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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 89-91

Medical education: Should undergraduate medicine be post-baccalaureate?

Department of Ophthalmology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Guinness Eye Center Onitsha, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Sebastian N N Nwosu
Department of Ophthalmology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Guinness Eye Center Onitsha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In 1960 the first 13 medical students fully trained in Nigeria to internationally accepted standard graduated from the then University College Ibadan, earning the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) London degree. Since then thousands of doctors trained to international standard have been produced from different medical schools in Nigeria. The Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria has now registered about 50, 000 doctors most of whom trained locally in Nigerian universities. The doctors were admitted into the universities with SSCE or its equivalent as the minimum entry requirement. These doctors have acquitted themselves by admirably working hard to in various capacities, including research, teaching and clinical services, to address and solve the health needs of Nigerians and beyond. Recently the National Universities Commission (NUC) proposed and may soon implement a policy that would make the university first degree the minimum qualification for entry into medical schools in Nigeria. The new policy advocates a 4 year medical undergraduate curriculum. However this would in effect translate to a minimum of 9 years post-secondary school to produce a medical doctor. Given the perennial instability in the health and educational sectors in Nigeria as well as the difficulties in obtaining placement for internship, it may practically take up to 15 years post-secondary school to fully register a doctor. Therefore the new NUC policy will have the effect of producing aging young doctors which will in turn put the lives of Nigerians at increased risk. Whatever be the flaw with the current 5 or 6 year straight MBBS programme is not due to the fact that SSCE or its equivalent is the minimum entry qualification. A minimum medical school entry qualification that has served Nigeria well for more than 50 years should not be jettisoned without convincing scientific evidence that it is detrimental to Nigeria's health policy and medical education process.

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