Sri Lanka – Medical and Nursing Program

Free 3rd Week Grant – Get the 3rd week free when you sign up for two weeks or more. Limited grants available for start dates between November 2024 and December 2024. Schedule a call to apply.


Join GoEco on the tropical coast of southern Sri Lanka, where you can gain invaluable experience in the nursing and medical fields. This program stands as one of the most comprehensive medical volunteer programs in Asia, welcoming pre-med, medical, and nursing students to take part and make a meaningful impact. It also takes advantage of Sri Lanka’s free healthcare system, which provides access to a wide network of professionals, a high volume of patients, and exposure to various wards and special units.


Program Highlights:

  • Become more passionate about your major
  • Gain international experience and enhance your CV
  • Observe practices in a renowned teaching hospital, private hospital or rehabilitation center
  • Live in proximity to world-class beaches
  • Explore Sri Lanka with fellow volunteers on weekends to make lasting memories
  • Enjoy weekly rooftop yoga sessions, nighttime fishing trips, weekly movie nights, monthly bike tours and monthly barbecues


Your schedule at a glance (Minimum one-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Saturday: Airport pickup according to scheduled flight and shared transfer to volunteer villa. Meet and greet with fellow volunteers.

Day 1, Sunday: Volunteers will receive an area orientation tour and project training if not done on Saturday. Enjoy the rest of this day by exploring local beaches with fellow volunteers or joining an adventure! (See “Travel Highlights” below for recommendations!)

Days 2-6, Monday-Friday: Gain valuable experience at your assigned placement.

Day 7, Saturday: Departure day for volunteers staying just one week. Free time for volunteers who are extending.

Remaining Weeks: The following weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having weekends free. Departures are on Saturdays.


Location icon Location of the Project: Galle, Sri Lanka

Project length Project length: Minimum 1 week – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Observational work, patient care

Age Age: Minimum age 18

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 28 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Please note for public sector placements volunteers should apply at least one month in advance.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a volunteer villa

Food Food: Three meals per day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Shared airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days at specific hours. Upgrades to private transfers are available for an additional fee.

Orientation Orientation: Upon arrival, volunteers will receive a walking tour and welcome/ introductory training presentations.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, online ETA Visa (around $35), travel health insurance and personal expenses

This program is near Galle, a beautiful area in southern Sri Lanka that is surrounded by lush greenery and is in proximity to world-class beaches! Many of the nearby beaches are prime surfing spots, and others are more relaxing. There is even a turtle lagoon nearby. Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient religious buildings, museums and more. Galle is also quite trendy, and is home to cafes, specialty shops and boutique hotels.


This program is ideal for both non-medical students and medical students who are looking to specialize! Most of the volunteer work is observational and varies depending on the following placement.

Pre-Medical Placement: Designed for participants without formal medical education who want to explore the medical field. It provides a broad-based understanding of the medical sector through observation-based learning experiences. As a volunteer, you will gain exposure to various wards, units, and institutions, learning about the medical system in Sri Lanka and tropical diseases prevalent in the region. This placement aims to help determine if a medical career is a potential path for you.

Medical Internship: Targeted towards participants already pursuing or having completed formal medical studies. It offers a more specialized and hands-on experience in specific medical areas, allowing participants to engage in tasks specific to their level of knowledge and skill. As an intern, you will rotate through different hospital departments, observe surgeries, assist medical teams, and gain practical experience in their chosen medical field. The program focuses on further developing clinical skills and deepening understanding of specific areas of medicine.

Nursing Internship: Suitable for nursing students enrolled in or recently completed a nursing degree. The program provides rotations between various wards and units in public hospitals, focusing on practical nursing experience and engagement within the nursing field. As an intern, you will gain exposure to diverse patient care settings, medical specialties, and nursing practices.

Level of Involvement:

Pre-Medical Placement: Participants primarily engage in observation-based learning, gaining exposure to various medical settings. The level of engagement varies depending on factors, such as the participant’s background/skill set and rapport with local hospital staff. Some units may offer more hands-on work than others.

Medical Internship: Medical interns, with their formal medical background, have the opportunity for hands-on involvement based on their capabilities and rapport with the local hospital staff. The level of engagement varies across departments within the hospital. More advanced medical students may volunteer in specialized units such as vascular surgery, pediatric cardiology, oncology and neurosurgery.

Nursing Internship: Nursing interns actively take part in patient care activities, assist medical staff, and observe specialized procedures. The level of involvement is based on the intern’s capabilities and rapport with local nurses, allowing for hands-on experiences within their scope of nursing practice.


Volunteer work locations: 

Depending on availability and your level of study, skill or interest, the following institutions and wards are available:

Teaching Hospital Karapitiya: The largest public hospital in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and the third-largest hospital in the country. It has a capacity of approximately 2,000 beds, 54 wards, and several specialized units. Examples of wards include:

  • Maternity Care Units: Experience the different aspects of maternity care, including antenatal and postnatal care, labor room help, and observing obstetric procedures.
  • Emergency Treatment Centre: Gain exposure to emergency medicine, bedside teaching, and observation of live surgeries in the casualty operation theater.
  • Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Unit: Support patients in their daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy exercises, and engage in activities to enhance their mental well-being.
  • General Pediatrics Unit: Study patient histories, take part in ward rounds, and engage in activities to socialize with children under parental consent.
  • General Medical Units: Join ward rounds, attend lectures, and gain exposure to various medical cases and patient management.
  • General Surgical Units: Assist in wound dressing, observe live surgeries such as Cholecystectomy and Hernia repair, and take part in ward rounds.
  • Psychiatry Ward (for advanced medical students): Assist in the treatment of mental disorders alongside the specialized local team.
  • Rheumatology Department (for advanced medical students): Assist in the treatment and care of patients with musculoskeletal diseases.
  • Observation of Special Surgeries: Depending on availability, observe surgeries in specialties such as vascular, plastic, urology, neuro, casualty, and oncology.


Government Ayurveda Institute: A hospital specializing in the traditional medicinal practice of Ayurveda.

Community Projects: Collaboration with local schools and community organizations. Activities include first aid training, promoting hygiene practices, assisting medical campaigns, engaging with special needs children, and socializing with older adults.

All the above institutions are conveniently within 30 minutes of the volunteer house, ensuring easy accessibility for program participants.


Please note that for public sector placements volunteers should apply at least three-four months in advance. The experience in the hospital is largely observation-based, with certain units offering more hands-on work than others. The level of involvement for each student depends on factors such as their background, skill set, relationship with the local hospital staff, and the specific department’s practices and policies.


Schedule: Volunteers will wake early, around 6:00-6:30 AM, enjoy breakfast and arrive at their placement by 8:00 AM. Volunteers work between three to five hours per day, Monday-Friday, with lunch on-site around noon. Evenings are free except on days with evening surgery observations. During the weekends and local holidays, the program does not run and volunteers can enjoy sight seeing activities.

Internet icon Internet: Each volunteer may use up to 10 GB of Wi-Fi in the volunteer house during their stay.

Laundry icon  Laundry: Laundry services are available for an additional fee. Additional data can be purchased at affordable rates.

Accommodations icon   Accommodations: Depending on availability, volunteers will be placed in one of two main program houses located about 100 meters from one another. Except for separate bedrooms and dining areas, all volunteers will have equal access to all facilities, including the common features across both properties.

  • Main Volunteer House: The main volunteer house is the hub for all volunteer programs and activities. This main house offers single-gender rooms in a volunteer villa overlooking the beach and Indian Ocean. The villa has 11 bedrooms with fans, 11 bathrooms and showers with hot water. Rooms are shared with a maximum of 4 volunteers per room. There is also a private pool on site for all volunteers to make use. The house has eco-friendly features including solar heating panels. There may be up to 52 volunteers in the house at a time. Private rooms (single or double) and AC rooms are available for an extra fee.
  • Secondary Volunteer House – beachside: The property is located right across the road from Unawatuna Beach and about 100 metres from the main House. It has 12 spacious bedrooms of varying sizes with attached en suite bathrooms each with air-conditioning facilities (most rooms also have attached outdoor balconies). There is also a separate dining area, small garden, lounge, terrace and a large program office with permanent staff onsite. Private rooms (single or double) and AC rooms are available for an extra fee.


Food icon  Food: Three meals per day will be prepared by the in-house chefs, using local, fresh ingredients. Tropical fruit is available during every meal and there is a salad bar set up during most lunches and dinners. Vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, and lactose-free diets can be accommodated with advance notice. Tea, coffee and filtered water are available 24/7.

Requirements for pre-med volunteers 

  • Applicants don’t need to be enrolled in biology or medical classes to join this program
  • Online ETA entry visa. We will send you the full instructions following the application.
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Police clearance form
  • Proficiency in English
  • CV or resume
  • Motivation Letter (or Intent Letter) describing personal background and rationale for
    pursuing this internship
  • Copy of passport
  • Police clearance


Additional requirements for medical interns: 

  • Medical or nursing student
  • University reference letter
  • Passport sized photo
  • Elective information sheet provided by the hospital

Volunteers can enjoy weekly evening yoga session on the rooftop, night fishing trips, weekly movie nights, monthly bike tours and barbecues! Additional travel adventures are available for an additional fee, and we list a few recommendations below:


Adventure Tour (Highly Recommended):
Extend your stay in Sri Lanka by participating in a seven-day Adventure Tour! This adventure tour includes a game drive, visits to waterfalls, a long train ride, an overnight stay at a riverside eco lodge, visit to temples, a village walk, visit to a spice grove, a visit to Lion Rock, time in the local market and a trip to Negombo Beach!


Additional Recommendations:

  • Elephant safari
  • Rainforest hike
  • Surfing lessons on nearby beaches
  • Whale watching (during the season)
  • Cooking class
  • Fort Galle visit

Volunteer Experiences

Want to join this program?