Old and new medical students, especially those training to become doctors may now have to spend 11 years in the university before they graduate in Nigeria. Preposterous as it sounds, the alarm has been credited to Prof Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC).
Okojie’s, alarming statement was delivered in a lecture by his deputy, Prof. Chiedu Mafiana, at the inaugural matriculation of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo in Ondo State, recently.
NUC claim is that getting old in medical college would enable students mature psychologically for the profession. They would spend four years studying basic sciences and then proceed to med school for another seven years.
In the United States, it takes just four years to train a doctor; the first two years are composed mainly of classroom basic science education, while the final two years primarily include rotations in clinical settings where students learn patient care firsthand.
In the United Kingdom, a student doctor will spend six years at the Imperial College for instance to bag his MBBS (first medical degree). It has always been the same way in Nigeria as it is in the UK. But now NUC says six must become 11 years.
HAMILTONSTYLE look at the medical curriculum of distinguished universities across the globe shows that depending on whether you plan to work as a general physician or as another type of doctor, medical training can actually take between 11 and 16 years. Most doctors complete at least four years of undergraduate school followed by four years of medical school and then three-to-eight years of residency programmes in different parts of the world.
In the US doctors and nurses earn big and live large. It is almost the same in the UK. But in Nigeria, we have poor doctors who have to do locum work in a combination of hospitals just to earn a decent income. Many of them who graduated 20, 30 years ago under the current six-year MBBS programme in Nigeria are rated to be some of the best in the US, UK and even parts of the United Arab Emirates.
The six-year MBBS programme most probably produce professors Okojie and Mafiana. So why change the six-year formula? The danger is, it is likely to discourage parents who already find it too expensive to pay med school fees for six years, not to talk of 11 years. If young brilliant Nigerians avoid med school, how would Nigeria man its hospitals?