PAMO Takes Medical Education to New Heights

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With the full accreditation of courses and programmes in PAMO University of Medical Sciences by the National Universities Commission and other professional bodies recently, and the ongoing upgrade of its teaching hospital, all within three years of its establishment, the management of the institution is determined to take medical education in the country to the peak, Ugo Aliogo writes

With the directive by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to universities in the country to resume on January 18, 2021, one university where students are anxiously looking forward to resume the 2020-2021 academic session is PAMO University of Medical Sciences (PUMS). For them and their parents, the good news is that the institution is resuming few months after the NUC fully accredited their courses and programmes to their delight and that of the management of the institution.

By law, the NUC is empowered to lay down Minimum Academic Standards (MAS) for universities in the country and to accredit their degree programmes. This leads to the preparation, with the use of experts, of the MAS for the 13 disciplines taught in Nigerian universities in 1989. The disciplines are; Administration, Agriculture, Arts, Basic Medical Sciences, Education, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Sciences, Law, Medicine and Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sciences, Social Sciences and Veterinary Medicine.

Accreditation of degree programmes by the NUC is a system of evaluating academic programmes in Nigerian universities to ensure that they meet the provisions of the MAS documents. The objectives of the exercise are to: ensure that the provisions of the MAS are attained, maintained and enhanced.

For PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Nigeria’s first private institution devoted wholly to the medical sciences, NUC accrediting its courses and progammes within three years is remarkable. The good news to the students, management and stakeholders of the institution is that with the full accreditation of courses and programmes, the students can be assured that they are running genuine programmes. So it is with their parents who are responsible for their welfare.

The cheering news is that the accreditation would make the young university a destination for admission seekers, as parents and guardians would want their children and wards to attend PAMO.
After the NUC accreditation, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria also accredited the university’s Department of Nursing Science, while the accreditation by the Medical Laboratory Council came before the NUC’s. Meaning that the university now has all its courses and programmes fully accredicted.

Currently, the institution has courses such as Anatomy, Biochemistry, Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Pharmacology and Physiology in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, as well as Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) and Nursing in the Faculty of Clinical Sciences.

PUMS is Nigeria’s first private medical university solely committed to pursing courses and programmes in the medical and allied field. It is well-equipped to world standards and situated in a serene environment in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The university management said its objective is to take medical education to the peak in the country.

The Special Adviser to the Pro-Chancellor of the university, Dr. Abdulrahman Sambo, who broke the news of the series of accreditations to THISDAY, said the institution which is the first to be granted licence within one year of planning, is also the first to obtain full accreditation of all its courses and programmes at the first visit, and first to have its admission quota for medicine increased or doubled even before graduating the first set of medical students.

“NUC has granted full accreditation status to six of the seven programmes, the seventh programme, MBBS, has not been visited because it’s not due yet, since it’s a six-year programme, so the visit will be towards the end of next year.

“Nursing and Midwifery Council has also granted full accreditation to the programme and increased admission quota of students, same with Medical Laboratory Science, which has been granted full accreditation also.

“The one granted by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) is for pre-clinical because their accreditation takes three stages: first is pre-clinical, second is basic clinical sciences and the third and final is for the clinical sciences. A university has to scale one before it gets to the next stage.

“We have scaled the first and ordinarily, this takes a number of years. For us, it’s a monumental achievement because some universities spend between five to six years to get it. PAMO University was able to get it at the very first visit and then the increase in the admission quota,” Sambo said.

He noted that apart from the MBBS, Bachelor of Nursing Science, Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science, Bachelor in Physiology, Anatomy, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, the university is planning to add more courses during the next academic session.

THISDAY also gathered that with the accreditation, which would also lead to admission of more students, the university has begun massive expansion of its structures, including classrooms, halls, hostels, laboratories and library facilities.

“We have got a large chunk of land behind the university which we have acquired and more hostels are being built, academic blocks are being added and then library auditorium,” Sambo said.

One of the greatest strengths of the university is that it already has an existing teaching hospital established by its founder who is a renowned medical doctor established in the 1980s, called PAMO Clinics and Hospitals Group.

The hospital has been at the forefront of the provision of high-class medical care and services to residents and visitors to Port Harcourt and Rivers State for nearly 40 years. It also has over the years, provided high-quality medical treatment and health promotion services spanning Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Paediatrics to individuals, families and corporate organisations across sectors such as energy, oil and gas, power, agriculture and construction.

This means that from takeoff, the hospital will aid students right from early stages in order to have a full medical knowledge and experience. This is unlike other universities where students are not exposed to hospital experience until they are in 400 level.

Sambo furthered revealed that the management of PAMO is currently expanding the hospital in order to upgrade it to the teaching hospital arm of the university.

“We are also about expanding the teaching hospital. We are expanding to upgrade it to the teaching hospital arm of the university. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Rivers State governent and State University Teaching Hospital and PUMS, where students of PUMS will be visiting the State University Teaching Hospital for clinical training before the completion of the building of the PAMO Teaching Hospital.

“We are the first university to be granted licence within one year of planning, first university to obtain full accreditation of all its programmes at the first visit and first to have its admission quota for medicine increased or doubled even before graduating the first set of medical students.

“This was a record, getting a licence under a year. Others spend five to 15 years planning for this and PAMO is the first and only private university in Nigeria that was able to get the licence within a year of commencement of planning and first to start academic activities a few months after.”

The special adviser explained that part of the idea behind the establishment of the university is to inculcate the culture of teamwork in all the students who will graduate from the institution, stating that the seeming discordance among medical professionals in the country today is not good for the system.

He reiterated that aside tackling the obvious manpower problems in the health sector, the idea behind the establishment of the university is also to reform the mindset of students towards healthcare delivery in the country.

According to him, the institution was set up to correct the attitude of medical practitioners towards their patients and foster inter-professional relations, which have tended to go sour among the different professionals within the health system.

“We want our graduates to see themselves as members of a team ab-initio, right from training to the point of graduation and subsequent professional practice. Then looking at the south-south in general and Rivers State in particular, there isn’t any private university in Rivers per say.

“So, it’s not just the first private medical university in the country, but also the first private university in Rivers State. The concept of the university started in December 2016 and the first meeting of the committee was in February 2017 and by December 19 of the same 2017, the university had got its operational licence from the NUC.

“It’s also the first to have a former head of state as its chancellor and chairman, board of trustees,” he said.

Sambo added that since its establishment, PUMS has become a choice of study for many Nigerians filling their Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) forms. He noted that the level of discipline and quality of learning in the institution has become 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,” he said.