Now before you proceed to read this article with the eye of “ehen, really, you don’t mean it”, let me back it up a bit and tell you the angle I’m coming from. I was born and bred, for the most part, in the United Kingdom, and studied there right up till my first year of university before I transferred to Nigeria to complete my higher education.
*This is the part of my story where I pause for the gasps of shock/horror/disbelief and then the unanimous question – WHY?*
At the time of my university applications, I had admissions into several medical schools across Europe, but they all had the pre-requisite that I had to learn their native language for a year before beginning the medical training. This was to enhance my learning experience during the clinical phase. At the time, I could barely say good morning in Yoruba (my own native language). So I made the decision that changed my life massively – I decided to study medicine in Nigeria, where I’d be taught in English and be able to learn about my culture – at the same time.
Now that you know a little about me, let me tell you why I say it’s a good idea to study medicine here in our great nation Nigeria.
If you read my last BellaNaija post about what it’s really like studying medicine in Nigeria, you’ll know something about the amount of grueling that Nigerian medical students are subjected to, by the nature of the course. From the shifting of the goal post that is the pass mark, to standing for four hour ward rounds – which your brain must be ready to fire back answers to questions at the speed of light. As you scale through each day, posting, level – you become magnificently resilient and you can work under almost any circumstance. I’ve noticed that Nigerian doctors are loved by their employers, when they work abroad; our training under tough circumstances makes us flourish under the calmer settings that we find ourselves in when we work at health facilities in developed countries.
Another big plus as to why Nigerian medical doctors are loved abroad is that we are trained to identify disease states from signs and symptoms in the traditional manner; we learn to make a provisional diagnosis and confirm with tests. This method makes us look like magicians at times, and builds confidence in us by our patients. There’s something soothing about a doctor knowing how to treat you without having to consult a textbook. That skill gets inbuilt right from medical school and then becomes honed, as you practice and gain more experience.
The Nigerian people are one of a kind. Through your interactions with Nigerian patients you learn ethics in a whole new realm; when treating patients you are taught to take into account all the various beliefs concerning their health that they could have, thus you learn to practice holistic medicine – which is said to be a far more successful method of practice than simply making diagnoses based solely on presenting complaints. A doctor that asks why a patient believes they are suffering from a particular ailment and listens intently will build a much stronger relationship with their patients. They will be less likely to have legal action taken against them – which is an exceptional quality for the hospital that has employed them.
All in all, studying medicine in Nigeria is an amazing, character-building experience that I’d gladly recommend to any future medical student aspirants that are considering studying in Nigeria.