Award winning Nursing Student Charitha shares her experience

Charitha Ranasinghe, a student who successfully completed the IIHS - TAFESA pathway and obtained the registration as an Enrolled Nurse in Australia is presently reading for her Bachelor of Nursing at University of South Australia.  Sharing her thoughts and experience Charith expressed below views on the program;

“I completed the Certificate in Health Sciences at IIHS and then transferred to TAFE SA for the Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled). IIHS has a wonderful panel of foreign and locally qualified lecturers who are committed to deliver the best for the students and have all the required facilities including state of the art lecture halls, simulation laboratories & latest learning tools such as Virtual Learning Environment. I had individual attention from the lecturers and it was a great opportunity to identify my weaknesses and to improve myself. This gave me the necessary skills to easily fit in to the Australian Higher Education system.

IIHS (www.iihsciences.com) provides various opportunities for students to sharpen their skills and to make great changes in their lives. The research I did as part of my studies under the supervision of IIHS lecturers was selected to be presented at the 22nd European Students Conference in Berlin, Germany and I managed to secure the ‘Best Poster Presentation Award’ in the conference. Just like me many of the IIHS undergraduate students have presented their researchers in international nursing conferences aboard.

Currently I am the Chairperson for Sri Lanka National Chapter of International Working Group for Advancement of Evidence-Based Health Care, as the Regional Chairperson and Ambassador for International Medical Journal for Students’ Research (IMJSR) and I’m also South Australia’s representative to the International Students Strategy for Australia (ISSA) International Student Consultative Committee.

 At Gilles Plains TAFE Campus in Adelaide we experienced good theory lecture sessions and also clinical exposure from our clinical placements both in government and private organisations. Some of these placements were held in Modbury Hospital (Surgical, medical and palliative care units), Women’s and children’s hospital, Child and Family health Clinics, Adelaide Remand center and various aged care facilities. Moreover, we had both practical and theory sessions at TAFE and we had many workshops and sessions regarding manual handling, first aid and on hepatitis.

With respect to part time work, all students are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight. Since we had done the Certificate in Health Sciences at IIHS I was able to secure a part time job as a caregiver in one of the elderly care centres’ and on average I earned AUD 22 per hour. But this goes up to nearly AUD 33 during weekends. At the end of the first fortnight (02 week pay period) I was able to earn a sum of AUD 1,126 by working only 40 hours which is the limit allowed to students. Upon completion of the Diploma and meeting the required level of IELTS I was able to obtain registration as ‘Enroled Nurses’ on the Nursing and Midwifery Board in Australia. This enabled me to work as an Enroled Nurse in Australia on part time basis whist reading for the Bachelors for another 2 years. There are many opportunities for qualified nurses in the world. 
So far there are about 20 students studying and working in Australia through this pathway and all the students are doing really well in Australia.

Most Sri Lankan students who envisage in pursuing a career in Healthcare have the ultimate goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. But with the limited opportunity available in the country very few students are able to fulfil this objective. But from the recent past the immense growth in the demand for Nursing and other Allied Health Sciences in the global arena has motivated students to pay more attention towards becoming such healthcare professionals. Nursing is regarded as one of the most demanded professions in the world. The incentives offered for such professionals are very lucrative where the average salary of a Registered Nurse in international settings ranges from 49,000 USD to 130,000 USD per year depending on qualifications and experience.

The Certificate in Health Sciences – Pathway to Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled) programme conducted at IIHS in affiliation with TAFE South Australia is a 1 year programme in Sri Lanka where the students move in to Australia to complete Diploma of Nursing (Enroled) at TAFE South Australia within 15 months. By completing the one year in Sri Lanka, students save a large amount of money in terms of university fees and accommodation fees. The studies of one year at IIHS open up the pathway to three programs; Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled), Diploma in Reflexology and Diploma in Massage Therapy, and students can select a program of their interest with. 
Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, Deputy Chairman of IIHS who is not only an accomplished Consultant Medical Administrator but a Qualified Master Trainer states “most importantly, pathways are available even for students who have completed O/Ls to obtain a world Class Bachelor of Nursing qualification in Australia within a time frame of less than 4.5 years. The 1st year studies at IIHS are done under the supervision of TAFE South Australia. Lecturers from TAFE South Australia also visit IIHS to conduct lectures and assessments to make sure that the students get the same experience that they get by studying in Australia.

If you have the same passion and courage to become a world class Nursing Professional and to become a figurehead in the global healthcare arena, join IIHS and make your dreams a reality.

Registrations are now open for the 6th intake of Certificate in Health Sciences – Pathway to Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled) program. More information could be obtained from IIHS at No. 704, Negombo Rd, Welisara or from IIHS Hotline- 0114 6511 44, Mobile- 0774 14 23 98, 0727 115 114, 0773 11 43 81 or from their website - www.iihsciences.com.


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IHS Student Council organized “IIHS Ape Awrudu” Sinhala & Tamil New Year celebrations for the 3rd consecutive time at the college premises. This event rendered joyful memories of astonishing traditional dresses of students. The students enjoyed taking part in the traditional Sinhala games and it showed how the youngsters value Sri Lankan culture.

International Institute of Health Science Diploma Award ceremony was held recently under the patronage of the Senior Minister for International Monetary Co-operation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Sarath Amunugama at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Auditorium.

President of IIHS Professor Mahinda Balasuriya, Vice President of IIHS Professor Kithsiri Edirisinghe, Professor Gunapala Nanayakkara and several other professors and doctors took part in the ceremony.DSC04052

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The changes in the education sector in the recent past have been adopted and encouraged by the government as they were more focused on practicality. However, education for the nurses has so far escaped the attention of the government. More than medicating and treating patients, nursing has more to do with skills, attitudes and morals.

In an exclusive interview with Ceylon FT the International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS) Deputy Chairman Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, shares insights into nursing education provided at the institute and the skills that the institute provides for the nurses in Sri Lanka. 

Q: Why is it that nursing education is not encouraged in Sri Lanka? 

A: People have good gear boxes in other words Adoptability.  They can change their mindsets according to the situations. All students who study bio science for their advance levels are eagerly waiting to become doctors. If they aren’t eligible to enter the medical faculty, they choose another path as their future career like Information Technology, Financial Accounting and CIMA. These courses are available anywhere now in Sri Lanka. They shift gear towards different paths. 

After finishing the degree they find jobs, and have to compete with the people who are brought up from that particular educational back ground. It is here that the problem arises. They will not find jobs as they want. If there aren’t jobs there’s no point in becoming a degree holder. People need to look at the demand outside. Today there is a need for nursing education with proper skills and attitudes for the younger generation. The International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS) is a place that will fulfil the need for an appropriate nursing education. The biggest problem in the nursing sector in Sri Lanka is that the image of the nurse is not recognized. 

Q: In what way do the nurses from your institute differ from other nursing schools?

A: The making of a nurse is extremely difficult. Nurses can’t just give doses of medicine to the patients and wait till they get cured.  They will have to handle different types of patients. Some patients need extreme care; so the nurses have to be patient. Most patients and their relatives don’t really understand the medical terms used by the doctors — even the people who are well educated. They will not ask the doctors to explain it to them, but they will come to nurses seeking an explanation. So the nurses need to be knowledgeable to handle such situations where they need to be more communicative and compassionate.

In Sri Lanka, more than the city hospitals it is the hospitals in the villages that need nurses. The people there need proper assistance to handle their diseases.  We train nurses who are from government and private hospitals. We create awareness of nursing education and develop skills that are required to work in Sri Lankan hospitals and the hospitals out of the country. 

Our campus is a green campus with the availability of free air and calmness. Also we are a group affiliated with foreign universities and their education standards. In Sri Lanka, with a three year diploma, a nurse could get remuneration of an average of Rs 30,000. But in foreign hospitals, a registered nurse gets Rs 600,000 as a basic salary and an assistant nurse would earn Rs 450,000 per month. Only a CEO of a big corporate with more than 10 years of professional experience will be able to earn such a salary in our country. We are preparing our students to work according to global standards and give them professional recognition which is recognized by many international hospitals and is not merely a certificate.

We offer world-class facilities at our institution which is built to function in accordance with Green Concepts and houses state-of-the-art lecture theatres, seminar rooms as well as simulation labs, library, reading areas, IT labs with broadband internet and recreation areas creating a campus atmosphere which contributes to a relaxed learning environment. At the centre of the campus stands a 110 year old heritage building which functions as the College House.

Q: What are the courses that are available at the Institute?

A: Our vision is to build human capital by supplying the international infrastructure and to bring innovation to the training of healthcare professionalWe are a Healthcare training organization, born to bring innovation to healthcare training at a green campus, infusing the traditional values of Healthcare professionalism, whilst adhering to international training standards to improve the quality of lives of healthcare professionals through developing their personalities, by partnering with international organizations, to provide a total solution to the global healthcare professional need.

IIHS Pvt Ltd is the transformation of American College of Health Sciences.  American College of Health Sciences, was set up in January 2003. Dr. Nihal de Silva was a Founding Board Member/Director of American College of Health Sciences in Sri Lanka and is now the Dean of IIHS. Dr. Nihal de Silva holds a MD degree from National Osaka University and possesses and unrestricted Japanese Medical Licence from the Ministry of Health.

He has also worked as an Assistant Clinical Professor Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Stanford University and as the Head of Maternal Foetal Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Hospital Network Hayward, California. USA. He has worked as the Chief Primatologist for ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company) Hospitals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

We offer programmes in areas Nursing, Physical Therapy, Biotechnology and Hospital Management. We offer students a chance to deliver the best in care, and help support healthy living, preparing students for a diverse and challenging career that makes a difference in people’s lives. We offer local diplomas in Hospital Administration, Personal Care Assistants, General Nursing, and Physiotherapy. As foreign diplomas, we offer Diploma of Laboratory Technology, Specialized in Biotechnology offered by Boxhill TAFE Australia and Diploma of Nursing offered by TAFE South Australia.

Bachelor degree programmes that we offer are foreign degrees and the students can to follow this after completing their diplomas. We have bachelor degrees such as Bachelor of Technology -  Healthcare Management offered by State University of New York at Canton, Bachelor of Nursing at Deakin University Australia, Bachelor (Hons) Nursing Science at Open University Malaysia and BSc in Nursing at Edith Cowan University Australia.

The students can also follow an internationally recognized American Associate Degree in Physiotherapy right here in Sri Lanka. The nurses from government and the private hospitals can follow Masters Degree programmes after completing their BSc degree programmes and the Master of Health & Aged Services Management offered by Edith Cowan University, Australia. We also provide facilities to the students to follow IELTS at IIHS to start their journey towards international education and employment.

We deliver special programs to cater the government sector nurses as well. Bachelor (Hons) Nursing Science awarded by the Open University Malaysia is one of the most popular programs. This is a two year part time program which allows Nurses to upgrade their Diploma to a world recognised Bachelors while they are working. At the moment over 50 government nurses are following this program.

The other program is the Master of Nursing program which will be starting from the 26th May 2012. This is the 1st ever Masters of Nursing program which will be delivered fully in Sri Lanka. This is also a two year part time program and this focuses on developing Nursing Leaders according to International standards. We’ll be introducing PhD program in Nursing next year & thus contributing towards developing a fully fledged Nursing education in Sri Lanka.

Q: What are the basic qualifications needed to follow these programmes 

A: That depends on the program. We have many pathways to cater the students with different education backgrounds. For undergraduate and foundation programs we consider O/L & A/Ls as entry qualifications & Bachelors or Proficiency certificate/Diploma with relevant work experience for Master level qualifications. For the Bachelors program for government sector Nurses, the entry criteria is the 3 year Diploma of Nursing & for Master of Nursing the entry criteria is a recognized Bachelors.

Q: What are the opportunities available to students after the diploma or the graduation?

A: We don’t just do programmes. We will look at the local and global industry opportunities and offer programmes. The nurses can work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, elderly care facilities, airlines, professional organizations, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), research organizations and many other healthcare facilities. Nurses can be involved in caring for the sick, rehabilitation, promoting health, preventing disease, teaching health classes, teaching in a school of nursing and a host of other activities.

In the hospital, a nurse has the opportunity to practice in trauma, emergency, critical care, outpatient and in-patient surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, cardiology, rehabilitation, and psychiatry. In the community, a nurse can practice in physicians’ offices, clinics, schools, occupational and public health systems.

Holders of the Diploma in Hospital Administration find jobs to manage a variety of specialized services in hospitals and related Healthcare institutions. Their job description includes managing various departments of large hospitals as well as planning and designing new services and new hospitals.

This programme is targeted at four main categories, namely, those that are directly involved in the provision of healthcare (in-charge officers, unit managers, doctors, pre-interns, nurses, paramedical staff), Non Medical personnel involved in Hospital Management (personnel involved in marketing, financial, facility management, public relations and IT management), those involved in hospital projects (engineers, architects, medical equipment suppliers, project managers) and those interested in entering into careers in the area of Hospital Management.

The Diploma in Hospital Administration and the Bachelor of Healthcare Management qualification will allow successful candidates to find employment in leading international hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, hospital consultancy firms, IT industry, and health sector related NGOs, supply chain and marketing firms and other related organizations of the hospital industry, (pharmaceutical companies, and the health insurance sector). 

Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 16 % from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Median annual wages and salary of medical and health service managers in international settings were $80,240 (Rs 800,000 per month) in May 2008. The highest 10 % earned more than $137,800 (Rs 1.3 million per month).

Q: How are the students participating in the programme and how is their progress?

A: Well; they are doing brilliant outside. For example one of our products, Charitha, represented Sri Lanka as the first Nursing student at an international research forum. She brought a lot of pride to our motherland by winning the best presentation award out of 168 countries. This was the world students’ forum held in Germany and included Medical students too. Similarly last year, one of our Physical Therapy students, Supun scored 100% in an exam conducted by State University of New York. The most important factor here is that these are average students from, average families whose education was hampered due to the lack of a place in government universities. The opportunity is the key word.

Q: How does your institute differ from other institutes in Sri Lanka?

A: It is a simple but a long answer. We differ in many ways.

Firstly, we only focus in the health industry and our programmes are based on the needs gap of the market. And it is the only institution delivering healthcare training programmes in Sri Lanka recognized by over 10 international universities in USA, UK, Australia and Malaysia.

Secondly, we are truly a green campus. We have built all our facilities by using discarded containers and now have gone in to using catjan reading areas and cafeteria. We have preserved a 110 year old structure as it is and maintaining as per the green standards.  Now we are in the process of using solar to reduce our carbon foot print and also making it greener every day by planting many trees.

Thirdly, we have innovated in healthcare training by inculcating IT in the education methodology. This is done at input (selection & admission), the process (the delivery) and the out put (the evaluations). In terms of admission, it is fully automated like most of the organizations. Importantly the delivery of the programmes, we have 1500 books (paper) in our library in contrast to the access to 5000 e -books and several thousand journals.  In our journey to making the facility a paper-less organization by 2013, we have created a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) where our students will be able download all the lecture notes and materials through this excellent technology. Thirdly the evaluations;  we conducted the first ever healthcare examination in Sri Lanka through VLE and currently in the process of organizing live and recorded lecturers to be delivered through VLE. This will be great news for our students where they could follow their programmes at their convenience.  This is called “hybrid delivery “or “blended learning”, where both face to face and e learning are done simultaneously. Lastly, our students are evaluated online, not only the written examinations but also the clinical competency assessment (skill), by our Australian and American Universities. These methods have not only added convenience for students but greatly reduce the cost of training, especially with foreign programmes!

Fourthly, the programmes are evaluated annually in order to make it more absorbable to our students. Though we value and respect traditional methods we test and evolve every day. For example we have tested a new teaching method called “peer teaching”, where students work in groups and participate in the total programme. The success rate of the students was 97% in contrast to traditional lecture delivery of 55%. Currently we are in the process of introducing another, method called “Service learning“where students are placed in work places (not necessary healthcare) as part of a personality development programme to improve their soft skills.  This is very important for them to be successful in the international environment in our journey to create caring, competent and most culturally adoptable healthcare professionals.

Lastly, we are the only healthcare training institute aligning with His Excellency the President’s Inspiring Mahinda Chinthanya policy to “change the ratio of exporting Unskilled to Skilled labour”, in simple words to crate more Nurses instead of House Maids.

Q: Are you willing to share your success with other institutes.

Yes of course, it is a basic philosophy, today’s knowledge is tomorrow’s history, we are accommodative and open rather than restrictive and stubborn.  Look at India, Malaysia, China they all have open doors to all students for higher education. Look at Sri Lanka we have achieved, 96% of literacy rate, thanks to the free education prevailed for over 2/3 of a century, but out of 200,000 who sit for AL examinations only around 10% have doors open to state sector universities. We have only 15 Universities for 20 million population, Malaysia with 27 million population they have 20 government universities and 49 private universities & university colleges. Isn’t it a great funnel we have created where we throw out our future generations, it is obvious that we go against the world trends, where we openly promote “exclusion” rather than “inclusion” a well established education concept. It is high time we open our minds to what is happening around the globe rather than fighting for what is now, which could be ancient tomorrow?

We, as global professionals have opened our doors to share our limited but important achievements to institutions that have an open mind.

For more information


No.704, Negombo Road


Tel:    0114 651144
Mob: 0774 142398, 0773 114381
Web: www.iihsciences.com

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Bio Inquirer 2013 the International Health Conference & Research Forum, successfully organized by International Institute of Health Sciences (www.iihsciences.com) was held on the 21st & 22nd of November 2013 with the participation of an eminent panel including Dr. Philip Scullion Associate Head of Department Nursing and Health Studies Coventry University – UK, Assoc. Prof. Saedah Muda- Deputy Dean, Faculty of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences Open University Malaysia, Melanie Lauva Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator, School of Health, Charles Darwin University, Australia, Dr. W. K. Wickremasinghe Director Castle Street Hospital for Women, Dr. Nihal De Silva- Former Associate Prof. Stanford University USA, Dean – IIHS & Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, Consultant Medical Administrator, Deputy Chairman – IIHS.

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This event was a result of the efforts of the IIHS team with the directions of Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, the Deputy Chairman of IIHS. The conference was supported by the Australian Trade Commission, Australia Future Unlimited under the guidance of Mr.David Samuel, Business Development Manager Austrade.
The occasion was graced by Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health as the chief guest and senior administrative and nursing staff of the Ministry of Health including Dr. Rathnasiri Hewage- Director LRH, I.D. Shantha Ilandara –President Sri Lanka Infection Control Nurses’ Association, Chief Nursing officers in many government & Private hospitals hospitals , Principals & special grade Nursing officers in government Nursing schools & top delegates such as  Dr.S.D.R Perera – Director General TVEC & Dr.Sarath Samarage - National Consultant, WHO Country Office, Sri Lanka attend this event.

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Day one comprised of a full day conference which was focused on infection control in hospitals. The theme was “Target Zero HAI” – Driving Towards Zero Hospital Accumulated Infection. 
In an attempt for continuous professional development, day two provided a platform for research dissemination.  
As a result of the 1st    International Research forum held in May, a number of IIHS students got the opportunity to present their research papers in international forums in Spain, Portugal, USA and Singapore.