Summer Clinical Practice in Nigeria

There’s this cool thing we get to know in medical school, and it goes by different names, but for the purpose of this post, it’s going to be called : “clinical training”.

Summer break, rather than laze around or hang out with friends (though you can be certain we find tine for that), we spend managed hours in the hospital, assigned in various departments to different doctors, hopefully acquiring practical skills/knowledge and brushing up on what we had learned so far.

The system may vary from school to school, but because medicine is medicine, the formula stays fairly the same.

However, for the first time, I would be practicing at home, in Nigeria.

I was….concerned. You see, I had heard the horror stories of how Nigerians who studied abroad were derided when we came to practice back home. It was assumed we weren’t as serious, or as one doctor had put it, we were taught with projections and don’t get to interact with actual patients. Which is a willld exaggeration.

So, yeah.. I was concerned.

My Dad suggested the Air Force Reference Hospital, and the idea of practising in a military setting added another layer to the Worry Bubble I was brewing. My ignorant mind created nightmarish scenarios, which I voiced to my Mom. (she was amused), and assured me my fears were baseless.

My first day found me waking an hour earlier than I would have (considering the distance… of which there was little), and donning the longest pencil skirt in my position, tucked in shirt buttoned to the collar (a habit I had picked up in secondary school) and sneakers (they’re comfy. I’m not about to sacrifice that). My bag becomes a dumping ground for everything I think I need : a stethoscope, medical dictionary, writing pad, surgical scrubs, hand sanitizer, lab coat, bottle of water…. .somehow tried to fit a textbook in there. Didn’t work.

I beat the traffic, nearly get hit by car while crossing the road and make it to the hospital, twenty minutes before “ward rounds” begin. I greet everyone that glances at me, hoping to get some direction of what I was to do with myself before everyone got there.

And thank God, it worked.

I’m asked to sit at the reception area and wait,and in my anxiety I started to flip through my dictionary. this does the opposite of calming me down.

The minutes seemed to drag, and when someone finally called to me, “hey, you’re the medical student right?” , anxiety gave way to relief... “yes, I am” ..

I’m directed where to keep my bag, a consultation room reserved for civilian doctors, and asked to join in the rounds.

I give myself a few seconds in the privacy of the consultation room; before pad and pen in hand, I leave for the wards.

My first day ended with me grateful for the doctors I had been introduced to, impressed with their know-how and willingness to teach me, and the camaraderie between the civilian and uniformed doctors.

I’m given topics to read on, shown examining techniques,[I] discuss case topics and get teased for my “dada”hair.

By the end of it all, I’m ready to treat myself to bole.

3 thoughts on “Summer Clinical Practice in Nigeria

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