A little over a year ago, I packed my bags and relocated to the ancient city of Ile-Ife to begin what would be a one-year-long paid internship in the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.
Before arriving Ile-Ife, I am not sure if I knew about the hospital, but I was already on what my friends and I optimistically termed, Medical Tourism; travelling across the federation and visiting its various medical institutions in the search for placement for housemanship.
As at the time of travelling to sit for OAUTHC’s employment test and interview, I had grown weary from the string of disappointments and failures that had marked my journey to getting a housemanship placement. It took the familiar nudge from my parents and a friend who was travelling from my house for the same exam to get me to travel. I was thankful I did because the decision to travel marked the end of what had been a long, arduous journey.
Upon arrival and resumption of duty, one of the first questions I had to deal with it, besides providing an answer to why I chose to go miles from home, was having to explain how over seven months since induction and a year since my final exams, I was only just resuming housemanship. The people who asked this question out of curiosity or mere ignorance did not realize how much pain they were forcing me to relive; I had only successfully put behind the pain I had to deal with and focus on commencing and enjoying my journey when their questions tried to put me on a reverse gear.
After my first week, the dreadful question stopped coming and I had to deal with my new challenge: navigating the murky waters of housemanship.
Part of dealing with the delay in getting a housemanship placement was choosing to throw my heart and time into other things I love, like writing and blogging.
I was not as enthusiastic as some of my colleagues were in choosing to pass time attaching themselves to a hospital. I did try but prematurely stopped. For me then, it was either doing what I ought to be doing at the time (housemanship) or building my side passion, in this case, the blog.
I am not sure if it was merely a time factor or this temporary disconnect from Medicine but I had a hard time settling into practice, and I hate to say this, even though it is true, not everyone has the patience to help you get into form.
My first two weeks were the hardest to deal with. I was forced to break out of my cocoon like a caterpillar, and fly like a butterfly – a beautiful one – afterwards. Looking back, I was mostly limited by fear, the fear of failing that I failed to attempt a lot of things.
I subsequently met some persons who were gracious, patient and kind enough to teach me how to do stuff, and I was thankful to them and more forgiving of myself.
– A random day as a house surgeon.
A major turn in my house job experience was working with Dr. Abire, my fellow house officer in internal medicine. His confidence literarily killed any remnant fear I had in myself and my abilities. It was from him I learned to exude confidence when dealing with my patients and other health care professionals – a characteristic befitting of every doctor.
Besides the medical experience OAUTHC provided me, I looked forward to the cultural experience and I did have a feel of this.
Although the last year did not make me proficient in Yoruba, it did leave me more knowledgeable than I was when I first came.
Living and working among the Yorubas, who have almost a 50:50 proportion of Christians and Muslims, provided me with insight into the Islamic religion. Prior to this time, my knowledge of it was sketchy. I am glad that I met and made some great friends here who neither religion nor tribe can stand in the way of our friendship.
The social experience was minimal. After several earlier attempts at seeking both fun and recreational sites in the city, I gave up. Thankfully, I had some friends like Deji, Niji, and Femi who tried to spice up my stay in Ife nonetheless. Deji took me to a different place every time we hung out. Niji took me to some his favourite spots, and Femi, a diehard believer in the potential of Ife, took me to the Olumirin waterfall, Erin-Ijesha.
– Photos from my trip to Olumirin waterfall, Erin-Ijesha.
One of the things I sought while I searched for house job placement was a church to attend in the town or city. I found one eventually but did not go often on Sundays and weekdays because sometimes work stood in the way, and other times, there was no motivation to go -either I was tired or I came up with another excuse. I did try to keep my personal relationship with God alive, and on the days I went I appreciated the place of fellowship in the life of a believer.
In summary, I had a fairly good one year – not exactly a great one even though the learning experience was superb. I am thankful that I met some of the persons I met, learned all that I did and hope to keep it going upward from here.
I am still undecided about where I want to serve. I was almost certain I wanted to serve in the North to have a full Nigerian experience but I am not as enthusiastic about serving as I was a few months or a year ago. Also, I am not sure about going far from home. So, I may choose comfort and convenience over adventure. (Where I went in the end!)
Feel free to ask me any question about housemanship in Nigeria, or more specifically in Ile-Ife, and I would do my best to provide helpful answers. If you would love to share your own experience or reflections in the comments, I am eager to read.