The National Universities Commission (NUC), through its Executive Secretary Professor Julius Okojie, on Monday presented a policy document for the extension of the years for training of medical doctors in Nigerian universities to seven years. The document was presented to stakeholders at the opening of a three-day Capacity Development Programme for Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Academic Staff in Nigerian Universities in Abuja.
In the same forum, the Chairman of Association of Colleges of Medicine of Nigeria, Prof (Mrs) Folashade Ogunsola, lamented that Nigeria need about 237,000 medical doctors and that we currently have about 35,000 working in the country today.
In summary, there exists a humongous lacuna in the number of the medical doctors we need and the number we have.
But, do we actually need to extend the years of training for medical doctors, when what is actually lacking is application of technology and modern facilities in our universities and medical schools?
Complaints of inadequate medical doctors and the proposed extension of years of training are contradictory.
While it is a given that would-be medical doctors require extensive and intensive training as they would be dealing with human lives, I don’t think the prolongation of the years of training would achieve much without providing necessary facilities to train them.
As of now, only a minute number students can survive the rigour of medical school. Many of those admitted would eventually leave: either through voluntary withdrawal or change of course, or by being sent packing because of failure to meet up with the envisaged standard.
It is incumbent upon NUC and other regulatory agencies to set high standard for universities and medical schools in the country. It is germane that they are forced to acquire and apply modern technologies, facilities and techniques to meet up with the current advancement in medicine.
Extending the years of training to seven will only further drive many more away from the profession. And we also need to consider the fact that strike and closure of school will add additional years to their years of training. Eventually, they may end up spending close to ten years in medical school.
It is important that all these are considered before the implementation of the policy.
Besides, one can actually spend one million years learning NOTHING if the learning environment is bereft of learning facilities.
Femi Olabisi is on Twitter: @Femiolas