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Elizabeth T. Peters: Why You Should Study Medicine in Nigeria

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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.

Inbuilt Resilience
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.

Clinical Acumen
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.

Nigerian Ethics
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.

27 Comments

  1. Loki

    November 7, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Wait, is there more than one Nigeria? Which Nigeria is it of which you speak?
    Have you graduated though? The life of a Nigerian student is significantly different from that of a Nigerian Graduate/Job Seeker/Potential Absconder To Spain Through Morocco Out Of Frustration. How easy is it to practice medicine in England with a Nigerian medical education?
    I’m sure you know what you’re saying sha. Best of luck. You’re gonna need it.

    • Fleur

      November 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Eliza, I no know who you dey advice, but I will do this:
      1) On the point about building resilience – that happens when the Nigerian system gives you your first embrace at the airport. I call it the “if your leg no strong you don die” phenom. So you dont have to enroll in our degraded schools to learn resilience.
      2) . Medical docs trained before early 2000s in Nigeria are very intelligent and do extremely well abroad. But, here is why. The training was rigorous. They were taught using European methods where yes, holistic medicine is a constant theme. They are usually the top 5% academically because of what it takes to be accepted into medicine in Nigeria and what it takes to stay the course successfully. However, the system has since failed. Quite a few graduate and are certified butchers. Quite a few cannot even diagnose typhoid fever or malaria correctly. Some cannot write coherently. Many run morgues masked as clinics. I am worried about what you will be learning there. You should have gone to the Caribbean to study. It is cheaper and easier to get in but at least you have the right equipment and conditions to learn. Because medicine has advanced so much, coming from Nigeria no longer puts you 5-6 years behind your peers. It places you 30 years behind them. We are fast people but that is a lot of catching up to do.
      3) Nigerians are not ethical anymore. The only reason we are ultraethical abroad is oyibo no go blink twice to take away your certificate and license to practice. You see hon, we black with accent and taking up their space. The license you have in the first place was no cake walk because they did not really want you to have it. So we walk on eggshells for the sake of self preservation. The typical Nigerian doc is uber arrogant and will not even tell patients they dont know a procedure. Everyone is a guinea pig to them and they have no remorse. Some people have gone in for minor surgeries and come out with other organs missing. Doctors in Nigeria frequently violate the rights of patients. Many of them will give you drugs and not tell you the name of the drug so that you cannot access it elsewhere at a cheaper rate. Sometimes, not knowing the name of the drug means you dont know what killed you. BTW, some lecturers do sleep with students and collect bribes in exchange for passing grades. If you had to sleep your way through even one class, how could you practice medicine well? I pray you never run into this demon. It is so demoralizing and destructive to know your future is tied to whether you say yes or no to some ungodly demand from an ugly demon sitting in front of you called your professor. .

  2. Buhari Bu Ndi Ojor

    November 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Just curious Eliza, did you get admission into any University in the UK? I ask cos, if you did, l doubt you will come to Nigeria. I know it is very difficult getting into Med school in the UK.

    • Anonymous

      November 8, 2017 at 10:11 am

      My cousin is very brillant but yet couldn’t get direct admission to study medicine in the UK after her undergraduate . she had to do her masters first before she was accepted to Warwick medical school.

  3. TrueTalk

    November 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Another big plus as to why Nigerian medical doctors are loved abroad – No they are not perhaps in bygone years when a Nigerian medical degree held weight. These days. they often have to jump through loopholes to practice.

  4. Florence

    November 7, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    1. You did not gain admission into UK universities as you mentioned only European ones.
    2. You are most likely a new medical student. You have not experienced the frustration of studying medicine in Nigeria yet.
    3. This sounds like a consolation piece
    4. It is a one sided narrative
    5. Studying medicine in Nigeria makes it tougher to practise abroad. You have to take all the licensing exams and be better than their average to compete.
    7. Medical ethics is actually terrible in Nigeria (again, you are still new). People are operated on without even knowing what the surgery is about but they “signed informed consent”…i can go on and on but the only advantage to studying Medicine in Nigeria is the resilience it builds from lack. Lack of equipment so you rely mostly on clinical judgement, work under pressure, lack of finances so you find cheaper ways to treat people.
    6. I wish you all the best.

    • Sandra

      November 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      I doubt she’s still “new” though. She is currently in final year if I remember correctly.

  5. Kay

    November 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Lol… I take it tht this is your consolation piece! It’s good to make yourself happy but don’t mispeak people.
    My parents are doctors from 9ija and when we all relocated years ago, they were amazed and yhr quality of care/education in the US. Also, my dad kept mentioning that the equipment here were top class, ones they only saw in pictures and read about while a med student and doctor in 9ija but never used. And how are out the exams they needed to write… …Don’t even get me started! See how many lives are lost on are daily basis due to poor training and lack of equipment. Pls oo don’t mislead ppl.

    People study in 9ija cos they have no other option, not because they hv choices between uk/us/canada and they feel 9ija is better…he’ll No!

    • Kay

      November 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Mislead ……How about*..hell….etc ..excuse auto correct

  6. JA

    November 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    studying medicine in nigeria is so backward eh! i cant even laugh, the average nigerian med grad cannot inteprete an ECG, talk more of a ct scan or an MRI. you have to ask yourself why nigerian graduates are trooping out of the country and as a doctor myself i’ll tell you when they leave to go abroad the struggle to get accepted into the system is rigorous, also there are alot of gaps in their medical education as well, my friend came back to nigeria for an intership so as to spend time with her family and be busy, they had to bring deir own gloves bcos the hospital cudnt provide any for them, the only good thing i can point to is the fact they are exposed to alot more patients, seeing as the hospitals are crowded.

    • Sandra

      November 8, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Ha! Which med school is that. I do not agree with Elizabeth about how amazing it is to study in Nigeria. However I made the choice myself alongside my parents after having the opportunity to study at Bart’s, after A levels. I digress. However. I am final year medical student in a reputable university in Lagos,Nigeria and I CAN interpret an ECG, CT and MRI. Infact, quite a number of us can. Just because there are lazy medical students doesn’t mean everyone is lazy tbh.

    • Oyinkan

      November 9, 2017 at 7:02 am

      Lol. This is inaccurate. Please get your facts right

  7. obolo

    November 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    mtcheeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww…..

  8. Bowl

    November 7, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I have a shocker for all of you !The Nigerian medical graduate from a federal university is the most knowledgeable on this planet . You have a right snort ! His only rival is the Indian and Pakistani. This is especially true if he went to Ife, Nnewi, UBTH, etc The Western trained graduate is better in terms of exposure to latest medical technologies but his knowledge is limited because of the practice of focused learning in those climes.
    As for the products from the Caribbean and , Communist Europe : these are grossly substandard ( make una no stone me o).I was chief resident of my department for sometime, and handled many of these products. In the last conversion exam organized by MDCAN, half of the candidates could barely make it. The Caribbean and Communist European offer the attraction of being cheap and very available for Nigerians who find it difficult assessing Federal schools
    I will come back for more !

    • anon

      November 7, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      please specialisation is post grad. Stop pandering this fake news that students from other countries are less knowledgeable or that scoring a 1st abroad is easier because they suffer less.

    • Cocolette

      November 7, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      You have said the truth. I read someone who said she should have gone to the Caribbean and I just laughed. Caribbean, Ukraine etc…. Fa fa fa foul!

  9. Manny

    November 7, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I have nothing against studying medicine in Nigeria. I think products from Fed universities are good. However; there is good, better and best. My dear, Nigeria is not the best, neither is it better.
    And while I think you wrote this piece to console yourself, do not compare yourself to the average Nigerian medical graduate who wants to practice outside Nigeria. You were born and bred in the UK, probably have papers and you have an advantage.
    This piece would be equivalent to an American writing “why it is better to go to Med School in the Caribbean”. Most people who go to the Caribbean couldn’t get admission in the US and shouldn’t be studying medicine at all. And there are those who should have been admitted in the US but were unfortunate not to but turn out to be excellent doctors. They would have been excellent doctors even if they had studied in the US and therefore, one cannot come to the conclusion that going to med sch in the Caribbean made them a better doctor than if they had studied in the US.

  10. Xala

    November 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I think sometimes we are unduly critical of ourselves. I echo the author sentiments, there are good Nigerian doctors. I had to come to Nigeria for a fibroid surgery. The doctors in Europe gave my uterus a 50% chance of survival, a doctor in the US further reduced the percentage. My godmother told me to come to Nigeria, I thought she was weird. I did, the surgery was super successful. I have an hairline bikini scar for multiple 38x34mm fibroids. It’s unbelievable. There are extremely good doctors and hospitals.

  11. Jod

    November 7, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Some of the best doctors I know (and I know quite a few) studied in Nigeria. My doctor is naija and I wouldn’t trade her for non-Nigerian.

  12. Bowl

    November 7, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I make bold to say the writer is correct in all her submissions!
    The fact remains that because of bad leadership, Nigerian hospitals are poorly funded, managed and equipped.
    But as for the quality of the products both at graduate and postgraduate level ;they are very good.! I have 200% confidence in my teachers. These men and women, even when they are old still keep themselves abreast of the latest global best practices! For this reason I do not feel inferior to the products of the Royal college of Surgeons and Medicine !
    The postgraduate exams ( West African college of surgeons and Mediine, and postgraduate college) are more difficult to pass than the American and British parallels. A little wonder the Nigerian products pass these over there like they mean nothing! I acknowledge that there are a lot of lapses in the training of the postgraduate fellow particularly if he’s a surgeon specialist. Many of us have resorted to taking loans and getting training in good centers outside the country !
    At the the graduate level , before distinction is awarded, 70% of the class must be distinction quality candidates. Not that this qualifies the best candidate for the distinction eventually! Bottom line, a medical distinction graduate is more than worth his weight in Gold.
    Ethics of practice are strictly adhered to in Nigerian teaching hospital settings ( yes in Nigeria ) !. The most inconsequential malpractice can cost you your license ! I acknowledge that there are many quacks ! But , MDCAN is very explicit in its regulations. Do not go beyond your exposure and training. Refer when the presentation is beyond you .
    Nigerian teaching hospitals have the same treatment outcomes as the best hospital in America . ( yes I make bold to say this) . This is for the surgical disciplines except where it concerns cancer and complications of diabetes: patients present late because of prevailing poor socioeconomic standards. Medical practice also has high mortality because of the same reason stated above.
    Lastly, I am proud to announce to all of you naysayers, that a new generation of doctors are coming up. Our mission to go into joint / group practice in the best equipped hospitals. Doing nothing less than what we see our colleagues do in the advanced climes! We have resolved to provide the facilities our irresponsible governments could not provide. We are set to help the federal government collapse the teaching hospital setting ! We are set to put the federal government out of business for good !
    I rest my case !

  13. Bowl

    November 7, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    I forgot to state that the reason we seek for supplementary training abroad is not because our teachers lack knowledge and skills, but for same reasons of poor funding. equipment and management. This affects the surgeon trainee most . The result is frequent cancellation of cases, patients not being able to pay for their surgeries etc. In the end , the trainee does not get the standard exposure he needs to qualify as a fellow. In order to be as competent as the product from John Hopkins, we resort to the above measure !

  14. Shalewa

    November 8, 2017 at 1:08 am

    Yinmu.. ….?

  15. iou

    November 8, 2017 at 5:22 am

    I’m surprised you did not mention that it is much cheaper to study in Nigeria and then go abroad to write the board exams. That way you get to avoid the heavy student loans

  16. Fola Francis

    November 8, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    The writer of this article is my cousin. She’s a final medicine student in Bowen Uni. She knows what she’s talking about. Not every part of Nigeria is terrible. There are still lot of good in Nigeria.

  17. Sandra

    November 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    In conclusion. I totally understand where the writer is coming from, as well as the comments. However, studying medicine in Nigeria, at least, the med school I currently am in is not a bad place. I have done electives in about 3 countries and I can assure you that I am learning more than enough here. Only problem, we do not have the fancy equipments that others have, but it doesnt change anything. That’s why we are given the opportunity to go abroad and do electives. Watch how it’s fine etc. I do not consider my studying medicine in Nigeria a mistake at all. Rather. It has made me tough (all the points she mentioned).

  18. Doc

    November 8, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hahaha! Come back and rewrite this piece when you’re done with medical school and struggling to write board exams to enable you practice in the UK or US, then you would know what a disservice you have done yourself. You’re even in a private uni on top, pscheww!

  19. juliette sofeu

    September 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    wonderfull
    i am a Cameroonian with a degree in Medical Laboratory sciences and i wish to continue medicine in Nigeria

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