The above statement does not seem to make any sense to the leaders and policy makers in Nigeria as they have tactically moved from one wrong policy to another. Recently they moved their focus to the health sector and of course on medical interns. The secular below will tell you more..
Like you already know, there will be ripple and rebound effects of this on medical interns in Nigeria and in the health sector generally. I will therefore take a little time to dissect how this decision will affect everyone and make recommendations henceforth.
1. Financial impact on Medical interns
Many years ago, the dream of everyone from an average or even below average homes in Nigeria was to get into medical school, study hard, graduate top of the class and start saving lives, of course while giving a better life to his parents and relations.
With the new government secular on medical practice that dream is gone and trust me no one will be eager to save the lives of others if he can’t at least improve the quality of lives of his loved ones, while at it.
Charity they say begins at home and as such a medical personnel should be capable of saving the lives of those back home. To save these lives he needs money and if he’s not well compensated for his labor, you can bet his input will severely decline.
Agreed that the internship training is a time of learning but one would also agree that interns form a majority of the workforce especially in government owned hospitals. Just walk into the accident and emergency unit by 2 am and ask to see the pharmacist. You will most likely meet an intern and same applies to other departments. Why do you then want pay the people that do bulk of these extra work ‘stipends’?
Meanwhile, more annoying is the fact that the decision to remove medical interns in Nigeria from the government payroll is coming from a generation that didn’t have to hassle for internship space, a generation that was well paid and remunerated during the countries’ oil boom. Make it make sense please!!!
2. Poor patient outcome
No one needs to be reminded that a poorly motivated staff is a disaster to the clients. If policy makers in the Nigerian government cared so much about the welfare of patients in the hospital, if only they even use these facilities themselves, perhaps they would’ve reconsidered their stand on this one.
Medical interns in Nigeria are usually fresh from school with a burning zeal to contribute their quota to rekindle the light that is clearly dwindling in the health care system. You usually notice this in how they go the extra mile to take care of their patients. Perhaps you would’ve seen cases where interns donate their blood freely to a patient they don’t even know just to save his life and save cost for the family, have you?
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Also you may have seen instances where medical interns came together to raise huge sums of money for the treatment of a patient they don’t even know. What then did they do to warrant this sort of treatment from policy makers who even happen to senior colleagues in the medical profession? I tell you something for free – this is a danger looming. It can only get worse from here.
3. Ripple effects in the private sector.
As the Nigerian government sets to remove medical interns from their payroll, there will of course be a ripple effect from the private sectors where medical graduates also train on internship. Doubt this, oya check some of the screenshots below which is an early morning WhatsApp chat from the WhatsApp group of some ‘elders of the pharmacy profession’….
So what are we expecting? We’re expecting a situation where private sector employers will reduce (or remove entirely) the salaries of their medical interns, even when these interns form a majority of their workforce. What will be their excuse? Nothing I must tell you, it’s just another opportunity to exploit young people who are probably left with little or no options
For a profession like pharmacy, a few community pharmacies may still continue to pay their old salaries for interns, but like you know corrupting these few will be easy. They could easily revert to the poor standards they see around them, after all the ones doing it still make their money.
4. Massive Brain Drain.
Does it not bother the Nigerian government that their Nurses, doctors and pharmacists celebrate their escape out of Nigeria all over social media? Not just that, you still see more Nigerians in the comment section telling them congratulations and asking them to ‘cut soap for them’. Does it not bother someone that Nigerian citizens celebrate their exit from their own country? Does it not?
The brain drain is more prevalent amongst medical doctors but surely with this funny step to remove the name of medical graduates in Nigeria from the government payroll, surely more medical graduates (pharmacists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Medical Laboratory scientists) will be on their way out soon.
But will you blame these people? I don’t think you should because it is only getting worse here and the world needs the knowledge and talents they have. Nigeria don’t seem to need them.
How are policy makers constantly making policies that are anti-youth all the time. Worse still such stands are never reverted no matter the public out cry. Well, this move is a bad one and it may not take long before we start experiencing the ripple effects.
1. The Federal government of Nigeria should as a matter of urgency revert their stand on the circular released. They should focus this energy in sanitising the health sector of corruption that is bedeviling it. In doing so, they will see sure ways of saving money to spend on other projects. This move on medical interns will not do any good to anyone
2. Professional bodies such as the Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria and the Nigerian Medical association must come together and stand up for their junior colleagues.
There has been so much professional squabbles going on and also lack of trust coming from the younger generation to the older generation, hence this is a good opportunity to bridge these gaps.
If this is tackled individually from the different professional bodies or if they choose to keep mum about it entirely, the outcome will not be a good one.
3. As a medical graduate in Nigeria, always endeavor to have a side hustle, business or investment that gives you extra money. This will reduce your dependence on government salary and ultimately guide you to make better choices, just as it will reduce your chances of having a complicated mental health.
4. Lastly, everyone, especially young medical graduates in Nigeria must join hands to condemn this move by the government. Most of us are guilty of inheriting the interprofessional enmity and imbroglio that have existed amongst us for quite sometime now.
This is a time to come together, a time to change what our fore fathers could not change, a time to do better. Lend your voice, collaborate with your sister professionals and form a strong voice against future detrimental policies from the government.