By Dr Paul John,mazipauljohn@gmail,08083658038
RE: Senate’s investigation of the MDCN assessment exam, an affront to Nigerian doctors
Click here to go through the publication that has generated too much controversies.
Mixed reactions have trailed my recent publication; while some are praising me others are condemning me for not getting their own side of the story before going to the press. In view of this, I have deemed it necessary to give them fair hearing as contained in S.36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) as amended . Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. I have, in the said article taken sides with MDCN and NMA , but it seems that these younger colleagues of ours have something to tell me which I never knew. I will now publish all the messages I have received so far since the publication was released to the public domain.
The symbol of justice
The first person wrote:
Dear Dr Paul John,
I saw your article on 26/12/2017.I am also a Nigeria trained medical doctor, But it saddens me to see your article. I don’t think it is bad for foreign trained doctors to seek redress from the senate. At least they have taught us what we didn’t learn in our medical schools, which is to seek redress when we think we have been wronged. You didn’t even give them a chance; you condemned them from the beginning of your letter to the end. I think your article was totally biased and it lacked merit. You only made me believe that you are a staff of the MDCN or you are one of those consultants who think failure only lays on the student not the teacher. I think this is the beginning of a medical revolution of accountability, of all involved in medical education. The issues of massive failure at both post and undergraduate exams in Nigeria should be next. From your article, you claim to be a smart doctor , I think you and all the so called smart doctors should provide teaching aids to make medical education easier to understand and also to improve our medical practice to world standards , rather than focus on not according this foreign trained Nigeria doctors their respect as you claimed. Only 243 passed out the 680 doctors and 10 dentists , if that didn’t touch your heart, then what kind of doctor are you . God bless Nigeria …… From Doctor Jos , DoctorJos@cchellenic.com
The second colleague wrote:
Dear Dr Paul John,
I have read your comments about foreign trained doctors who failed
medical exam. I respect your intelligence but you did not address the
issue of poor learning condition and overcrowded classrooms
and un-organised lecture notes .All these things, I considered you as being biased against the foreign trained doctors.
I also noticed that the council displayed some sort of bad blood against
these graduates out of jealousy. Let us be fair to ourselves and fear
Almighty God. God bless you…….From Akintayo Yemi
The third person pleaded anonymity so he could not be victimised .He was part of the younger colleagues that wrote the exam.He pathetically wrote as thus:
Good day Dr Paul John,
I read your very long article. I couldn’t just keep quiet because inasmuch as you made some certain points which I do not doubt the reality, sometimes we don’t have to draw our conclusions based on one side of the story. Our people say, “When a child cries and points towards a direction, if his father isn’t there then his mother may be there”. I think as a senior colleague, you can try to investigate this issue properly before drawing your conclusions, but since you didn’t ask us before going to the press, permit me to sensitize you on the issue on ground.
First of all, I am one of the foreign trained doctors. I trained in the Republic of the Philippines Island. I am first and foremost a graduate of microbiology from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, after my graduation I enrolled in the college of Medicine Ebonyi state University, but due to incessant strikes, my parents offered to send me abroad to study. When I got to the Philippines, I wasn’t allowed into medicine immediately, I took up another BS Molecular Biology, for 2 yrs before I was enrolled into Medicine. Please take note, there was an entrance examination before that, and there was a particular score that should usher one into medicine. It may interest you to know that I also have an MSc in Public Health and a PhD in Public Health (major in Epidemiology).
Concerning the Examination, first of all I will start by faulting our medical council because what they put in the website is totally different from what is obtainable; you can see that for yourself. When we arrived Ilorin, which is a total new centre that has never been used, we were told that we would be taught 53 topics which were of tropical diseases. We had intensive lectures under very un-conducive environment for 16weeks, coupled with long hours of ward rounds, clinics etc. During this period, there were strikes in the hospital, first, it was resident doctors, then nurses and other hospital workers followed suit. When the resident doctors called of the strike nationwide, Unilorin Teaching Hospital resident doctors went on their own strike, you as a doctor know too well how incessant strikes affect medical education. We were forced to be crowding a consultant to learn whenever we saw one; there was no activity in the hospital except for the lectures. Guess what! After all these things, during the examination, not even a single question from the 400 mcqs(multiple choice questions) came out from our given topics, instead we had questions from Anaesthesiology, Ophthalmology. The University of Ilorin attested to this that even the questions that they submitted to the CBT centre, the registrar came on the day of the exam with his own set of questions which explained why we sat down for over 4 hours waiting for the exam to commence even when we arrived at 7:30 am without food or drinks.
On the day of the OSCE (Objective structured clinical examination), we were told earlier we would have 10 stations but on that day we had 5. The examiners weren’t helping matters at all. They were either distracted, answering calls , charging phones or texting while the student was presenting to them, not checking the papers and giving you marks for your steps. The point I am making is that it was already a preconceived plan on how to deal with us in the examination. Even after that, I did not think the exam was that bad, we had Precordium exam, Partograph, urinary obstruction, counselling a sickle cell patient and monkey pox,. These were not the type of questions I think someone could perform so badly that over 70% of the doctors failed.
I want to mention something else to you about the process of the exam, earlier before then, the registrar who happens to be a dentist had on various occasions bemoaned the foreign trained doctors, creating something like a barrier between the locally trained ones and the foreign trained ones. I do not see medicine like that; I see medicine as an apprenticeship where one has to learn everyday by practice and observation. You mentioned that we couldn’t obtain our internship in those countries where we had our training, I want to correct you sir, and there are some of us who had already completed their internship programmes over there. I started mine in Philippine Islands and 4 months into the programme, I decided to come back home for my folks and other family stuff. I can also have my residency and fellowship there as I have people who are doing that over there.
Yes I understand that in an examination, there must not be a 100% pass rate but at the same time , any examination that has more than 70% failure is not an exam. The problem might be from the instructors or the structure of the exam. I don’t want to bore you with the several situations which we encountered during the course over there at Ilorin but for you to say the senate got involved because their kids were amongst us is just not correct because I can bet you that amongst us all, no senator’s kid wrote the exam. The senate got involved because we involved them, when we found out that we had nobody to listen to us. Nobody is crying for a failed exam as failure doesn’t determine someone’s height of success, for me failure somehow sharpens and prunes me more to achieving greater things and breaking newer grounds. However, UNTIL THE ROTTEN TOOTH IS PULLED OUT THE MOUTH MUST CHEW WITH CAUTION. I can explain to you what is involved in this scenario, have you heard of the word CABALS? Please it does exist. This thing has eaten so deep into our country. It’s like a canker worm, which eats deep that you hardly notice the effects. It is of a greater advantage to the people who control it, and yes I understand you are ignorant of it because probably you own your clinic or work in FMC or a University Teaching Hospital where at the end of the month you just get your salary and then you don’t understand what happens in the medical education.
Do you how much they make when they usually fail people? knowing they will come back to write the exam again. Did you try to ask the registrar why the fees for the exam increased from N75, 000 to N130,000 ? Did you try to ask him why he removed the caveat that says that if you sit for the exam more than three times then you will enrol for one year in a medical school in Nigeria? This new rule by the registrar will make one to be writing the exam as many times as possible so that the council will be smiling to the bank. Did you ask him how much he told the House of Reps he realized from the last exam? That was about 90.4million, and when he was asked if he was not getting budget from the federal government, he said he only gets 9million, did you ask him what sort of lie that was? Did you care to ask him what was in the examination that people would fail up to 3 times for someone who truly went to the medical school? Did you try to ask the registrar why he changed the names of the people he already published on the website that made the exam and on that same day shut down the website only to update it after a few days? Do you not think what he did was suspicious? Did you ask him how he became the Acting registrar? Why is he the only person representing the counci.So he alone chooses who passes and fails. (so he said at the HOR)
Dear, I want to explain further, when we agitate for justice and fairness, we are not ignorant of the fact that there are some of us who truly didn’t make the exam, there are some of us who also made the exam but truly weren’t supposed to pass the exam. You talked about passing PLAB and USMLE; I want you to remember that those exams are standardised exams with syllabus. They do not get out of their curriculum when setting exams. Why should MDCN get out of the curriculum to set the exam for us? Did you also hear that after the CBT examination we were congratulated by the coordinator of the program that more than 90% of us made it, even though the questions changed from our tropical medicine topics to specialty questions we still proved that we had basic knowledge of medicine. What happened to the over 500 names submitted by the university of Ilorin teaching Hospital to the Acting registrar?
Honestly it is only the person wearing the shoes that knows where it hurts him exactly. Our health sector is crumbling, you know why? It’s not really because of the government is not funding properly but because the people at the helm of affairs are frustrating the efforts of the lesser people. Our medical education is so frustrating. Right from medical school, a lecturer looks at your face and decides your fate and you are gone if he finds your face not attractive. The primary examination by the postgraduate colleges is nothing to write home about. Why do you think our doctors migrate to foreign countries? It’s simply because this place is dying. In a population of over 180million we can’t boast of 100,000 doctors. It’s a shame. It’s time to separate the sheep from the goats, separate medical doctors from dental surgeons, doctors should manage doctors and dental surgeons should manage dentists because by so doing each will know the right way to lead.
Thank you so much for our interaction
Feel free to contact me if you need more clarifications….. The identity and contact of the writer is hidden by me as earlier requested.
The fourth person wrote:
Good Morning Sir,
I just read your article titled“ Senate’s investigation of MDCN assessment exam, an affront to Nigerian medical doctors”. This is the first of its kind I have read since I joined the umbrella of the Nigeria Medical Association as a young doctor. Truth be told, the sanctity of the medical profession must not be compromised. Not even by doctors. I pray that the Almighty God continue to guide you in this course of the truth….From Dr Saidu Ibrahim Alhaji,311 Artillery Regt, Kontagora Niger State, firstname.lastname@example.org
The fifth colleague wrote:
Good morning sir,I write to appreciate your elaborate article in regards to foreign trained doctors and MDCN. Sir,I don’t know how it’s done but this kind of article should published in other national dailies for Nigerians to get a true picture of the situation. In my own opinion your article is the best I have read concerning this issue.Thank you
Dr Ikyoh Peter,Benue state ,07062337684