Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Chairman, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan chapter of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Dr. Dare Olulana, has raised an alarm that the National Universities Commission (NUC) will collapse the nation’s health sector with its circular on doctorate degree for clinical lecturers in universities.
Olulana who gave the warning while addressing journalists in Ibadan recently, said any attempt to insist on compulsory acquisition of PhD by clinical lecturers in medical schools will sound the death knell of the health care system in Nigeria.
Members of the association all over the country last week Wednesday embarked on an indefinite strike action after its ultimatum to the NUC to withdraw the circular on PhD had elapsed.
Olulana who was flanked by other officials of the association, said with the circular, the number of clinical lecturers which presently stands at about 50 per cent of requirement in the medical schools would further reduced, noting that this would ultimately lead to brain drain of senior lecturers who are Fellows but without PhD.
He maintained that as in other civilised parts of the world, the residency training programme culminating in the Fellowship of the Postgraduate Medical Colleges, is the minimum requirement to practice as a specialist and to teach clinical medicine, insisting that the medical system prioritises safe patient care over academic and purely theoretical knowledge.
According to him, “the PhD alone is insufficient qualification to assume responsibility for patient care, or to teach clinical medicine. For this reason, the universities require clinical lecturers to have the Fellowship of the postgraduate colleges, as well as to practice as specialists ( Honourary Consultants) with the teaching hospitals in order to be able to teach as lecturers in clinical medicine in the university.
“Whereas the PhD is useful to those individuals that have chosen a voluntary career path in research (where research infrastructure exists), it does not significantly translate into improved patient care skills, nor better ability to teach clinical medicine.
“Patient care is the overriding focus of medical education both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, from the inception of medical education by the founding fathers of medicine till date, a target that the country is nowhere near meeting currently.
“The structured residency training programme of a minimum duration of six years, is a mandatory requirement for the employment of clinical lecturers by the universities, a condition not imposed on other lecturers. To add to this the burden of compulsory acquisition of PhD is simply superfluous.”
Olulana however assured that the over 300 members of the association in UCH like their other counterparts all over the country will continue to render professional clinical services to patients in the teaching hospitals and medical centres, warning that the association should not be pushed to the point where it will have to escalate its action.