Along the path of becoming a medical consultant are several hurdles and challenges. These challenges however are surmountable if you are driven by determination. However, it is an obvious fact that for you to achieve your dream of becoming a Medical Consultant, you have to first qualify as a medical doctor. Several years (usually 6) are committed to training a medical doctor. This however excludes the unforeseen such as strike by University unions which cause a significant delay for the typical Nigerian medical student.
After having undergone training to become a medical doctor, specialization is necessary if you hope to make any meaningful impact in the field of medicine. This is where the the journey begins to become a medical consultant in Nigeria. It entails specialization in particular areas of interests. Developing the individual to make meaningful contributions to the field of medicine. A process of training called the residency program is enrolled into by the medical doctor. The regulatory body for coordinating the activities of postgraduate medical training is the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
The Fields of Specializations in Medicine
To become a medical consultant in Nigeria, a medical doctor has to select a particular field of interest to specialize in. During the entire period of training in the medical school, imparting general medical knowledge had been the main aim. For medical Doctors that did not proceed to specialize, but continued practicing with the knowledge acquired from medical school, they are called General Practitioners, as they have no specific specialization, but offer general medical services.
Developing Stamina for Residency Training
Due to the highly specialized nature of medicine, there are several specialized fields that require considerable time for training. Apart from the rigors of specializations, this training does not come cheap. To meet up with the financial implications, medical doctors are usually employed while undergoing training. All financial requirements are sourced from their income. Because of the considerable expenses involved, a strong determination to succeed is necessary. There are times when resident doctors (trainee doctors undergoing the residency program) fail their exams, and have to rewrite severally. Here, being resolute is key.
Key Areas in the Field of Medicine
Interested individuals willing to become medical consultants need to have a knowledge on some basic concepts in medicine. These are Surgeons and Physicians. Surgeons are specialized more in carrying out operations or surgeries to fix deformities such as broken limbs, removal of tumors, and several other diseases or ailments. Physicians on the other hand carry out the prescription of medications, providing diagnostic procedures to patients among other related activities.
The “How” of Qualifying as a Medical Consultant in Nigeria
After medical school, the path of qualifying as a medical consultant includes first enrolling for a residency program. A residency program is a training that bestows the knowledge necessary to successfully handle medical problems, providing an in-depth knowledge on the procedures and processes involved in problem solving using universal best practices within the field of medicine.
Towards realizing the dream of becoming a consultant, the residency program is categorized into 3 sections which are the Primary, the Part I Fellowship, and the Part II Fellowship known also as the Final. A resident has to undergo all these procedures, including passing of all the exams before becoming a consultant. After the mandatory 1 year internship program, registered medical and dental practitioners are qualified to write the fellowship examination.
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Passing the Fellowship Examination
After passing the fellowship examination, successful candidates can immediately commence the residency training program. The residency training program is split into the Junior Residency Training program and the Senior Residency Training program. For the junior residency training, it last a period of 24 to 36 months. This ranges according to the area of interest or selected field. An allotted lecture credit unit of 100, and an added 180 units consisting of practicals and the acquisition of skills is undertaken. However, the residency program is only offered in accredited institutions.
After sitting for the Junior Residency exams, and passing, the individual can now proceed to commence the full time Senior Residency program. Once you are through the rigorous training which lasts from 30 to 48 months, plus an accumulated 320 credit loads units including research and the presentation of dissertations, a series of evaluations are provided for which the individual must pass. After passing the entire evaluation processes, including being evaluated by external examiners, a fellowship is granted.
Becoming a Consultant
The final step is being a consultant. This is an appointment given to the fellow, and he/she can begin to practice as one, being fully qualified and possessing the necessary skills to tackle complex health challenges, including making meaningful contributions to the field of medicine.