Leveraging on Mentorship in Medicine for Sustainable Healthcare


In recent times, the importance of mentorship is increasingly gaining awareness across all fields, and medicine is not left behind.

The great value of mentorship can be seen in the efforts of various medical associations and organisations investing in different forms of mentoring programs for their proteges and young people in the medical profession. One of such was the International Healthcare Conference and Exhibition organized by Katherine Oxford and Ace Medicare Clinics in collaboration with Emzor, which held at the Cucrid Building, Covenant University Ota.

This program – an informal type of mentoring – brought together young professionals in the healthcare industry including Students of the Association of Medical Students University of Lagos to learn from trailblazing senior colleagues. The theme for the conference was “Mentoring in the Healthcare Sector for Sustainable Development” and it was well delivered by Dr Tomi Somade – MD of the State Hospital, Ota (representing the Commissioner for Health Ogun State – Dr Tomi Coker) and Prof. Abimbola Akintade – Commissioner for Health Maryland, USA –  in their Keynote addresses.

For the opening remarks by Mrs Monique Gershon, she spoke about the Katherine Oxford foundation and how they conduct customer service trainings in hospitals, for both private and public facilities. This was as a result of fewer hands noticed to be available in providing quality service in the healthcare system, especially post-COVID outbreak due to brain drain. Further stating that the conference will be highlighting and proffering innovative solutions to motivate the discouraged healthcare providers – who are on the verge of leaving the country.

During the different engaging panel sessions, different career pathways for young medical doctors were suggested by the panellists and pertinent issues raised and discussed. The panellists included: Dr. Wole Kukoyi, Dr. Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo – Founder/CEO Market Doctors, Prof. Solomon O. Rotimi – Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, Covenant University, Pharm. Uzoma Ezeoke – Executive Director EMZOR Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Jennifer Egbunike – Healthcare Management lead at UCL Global Business School for Health and Dr. Dele Oyekanmi – Founder, Destiny Builders. Moderators of these insightful sessions were Dr. Abraham Agbarakwe – Medical Innovation Lead at EmHealth Global and Dr. Kunle Ashimi – Principal Medical Officer at FMC Abeokuta.

Some of the points explicitly stated was that – Medicine in itself is not self sufficient, and medical students in the profession were advised to be willing to learn and show real commitment under mentorship, in order to encourage our mentors to do more and be willing to guide us properly. Pharm Uzoma specifically advised that the mentee must be well positioned and ready to take part in mentorship, show the readiness to learn with patience, humility, readiness and enthusiasm. Dr. Kunle Ashimi also mentioned that we should start looking at people or mentors as complete persons in totality, not just as the roles they serve in, but as people who can help, and this will help us pick up cues. He further advised the younger generation that, in order for us to offer total care for our patients, we must pay attention to the minute details and really listen to them.

While addressing some of the  flaws  in the Nigerian healthcare care system today, recommendations were made on the right way to walk around them, thus instilling hope in us for Nigeria again. Students and participants were encouraged to not just aim to go overseas in search of greener pastures and lose ourselves in the process, with the importance of having a plan to follow highlighted. Dr Kukoyi explained that sometimes those that travel out of the country, may get depressed because they do not have a plan for themselves. Further emphasising that, “for you to travel or stay in the country, you must have a plan either way”. Dr Ayo-Oyalowo also gave her instance, that she couldn’t have opened market doctors in London or USA but in Nigeria, because this is where the opportunity lies. Conclusively noting that, “wherever you are, there are opportunities around, find it and utilise it”.

Deep retrospection on the parts of medical students and young medical practitioners present at the conference triggered an alignment of what they want for themselves in their minds, while being encouraged on diverse career paths they can venture into. The Market Doctors CEO, specifically said; “Get the skills, do something new, decide what you want to be or do and work towards it”. She also explained that there’s been a gap which has been noticed over the years between “what an employer is facing” and “what the employee wants”. Thereby encouraging participants to also venture into non-clinical activities alongside clinical practice, such as research, article writing, health care administration, occupational health and so on.

Likewise, Dr. Adedolapo Abdullahi, LASUTH ARD President advised that asides being a practicing clinician, medics can as well become entrepreneurs, academicians, politicians, residents and consultants, go into the NGO space. So, participants shouldn’t just be limited to becoming “miserable” general practitioners or government workers, because there’s so much more in store to be explored. All that is needed, is just the willingness to go the extra mile, put in the hard work with determination and only the sky will be the starting point. Mr Dele Oyekanmi also mentioned that, medics should think of how to apply themselves and make a name. As it is not just all about money making, but the driving force should be about how to impact the community, while acquiring skills and adding value.

“Actions and inactions” are propelled by circumstances – Dr. Wole Kukoyi. 

Bullying in medicine was discouraged and medical professionals enjoined to be more accommodating of people’s dreams and accomplishments, not treating them with segregation or disdain. On the merger payment of Nigerian medical doctors, Dr Jennifer Egbunike urged young medical professionals to not just sit back and settle for the “800 naira per hour 9 to 5 jobs”. Further admonishing the Nigerian government to do something about this minimal payment, as a means of encouraging the Nigerian Medical doctors to stay back, and putting in the effort to make the Nigerian health care sector a topmost priority.

Dr Somade also discussed about how mentors must be trustworthy people, explaining the three pillars of sustainability – Economy (profit), Society (People), Environment (Planet) – and how each of these coexist to become one. He likewise mentioned that a mentee is one who is trained, counselled and mentoring enhances his or her social capital which is a measure of value – both tangible and intangible. He therefore encouraged us to conserve and enhance our resources. While, Prof. Solomon advised that mentors can work backwards; look at the current trends in mentorship today and try to tackle what mentees need per time. Goodwill messages were given by Dr. Kunle Farayibi (MD, Faramed Hospital) and Dr. Kayode Oyelade (chairman, AMPMP Ota).

Some other types of structured and formal mentoring programs also made available to young medical professionals are the Dr. Abayomi Ajayi Physicians Mentoring Programme, the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria Mentorship Programs (one-on-one and group mentoring for young female medical students and doctors), and many others.  All of these towards improving the quality of well-rounded medical professionals and passing on soft and hard skills, opportunities, networks and capacity development needed to navigate the medical field and deliver an excellent healthcare system.

About Author:

Deborah Ojo is a preventive health enthusiast and fourth year medical student in the College of Medicine University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Discussion1 Comment

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