“There are a lot of untapped potentials and opportunities outside Lagos for Medical Corp members…” – Medical Doctor and Ex-Corp member


NYSC year for fresh (and not so fresh) medical doctors out of house job can be a very startling and life changing event, with so many questions. Wanting to get the best view of the year, we met up with one of the outstanding Medical Officers, who recently had his “passing out parade” with 3 different certificates from the NYSC programme, as opposed to the regular single “certificate of discharge” most corper finish with. And below are excerpts of what he had to say about his experiences, expectations and goal achievement during the service year, which could also serve as a guide or pointer to prospective corp members.

Correspondence – Medical Mirror

Can we meet you Sir?

My name is Dr. Ahmadu Haruna Oche. An Ex Medical Corp member of the NYSC scheme batch 20A, who served at Muslim Medical Foundation (MMF) in Saki LGA, Oyo state and was awarded 3 different certificates of achievement on completion (NYSC discharge, Certificate of merit for being the project chairman of Medical and C-PET CDS group and HSE Level 1, 2, 3 certification).

Dr Ahmadu with other Medical Corp members at the Iseyin camp.

What was NYSC like? The posting and primary place of assignment?

From the onset, I wanted to see other places aside Lagos. Being in Lagos from birth through my medical career, I decided to explore other parts of southwest Nigeria and God willing, I got Oyo state. When I got to the Oyo camp (at Iseyin), I loved the food, weather and the environment was cool but the accommodation was crazy for the boys  (I stayed in Ajimobi hall and we were like 700 + people sleeping there).However, I didn’t plan to leave Ibadan (the state capital and largest city, because of its proximity and similarities to Lagos) but COVID happened, camp was suspended indefinitely, the postings came and I was posted to a town named ”Saki”. I had never heard of the place before, I had to start using my Google map to locate the place.
In the process of doing that, I received a call asking if I was “Dr So and so” who has been posted to MMF and that they had brought the hospital bus to pick me up.

Sincerely, I thought they were about to take me to a place that didn’t have Doctors, as this was a shocking gesture but I followed when I saw the bus – it was a good looking hiace, which sort of gave me reassurance. On that journey to the hospital, I made up my mind that I was only going to stay if the facility was going to afford me learning, getting hands on, and offer me a conducive environment for practice. If it wasn’t, I concluded in me that I’ll take my leave. This was because my goal for the service year apart from serving my father land (people that know me know how passionate I’m about this country) was to sharpen my skills, learn as much as I could and get a lot of hands on experience.

On getting to the hospital, I liked their organizational flow, met with the senior colleague already working there and was wowed when I was shown to my apartment. It was a large fully well-furnished 2-bedroom apartment, with DSTV and all other amenities, I was moved to ask if it was just for only me, informing them that I don’t have any family I intend to stay with me (It was that massive). I also liked the arrangement of the hospital. The hospital was owned by a big NGO and was one of the 3 major big hospitals in Saki town (with the population of over 200,000 people). They had consultants – such as orthopedic surgeon, urologist etc. – come in when needed.

What were your learning experience during the service year?

Coming from Housejob at a teaching hospital, where we had to struggle and hustle for procedures with residents and other colleagues, where I served – it was different. The procedures were readily available for you with ample guidance from senior colleagues. The MD – a very nice man – took me through the basics, even things I knew before, he thought all over (from cleaning a patient for surgery to positioning and more). Also, I had another senior colleague who taught me obstetrics ultrasonography and other procedures. I was always going to the ultrasound scan room every day for my first month to learn and also did an ultrasound scan course.
All these was during the lockdown period and since I was “trapped” there, I couldn’t come back to Lagos either. As time went on, I got a hang of the environment and change. We had a maternity home too with a school of nursing and midwifery, where I also learnt a lot from the medical colleagues there.

Can you give us an insight into some of the procedures you were able to learn and do during your service year?

Now I can perform Cesarean section well, I also picked up appendectomy skill and I assisted the consultants and Senior MOs in diverse other procedures.

Dr Ahmadu and the CDS President, Dr. Zephaniah at the POP both displaying their certificates.

Can you tell us about your CDS project?

From the camp, we were divided and grouped according to our profession into medical CDS, and were only 3 doctors and 3 pharmacists posted to that town. So, we had to incorporate other non-medical people into the CDS group to have enough hands. Despite not being able to meet for our meetings or programs due to the pandemic, we still had our big plans. We eventually were only able to carry out our vaccination drive in the town for Yellow fever vaccine (with the exemption of pregnant women), meningitis vaccine (for children), also did free malaria testing for our fellow corpers and gave medications to those that needed it. This we did because if we don’t take care and look out for ourselves no one will.

One aspect I must also emphasize regarding the success of our group and CDS, despite the challenges, was that our medical CDS had a wonderful president (Dr. Lenbang Zephaniah) who was tactical and dynamic. After his appointment as the president, he thought we needed to have project committee with a team lead. Then a committee was formed for the community project, for which I was the project chairman for my group. Our other CDS plans included a mega outreach for the town populace, because we realized that NCD was prevalent among them. We really had a very big plan for this outing but never got the approval from NYSC and green light from state coordinator due to the on and off of CDS during the pandemic. However, we handed over the plans to the next CDS group, with hopes that they will take up from where we have stopped and complete the project.

So asides learning skills and having hands on experiences, what other benefits did you get from NYSC during the service year?

As a corper, there are professional certification programmes you can get done at a subsidized rate. I did one of those, which was on Health Safety and Environment (HSE). The HSE program has levels 1, 2 and 3, which on completion, makes you an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and Safety. This is actually a United States certification. There is also the one of Human Resources Management and many others. However, I chose HSE because it was in line with my course of study and profession. At the end of the NYSC, you would be awarded on the day of your POP with the professional certificates.

What’s your advice for aspiring or soon to be medical doctor corpers and young people out there going for their National Youth Service too?

Generally I’m of the opinion that the NYSC scheme should be restructured as there are irregularities in the scheme such as posting Engineers to school and so on but pending when we can have this urgently needed restructuring, I would implore prospective corp members to be open minded and also tone down on the negative energy.
A lot of prospective medical Corp members have skeptic and closed mindset on leaving Lagos, especially those that schooled in UNILAG. This is absolutely understandable because it’s your comfort zone and of course it’s “Lagos – the land of unthinkable opportunities”, plus you might also have a lot going for you there already, but the truth is that, there are a lot of untapped potentials and opportunities outside Lagos for Medical Corp members. Like they say, “fortune favours the bold”. For me, NYSC year was eventful and I enjoyed it more than I expected. I hope you explore too.

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