo, and I continued to meditate at this centre after my elective finished.
I was able to see changes in the way I thought about situations and able to observe my own behaviour more easily and in a nonjudgmental way. Even in a short time I was able to meditate for longer periods of time and better understand what I was experiencing with practice and the guidance I received.
I was also able to understand how people may be approached who do not necessarily have an illness, but are unhappy or not content with life, and I could appreciate the holistic nature of the Sri Lankan healthcare system.
It was both interesting and refreshing to see other medical professionals meditating and openly discussing experiences that are difficult to describe or measure in a conventional scientific way.
Emma Brownlow, Final year medical student, Cardiff University, UK
If you are interested in pursuing an elective in community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Colombo Sri lanka you may obtain further information from