I conducted my neurology elective at the Lanka Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka in January 2019. The elective lasted 4 weeks and was divided into 3 separate rotations.
My first rotation was in clinical neurology and lasted 2 weeks. This rotation incorporated a mix of ward-based exposure and clinics, so was very useful for consolidating existing neurology knowledge.
There is a heavy emphasis at the hospital towards dementia patients, but this is specific to Lanka Hospitals itself, as many sub-specialized neurologists work there.
Over my 2 weeks, I saw a variety of clinical cases ranging from Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia Patients to complicated stroke syndromes and seizure syndromes.
As is the case with any clinical rotation in Australia, it is very self-directed, but the ward staff were always very helpful.
The second aspect of the first rotation were the clinics. They were usually daily afternoon clinics that lasted about 6 hours and were just as enlightening as the ward-based exposure – something I was not expecting.
The neurologist I was under clearly had a passion for teaching and always took the time to explain underlying disease processes and mechanisms related to a patient as a 2 minute discussion after seeing each patient.
If it was a busy day, we would make a list of topics and would spend an hour discussing the topics after the clinic.
Overall, I count the clinics as some of the best clinical experiences I have ever received.
My second rotation was in the neurosurgery department and lasted a week. During this week, I rotated through 5 different paediatric and adult neurosurgeons.
While quite depressing, much of the neurosurgery time at Lanka Hospital is allocated towards childhood brain tumour excision and the hospital a site of referral for such cases.
Aside from this, I was able to observe microsurgical clipping and coiling of aneurysms, pituitary surgery and peripheral nerve surgery at this site.
Trauma and acute care
My third rotation was trauma and acute care. The area of Colombo where this hospital is situated experiences a uniquely high emergency case workload, so students tend to see a variety of cases during a rotation here as well.
During my rotation I observed numerous MVA injuries, knife trauma (accidental and non-accidental), gunshot wounds and a variety of other injuries and was able to appreciate the work that goes into managing the critically ill patient.
Aside from this, I was also able to appreciate the heavy burden that is undertaken by the doctor that was to inform the family of a dead relative, as some of these patients did not survive.
I would like to conclude by saying that my elective in Sri Lanka was definitely an enjoyable and immersive experience – one that I learned a lot from.
The country of Sri Lanka is a beautiful island country, where one can spend his/her free time at beaches or sampling some of the best food in Asia daily.