‘Our Aim is to Stop Nigerians from Studying Medicine Abroad’

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The National Universities Commission recently gave the nod to the Nigerian Turkish Nile University to commence a School of Medicine. In a chat with Martins Ifijeh, the Dean of the College of Medicine in the university, Professor Melih Erkan, emphasised on the need to have a medical school that can meet global standards

The National Universities Commission recently granted your university accreditation to commence the Faculty of Medicine. How was the process and what was the extra effort that was put in place by the management towards ensuring the success of the exercise?

It was indeed a very tasking process for us as a university because of the premium we placed on quality. The emphasis has been to produce world-class graduates that would compete anywhere in the world. And this much we have been doing since inception. As at today, the university has produced three sets of graduates. And we are proud of this feat. Consequently, the management decided to make some substantial investment in establishing a Medical Faculty which by the grace of God was recently accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). I must confess that getting accredited wasn’t as easy as it sounds; the process was very meticulous and tedious. As you might be aware, the NUC won’t just wake and give accreditation to commence a Medical Faculty. So we ensured that we recruited the very best in the medical profession both in Nigeria and all around the world.

In terms of facilities, we ensured that the faculty was equipped with modern medical equipment that can be found in the best school anywhere in the world. We have very high-tech laboratories like anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and microbiology. For us, it is a mission that is geared towards churning out a distinct set of medical personnel that would serve the country immensely.

When will admission of students commence?

The Faculty of Medicine will start by the end of September and lectures will commence by the first week of October. Admission period or process has started. There will be a special discount for those that will be admitted before the end of August. I and my colleagues are working round the clock to ensure that everything is in place for the smooth take-off of the faculty. For a start, we are beginning with 55 students in medicine, biochemistry and microbiology and 5 per cent of all the students will be on full scholarship.

Won’t 55 for a start be too small a number?

No, it is not. Remember I mentioned the emphasis is on quality. That has been our policy right from the word go. The management of the university places so much emphasis on that because we want to our graduates to be well-rounded. We don’t want to give certificates to people who can’t defend it. No, the Nigerian Turkish Nile University won’t do that. So we looked at our equipment and the fact that we want students to learn in a conducive environment. We want a situation where it will be one student to one microscope. But with time, we will increase the number of intakes.

You talked about the quality of the staffing for the faculty, Can you shed more light?

Our aim is to maintain the highest quality in terms of education, lecturing and much more. If you look at our sister organisation, the Nigerian Turkish Nizamiye Hospital, you’ll see technology there, we have very qualified professors and other academic staff that we painstakingly recruited from Nigeria and Turkey to man the various departments. Our aim is to stop Nigerians from studying medicine abroad.

What will make this faculty stand out from other medical faculties in the country when it becomes functional?

The use of technology in solving 21st-century medical problems. The university will be starting three new programmes in September; they include microbiology, biochemistry, and medicine. What we have been doing in the last few months is to recruit globally faculty membership that will be able to teach in the Faculty of Medicine and Natural and Applied Sciences. In the most College of Medicine in Nigeria, the most course that medical student takes comes from the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences; the biological sciences, biochemistry, and microbiology. We had NUC verification exercise about a month ago, we had a very high percentage approval, authorising the university to start a medical school, a biochemistry, and biological departments.

What about the admission requirement?

We are following Nigerian rules and regulations as per JAMB and NUC requirements

Would there be any form of internal examination?

We don’t have any such plan. We are complying fully with the set of rules and regulations regarding admission of students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

You talked about the theory and practical aspects, in terms of getting hands-on experience, how do you intend to go about accomplishing that?

We are going to use our sister organisation, the Nigerian Turkish Nizamiye Hospital as the teaching hospital, we also have MOU with federal government hospitals, this will expose our students to a very high-quality operations in the Turkish Hospital and they will also learn local signals and problems for the local area hospitals.

Is there anything like exchange programmes in place?

Absolutely, if you look around here, you’ll see people from Kenya, Cameroun, Turkey and Ghana, this is a more or less an international university. We have what we called exchange programme where students from Nigeria can go to Turkey and spend one or two semester and students from Turkey can as well come to Nigeria and spent a semester or two, this is part of the package students get when they come here.

Is there a provision for community outreach in the medical faculty?

Absolutely, as part of the educational training here at the Nigerian Turkish Nile University, students are required to perform community services. We recently signed an MoU with some Federal Medical Centres and federal universities where our students can go and be exposed to a broader array of medical conditions, then bring that knowledge to Nigerian Turkish University College of Medicine where they can use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose these conditions.

In 10 years from now, where do you see this faculty and in extension the university?

We’re working for the future of Nigeria. In the next ten years, we are going to be one of the best universities in Africa, especially in theoretical and practical education.