‘Get to know your colleague’ – Associate Professor Buddhika Weerasundera

Associate Professor Buddhika Weerasundera is a Lecturer in Knowledge of Health and Illness at the Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP), Flinders University in Darwin.

With a background in Medicine, Buddhika specialises in forensic pathology, which is what the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV series is loosely based on (for those of us not familiar with medical terminology).

In addition to that, Buddhika is well-renowned for her signature big smile, humble personality, and a gentle demeanour, bringing light and kindness to every interaction she has with staff and students alike. No matter how busy her daily schedule gets, Buddhika is always eager to support and help out others, serving as a role-model to the future generation of doctors in the community.

Another staple of pride for Buddhika are her signature curry dishes from her home country of Sri Lanka, that she treats the Flinders NT staff to during the annual curry nights at her home. “Buddhika’s famous curries are stuff that heaven is made out of!” joke some of her colleagues.

Originally from the capital city of Colombo, Buddhika graduated as a Medical Practitioner in 1994, after which she completed a six-year MD program, before assuming duties as a Senior lecturer and Forensic Pathologist at the University of Colombo.

She received her post-graduate training in Forensic Pathology in the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne and at the University of Sheffield, UK.

She then went on to serve as a Forensic Pathologist, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka till 2011.

After that, she relocated to Darwin, NT to assume the position of a lecturer with Flinders University at the NT Medical Program.

She often jokes how much Darwin reminds her of her country of birth. Similarly tropical in climate, with lush green vegetation and recurrent cyclones, Sri Lanka also has two seasons: dry north-eastern monsoon (from April to September) and the wet south-western monsoon (from December to March).

Family is most important to Buddhika. She is supported by a husband who works as a psychiatrist at the Royal Darwin Hospital, and two of her kids (including a daughter studying to become a doctor, like her mum). Family was also at her side during the most challenging of times when Buddhika decided to relocate overseas to move up the career ladder. “Leaving my home in Sri Lanka and spending more than ten years of my life in foreign countries was one of the biggest obstacles that I had to overcome. Having my husband and my children with me has helped me to handle this challenge.” – she says.

A pioneer and an innovator within her field, Buddhika was the third ever female to be qualified as a Forensic Pathologist from the Postgraduate Medical programme in Sri Lanka.

Buddhika has made many positive contributions to Flinders NT, including heading up the implementation of an interactive 3D virtual dissection table ‘Anatomage’, (a first in Darwin) used during the anatomy classes with her first- and second-year medical students.

She is also an expert contributor to `Facilitators’ Guide for teaching medical ethics to undergraduate students in medical colleges in the South-East Asia Region’ published by the World Health Organisation.

Something, however, that her colleagues might not know about Buddhika, is that she enjoys living on the fast lane, and you can often catch her on speedways and racing tracks outside of work. “I love to speed, and I sometimes manage to pick up an odd speeding ticket” says Buddhika.

Colleagues can always ask Buddhika questions about her areas of professional interest, including Forensic Pathology, Medical Ethics and Anatomy, where she is keen to collaborate and facilitate an exchange of new ideas. And of course, about new recipes for her favourite curry dishes too!

Buddhika Weerasundera is an Associate Professor at the NT Medical Program, part of Flinders University in Darwin. To find out more about the HECS-free degree and pathways to study Medicine in the NT, visit our website for more details, and contact our NTMP support team.

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