December 7, 2023

Angela Onwuzoo

A maternal health expert, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, has said that medical doctors in Nigeria need entrepreneurial skills to excel in medical practice.

Ajayi noted that physicians, especially young doctors need to change their mindset about travelling outside the country for greener pastures, noting that with the right entrepreneurial skills, they can be successful in Nigeria.

According to him, medicine has gone beyond a patient sitting in front of a doctor, adding that doctors need to add entrepreneurial skills to their Bachelor of Medicine, and Bachelor of Surgery certificates to excel in their profession.

Ajayi, who is the Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, disclosed this during a Physicians Mentorship Programme (cohort 2), adding that doctors need to open their eyes to opportunities in the health sector in Nigeria. 

He stressed that a lot of opportunities abound in the nation’s health sector, noting that doctors have to be innovative and also think out of the box to be able to see them. 

The mentorship programme targeted at young doctors was organised by Nordica Foundation to curb brain drain and improve health care delivery in Nigeria.

Ajayi lamented that out of over 100, 000 registered medical doctors in Nigeria, only about 30,000 are currently practicing in the country, stressing that young doctors require handholding and mentoring for them to believe in the nation’s health sector and see the opportunities therein.  

The physician said, “Doctors need to be entrepreneurs and if they can add entrepreneurial skills to the MMBS certificate that they have, they will be okay. We should stop having a mindset that government will do everything for us.  

“For me, sometimes, it is surprising when I see people who can gather N10m and then they say every that they have and go abroad. If you have N10m and invest it in Nigeria even as of 2022, don’t you think it will make a difference? But the mindset is that I just want to escape.

“How we are approaching so many things is wrong. We need to see how to change the mindset of doctors. When the mindset of the doctors is changed, it will help curb brain drain.”   

According to him, the problem the younger doctors in Nigeria are having is that nobody is handholding them, lamenting that everybody is just on his own. 

Continuing, Ajayi said, “There are over 200 million Nigerians; naturally, they will fall sick and some people will look after them. Right now, we have about 100,000 registered medical doctors. 

“Only about 30,000 of them are left now in the country. But let’s assume that all the doctors registered in Nigeria are here, it will still not be enough. 

“The truth is that there are opportunities for doctors in Nigeria.

“For every one of us who has gone through this period, you know that maybe the first eight to 10 years of your career would be challenging. You are going to be confused. 

“Nonetheless, this is the period that is actually the most important and if you continue to do the right thing, then, in due course, you will reap the reward.”

The fertility specialist pointed out that it is Nigerian medical practitioners that will proffer solutions to the brain drain and other challenges confronting the health sector and not foreigners.

“But the tendency is for many people to want to jump the ship once things are a bit difficult. Yes, I understand about this present generation they were unfortunate not even to have been born at the time Nigeria worked. 

“For example, when I was in medical school, they were giving us toilet rolls and changing our bedsheets in the university. We have seen that and we know that the country can work.

“And that is why we need to continue to tell the young ones that Nigeria can work if all of us put our hands to it.

“What the young doctors need most importantly is this handholding in the initial phase of their professional career. And that is what this mentoring programme is all about,” he said.

The Nordica CEO said the best place for a Nigerian-trained doctor to set up his facility is still in the country. 

He noted, “I am not saying that people should not travel. But if you travel, know that the best place to set up is your own country if you are going to be self-employed. If you are going to work for the government, you can stay anywhere and work for the government.

“But if you are thinking of working for yourself, the best place you can use is your own country. Medicine is just beyond the patient that is sitting in front of you. One of the problems that we have in Nigeria is that hospitals are not well managed.  

“Those are the thing that we are trying to let them see at a young age so that the health sector in Nigeria will not continue to be what it is right now.”

Ajayi urged the doctors to stop waiting for the government in tackling the challenges confronting the health sector but instead urged them to think out of the box in finding a lasting solution to the problems confronting the health sector.

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