Medical Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka
Inspired to be a Medical volunteer in Sri Lanka? International Volunteer HQ’s Medical project is a great opportunity for medical students to learn and observe at a training hospital in Kandy. Volunteers shadow local staff in a wide range of departments and gain insight into many different clinical practices while the people of Sri Lanka get better access to affordable healthcare.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from £299 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Watch and learn from local doctors at work at a training hospital
Explore Sri Lanka’s diverse and beautiful landscapes
Stay in a volunteer house or homestay in tropical Kandy
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Training hospitals have huge benefits both for budding medical professionals and members of the community. They provide opportunities for students to see and experience healthcare first-hand, while locals have better access to affordable treatment.
Medical volunteers in Sri Lanka are placed in a training hospital in an observational capacity, shadowing local staff and providing assistance where necessary. Local regulations prevent volunteers from working alone, so you should not expect independent tasks.
All Medical volunteers are required to provide the following once you’ve registered, no later than four weeks before your program start date:
- Proof of current level of study
- CV/resume specific to medical skills and experience
- Letter of recommendation from a medical tutor or supervisor
- Letter of intent, outlining why you’re volunteering and what you are hoping to gain
Prospective volunteers must apply for the medical project no later than six weeks before you wish to begin. If the above documents are not received by our local staff at least four weeks prior to your program start date, you cannot be guaranteed a Medical placement and should expect to work on another project
Why do Medical volunteering in Kandy with IVHQ?
As a healthcare volunteer in Sri Lanka you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Observing a wide range of procedures
- Learning about clinical practice in a new setting
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining medical experience and knowledge
- Immersing yourself in Sri Lankan culture
- Discovering Sri Lanka’s rich history
- To join the Medical project in Sri Lanka volunteers need to be medical students.
- Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
- All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Sri Lanka photo gallery
On the Medical project in Sri Lanka it may be possible for you to volunteer in a range of different departments and get an insight into many different medical specialties. If you have a specific area of interest then please indicate it on your application, though this is not a guarantee you’ll be able to volunteer in that area. You may be able to observe:
- Working with the blind
- Brain injury
- General medicine
- Maternity/family planning
- Mental Health
- Occupational therapy
- Transplant surgery
”I spent two weeks at the Medical project in Kandy. From the first day I felt very welcomed at the volunteer house and immediately made friends with other volunteers. I loved the activities and trips after work. Everything was well arranged and organized. The local coordinator was so helpful with everything. I enjoyed talking to him and spending time with him.... I felt at home there and I also loved the food. At the hospital, the staff at Gynaecology/Obstetrics were trying to explain and show me as much as possible. They all speak very good english, which made it pleasant and easy to communicate and cooperate. I've seen lots of examinations and surgeries. It was a valuable experience for me.” read more
Read reviews from Medical volunteers in KandySee more reviews
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is an island nation set off the south-east coast of India. Famous for its tea plantations, cinnamon exports and cricket rivalries, it also boasts a vast array of beaches, Buddhas and big beasts like elephants and whales.
While Sri Lanka is a well-developed country which has made great strides towards making sure its residents don’t live in extreme poverty, there are still many places outside of the main centres where people struggle to access good quality education, healthcare and earn a decent living to support themselves and their families. Volunteers can help in these areas by providing important support to local initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life for people in these disadvantaged areas.
Most of IVHQ’s Sri Lanka volunteer projects are based in the small, sacred city of Kandy.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins every Monday and volunteers need to arrive in Colombo anytime on the Saturday or Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) on Saturday or Sunday. Your airport pick-up over the weekend is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.
After you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kandy. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night before your program orientation.
If you are travelling in Sri Lanka prior to your volunteer program, you can meet the local team at the airport in Colombo on the Sunday before your program begins, or make your own way directly to the local team’s office in Kandy.
Orientation is run by the local team in Kandy, beginning on the Monday morning of your start date. Volunteers can choose to join a One-day Orientation or Introduction Week Orientation.
This provides you with all the key information you need, plus the chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising. It includes an introduction to Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan customs, rules and expectations, safety in Sri Lanka, travel opportunities in Sri Lanka, an introduction to your volunteer project and placement, Kandy city tour, cultural show and basic Sinhala language lessons.
Introduction Week Orientation:
This is a fantastic way to start your volunteer experience in Sri Lanka and gives you the time to dive deeper into the culture and activities. It will include everything on the One-Day Orientation as well as visits to a Buddhist monastery, a spice garden and the famous Temple of the Tooth. You’ll also get to take a Sri Lankan cooking class, a boat ride on Kandy Lake, a Batik lesson and get a relaxing Ayurveda massage.
If you wish to participate in the Introduction Week, you can indicate this on your application form when you apply for the program or let your Program Manager know at least two weeks before you begin the program.
Volunteer schedule example
On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays - A typical volunteer day is as follows:
|6:00 - 7:30 AM||Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.|
|7:45 AM||Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.|
|3:00 PM||Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.|
|9:00 PM||Dinner at the volunteer house.|
During the weekends, volunteers are free to relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Kandy and Sri Lanka. Kandy itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has an exciting selection of things to see and do. You can visit a number of beautiful and ornate temples including the Temple of the Tooth - an important shrine housing a canine tooth said to belong to the Buddha; wander in the grand and impressive Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya; tour a tea plantation and factory; sample the tasty and widely-regarded local cuisine; or take a walk up to the biggest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka and be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the city. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to destinations, such as Colombo, Galle or even Southern India.
Our local team also offers some great travel packages for volunteers over the weekend and after their volunteer program finishes. They can help you arrange trips and have some special packages available for volunteers, including Trekking Week (a week of hiking some of Sri Lanka’s most famous treks and mountains), Beach Week (a week of activities on Sri Lanka’s coast) and Body and Mind Week (a week of yoga and Ayurvedic massage at a retreat in Sri Lanka). All of the above can be enquired about directly with our program staff after registering on the IVHQ Sri Lanka program. These packages cost approximately £362 for the week (including meals and accommodation) and can be paid for in Sri Lanka to our program staff.
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers in Kandy are accommodated in a volunteer house. Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with four to 12 other volunteers.
Homestay accommodation is also available in Kandy and is a popular option for couples or older volunteers. This option can be arranged with our local team according to availability and volunteers may either have their own room or share with one or two others of the same gender, depending on how many other volunteers have requested homestay accommodation. Alternatively, private rooms and matrimonial rooms can be arranged for an additional $35 per person, per week, subject to availability at the time.
Living is comfortable and all accommodation has electricity and running water. Bathrooms in the volunteer houses and homestays are all western style with a toilet, basin and a warm shower. Bedding is provided and includes a pillow with pillow case and top and bottom sheets. You will need to bring a towel, toiletries including hand soap and toilet paper, and a mosquito net if you wish to sleep with one.
Families who wish to volunteer in Sri Lanka are required to stay in a homestay at an additional cost of US$35 per person, per week. If your family has more than four members, two rooms may be required to accommodate all family members.
To access the internet during your program, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Sri Lanka, as WiFi is not available in the volunteer accommodation.
Volunteers on the Sri Lanka program are provided with three meals a day during the week and brunch and dinner during the weekend. Breakfast includes toast, eggs, fruit, tea, coffee and milk. Sri Lankan foods served for lunch and dinner include roti bread, dhal, curries, vegetables and salads. Meat is rarely eaten except on festive occasions. Authentic Sri Lankan meals are cooked by a local chef and most are prepared with an array of spices and coconut milk.
Bottled water is readily available in Sri Lanka and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for 2 litres per day. There are also water filters in the volunteer houses and homestays. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can discuss this with you. However, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. The local team will do their best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible. If you wish to supplement some of your meals with home comforts, there are basic kitchen facilities available to use.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||£299 Equivalent to £43/day|
|2 weeks||£427 Equivalent to £31/day|
|3 weeks||£590 Equivalent to £29/day|
|4 weeks||£735 Equivalent to £27/day|
|5 weeks||£880 Equivalent to £26/day|
|6 weeks||£1025 Equivalent to £25/day|
|8 weeks||£1315 Equivalent to £24/day|
|10 weeks||£1606 Equivalent to £23/day|
|12 weeks||£1896 Equivalent to £23/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of £251 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Sri Lanka generally find US$30-50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Check what's required to visit Sri Lanka
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Capital||Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte|
|Languages||Sinhala and Tamil|
|Currency||Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)|
Weather and climate
The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperature ranges from 17°C (62.6°F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of 33 °C (91.4°F) in other low-altitude areas.