On the front line: studying medicine during a pandemic
Course: Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery
Institute: James Cook University
URL: Study at James Cook University in Queensland - JCU Australia
Location: Innisfail, Queensland
Every day Dinuka Arivarathna is experiencing the emerging challenges that come with fighting Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic. Coming from his home of Sri Lanka, Dinuka is currently studying a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University.
On the frontline
When I came to Australia to study, I never could have guessed that the
skills I was learning would be used in a health crisis. Every day I am
challenged to keep up with the changing circumstances of the COVID-19
pandemic and while this is a difficult challenge to face, the fact that I
can contribute to easing people’s struggles during this time is an
As a part of my final year studying a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of
Surgery at James Cook University, I’ve been taking part in an extended
placement at the Innisfail Hospital in Far North Queensland.
My confidence has grown immensely over the past few months thanks to the
guidance of the clinical supervisors at the hospital. The wide range of
medical cases I see every day at Innisfail has allowed me to learn a lot
about tropical, rural and remote medicine, and has increased my clinical
reasoning skills and clinical knowledge.
These are challenging circumstances to take my first steps in the medical
field, but in many ways it has helped to make me a better, more confident
Global health education
As a part of my studies at James Cook University I took part in tutorials
and workshops about global health and pandemic scenarios. I never could
have anticipated that the knowledge would be an essential part of my
day-to-day life in the near future.
While classroom learning can never fully prepare you for the real thing,
that fact that I had some knowledge to build upon has been one of the
things I’ve been grateful for during this time.
This classroom knowledge, combined with the financial and psychological
support that James Cook University has provided international students
throughout the pandemic, has made me feel confident and supported every
step of the way.
Looking to the future
While it’s important to focus on what the world needs from us medical
students right now, I am also looking forward to the future medical career
that my studies and placement have prepared me for. After experiencing work
at Innisfail, I’m excited by the idea of working in emergency. But I also
enjoy working with children, so I could instead follow a career in
We will all get through this pandemic together, and it's our responsibility
as individuals to contribute to the health and safety of our communities.