WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MEDICAL SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA
Ask a child what he would want to be when he grows up and you will hear things like: “I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer or I want to be a Pilot!”. Ask an average science student in secondary school what he wants to be in the future and you will almost always get the same answer: I want to be a medical Doctor. Medical school, a place where many want to go to, a place where many dream of going to yet, has no clue with regards to how things are done in college.
I still vividly remember when we got into first year, it was then that I, for the first time, got to know that there were some conditions attached to crossing over from first year to second year. For us, it was moving from University of Nigeria Nsukka, the Nsukka campus to University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. They called it “moving from a pre-med school to a med school”. “To do that, you must pass all your first year courses.” So we were told. We all worked hard bearing one thing in mind:” I just have to cross over”.
That stage was soon over and we got into “the college of Medicine”. Of course we thought we had arrived….a feeling that lasted less than 12hours! It took only an orientation into the 2nd MBBS work to get everyone on their toes. To be frank, that orientation left me scared to an extent.
Here we were, finally in college after the stressful jamb, post utme and first year efforts and there someone was, welcoming us with a scary orientation! It was far beyond what I had in mind, personally. Med school was all about work, serious hardwork and series of professional exams to write! 2nd MB,BS was our ticket to crossing over from pre clinical to the clinical class. Another crossing over!
We finally, by His grace, made it into “the clinical class” and moved to the new campus, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Old site, only to realize again that the clinical class was imaginarily divided into two: the one before the 3rd MB,BS exams( pathology and pharmacology) and the one after that (the part where the 4th and 5th MB,BS: Obstetrics and Gynaecology, paediatrics, community medicine, medicine and surgery respectively will be written). It wasn’t just going to be another crossing over from the first half of clinical class to the second half but also a crossing over from the old UNTH to the new UNTH, at Ituku-Ozalla.
It was also after we had entered the 3rd MB,BS class that we got to know that after our house job(internship) and Youth service as doctors, we still had to apply and carry out our Residency training for our specialty programs, a training that lasts for at least 6 years here in Nigeria… something we never heard of prior to medical school!
3rd MB,BS was soon over…the shortest and most stressful program in college and we started our main clinical posting, plying the routes of Ituku-Ozalla from oldsite, every single day! The expenses on textbooks and other medical equipment apart, the transportation fee to and fro Ituku-Ozalla was dealing treacherously with every single one of us. Worst of all is the fact that the price kept inflating!
Med school is one place where your timetable is planned out for you, given to you and you receive it with open arms, no complaints of how unfavorable it might be for you. Sometimes, you gat to have lectures from 7am in the morning to 7pm at night, especially when there are series of topics that needs to be covered, of course around the MB periods. An experience we had a full of during the 3rd MB,BS exams.
The stress and lots of activities Force one to reorientate him/herself. You forget your past glory and focus on “what time table, what reading pattern to employ in each class with it’s unique lecture schedule to get the needed result?” It goes on and on, waxing and waning. For every new unit you are posted to, it is a different experience and expectation!
In conclusion, College of medicine is a place where you first consider of going to not just because you feel you are intelligent enough. It’s rather a place you go to, with your mind configured and ready to take a tone of stress yet, not collapse, have the ability to forget the good grades you had in the past and focus on shaping yourself into what you need to become in order to succeed at every point and above all, it is a place you go only if you have PASSION for the course. There will be points when you will ask yourself “what pushed me into medicine?” Only your passion and of course God can lead you across such moments! In all, it’s still a beautiful journey, one you will look back at and smile!