With a second and colourful matriculation ceremony held in Port Harcourt last weekend, the first private medical university in the country, PAMO University of Medical Sciences, has edged itself in the Nigerian tertiary education space. Davidson Iriekpen writes
It was fun and excitement last Friday when the first private medical university in Nigeria, PAMO University of Medical Sciences (PUMS) held its second matriculation ceremony in Port Harcourt.
As expected, the university auditorium was filled to capacity with dignitaries from far and near, including parents, guardians and students, all in joyous mood. For the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Michael Diejomaoh, the occasion was again an opportunity to showcase the institution’s uniqueness. He reminded the students to take their studies seriously, adding that it was because the school found them worthy in character that they were given admission. He advised the students to be worthy ambassadors of the university and Nigeria.
Diejomaoh, a world-class obstetrician and gynaecologist, advised the students not to flout the rules and regulations of the institution, telling them that at the end of their studies, they won’t regret attending the university as they would stand out in their chosen professions.
Also speaking at the occasion, a former Head of State and Chancellor of PUMS, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), described the institution as a world class university dedicated to building healthcare workers, including medical doctors and nurses in the country. While commending the state government for supporting the school, he said the progress made in PUMS within the last one year shows the prospects and what the future holds for Nigerians.
According to him, going by the impact and steady progress the university has made in just two years, it could not have come at a better time than now to fill the gap left by most institutions in the country. He decried the inability of most Nigerian public universities to provide standard medical-related programmes, promising that PUMS would strive to address all the challenges facing medical education and practice in the country as it aims to achieve global excellence in terms of teaching, research and community services.
He added that the university will produce graduates in different fields of medicine who are not only competent in their professions, but also worthy in character and learning.
The former head of state advised the students to be good ambassadors of the institution, adding that he has no doubt that based on the training they would receive, they would all stand out in the society.
A former Governor of Rivers State and the Pro-Chancellor of PUMS, Dr. Peter Odili on his part, stated that in less than 14 months of establishing the institution, Nigerians are now choosing the school ahead of the quota set by the university.
He added that the institution has, in a short time, become a choice of study for many Nigerians filling their Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) forms.
The renowned medical doctor noted that the level of discipline and quality of learning in PUMS are unrivaled, as its projection remains to become one of the best universities in the country.
“Those who are filling PAMO University in their JAMB forms have surpassed the space we have for students. This shows that many students want to come to the school for their academic pursuit. Our plan is to ensure that graduates from this institution are exceptional in the course of offering healthcare services to Nigerians. And for that to happen, they must be certified worthy in character and learning, which is what we are pursuing.
“Though the university has put in place stringent conditions of learning, they would help in guiding you to success. Take those pains now and bear, at the end of the day, you will forever be grateful to the university you attended.
“In the hospital setting, the most important person is the patient. You must therefore treat your patients like your bosses without which you have no work. For that to happen, your character must be impeccable, and that is what PUMS is about,” Odili added.
On his part, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said he was glad that students from the institution can now use the state teaching hospital for their trainings, adding that products of the school would eventually benefit the state, as well as the country.
Wike, whose government is sponsoring 100 students every year in PUMS, said the state will also support the school with N250 million. He called on illustrious sons and daughters of the state to emulate the pro-chancellor by establishing institutions that have lasting legacy.
To the students, the governor said: “Students matriculating here should count themselves worthy to be in PUMS because their courses are constantly on demand. Be willing to serve our country and state when you graduate.”
PUMS was conceived and given birth to in order to bridge the gap of inadequate manpower in the medical and healthcare sector. It is well-equipped with modern facilities found in most developed countries.
For many who know the institution, one of its greatest strengths is that its founder is not only a renowned medical doctor, but has, since the 1980s, established the PAMO Specialist Hospital, which means that from takeoff, the institution has an already-made teaching hospital to aid students right from 100 level in order to have a full medical knowledge and experience. This is unlike other universities whose students start hospital experience from 400 level.
The university has courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, human nutrition and dietetics, pharmacology, physiology, and nursing medical laboratory science in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, as well as Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) in the Faculty of Clinical Sciences.
Sited in a serene atmosphere in a large expanse of land off Aba Road in Port Harcourt, PUMS boasts of tasteful facilities with full residency for students. Because of the crises that have characterised public and most private universities in the country, PUMS in order to ensure it achieves its core mandate of producing quality medical doctors and healthcare personnel in the country, has set the rules for incoming students. These rules, the management of the school has promised, won’t be compromised.
To maintain high academic record, the university has kept its admission strictly on merit and has placed all students on residential accommodation on campus. For students to concentrate on their studies and not unnecessarily show off their background, they are not allowed to use cars on campus.
The school management said there is absolute zero tolerance for cultism and related vices for both staff and students, adding that students are not allowed to expose their bodies indecently, as there are dress codes for lectures and official functions for both students and staff of the institution.
For those who were there to witness the event, PUMS could not have come at a better time than now when medical education in the country is facing the challenges of access, quality and relevance. This is compounded by the inadequate number of medical and healthcare professionals practicing in the country.
Presently, medical schools in the country cannot absorb the number of qualified candidates that are interested in pursuing courses in the medical field. Universities in Nigeria, whether private or public offering medicine are distracted by other courses since they are not specialist institutions. This is where PUMS stands out.
According to statistics, Nigeria has only 35 per cent of her requirement for medical practitioners. This gloomy picture is worsened by the fact that less than five per cent of qualified applicants can be admitted into degree programmes in medical and health sciences in all universities every year in the country on account of limited spaces.
In a sector and industry which is prone to stories of what has gone wrong and what is not working, PUMS is gradually changing the narrative.