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Header image: Courtesy Prof. Rohan Jayasekara, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo (2011 - 2014).
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.
2.Good command of the language and
ability to communicate with patients and staff.
3.Reliable and willing to work
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.