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Organising Voluntary Projects, Internships and Gap Years since 1994.



Gain insight into the workings of a hospital in a different country. You will have more in-depth or less in-depth hands-on experience depending on whether you are studying medicine, are qualified, or have not yet started your studies.

Generally, your day will start with accompanying the doctors on ward rounds to see the in-patients. You will also be able to sit in on doctor-patient consultations. You'll be assigned to a doctor or nurse who will supervise you.

We work with many different hospitals and clinics which have a variety of departments. All of our medical placements work extensively with the local community and some offer free services to the poor and needy of Madurai; one of our clinics visits a local church once a week to treat the underprivileged and also hold a free clinic once a month.


Price: £1,095 for 2 weeks
£150 for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
Duration: From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Start Dates: All year round, you choose your start and finish dates.
Requirements: Minimum age 17. We work with many hospitals, some of which don't require you to have any qualifications, whereas others will require a minimum of one-year's study or experience in the medical field. We will place you at a hospital which will best suit your requirements and the experience you are hoping to gain.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation and Food (excluding lunch)
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Daily transport to and from your Project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Return transfer to the airport.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in gaining overseas work experience or an internship for university credit or requirement.
Also suitable for anyone just wanting to study abroad and learn about Medical practice overseas.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into the fascinating Indian culture.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!


Please fill in the form below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.



Gain a fantastic insight into the workings of a hospital in a different country. We work with a variety of hospitals but duties and experience in all of them will be very similar. You will have more in-depth or less in-depth hands-on experience depending on whether you are studying medicine, are qualified, or have not yet started your studies.

Generally, your day will start with accompanying the doctors on ward rounds to see the in-patients. You will also be able to sit in on doctor-patient consultations. You'll be assigned to a doctor or nurse who will supervise you during each session and they will explain the workings of their job and take you into one of these departments: Burns unit, Orthopaedics and Traumatology, ENT, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Urology, Neurosurgery, Thoracic Surgery, Psychiatry, Dermatology, Upper GI Video Endoscopy, Laparoscopy, Arthroscopy, Bronchoscopy, Rhinoscopy, Physiotherapy and X-Ray.

If you're assigned to a smaller hospital, you'll most likely work continuously with the same doctor or nurse. You can choose to specialise in one of the following areas:

One of our hospitals has a Pharmaceutical Department where you will be able to work as part of your overall medical placement.

Where you're placed for your Medical Work Experience will depend very much on what you’d like to get out of your placement and in your area of interest in medicine. Once we know what you want maximum exposure to, as well as the kind of experience you want to gain most, we'll arrange for you to be placed in the most suitable institution. We want to ensure that you gain the maximum benefit and experience from your placement!

I am certain that this unusual experience helped me to obtain the three offers that I have received following interviews at my chosen universities. Natasha Bell after her medical placement in India.

Most of your work will be to accompany the doctor or nurse on ward rounds and sit in on doctor-patient consultations. The type of work you are allocated will depend to an extent on your experience and abilities so you may spend a lot of time shadowing the doctor. However you will gain valuable experience just by observing. One of our volunteers, Brett Smith, who was in his 3rd year of a BSc in Biomedical Sciences, had this to say about what he observed on his placement: The trip was incredible, it was everything I expected and more. The medical placement was very insightful. The staff always made me feel very welcome. I managed to see around 15 surgical procedures in the 3 weeks I was there, ranging from 9 hour brain surgery to 2 hour removal of a benign ovary via key hole surgery.

Your working hours are usually subject to a shift rota, Monday to Fridays only; one session in the morning and one in the evenings with the afternoon off to rest or explore the city! However, some of the hospitals arrange surgeries in the afternoons and you may have the option to attend these instead of going back for the evening session.


For a complete Indian experience we arrange for you to stay with one of wonderful host families. All of our hosts are very welcoming and not only will be made to feel part of the family, you’ll also gain a great insight into Indian culture and customs. Many of our volunteers remain friends with their host families long after they leave India and in some cases they return to the country later especially to visit their family.

You may share a room with up to 2 other volunteers and in most of the houses you'll have an en-suite, Western-style bathroom. Most of the showers in our host accommodation are cold water only – however your hosts will boil water for you on request.

All of our host family houses are close together and just a few minutes’ walk away from internet cafes, banks and snack shops and just a short auto ride into the centre of town.

Breakfast and dinner will be provided and prepared for you by the family and is mainly local fare allowing you to taste a varied selection of delicious south Indian dishes and exotic fruits. You will need to make provision for your own lunch.


Got any questions? Please email us:

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our team who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

TRAVELLERS' SUPPORT AND BACKUP: Read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your programme.


Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Bollywood Dancing Lessons in India

Price: £39 for 4-Week dance course (12 hrs), concurrent with your main project. 12 lessons in total (3 x 1-hour lessons a week), excludes transport.

Bollywood dance classes - a fun way of learning some fantastic moves, whilst at the same keep keeping fit! All levels are catered for and the lessons are taken at one of Madurai’s leading dance studios. Three private Bollywood classes per week, each lasting one hour. These will usually be taken in the afternoon but there will be some flexibility, depending on your teacher’s schedule. The course location is only 20 minutes by auto from your accommodation. By the end of the course you will have learnt a dance routine to a whole song from an Indian movie.

Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centres of film production in the world. Bride and Prejudice is typical of the modern day films, with love, romance, singing, flamboyant costumes and hypnotic dancing. The teacher has over 10 years' experience teaching Bollywood Dance and has put on a number of productions in Madurai and around Tamil Nadu.

Book Now

Indian Cookery Lessons

1 Cookery class running concurrently with your project (1 Lesson spread over two days): £38.
A One Month Cookery Course (4 Lessons, one a week): £115

Our cooking classes are held by a local trained cook who currently teaches cooking classes in a school in Madurai. Classes are held after 3.30pm and for one cooking session, 2 days are required. You'll make delicious Indian dishes normally consisting of a rice or bread dish; a meat and a vegetable dish and a dessert. Vegetarians are easily catered for!

On the first day you'll choose your menu and go shopping to a local market to buy your ingredients and you may also do some preparation this day depending on the dishes you want to cook (especially if you have chosen to make idli or dosa). The following day you will be shown how to cook your recipes and then enjoy tucking into your sumptuous meal.

If you're interested in discovering more about cooking, we have also arranged for a month of classes where you will attend one session each week for 4 weeks. If food is one of life’s pleasures for you, then this opportunity is not to be missed!

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Tamil Language Lessons


  • 2-Week Tamil course: Price: £40
  • 4-Week Tamil course: Price: £80
  • 8-Week Tamil course: Price: £160
  • 12-Week Tamil course: Price: £240

Vanakam - Welcome! Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to learn Tamil, the official language of Tamil Nadu with one to one lessons with a private tutor. These language lessons are available to do at the same time as your main project. Learning a little Tamil will enrich your time here immeasurably, enabling you to converse with the locals, order a drink in a restaurant and not forgetting watching all the Tamil dramas on TV!

Your lessons will be individually tailored to your requirements and are conducted at the home of local lady who has taught classes amongst the local community. Whatever your level/requirements, the teacher is dedicated in helping you achieve your goals.

For the 2-Week or longer course, lessons will normally be held Monday to Friday for one hour each day (5 hours per week). All you need to take is your own notebook and stationery. Classes are within walking distance of your accommodation.

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Yoga and Meditation Classes

2-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £45
4-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £90
8-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £180
Excludes transport.

Meditation is a mind-body practice and you'll learn to relax your body and mind and create a focused awareness to bring you stillness and inner peace. Your lessons will be conducted at the home of a lady teacher who has more than 7 years' experience as a Yoga Practitioner and Trainer. The courses comprise one x 1-hour lesson per day, Monday to Friday only. The 2 week course will consist of the following:

  • Asanas (posture)
  • Pranayama
  • Kriya
  • Meditation

The 4 and 8 week courses will consist of the same as above, but includes Surya Namaskar.

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Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.




INDIA REALLY HAS IT ALL, from the hot sultry deserts of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and the majestic Himalayas in the north, to the idyllic palm fringed beaches and ancient temples of the south, plus a multitude of wildlife parks! The way to best enjoy India is to absorb it - the warmth of the people, the beauty, the smells, the food, and the wonderful hospitality!

Many of our projects are based in the bustling city of Madurai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Madurai is known by many names; ‘Jasmine city’ for the famous jasmine flowers that are cultivated here, ‘the city of Nectar’, Legend tells of a river of nectar that flowed after blessing from Lord Shiva, and the ‘Temple City’.

Madurai really does have a temple or shrine on practically every street but it is most famed for the Sri Meenakshi Sundeswarar Temple. Pilgrims and tourists alike flock to visit the temple and approximately 10,000 visit every day! The temple is named after goddess Meenakshi. It was built in the 17th century and is an enormous structure with 5 outer towers crammed full of idols and animals. The inner courtyard contains another 7 towers, again all highly adorned. It will take your breath away.

Madurai is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. It is full of cultural diversity and life revolves around the awe inspiring Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, awash with pilgrims, market stalls and tourist shops.

Children will stop you on the streets to chat to you and shake your hand and even ask for your autograph! You will be in demand everywhere you go and you’ll feel like a celebrity, such is the warmth of the Indian people. If you’re after an overwhelming experience, then Madurai is a certainty for this!

KERALA has been named ""Gods own Country" by the locals for its stunning scenery, wildlife, beautiful beaches, picture postcard towns and the breaktaking backwaters. It is also the home of Ayurveda medicine, an ancient system using essential oils and vigorous massage to aid medical complaints or just for pampering - a one hour massage is an unforgettably relaxing experience.

Kerala also has one of the best wildlife parks in the country; Periyar. A huge array of activities are on offer, jungle trekking and jeep safari’s which take you off the beaten track in the hope of spotting an elusive tiger although you are more likely to see elephants, boar, monkeys and many species of birds. You can also take an elephant ride, boat ride, visit spice and tea plantations, watch martial arts – it’s an action packed weekend and only 4 hours from Madurai!


Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.


Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I can't describe how helpful and lovely Karen and Pradeep [Travellers' Managers in India] were the whole time I was there. They were like parents away from home and they did everything in their power to make us all feel 100% welcome at all times and advised us with any concerns we had. I couldn't have asked for better in-country support staff! My accommodation was better than my student flat, so I really can't complain!

From the moment I stepped off the plane and was greeted by Karen and Pradeep at the arrivals hall I knew that what I was about to embark on would turn out to be one of the best experiences of my life! Karen and Pradeep were friendly, welcoming and supporting throughout the whole time I was there, but even after I left they called me and made sure I was doing OK in the rest of my travels.

My medical internship was extraordinary, the people I met were wonderful, and the experience I gained was incomparable to anything I could have ever done in Europe! As long as you were willing to learn, the doctors and nurses were always willing to help you get as much from the experience as you could.

I was given the opportunity to measure the blood pressure for many patients, assist in several surgeries and even suture a wound, to mention a few! I shadowed a urologist called Dr.Ramesh for the majority of the time I was there and he was the best teacher anyone could ever want...knowledgeable, patient and wise!

I could write essays about my time in India but nothing I can say can describe how beautiful it and life-changing it was. If you get the chance, please go!!!!!!!!!

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

It was a very busy town, and extremely hot. However, there was a lot more greenery and this added the colourful exotic atmosphere to Madurai. Through this trip I have come to understand patient and doctor consultations, this being a privilege that is not available in England.

I have not only gained medicinal experience from the hospital; seeing surgeries and caesareans, but have also gained persona; experience like independence and responsibility. The best thing about the placements so far is watching the caesarian birth on Aug 5th 2013 because it is something I can only imagine seeing in university many years from now. It hasn’t just been the many surgeries though talking to the doctors about certain patients has also been amazing.

I would definitively recommend this placement to anyone else as it not only gives you something amazing to put towards university but is also self satisfying. The type of person who would suit this placement should be flexible, easily adapt to situations, adventurous and responsible.

The experience of living with the host family has been friendly and welcoming. They clearly explain aspects of the trip, introduce you to trustworthy people. The experience is amazing.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I have just finished my medicine interviews and I cannot do justice to how important my experience in India was to my application, so much so that yesterday I received an offer from Manchester (where I really wanted to go!).

Not only this but my experience contributed to me getting a job in the NHS. My experience in a foreign healthcare setting gave me something great to talk about in interview and as a result I gained employment as a healthcare assistant (or auxillary nurse) on a surgical ward, again something that impressed at interview, and a job I am not sure I would have gained without my Indian experience, especially when you consider how competitive job applications in the UK are today!

Anyway the main purpose of my e-mail was to thank yourself, Travellers Worldwide, Pradeep, the hospital and, of course, the family that put up with me for a month. If you could pass on my thanks to all that were involved in my stay!

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

The Hospital was a great experience, both the senior and junior doctors took a lot of time out of their schedule to help facilitate my learning experience and I found it amazing to experience the health care system in a developing country and compare them to my experiences in developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

I got to see many different cases, including general and urological specific cases. I was able to observe general, urological and gynaecological surgeries which I found fascinating. I was also shown procedures such as taking blood pressure and I regularly assisted the doctors with this task. I was also fortunate enough to be allowed to 'scrub in' and participate and take the lead on a stent removal which was more than I could have ever wished for without travelling with Travellers.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I got some really good hands on medical experience which I could never have got at home and made some really good friends among the staff. I didn’t really know what to expect before I went, but it was definitely very worthwhile. I really enjoyed interacting with the children in the hospital. They were all so responsive despite their illness and you really felt like you were making a difference to them. I gained a lot of practical experience and also learnt ways of communicating despite the language barrier!

I had an amazing time in India and I have memories which I will carry with me always. India is a fascinating country… I’ve been boring my friends about it ever since!

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I have gained a great deal of practical experience from working on my placement, which should help me a great deal when starting my study at University. I have also had a chance to enjoy a totally different culture from that I am used to in the UK.

The travelling at weekends has been the biggest source of enjoyment. It allows you to get to know the people you are travelling with better and do some activities that I never would have thought about doing back in the UK. I would certainly recommend South India to others.

The medical placement is interesting and useful to me in my future career, but as I am not qualified I tend to be more of an observer than an actual participant in hospital work. I certainly would think that someone qualified would find this placement extremely rewarding as they would obviously be well utilised

Can you describe a typical day?
I arrive at the hospital at 10 and leave at 3, my lunch is at 1 and I normally have about half an hour but I have been told I am welcome to take a full hour. I have been in two departments, Microbiology and now I am in the ICU. Microbiology was mainly observation along with a few practical exercises. I have been ICU for a week now and again it is mainly observation. However, I have been able to help nurses and doctors with certain practical procedures. I am able to follow all of the patient’s cases as their notes are in English and I have access to them. I also have access to the Cath Lab and hopefully will be able to observes certain procedures.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I gained an excellent experience of the culture and about how hospitals are run in India and how it is different to that in England. The best thing about the placement was being able to make friends at work and with other volunteers. I really enjoyed being able to celebrate Pongal with the rest of the people.

I would definitely recommend this placement to others! It was so much fun and I really wish I could have stayed there for longer. The other volunteers and so nice and the people there are so welcoming. They really do go out of their way to help you.

Overall it was a fantastic placement and I really enjoyed myself. Thank you for organising it. I had an excellent time and I’d love to go back when the opportunity arises.

Can you describe a typical day?
Work started at 11, so until then, I’d get ready and have breakfast, and lunch just before I left, so I could make the most of the time I had at work. Once I’d finished work at 4, I’d come home and usually have a nap, as the heat was really tiring. Then in the evening if a friend and I were up for it we'd take a tuk tuk to the market or go somewhere. In the evening usually before dinner I’d go to the internet place and check e-mails. After dinner, we'd all just sit together play cards and have fun, until it was bed time (about 11).

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

Well, I’ve had such a brilliant time over the last few months I don’t know where to start! My project has been great - I have learnt so much and made lots of friends. I am really enjoying learning about the culture here. Also I think I am gradually gaining more confidence with travelling around – public transport etc. It’s great to be supported by Travellers as well as having freedom of spare time.

In relation to my project I am learning about doctor/patient contact and all about different surgeries. Am gaining experience of living with people I’ve never met before! It has helped prepare me for University.

This placement would suit anyone interested in doing Medicine. It can require quite a lot of patience.... waiting around, so someone who wouldn’t mind this. I found that chatting to the nurses helped passed the time at hospital – so a talkative person!! Also, someone happy to do a bit of travelling at weekends – it is really something to look forward to!

I would definitely recommend Travellers!

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

My time in India was first class and I loved every minute of it. The hospital was above and beyond what I was expecting, especially in the type of experience I was getting. I undertook a medical internship initially to get a further feel of things and to make sure I was 100% keen on Medicine. Now I can say after all the experience I received over the past month was outstanding. I never expected to do as much as I did. Helping in surgeries was a major highlight of my experience and it has made me want to apply to medicine so much more.

I don't think I would have got as much out of my time in India if I had planned the trip myself so I am very glad I went through Travellers. So many things made it for me; the other volunteers, staying with a host family, the hospital and everyone there that made me feel extremely welcome. Nothing was ever too much for them to show or explain to me even if it was perhaps a busy day. India as a country is so varied and has a great sense of tradition and culture than I would say our own. To be honest I didn't know what to expect before I left and when I arrived I felt very naive to have thought they all spoke the same language or a majority of the population did. I loved learning all about the culture and also that each state has their own language.

Arriving home was a shock! No honking or noise and I missed it so much for the first few days. I definitely saw a lot when I was there. The stark differences in social class is very prominent and at first I didn't know why people would stand up when walking through the hospital but soon realised that the families of patients would stand out of uttermost respect for the doctors as they progressed through the ward.

Little things, such as whole families attending the appointment with their family member, was a touching thing to see. This in itself was one of the many differences I learnt between the two countries.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I was excited when I first travelled through Madurai as I have never been anywhere like it before. Everything seemed new – the culture was very vibrant and there were so many interesting things to see. I was struck by how loud the traffic was, and how many people there were.

At the Hospital, the nurses and doctors were very friendly which made me feel more comfortable sitting in on the consultation and accompanying the doctor on the ward rounds. I feel I have become more independent since arriving in Madurai, and better at planning ahead. My knowledge of medicine has expanded by looking at X-rays to identify kidney stones, seeing ultrasound scans taking place and talking to doctors about the various conditions people were suffering from. I have become a better communicator also.

Watching a caesarean section has to be the highlight of my trip, as it was fascinating to see a new human being brought into the world. I am also considering surgery as a potential career option, so it was interesting for me to see different procedures which were needed to the operation to be successful, i.e. anaesthetising the mother, removing the umbilical cord.

I would recommend this placement to anyone else, especially people who aren’t afraid to venture out of the comfort zone and try something new. This placement would suit someone who had experience in travelling and a desire to pursue medicine at university.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai
Plus Tamil Language Course and Yoga and Meditation Course

Holly and I took a trip to Varkala in Kerala... for my Birthday and had a lovely time, even though it was rather rainy! We have been away to Kodaikanal, Varkala, Pondicherry and Mamallapuram (with Alex too) and this weekend we will be going to Kanniyakumari with Alex, Ellie and Tara [Volunteers]. Alex, Holly and I plan to spend a week in Kerala from the 20th July visiting Periyar wildlife sanctuary, Munnar and Kochi, and then Holly and I are heading off for 2 weeks on the 2nd August to Banglore, Hampi and Goa. Travelling has been really easy so far and we have really got the hang of train travel! The introduction booklet gave us loads of inspiration for our trips so we have you to thank for that!

The project is fine. The Doctor has been explaining all about the different procedures and conditions, and I have seen several interesting operations including a cesarian! I have been taking notes on everything and have definitely learned a lot. I would have liked to have been able to do more at the hospital. There is a lot of observation, which is interesting, but there are times when the hospital is very quiet and the Doctor is consulting out-patients, all of which is in Tamil so I find it hard to follow. I understand that without any actual training there is little that I can do, but hearing how Alex has been so hand-on at the orphanage makes me want to be able to do something similar.

Holly and I have nearly finished the yoga course, which we both thoroughly enjoyed! I think we will both continue to practice the asanas, even once we no longer have classes. The Tamil was very challenging! But we have lots of vocabulary that we can continue to learn, and the nurses at the hospital love it when I try and make conversation in Tamil with them.

All in all we have loved India so far and can't believe how quickly is has all gone so far! We are very grateful to Travellers and Anitha for making everything so easy and enjoyable for us.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

There was no typical day at the hospital, or in India for that matter! If there was a surgery in the morning then my day would start at about 9:00 in theatre. Otherwise, ward rounds with the consultant would start at 10:00. The ward rounds would normally last about 3 hours, leaving between 2 – 3 hours for lunch which I found was perfect time for exploration.

Coming back to the hospital in the afternoon was really dependant on any elective surgeries. Sometimes if there was an emergency patient brought into A&E I was able to come back after lunch or in the evening for the emergency surgery. The elective surgeries normally started at around 14:00 and most surgeries lasted between 1hr – 9hrs (The longest surgery I witnessed was over 12 hours long! However, the surgeons always ensured that we took as many breaks as we needed).

The Hospital: The hospital was wonderfully welcoming and friendly. Every morning I would be welcomed by the senior sister and her nurses who would sit and talk to me whilst we waited for the consultant. A friendly porter brought us all traditional sweet Indian coffee at 9:30 sharp every day without fail and even though I had very little clinical experience at the time, I felt that I was treated as if I was part of their medical team, allowing me to comfortably ask questions during ward rounds and in surgery.

I was quite surprised at the size of the hospital... The size of the hospital allowed me to get experience in all of the departments – from surgery to physiotherapy and laboratory services.

Surgeries: Working at the hospital unexpectedly allowed me to see a wide array of surgeries. The hospital is one of the leading neurosurgical specialty hospitals and trauma centres in Asia and has a wide array of patients from all over the world. Despite this, whilst there I was fortunate enough to witness almost every surgical specialty: skin grafts; spinal surgery; orthopaedic surgery; facial surgery; hernia repairs; emergency surgery and neurosurgery.

In theatre I was encouraged to ask questions and take notes and accompanying photographs. I found the staff to be extremely friendly and they were able to explain complex surgeries to me in a simple jargon free language that I understood but it didn’t take me long to quickly learn simple anatomy in Tamil. If it was a long surgery (+3hrs) then I was given at least one break where I could step outside the operating theatre and enjoy some delicious, traditional Indian coffee and doughnuts!

Ward Rounds: The ward rounds were particularly interesting. Although all of the consultations and conversations were in Tamil, the consultant took the time to point out the particularly interesting cases to me. The ward rounds covered the whole hospital which was composed of: ICU1, ICU2, HDU, and two floors of private patient rooms.

There were also psychiatric patients in the hospital which allowed me to see the vast range of patients that needed different types of critical care. I feel that the exposure I had to tropical diseases (such as Dengue Fever) will be invaluable to my study of medicine in the slightly less tropical Scotland.

Lunch: Lunch was quite long – so after a few days I learnt to take a book with me. Some afternoons I decided to return home for lunch but most of the time I stayed near the hospital. There was a wide array of places to eat right beside the hospital – both western food and traditional Indian food. I would strongly recommend the small bakeries that are dotted around the vibrant city; I assure you the food is incredible. Once I had lunch, I generally wandered around the surrounding area which gave me an insight into the wonderful city. If any of you choose to take a placement/elective at the hospital, I would definitely recommend the small ice cream parlour beside the cinema at lunchtime – the ice cream is divine!

Evenings and Weekends: The Sri Meenakshi Temple was often where we decided to spend our free time. During the day I found myself wandering around the wonderfully architecture building in a daze at the magnificent craftsmanship that had gone into the build. At night, the temple was transformed: looking sumptuous and dazzling (and surprisingly more densely populated than during the day, if that is possible!). Visiting the temple with the two female volunteers, it was inevitable that we would visit the tailors market every time we passed.

The market was amazing and there really is something for everyone. It was a place that I grew greatly fond of: buying souvenirs, cheap, tailored Indian clothes and a place where I spent the majority of my rupees – even though everything was extremely cheap, but still excellent quality!

At weekends I made the most of my short stay in South India. Among other places, I visited a monkey temple, elephant sanctuary, tiger reserve, Kerala jungle and a spice plantation. Monkey temple was an exhilarating experience: hiking up to the temple to look over the whole of Madurai, surrounded by wild monkeys. My time in Kerala, spent trekking through a tiger reserve and jungle, allowed us to see a quieter and more peaceful side to India. The biodiversity was phenomenal and I must have used up a whole memory card on that trip alone!

Transport: Getting around India has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. Whizzing around the hectic streets of India in an auto-rickshaw by a fearless auto-driver is something I will never forget. After getting over the craziness of the traffic system, I realised that this was the best, safest and easiest way to see the city. In terms of travelling, the busses run regularly from Madurai Bus Station to places all over India. The public are all very friendly and will do anything they can to help you. Travelling through India has shown me that this is one of the friendliest countries on Earth.

Living: I honestly believe that they best way to truly experience India is to live with a host family. The family I stayed with were extremely welcoming and friendly – I was treated as if I was their son. Living with the family I was able to attend weddings and various other celebrations which allowed me to experience the wonderful culture of India first hand. The food was wonderful. There was a great variety of traditional Indian cuisine – dosa and idly - and also the option to dine out at nearby restaurants or hotels. I still keep in contact with my host parents and I am sure that I will be back to visit them in the near future.

In addition the in-country support is phenomenal. Anita was absolutely wonderful and was able to sort out any problems I had….. as well as giving me the occasional delicious dinner!

I set out on my trip to India to gain medical experience in a foreign healthcare system. I came away with so much more than I expected. It is an experience I will never forget and somewhere I will definitely return to in the very near future. I would recommend this medical experience to anyone who is studying medicine or nursing or who has an ambition to study a healthcare related subject at university or college.

India, on the other hand, I would recommend to the world.

Medical Work Experience Internship in Madurai

I spent from the beginning of January to the end of March in Madurai, southern India, pursuing my interest in medicine by doing work experience in a hospital there. I went with a company called Travellers Worldwide, which I found on the Internet while looking for medical work experience abroad. It had a variety of projects located in Madurai. When I arrived I was given the choice to stay in the same hospital for the whole three months or to move around. I chose to stay in one hospital for all three months, which I’m glad I did since the longer I was there the more interesting were the activities that I was allowed to do.

The Hospitals: Health care in India is predominantly privately run so, apart from the few government hospitals, all the ‘hospitals’ in Madurai were more like clinics with just a few specialist doctors working in each. The government hospitals are more similar to our picture of a hospital, with many specialities under one roof. The services here are much cheaper than elsewhere, but the conditions and hygiene of the hospital are very poor.

The hospital that I was placed in was run by two doctors who were husband and wife, an Urologist and a Gynaecologist. The doctor that I shadowed for the three months, owned the hospital and specialised in Urology, but he also did general practice. His wife took paediatric cases as well as the gynaecological cases. This was one of the bigger privately owned hospitals in Madurai and had about fifty beds for in-patients, a laboratory, x-ray and ultrasound scan rooms, an operating theatre and a labour room. The hospital was also in the process of building a large new wing.

My Work: My schedule consisted of going into the hospital for about two and a half hours in the morning where I would sit in on patient consultations. All these consultations were in Tamil, the state language, but the doctor spoke excellent English and he always explained what had been going on afterwards. If there was a particularly interesting case I would be asked to come and observe or feel the problem. The doctor would describe what I was looking at or feeling and he would also direct me what to feel for in relevant cases. This way I became familiar with recognising hernias and swollen abdominal organs.

From the beginning I was taught how to take a blood pressure manually and in consultations it became normal practice for me to take the patients’ blood pressure. In the afternoon there would often be surgery of various kinds occurring and if so I would go into the hospital around 3:30pm until 7pm. The exact times used to vary depending on how many surgeries where going on that day or if a visiting surgeon wanted to do the surgery earlier in the afternoon.

Many of the patients attending the consultations came regularly every day to have the dressings on their diabetic ulcers changed. The majority of the population have diabetes in India since they are genetically more at risk, eat a great deal of sweet food and have a high carbohydrate diet. A high proportion of patients came in with ulcers on their feet since most people seemed to walk everywhere bare foot. With all ailments, but especially these ulcers, patients didn’t come to the doctor until they absolutely had to, so their symptoms were almost always acute. This was particularly instructive for me, however, as the worse the case the more interesting the diagnostic and treatment processes.

I particularly liked to see patients during consultations and then see them a few days later in surgery, as I then knew exactly what was wrong with them and what was being done to correct the problem.

I enjoyed watching the surgery more than observing consultations as I found seeing the many structures and organs in their proper places within the body fascinating. Although I am not very keen on dissecting dead organs, surgery on live bodies is completely different, with all the tissues such a healthy colour and none of the off-putting smell experienced with dissection. At first I was only allowed to watch from the side-lines, but I was in the operating theatre and could see well since I could move to any position around the table and come as close as I wanted, providing I didn’t get in the way or touch the sterile area of the table. This was perfect at the beginning since I had never seen human surgery and didn’t know how I would react to it the first few times.

After a month or so I was allowed to scrub up occasionally and helped the surgeon by holding instruments and grips and passing items to the operating staff. I loved this as I was as close as possible to the action and could see exactly what was happening inside.

On these occasions I was also allowed to gently probe inside and actually feel what the various tissues were like. Most of them felt much tougher than I expected. The doctor and his anaesthetist always explained to me what was going on, as did his wife whenever I watched one of her surgeries, and I was encouraged to ask questions. Towards the end of the three months I was scrubbing up for almost every surgery and on one occasion I was allowed to do a few stitches.

I was so lucky to be able to experience a range of surgical techniques as the Indian medical profession are in no way behind the West in this respect. I saw key hole surgery since, unless there was a complication, the doctor always removed the Gall Bladder in this way from patients with gall stones. I saw many laposcopic and siscopic surgeries for bladder stones and reduction of the prostate.

All kinds of stones were a common complaint of patients coming into the hospital. The local water contains a high percentage of calcium and so the calcium deposits in the bladder and gall bladder where larger than would be found in England. I also saw open surgery in many areas of the body.

Since the operating theatre was so good the doctor would often get visiting surgeons in to perform surgeries that were not his speciality or that he could not perform himself. I also saw all his wife’s surgeries that included hysterectomies, terminations and caesareans and witnessed orthopaedic surgery and a few different kinds of plastic surgeries. Since the doctor was an urologist I saw a great deal of abdominal surgery such as hernia reparations. I really enjoyed watching an appendix removal as that is the only major surgery that I’ve experienced and seeing what it entailed was fascinating.

Accommodation and Travel:When I first arrived one girl had been working in the orphanage for six months, but the majority of the volunteers stayed anywhere between one and two months with a few staying just two weeks and a few others doing three months like me. I really enjoyed living with other westerners as I think I would have been lonelier with a host family. The locals were all friendly and accommodating, but their culture is so different from our own that they find it difficult to understand concepts we would think normal. In the house we had a lady who cooked for us and was always in the house. She was called Jeya and acted a little like a mother, cooking our favourite meals and so on. We also had a cleaner who came in every day to clean both houses and a rotation of security guards outside both houses day and night. The houses were comfortable and really quite Western.

My travelling to and from work was almost always done in “autos”. These were small, three wheeled motor vehicles, which were driven within an inch of all other obstacles, animals, people or other vehicles, but never exceeded about 15 mph. The roads were fun since they were packed with other vehicles and few rules of the roads, except not to hit the cows, which were left free to wander wherever they pleased including across the main roads! We had regular drivers, organised and paid for by Travellers.

During the three months I was in Madurai I took the opportunities provided at weekends to travel around the south of India a little bit. I managed to get away four times. Two of the places I visited where close by, by which I mean just four hours drive on a crowed government bus, while the other two were at least ten-hour overnight journeys. For the longer weekends I took the Friday off work.

Safety: While I was preparing to go to India over Christmas, I made a decision not to take anything of value with me. I had heard many tales of possessions being stolen from one’s room, one’s bag and just about everywhere else. I think I was luckier than most since I lived in a fixed home and knew from the beginning that anything I left in the house would be safe since Jeya was nearly always in the house. There was always a security man on duty and everyone who worked in the house, like the cleaner, knew it was more than their job was worth to steal anything. I always kept my bag close to me when I was out and about and I never experienced any attempts to grab it. Once, when on a train, I saw a fellow traveller drop a purse on the ground and an Indian man picked it up and gave it back. The only other place I left my bag unattended was at my hospital and in the last few weeks of my stay I had 1000 rupees stolen. The doctor however, refunded me on my last day, which I hadn’t expected at all and felt it was very kind of him. My advice would be never to carry large sums around, unless of course essential for travelling. I usually carried a maximum of 500 rupees, but on that occasion I had been planning to pay the local tailor who had made up some dresses and trousers for me.

Conclusion: I strongly feel that my time in India was everything I hoped it would be. I managed to see and experience so many medical and surgical procedures and cases that would never have been possible in the UK and I had a fantastic time as well.

I’ve stayed in touch with many of the people I met in the house and I hope to remain in touch with the doctor and the hospital. I would certainly like to re-visit and explore more of southern India as I didn’t do much travelling and I would also love to go back to the hospital in the future, perhaps on my elective period during medical training.

I am certain that this unusual experience helped me to obtain the three offers that I have received following interviews at my chosen universities. I am grateful to all the sponsors who have shown interest and provided financial support to allow me to complete this very worthwhile and unforgettable project.