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Jeffrey Ini-Abasi: I Survived Year One of Med School … I Think



A few months ago I completed my first year in med school. It was bonkers: I had my first F, made a bunch of new friends, almost got kidnapped, and got into an unwarranted car chase.

Fast forward three months later – I’ve added too much weight and I’m waiting for ASUU to call of their strike – this question still lingers: is medical school really for me?

Getting admitted to study Dentistry and Dental Surgery at the University of Calabar was more of a relief than a victory for me. I had graduated from secondary school three years prior and had suffered my fair share of JAMB-induced depression, so really, I was going to take anything. When Dentistry came knocking, I answered, almost too eagerly.

My first year in that school was a mess. I was basically faking it till I made it – which is really my whole med school philosophy – and it somehow worked: I had fairly good grades in my first semester ranging from an A to an F (yes, I had every letter possible) and I managed to not die. I also made some awesome friends who you’ll get to know in the future, if medical school lets any of us survive sha.

While I sat in overcrowded classes, wrote book reviews for GST lecturers, ate unhealthy amounts of junk food and flunked Maths class, that question about medical school always lingered. And the senior colleagues weren’t helping matters. Almost every week, one of them would come to speak to the year one class and basically scare us: they told us how failure is inevitable, how biochemistry is the devil’s algebra, and how we’d most likely be cut down by more than half due to the horror that is med school exams. I came out of those meetings twenty percent less sure about med school and also tired because those meetings lasted forever – all of them were honestly just feeding their egos.

I was also facing intense pressure from my aunt who I stay with in school. She was always asking about my grades and if its possible to switch to Medicine and Surgery because, like a lot of people, she believes it is more prestigious than Dentistry. I remember telling her I had a B in chemistry and she immediately asked: why not an A? I stopped telling her my grades from then on; can’t accommodate people who don’t appreciate my knowledge of titration and calculating mole ratio.

A lot of my classmates are spending this strike induced holiday reading for med school proper but I’m doing the direct opposite: I attended a writing workshop late last year, got to meet Chimamanda (squeals with residual excitement), read – and still reading – a ton of books, and currently thinking of learning music theory because, honestly, reading about the bones of the upper limbs does not spark joy. I don’t know if medical school is for me but I’m already too far gone to give up (and also this family needs a doctor to be Nigerian enough) so, I’m waiting to see my second semester results – which I’m fairly confident about – so I can delve into med school proper.

I’m more confused than excited, more scared than hopeful, but that’s why I decided to document this phase in my life. Because, hopefully, no matter what happens, I’ll look back at this column as what gave me guidance to make the right decisions.

So, will you join me in surviving med school?


Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Jeffrey Ini-Abasi is currently studying for a degree in Dentistry and dental surgery at the University of Calabar. A Chimamanda stan, he enjoys eating [who doesn't], reading [non medical] books and correcting people's grammar in his secondary school alumni WhatsApp group.


  1. Blackbeauty

    February 13, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Well, you sound pretty much like me, apart from the love for music and Imanaged to pass without having to resit or repeat, so you’ll be okay.
    I must say though, its not too late to walk away if that’s what you really want to do. Your idol did the same thing afterall.
    N/B A semester before your 1st MB, you’ll be forced to wake up…hehehe.
    You write well.

    • Tochi

      February 13, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      Finally!!! He made one. Love all your write-ups jephie. LoveLetterprince

  2. abby

    February 13, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Hey good luck to you whatever you eventually decide.

  3. Teekay

    February 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Jefferey, keep this away from your parents! You enjoy reading non-medical books and you are in Med School?? Lol. But who am I to tell you to dump Med Schl for writing?
    I like that you are documenting this phase of your life, I think it helps to see the value in our journeys no matter how they end. I’m on a new one myself and I’ve had this hankering for a journal where I can be brutally honest with myself as time passes. It will be interesting to look at it years later, after the uncertainty and the blur have passed.

  4. Kim

    February 13, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Nice write up

  5. Chikala

    February 13, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    I can totally relate to your story…interesting!
    As a medical doctor, I remember the feeling of not being sure if you’ll ever make it. But know this, medicine is job of passion and you’ll only ENJOY it when you ‘love’ it. Though the love may not come asap but give it time. Best wishes on your journey!

  6. Ada

    February 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Until I became a parent myself, I did not understand why Nigerian parents stressed professional success so much. But now I know and will wait for other people to discover their own reasons. Pray about your path and life and let God show you. Your maker is more important and knowledgeable than your parents. Regarding your aunty, you better be joyful, she is not stressing you by believing in you and expecting an A from you. The day you start living with people who don’t care whether you attend lectures or get kidnapped that’s when you will give that aunty a gift. I hope you never get to that stage before you realize the fact that you have a proper aunty. What’s the big deal about getting an A? Your lecturers are trying so hard to kill your Spirit, whilst your aunty is doing everything to keep it alive, you said she is stressing you. Anyway, stay hopeful and strong.

    • doctors can do more than one thing

      February 13, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      ummm… about the Aunty, I beg to differ. You can wish someone well without expecting them to be perfectionist. Expecting perfectionism induces undue pressure which can cause them to focus only on getting the best grades, and ignore other spheres of their life and their person (which are also important in their own rights), or it can cause them to say you know what, “I don’t care anymore”. Getting a B in chemistry is no walk in the park. Congratulate him, tell him that it is no mean feat achieving that. Build his confidence. And if you feel so inclined, at a later time, tell him that he has already done amazing, and you know if he puts a tiny little bit more effort, he could turn the B to an A. But the B he has gotten is really good. That’s how to inspire – by encouragement, not by demanding perfectionism.

  7. Chi Udoh

    February 13, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Such an interesting read! Nigerian medical school is a scam, we realize this a little too late when we’re neck deep. But just like every other thing in life, we’ll have to conquer this too. Well done Jeffrey, you’ll be fine. We all would be. ❤️

  8. Ekpenyong Jr.

    February 13, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    What an interesting read. Big ups Jeffrey!

  9. Prince Ephraim

    February 13, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Well-done bro..
    It’s a must fight in this jungle called Nigeria.
    I enjoyed reading

  10. Gideon edet eyo

    February 13, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Ini jeffrey. We’ve survived year 1. We’ll survive year 2. Just dont think our usually conventional means of surviving will work again o. I sha know u wont die.

  11. Sam

    February 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I need a sequel ASAP!!!
    I want to know about those friends of yours

  12. Eyibio Joy

    February 13, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Yeah Jeffery that’s right, we made it thru dat year n wod scale thru d others.we die there u know!!

  13. doctors can do more than one thing

    February 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    it actually makes him a better doctor to be more wholistic – embracing non-medical related passions. Uzodinma Iweala (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s son) is an acclaimed writer of the novel (now made into a move) “Beasts of No Nation”, whilst also being a medical practitioner.

    • doctors can do more than one thing

      February 13, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      this response was directed @Teekay

  14. Emmy Ekwere

    February 13, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    ??Go Jephie!!??

  15. M.Chelly

    February 13, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Oooh Jephie, this is a beautiful piece. Looking forward to future medscapades! Cheers

  16. Akeelah

    February 13, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    In a way, this really made me smile. I hope you get what you really want.✌️

  17. Sy4n

    February 13, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    Jephrie dear… So happy for u… One step at a time… You’ll get there, I know

  18. Black

    February 13, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Who has original nokia small pin charger for sale???

  19. Jowell

    February 13, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Jeffrey Jude, this is excellent.

  20. Chinyere

    February 14, 2019 at 1:11 am

    I so love this…

    This words of yours stands as an encouragement to others.You wouldn’t know you created solution.

    Solve yours now and continue
    No back outs
    We’ll be here to celebrate our Doc.

  21. Chizzy

    February 14, 2019 at 1:41 am

    Well, I’m in my 100 level in the University of Nigeria studying Medicine and I love it like love it eh but I can just get lost in non-medical books. I love writing too, and I even have a blog lol. I also love singing and talking. I’m excited to see how all that will work out, and I’m sure it will. I feel if it’s what you want you should go for it. This is your life, not your parents’ so don’t let anyone make you do what you don’t want to.

  22. May

    February 14, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Hey Jeffrey, i can totally relate to your story. Reading upper limb or lower limbs is not as fun as reading novels (which i practically spent my whole holiday doing). Many a times, i often ask myself the same question “is this medical school really for me?” Because if the long, big names of bones you’re trying to learn doesn’t discourage you, i wonder what will. All in all, stay strong. Hopefully,we shall conquer it and come out successful. Love, your fellow medical student.

  23. Nija my home

    February 14, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    You can be both; an interesting writer and a fine doctor. Sometimes we’re cought in the middle of where should be and what we should be” but don’t relent bro. i see greatness in you.

  24. Ivie

    February 14, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Lolz…this reminds me of my younger brother’s experience. After he finally graduated,he shocked us all be saying he wanted to go into business! My mom must have fasted for 40days and 40nights! You’ll be fine,I promise! Thanks for sharing your journey so far with us! Can’t wait to read what happens next! Hopefully ASUU calls off the strike soon!
    You got an F! Yaaayyyyyy! Welcome to the world of us “lesser humans”

  25. K

    February 14, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Jeff.. This is a good piece being that I wish I had written down my medical school experiences..

    It would have been lovely to look back to.. I try to write but hell no, I wouldn’t even let myself find an excuse to fail..

    Am about some few months to being a Doctor and don’t worry, Somehow if you do the little basics you should do, you would pull through.


  26. estharfabian

    February 14, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    We should probably meet up. I’m a senior colleague. C1.
    Same school. I also love Chimamanda, non medical books and medicine. It’s pretty Chill if you know how to joggle them.

    PS-Upper and lower limb’s the easiest part of anatomy! You’d totally learn to love it.


    February 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    You’ll do just great! I find your self assessment very refreshingly insightful….that artistic attitude and down-to-earthiness will stand you in very good stead. I’m a tough examiner, that’s what we do, you’ll do just great! Resits don’t decide your future, you do. Keep writing.

  28. Serendipity

    February 15, 2019 at 8:32 am

    You write really well ! The great thing about life you will learn is that you don’t have to choose between both if you DON’T WANT TO, you can do both. I have a degree in something i’ll probably never practice professionally but the lessons i learned from attending university have come in handy in real life-discipline, dedication, multi tasking have all come in handy with pursuing my writing-whatever you choose or don’t choose you go dey alright last last!

  29. Boma ?

    February 27, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Love it, love it, love it. I think everyone reaches that point in university where they question their path. You’re intelligent Jeff, you don’t need to be all about medicine to be a doctor. Your personal interests make you who you are. You can be a doctor and a writer, just keep pushing man, I’m waiting to read your success story.

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