James Cook University 2024

Medical, Nepal Kathmandu

Chinmay is a final-year medical student from James Cook University with a clinical interest in plastic surgery and burns. Chinmay travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal, to complete his two-week medical placement.

I was inspired to undertake an overseas placement because I wanted to explore the similarities and differences between a foreign healthcare system and the system back home. 

In particular, I wanted to gain some perspective on practices, cultural norms, and patient care overseas. 


Despite being made aware of what the hospitals would be like in Kathmandu, I was still quite overwhelmed by the conditions of the hospital on the first day: the number of people present, the chaos in the ED, and the state of the wards.

During my placement, I learned a great deal about plastic surgery. For example the different types of flaps and grafts and the broad scope of practice of a plastic surgeon. 

I also learned to create dressings using gauze, crepe, and tape. I learned the different indications for suture materials, techniques, and approaches to join and close different tissues. 

A memorable case during my time in Kathmandu was a patient admitted with severe electrical burns across his arms, back, and legs. The patient had 3rd-degree burns covering 30% total body surface area, his back looked like charcoal.

"The reconstructive surgeries for his burns were complex and interesting, but his condition was critical."

The reconstructive surgeries for his burns were complex and interesting, but his condition was critical. It was very difficult to see his family be briefed and informed regarding his prognosis. 

Surprisingly, there were similarities between surgery in Kathmandu and Australia in terms of OT practices, surgical techniques and principles of care. 

It was interesting to see that patients were responsible for buying their own medical supplies, and doctors would rely on resources their patients could afford. But, in a relatively low-resource setting, the plastics team provided a high standard of care given their circumstances. 


During my free weekend, I took the night bus to Pokhara, which I highly recommend to anyone travelling to Nepal. I went paragliding, took a boat out on the lake, and visited plenty of cultural sites and temples.

If you’re considering undertaking a Work the World placement, don’t hesitate to do it! Work the World really looks out for you. 

Kathmandu is such a vibrant city. Everyone is so friendly, the city has such a rich culture to explore, and the hospital offers a great learning environment.

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