In its bid to meet the academic postgraduate requirements of Nigerian University System, the National Universities Commission (NUC), has developed academic postgraduate programmes in medicine. The programme is designed to award Masters, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Medicine (MD).

The Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL highlighted the general need to overhaul the medical curricula for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

He said this at a meeting with some Deans of Post Graduate schools and Provosts of Colleges of Medicine of Nigerian Universities last Wednesday in the Commission.

In his address, the Executive Secretary stressed the need to enhance and refresh the medical profession, hence the decision by the Commission to assemble experts in the medical profession to develop the curriculum which include graduates of Medicine and Dentistry who were lecturers currently on their fellowship, could now undertake their PhD concurrently with some concession.

He said it was necessary to re-introduce the option of MD by publication to provide opportunity for many Professors to keep contributing new knowledge for as long as they wanted without the rigors of interfacing with any supervisor.

Professor Rasheed informed the meeting that the PhD was not a replacement of the fellowship training in the medical field but an option to the medical profession as a whole. It would henceforth be a pre-requisite for any medical professional that wanted to pursue the teaching career.

He explained that the said doctorate degree was strictly for the graduates of medicine and not for other science disciplines which could be acquired not only through thesis but also through publications in high impact journals.

He stressed that every scholar shall publish a minimum of 5 articles on the same topic and the publication date must not be earlier than the date of registration for the programme. The 3 categories of people that would be allowed to get a PhD included:

1. Those that must have enrolled in the fellowship programme of either the national or West African medical schools and successfully passed the part one of either or both and embark on the part 2 without a Masters degree can be allowed to start their part 2 and enroll for a PhD too. The student should be expected to work on the 2 projects at the same time but can be given a very good concession from the National Post Graduate Medical College to serve as incentive.

He added that if a student registered for fellowship in medical college and he/she completed the PhD before he/she submit himself for the final exam in Lagos and had successfully defended the PhD thesis, the medical college could examine him on several other issues but waive the thesis requirement and adopt the PhD thesis in its place.

2. Those Fellows who want to have a PhD in addition to other qualifications could register for the programme without any requirements or course work, but would be required to write a thesis within specified period under the supervision of a very reliable lecturer.

3. And those who were not interested in becoming fellows but have very good MBBS degrees but want an MSc and a PhD.

The Executive Secretary also commended the leadership of MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) for sheathing their swords and joining in the intense discussions on matters that they were very passionate about and advised that coming together to develop the health sector was more important than being at loggerheads, as NUC and other professional bodies were all geared at championing the same course.

He also informed them that there was need for MDCN and NUC to meet and discuss  appropriate undergraduate admission quota for colleges of medicine.

He expressed his gratitude to all of them present on their doggedness at maintaining a very impressive standard in the medical education.

In his speech, the Director, Directorate of Academic Planning, Dr. Gidado B. Kumo, said that the meeting with Deans of Post Graduate schools and Provosts of Colleges of Medicine in Nigerian Universities was very necessary because they were authorities in the matter and had to be kept abreast of any development on issues pertaining to requirements for admission into any degree awarding programme.

He said the Commission needed to discuss with them as stakeholders to arrest any area of difficulty that a student might come across in his university in the pursuit of his PhD and also make them the Commission’s ambassadors when matters arise in their respective university Senates.

The Executive Secretary, Medical Schools for Africa and Provost, University of Ibadan Medical School, Professor E. Oluwabunmi Olapade – Olaopa on behalf of the Deans and Provosts present, thanked the Executive Secretary, NUC for introducing the doctor of medicine MD option into the medical practice in Nigeria. He agreed that medical education was a continuum and therefore a PhD for the medical school was very important in order to reverse the dearth of doctors in the society and keep the system as fresh as possible.

He added that though research was important, of greater importance was establishing a link between the research from the PhDs and the clinical medicine, to know the impact of your research clinically.

He hoped that the standard of the qualification would be of high quality and urged the lecturers to continuously participate in the supervision of the doctorate thesis, regardless of whether they belonged to the clinical field or basic sciences, to promote synergy and continuous training that will ensure the profession boasts of more doctors with research degrees.

Professor Oluwabunmi particularly stressed the need to keep doctors in-country and provide them with the same degrees they go to seek in other countries. While keeping them busy with the PhD and MD degrees, they should be encouraged to write publications and keep adding knowledge and value to the medical field. This, he said would drive the development of effective health systems nationwide.

Present at the meeting were Provosts of some Colleges of Medicine and some Deans of Post Graduate Schools of Nigerian universities. The NUC Team included, Dr. Gidado Bello Kumo, Pharmacist Audu, Mrs. Nwosu and other staff of the Directorate of Academic Planning.