The National Universities Commission (NUC) has debunked recent newspaper reports and editorials, that gave an impression that students would now spend 11 years instead of seven to study Medicine.
According to a statement by the commission’s Director of Information and Public Relations, Mr Ibrahim Yakassai, Medicine and Dentistry progammes would still continue to run for seven years.
The confusion started during the recent matriculation ceremony organised by the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, where the commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie delivered a keynote address titled: “ Development of Medical Education in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges.”
In the course of the lecture, Okojie had explained the significance of the new Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) for Medicine and Dentistry, which requires a medical student to graduate in Basic Medical Sciencee, with options in Anatomy, Biochemistry and Phisiology, before proceeding for the clinical training.
Okojie, who was represented by the commission’s Deputy Executive Secretary 1, Prof. Chinedu Mafiana, had further explained the rigorous process the reviewed BMAS went through, in consultations with the academia, professional associations and regulatory bodies, following the conduct of a Market Needs Assessment.
According to Okojie, the consensus was that medical training should be post-graduate. The main goal is to ensure that the crop of graduates emerging from the programme are psychologically matured to practice, with a high level of competency.
The statement continued: “The new BMAS for medical education still retains the fundamental learning objectives that the six-year programme: the national development goals for health, while retaining the international outlook to guarantee global competitiveness.
“While noting that the extant six-year programme shall continue to subsist for a period to be determined, Prof. Okojie observed that attempts had been made over the years to run Medical programme using course credit system and that the hallmark of the new document is that it clearly apportions credit weightings to all the courses and activities.
“In line with global practice and to ensure that knowledge and skills are effectively imparted”, Okojie had said, “modern course delivery systems have been prescribed.”
Among core teaching facilities and modes of learning recommended were:
Clinical Skills Laboratory
The use of the facility would represent a shift in the current mode of medical training to problem-based solving approach and the application of modern techniques which involves use of Mannikins and simulation materials. Clinical Skills Laboratory provides a learning platform in clinical, and information technology skills to certain level of competence before direct exposure to patient, which affords the learner and teacher an advanced knowledge in a seemingly practical environment.
The facility can also serve as a multi professional/inter professional interactive forum for communication skills development. The simulated patients also provide the learner a safe art of clerkship before direct contact with the real patient thus providing a learning method that efficiently fills the gap between theoretical knowledge and clinical practice.
Adoption of modern delivery method using ICT has become inevitable. Classrooms should be equipped with smart boards, document scanners and biometric scanners for lecture attendance.
E-learning materials and Research Information Platforms
E-learning materials accelerate understanding of courses taught and have become a veritable tool for learning. Research, generally, are meant to address social issues as well as deepening the knowledge and advancement in the field of studies. Information on the developments and applications in the field of study should be readily available.”
Okojie also said: “The availability of Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) has made access to teaching and research information readily accessible and all Nigerian universities should key into it.”
However, in reporting the story, a number of reporters who apparently misunderstood the lecture, misled their newspapers by giving the impression that Medicine would now run for 11 years.