The Nigerian Medical Doctor feels isolated and cheated. The instability and confusion have many seeking greener pastures outside the country.
Congratulated on gaining admission, I was warned that becoming a medical doctor will not be guaranteed until I was handed my certificate and license to practice. I watched my mates being weeded out in 100L. They didn’t make a cGPA of 3.5 and above.
Next to 200 Level. I was having lectures from morning to evening non-stop. I was taking at least 3 courses that were independent degrees in their own rights anatomy, physiology, biochemistry. I was buying textbooks that were so heavy they gave me persistent backache. You saw me, you felt pity for me and said I was trying. I was just starting and it was easy then in retrospect. I watched mates dropped between 200 Level and 300 Level.
300 Level, I saw scores I never believed I could get. 11%, 19%. Ha! What’s happening to me? I watched as people lost hope, lost confidence, became emotionally damaged. I watched as mental instability started to set in. I watched, as people voluntarily stepped down. My parents had spent too much already, I must continue. Again the resits, the repeats, the withdrawal. Wings have been clipped, boys humbled.
400 Level at last. Clinical classes, time to finally meet patients. A new set of courses, all degree courses again in their own rights: pathology, medical microbiology, hematology, chemical pathology, medicine, surgery. All these in 14 months?
My first ward round saw all my knowledge rubbished. I was reminded I may not graduate as a doctor, I remember brilliant mates that have been dropped. I swallowed hard.
First pathology exam. I was given papers heavier than my exercise book as answer sheets. Four exams one sitting, answer it in whatever order you want, you are on your own. Endless exams, leg numbing ward rounds, never ending clinics. Final exams for the level, usual resits, repeats, withdrawals and even a suicide.
Finally crossed to 500 Level pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Medicine continues, Surgery continues. Same drills, same regimentation, same tough exams, same weeding (screening). Same for 600 Level.
After 6-10 years, I was told I had passed.
A real deep sigh of relief in a decade, at last. Certificate given, provisional license given. I held back tears of mixed feelings as I collected them in a posh ceremony. It was still the beginning.
Housemanship, ‘houseboyship?. No nonsense consultants welcome us in an unusual way;
“How did you graduate?!”
“Are u sure we trained you?!”
“I’ve never seen this killer before!”
I did everything. Spent days on end in the hospital without sleeping on my bed. No commendations, just vituperation which sometimes included my parents and family members from consultants, registrars, nurses, pharmacists, lab scientists. I was told I had to swallow all.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; ambu-bagged a neonate from 8:00 pm till I fell asleep by 4:00 am only to be awakened by the mother to discover the baby was dead. I was scared, but she laid my fears to rest by thanking me profusely and praying for me for not given up.
Consultant came in the morning and lashed out, “Why did this baby die? You’ll do extra call for one week without going home.”
Gynaecology posting, did a beautiful clerking of ectopic pregnancy, another emergency brought in, forgot about the ectopic pregnancy clerking until the following morning. Prof came in the morning, “You’ll do 9 extra months of Housemanship without pay.”
Anyway, Housemanship ended. It was still just the beginning.
I sat for the Primary Fellowship Examination 5 times before passing; waited for 2 years before getting placement for residency. I attempted the Part-1 Fellowship Examination 3 times, before passing it.
For the Part 2 Fellowship Examination, my consultant said I was not ready to pass. After 2 attempts, I was made a Fellow.
Is it over now? Not at all.
I watched as colleagues buried their Fellowship Qualifications only to go and work as Senior House officers abroad… because the environment is sane & organized over there and people know their place.
This is an interpolation of stories of different medical doctors that I know, mine inclusive.
Healthcare is teamwork and every player is important…until you become a patient yourself then you will know who to cry to.
This was originally published on Instagram. It was written and sent in by Arogun Oladotun MD