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MDCN Suggests ways out of Medical Brain Drain * As OOU Inducts New Doctors

Forty-five medical graduands have been inducted into the medical profession by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). The inductees were members of the 27th graduating set of doctors of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, who were formally called to the medical profession at a ceremony held on July 27, 2021 inside the Auditorium of Obafemi Awolowo College of Health Sciences (OACHS), Sagamu Campus. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, who declared open the ceremony where the fresh graduates took the Hippocratic Oath, charged them to be good ambassadors of the University and sustain the current high standard of the institution’s medical programme.

He explained that the medical programme of the University was designed and adequately equipped to produce graduates that can favourably compete in the practice of medicine within and outside the country. The Vice-Chancelor, therefore, challenged the newly qualified doctors to unleash their potentials to be the best and follow diligently the ethics of the medical profession. Prof. Olatunde, who was represented on the occasion by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof. Deji Agboola, expressed joy that in spite of all odds, the graduands managed to weather the storm and survived the ordeals as well as the rigours of undergoing medical training in the University.

He enjoined them to always remember their alma mater and contribute their quota towards its development. “I congratulate you most warmly for your hard work and dedication, all of which have culminated in today’s celebration. Keep striving for the best and always remember your source. Be committed to the alumni association of this University and ensure that you make your work known so that your activities will be noticed collectively to move the University forward,” he told the graduands.

The Vice-Chancellor reaffirmed the commitment of the University Management towards providing excellent and conducive academic environment for students to explore and fully discover their own potentials.  He said, “Recently, we were able to give a boost to our teaching and research facilities with the establishment of Central Research Laboratories, one in this College and another at the Main Campus in Ago-Iwoye. Researchers within and outside the country that visited the University lately commended its great feats, being one of the best in the country.”

“We are not resting on our oars as more investments will be made within the available resources to consolidate our current efforts towards improving the facilities required to enhance qualitative training, not only in the medical training but also in all our academic programmes.”.

Prof. Olatunde attributed the success of the institution’s medical programme to the efforts of dedicated staff of the College and the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu. He also appreciated the Chairman and members of the Board, the Chief Medical Director of OOUTH and her team for the sustained synergy without which the feats being celebrated would not have been possible.

The Vice-Chancellor further acknowledged the regular support of the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who doubles as the Visitor to the University, just as he also saluted the contributions of members of the State Executive Council.

In his address, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, said it was heartwarming to witness the induction of new set of doctors. He lauded the graduands for their steadfastness   during the course of their programme.

“This occasion marks the culmination of years of hard work and single-minded pursuit of a dream by the graduands,” Arigbabu noted. “For some, this journey has been characterised by long sleepless nights, endless examinations, non-existent social life, panic attacks, depression, emotional upheavals, suicidal thoughts, broken hearts, and broken relationships. In spite of all these impediments, our young colleagues have achieved their ultimate dream of becoming doctors.”

Provost OACHS, Prof A.O. Olatunji

While saluting the courage, sacrifice and resilience of the new professionals, the Commissioner urged them to be conscious of the challenges and demands of their profession.
He added: “I must say that the burden you have borne in the course of your study is nothing compared to the demand of the medical profession “Therefore, as you take the Hippocratic oath today and commence your professional practice as health care experts, you should be conscious of your actions and inactions as they could lead to irreversible consequences on human life, and I urge you to value the oath to enable you deliver to the satisfaction of society.”

Prof. Arigbabu enjoined the fresh doctors to eschew any form of malpractices that could bring shame to their names or profession. “Remember that you will be accountable for your professional practices and must always be prepared to justify the decisions and actions taken, so be guided by the principles of your noble profession as you contribute your quota to accelerate the development of the country,” he further told the graduands.

The Commissioner gave kudos to members of the University Management, saying they have proven to be worthy custodians of the nation’s future with their efforts. He also lauded OOUTH for contributing immensely to the successful implementation of the state government’s health policies for the benefits of all citizens in Ogun State.

Speaking shortly before administering the Hippocratic Oath on the medical graduands, the MDCN Registrar, Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, commended the doggedness and hard work of the new professionals to attain the feat. He admonished them to be guided by the ethics and principles of the medical profession and shun all forms of misconduct. Sanusi, who was represented by the MDCN Deputy Registrar, Dr. Henry Okwuokenye, however, bemoaned the high rate at which medical doctors are leaving Nigeria for foreign countries in search of greener pastures.

He noted that the medical brain drain has severely depleted the nation’s health sector, stressing that urgent steps must be taken by relevant authorities to address the ugly trend.
According to him, no fewer than 2,000 doctors leave the country annually out of about 3,500 trained to practise medicine and enhance human health. He pointed out that measures must be taken to retain locally produced doctors and prevent further loss of best hands in the health sector. Making medical education completely free and ensuring trained doctors sign bond to practise for stipulated period of years, he said, would be one of the best approaches to stem the medical brain drain.

Sanusi said, “Medicine is one of the most difficult and most expensive courses you can ever do, especially in Nigeria today. What we pay for in government schools is almost not compared to what it actually costs to be a medical doctor. If I was the governor of the state and at the same time the governor of CBN, if it can happen, I would like to make medical education completely free so that government funds everything. And the reason is to curb the medical brain drain.”

“Everybody in the school today would tell you their concern about doctors leaving the country. They are leaving in droves. I’m the head of registration, I sign documents for those that are leaving. I can tell you that more than 2,000 doctors leave the country every year ranging from professors to the younger ones. Everybody is leaving and it’s a disturbing situation. One way we can curb that is if government takes responsibility for your training as a doctor, they can therefore give you a bond to sign so that you go nowhere to practise for five or seven years. That is the way we can retain our doctors.”

“As it is, we are bleeding profusely. There is a leakage of health workforce in the country. We train every year about 3,500 and more than 2,000 will leave. We must begin to think differently on how we can retain these ones,” the MDCN Registrar added.

Sanusi said though he would not entirely blame professionals leaving the country for greener pastures, he urged the new doctors not to be in a hurry to leave for foreign land without cogent reasons.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof. Deji Agboola and the Commissioner
for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbubu, at the event

“My advice is: make sure that when you are leaving, you are leaving properly, not to be in a hurry to get out of this place. You might come back after 20 years in regrets to start afresh. Many have done that and suffered,” he stated.  Meanwhile, the Chairman, Lagos State Health Service Commission, Dr (Mrs) Atinuke Onayiga, has advised new doctors to believe in themselves and their choice. She urged medical graduands to pursue their calling with vigour, commitment and kindness.

Dr Onayiga, who was the Guest Speaker at the induction ceremony, urged the fresh doctors to manage and cope with the challenges of their profession and always resist the temptation of doing unethical things for money. She said, “You have been blessed to receive the invitation to accept a special kind of calling, an urge to concern yourselves with the larger purposes and transcended values that lie at the heart of humanity: the concern of whether the human beings who share your time and space shall live or prematurely die and the quality of that survival. You can’t help but be committed to it.”

“Every generation of physicians has its own challenges. For you, these challenges include mastering ever-changing technology without losing the human touch; coping with rising health care costs, complex health systems, and bureaucracy; a challenge you all know so well creating equity for all people and all communities.”

“In your career progression don’t forget to do good always. Never let money dictate your decisions and don’t do any unethical thing for money. Be prepared to devote your professional energies not only to your patients’ needs but also to the unmet health needs of our society,” the Guest Speaker further admonished.

Dr Onayiga enjoined the medical graduands to pursue their passion and keep their “researchers’ mind” open. “Never stop asking questions; and never forget that medicine is an art as well as a science practised by doctors and researchers who bring to the bedside not benches-not only technology and training, but also their humanity, caring and concern,” she submitted. In attendance at the occasion were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Charles Adekoya; Registrar, Mr Femi Ogunwomoju; University Librarian, Dr. Adebambo Oduwole; and Bursar, Mr Semiu Makinde. Also present were the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, who was represented by Dr Ayinde Adesanya; OACHS Provost, Prof. A. O. Olatunji; Acting Chief Medical Director, OOUTH, Dr Bunmi Fatungase; and former Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta Prof. Adewale Musa-Olomu, among other eminent personalities in the medical profession.

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