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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why are Sri Lankan junior doctors highly regarded in the UK?

Why are Sri Lankan junior doctors highly regarded in the UK? 
By Mahendra Gonsalkorale
It is a fact that doctors trained in Sri Lanka are well respected and welcomed in the UK. I cannot speak for more recent generations as I am now retired and out of touch but my younger colleagues inform me that this still applies. I can certainly speak for doctors of my generation and soon after. It is not just my experience but that of many of my friends and colleagues that interview committees sit up and take notice when they have a Sri Lankan doctor in front of them. There are numerous occasions when a Consultant with whom I have worked even as a locum asks me whether I have any friends looking for jobs. There is no doubt in my mind that Consultants in theUK, who have had Sri Lankan junior doctors working with them, develop a soft spot for them. I often wondered why, and these are some of my thoughts and I would welcome colleagues in the UK to comment and contribute.
What is a senior doctor looking for when they select a junior to work for them in their “Firm”?  Those were the good old days when clinicians worked in Teams with the Boss, a Senior Registrar orRegistrar, and Senior House Officers based in designated single or shared wards with responsibility for 24hour care for their patients. Sadly this concept has faded, thanks to working hour directives and other organisational changes. My view is that they look for a doctor with the following attributes.
1.       Clinical competence.
2.       Good command of the language and ability to communicate with patients and staff.

3.       Reliable and willing to work hard.

4.       Willingness to step in when there is a problem with staffing.
Sri Lankan doctors excelled in all above criteria. In addition, they endeared them to their ‘bosses’by displaying a healthy respect for them.  This at times went too far in their view and they found it a bit uncomfortable when these juniors used the word “Sir” every time they spoke to the Boss! It was of course our tradition In Sri Lanka to “sir” our bosses out of respect. Sri Lankans also have this habit of smiling even when they are criticised and we are very pleasant and friendly by nature. Those in my generation were also very familiar with typically “British” things such as English literature and history, the quirky British sense of humour (often lost in other Sub-continent Nationals) and of course that strong binding force, cricket. One thing we lacked in our early days was confidence in presenting a history and articulating a management plan with confidence. Our tendency to mutter words without coming out in a coherent statement was noticeable but our bosses empathised with us and helped us to gain these skills.
In short, we were regarded as competent, likeable, hardworking and respectful. No amount of desirable social behaviour would compensate for overall clinical competence and we had that in abundance, thanks to the excellent grounding we had in our Medical training in Sri Lanka.



  1. Speedy, I agree with you entirely. That has been my experience too. We owe it to our teachers at school and Medical College and also to our parents. The Junior doctors nowadays have much protection than we ever had. Which is indeed a good thing.
    ND Amerasekera

  2. Welcome to Doctors to give their services on online via Patients are awaiting to book doctors appointment.

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