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Features

A Chat with Dental Surgeon, Dr Ogunye, and 5 (+1) Oral Health Questions Answered

Oral health is one aspect of health that I consider under-represented in the media and at the community level. The overall health-seeking behaviour of Nigerians is poor, and even more so for oral health.

I remember a time I mentioned to my sister that I was supposed to go to the dental clinic for a checkup because I was having a toothache and suspected that I had a plaque around the tooth. ‘Dental clinic?’ she scoffed, Who books an appointment with a dentist? Doesn’t the pain go away after a while?

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Housemanship Life in Medicine

My Paediatrics Posting Experience, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Three months ago, I was on the verge of completing my internal medicine rotation and proceeding on my one-week leave, with thoughts of my next rotation – Paediatrics, caressing itself on the surface of my mind.

As an eight-year-old, I sagely declared to my mum’s listening ears that I would specialize in Paediatrics if I wanted to do something out of passion or choose Surgery for the money.

I knew it was Medicine, but the area of specialization, I was yet to settle for and different specialities beckoned on me for varying reasons.

After going through medical school, and being pulled in different directions – as I was the medical student that enjoyed pretty much every rotation – I was certain that my one-year internship would seal the deal for me and make my choice easier.

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Culture and Travel Housemanship Life in Medicine

Work & Life Lately

Happy new year, lovelies.

Allow me welcome you to your best year yet.

Yes, that’s how I feel about 2019.

In the days and weeks that I haven’t put up a blog post, a lot has happened revolving around work and life generally.

My last blog post was about my internal medicine experience and there was a lot of cheers to my tenacity, and I earned a community of friends and family who were counting down with me to the end of the posting.

Weeks after I made the post and had most of my seniors at work, who are thankfully my friends also, read the post, one said to me, ‘You better go and tell your blog readers that you are suffering now. You had not gotten the real taste of Renal when you made the post.’

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Housemanship Life in Medicine

My Internal Medicine Experience, OAUTHC, Nigeria

I am four months into house job and have completed my surgery rotation.

I began Internal Medicine rotation about five weeks ago and got posted to Nephrology – the aspect of Medicine that deals with the kidneys.

Toward the end of my Surgery posting, I started conversations with my friends who were in Internal Medicine at the time, discussing the likely units in Internal Medicine that I may get posted to.

Unlike Surgery where you rotate through various subspecialties and get to spend two or a maximum of three weeks in each subspecialty, in Internal Medicine, you spend the entire 12 weeks of a given rotation in one subspecialty.

It is essential, therefore, that you get a benign unit, or one at least that comprised mostly of good persons.

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Housemanship Life in Medicine

An Ode To The #LOML

Baby,

It is exactly one year since you asked me out and I said yes.

I was excited and tagged the day “the best day of my life yet,” especially as I have had a crush on you since childhood.

I was made to wait out adolescence and become an adult both in head and at heart before we could begin dating.

So, I said yes, amidst the feelings of excitement, accomplishment, the uncertainty of what the future holds, and fear of the enormity of the task of being your sweetheart.

Three months ago, we began courting when you put a ring on it and that marked a new beginning for us.

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Culture and Travel Housemanship Life in Medicine

Living & Working In Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Guys!!!! I had to write. And you need not say, I know I have been off this space (and social media) for a good while. I missed y’all. Did you miss me too?

I blogged about my new job here, and mentioned how housemanship can be stressful and time demanding, and even queried how often my showing up on the blog would be afterwards.

My first two weeks were hell! Literally. I barely had a life of my own. I was either in the ward, in the call room, in the theatre, in the laboratory (checking results) or seldom in the kitchen trying to grab dinner – call food.

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Life in Medicine Medical School

How I Almost Got Raped (+ What To Do In The Event)

In my fourth year at the university, I had what may qualify as my scariest life experience.

You see, year four is that dreaded year in medical school that your senior colleagues attempt to mentally ready you for. It is nicknamed the toughest year in medical school; the year that when you get past you are certain you will survive medical school. In fact, anything life brings your way.

It is the year of Pathology and Pharmacology. Pathology is so broad you can be overwhelmed especially toward your professional exam. Pharmacology, on the other hand, can be hard to recall, and the poor test scores can double your doubt that you will eventually pass.

From the first day of my fourth year, I began to work hard. I listened attentively during lectures, read at night in my room, and sometimes in the classroom. It was on one of those nights that I almost got raped.

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Housemanship Life in Medicine

First Day On Call As A House Officer: Four Doctors Share Their Experience

In your final year as a medical student in Nigeria, while you prepare and are being prepared to make the transition from medical school to medical practice, one of the goals of your teachers is to equip you for your first day on call as a house officer.

You will often hear case scenarios like this: “It is your first day on call as a house officer in the accident and emergency ward. A 25-year-old lady is rushed in. She is anxious, in painful distress and bleeding per vaginam. Her pulse is weak and blood pressure is 90/60 millimetres of mercury. How will you manage this patient?”

Your teachers need to be assured that you can be trusted with the lives of patients. As a house officer, you are the first doctor on call, that is the one whom patients come into contact with first. This is the reason every final year medical student must be armed with initial resuscitation and stabilization skills.

I have often wondered what my first day as the house officer on call would be like and prayed to have a good one. Today, four doctors share their experience. Enjoy.

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Life in Medicine Medical School

Observing The Medical Induction Ceremony From Three Angles – Medical Student, Inductee & Medical Doctor

Last week Wednesday, a fresh set of doctors from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria was inducted into the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria. It was the immediate induction after mine and my first as a registered medical doctor.

It happened that I personally knew a lot of persons who were getting inducted. At a time I thought, “This feels like my own induction.” Having played a significant role in the success story of some persons, I revelled in their accomplishment like it was mine.

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– A set of happy, newly-inducted doctors. Spot me in the middle.

As a medical student

The induction ceremony was an event I looked forward to. Whenever I watched the new doctors pledge to the Hippocratic oath, I was motivated to study harder; to push through and become a medical doctor. Being present was always inspiring for me.

I also noticed how loud or silent the ovation was for different persons when they were called up to the podium. The intensity of the ovation was a reflection of the impact they had on others during their stay in the university. I tried to identify some factors that may explain this. Giving back, in form of teaching the younger colleagues, being a student leader and being an active member of an association, usually CMDA or FECAMDS were the three top factors I identified.

Another highlight of the ceremony for me was when the best graduating doctors in various courses were called up to be recognized. I enjoyed listening to the class valedictorian read her speech.

On the induction before mine, I cried. It seemed weird to me and I remember teasing myself, “So, you are in the category of people that cry on their wedding day.” That made me blush. I also remember chuckling at how funny I’d look when I went up to be sworn in with a smeared face because I couldn’t hold in my emotions. I cried because I could relate to their struggle and also anticipate the joy that comes from triumph.

My induction

My induction as a medical doctor stands out as the best day of my life yet. When I was having my makeup done in the morning, it felt like my wedding day. A colleague of mine voiced a similar feeling, and I also heard of a doctor who said, after being married, that his induction was still the best day of his life.

The ovation when I was called up to be sworn in was not loud. It was easy to see why. I was not involved in teaching the younger colleagues, I did not run for any leadership position and was neither a part of CMDA nor FECAMDS. My impact was little or nothing, but that is changing.

I did not get any award either. I felt an infinitesimal amount of disappointment for my parents who might have been delighted at the event but I focused on this:

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– Photo credit: @yourstudymate on Instagram

I was thankful for where I was and where I was headed; without God’s mercy and goodness I would not be where I was nor still hold dreams of where I was headed.

I didn’t cry. I was mostly excited, then sober and tried to pay attention to the words of advice given to us on the day. “Be focused. Know what you want and go for it,” one of the speakers admonished.

The day ended with me feeling ecstatic. I was overwhelmed with the love that was shown to me and found myself repeatedly saying aloud at night, “I am a doctor. I am now a doctor.” It was a surreal feeling.

As a medical doctor

It was beautiful seeing my friends pledge to the Hippocratic oath.

Indeed, everything that has a beginning has an end, and as the bible put it, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.”

The highlight for the newly inducted doctors is usually when the provost of the College of Health Sciences addresses them as her colleagues, no longer students. That makes me realize that the difference between medical students and medical doctors is time.

Now, I see every medical student as a potential doctor. “Isn’t that what they are and what the training is about?” you may ask. It became more real to me in the past weeks and will positively influence my training of medical students. I will teach them with respect, love and understanding.

I observed at the last induction that some persons let the strain from medical school steal their joy. No doubt, the journey to becoming a doctor takes longer, can be more tortuous and harder for some, but I think it is all worth it in the end. NOTHING should steal your joy that day. You are a victor, don’t you see?

The dominant emotions, however, are happiness and pride, both on the part of the newly inducted doctors and their family and friends.

My dad often says that being a doctor is a calling. I’ll like to add that it is a higher calling. One of service and selflessness.

As you pledge to the Hippocratic oath, the sacredness of the oath should guide your conduct and practice.

I also noticed that the inductees were instructed to say, ” I, Dr. *insert doctor’s name,* hereby affirm the PLEDGE I have just taken. So help me God.” As opposed to saying OATH.

For whatever reason it was altered, it does not diminish the sacredness of the Hippocratic oath and goes to show that the medical profession is in a constant state of evolution and that in itself is impressive.

Love,

Annie.

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Culture and Travel Life in Medicine

First Outing As A Doctor x Practicing In My Village

When it was confirmed I was listed as one of the doctors and was going to travel, my excitement knew no bounds. The joy in my heart must have rung louder than a grade six murmur. The prospects of clerking in Igbo, and most importantly treating my own people was too exhilarating to keep calm.
Having trained in Rivers state, interacting with people from its various tribes, and even doing a compulsory one-month rural posting in a community in Rivers state – Kegbara-Dere, sometimes having a colleague who is a native act as an interpreter, and learning a few of their language to get by, this was much-welcomed opportunity.
As we approached the venue for the outreach, my aunt who was with me in the vehicle worried about my proficiency in Igbo; if I would be able to communicate effectively with the villagers.
I did not hesitate in letting her know how grounded I was for this. I boasted: “We have been effectively trained for this. One of the things you have to get right in medical school is the ability to communicate with your patient – whatever their level of education was. That included finding ways to surmount the barriers of language and religion also.” By the time I had gone on to lecture her on the expediency of passing the counselling station in the exam, and explaining a patient’s medical condition in the simplest of terms, she was forced to believe more in my ability.
I alighted the vehicle feeling comfortable in my ordinary attire, no white coat or stethoscope to give me away as a doctor, when to my uttermost amazement some other person alighting from a motorcycle greeted me, Doctor.
Poker-faced, looking down at my bag to crosscheck that my ward coat and stethoscope were safely tucked in, I stared back in his direction blankly, wondering what gave me away as a doctor. After he settled the bike guy, he repeated his greeting, as if to erase any doubt I had, concluding that I probably didn’t recognize him. The doctor who was to become a partner and a potential friend explained that we had the same Alma Mata and he knew me while we were in school. He was some classes ahead of me, had seen me a couple of times in the library and was currently serving in my village. Small world.
In no time, the patients were ready to start seeing the doctors, and the doctor and I were initially positioned in different consulting rooms.
“I mere añunu?” I started. The only Igbo Isuikwuato I was sure of.
The elderly woman began her compliant. At some point, I wanted to plead with her to stick to basic Igbo but decided against it.
When I had gotten all of her complaints and had an understanding of her condition, I proceeded to prescribe her medications.
One thing I didn’t do was fake knowledge where I would have used some guidance. That would be grave and foolish of me. So, I asked questions and sought clarifications when I needed one. If that made me seem “incompetent” or not schooled enough, that was your thinking.
“Better be humble and learn more, than prideful and kill innocent persons,” I admonished myself.
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Shortly afterward, we were joined by an older doctor who had been in practice for years. He was from my village and owned a hospital in a neighbouring town. I gave up my consulting room to share space with the other doctor who was serving in my village.
At intervals, my aunt came to check on me; to be sure I had no difficulty communicating with the patients and help if I had one.
I reassured her that I was doing fine, with a smile. The other doctor was from Akwa Ibom and didn’t understand a lot of Igbo. My aunt helped out when I was busy, and I took on the task of interpreting when I was less busy. I was too happy to.
He understood some words. When they said ishi/isi, he knew they were talking about their head… So, headache. When they said ukwu, they were referring to their waist. And so on.
The majority of the patients complained of headache, waist pain, leg pain, and general body pain. And of course malaria. This was to be expected considering their major source of livelihood is farming, my village is hilly, and the major age group of the presenting population elderly.
Children also came. If you have treated malaria, then the other most likely complaints were cough, ukwara and its accomplice, catarrh, mmiri ukwara.
Everyone that presented to the health center was dewormed.
Among the mpas and mmas, hypertension, as expected, was predominant and a few accompanying or isolated cases of diabetes.
There were few other random cases, and patients were referred to the General Hospital, and to be followed up when there was a need.
It was obvious some came for a refill of their medications, which was OK. That was why we were organizing the free medical outreach, everyone should make the most of the opportunity.
Of particular note was a certain old man, who looked vaguely familiar when he stepped in. On interaction with him, I asked him if he knew my grandpa and he answered in the affirmative, recounting some fun memories with him.
I was more than impressed when he took out a small note, where he had beautifully written down his complaints. I had to show my partner, he didn’t seem as impressed as I was, but I was and made sure the old man knew I was. He smiled and said he used to be a teacher. I scribbled his name on a paper and made a mental note to ask my uncle or granny when I got home.
I also met some other persons who knew me as a child or knew my family, and when they tried to place whose child in particular I was and were told “nwa Moses, Ada ya,” I could see them wearing the happiness in their hearts on their faces. Their own daughter was treating them. And I, too, found satisfaction and inexplicable delight and gave them my best.
We were joined by another doctor, who is from my village and works at the General Hospital.
His family is based in Port Harcourt, but he has a love for community medicine and enjoys working in the village to give back to his community. A lot of persons attested to his humanitarian and selfless service to the community.
The three of us soon got along and by the end of the second day, the last day of the outreach, we were heartily retelling stories of medical school. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was at the end of the day until I lay to sleep, but one thing was certain: The joy in my heart had no match, and my people were more than happy, blessed.
Tired, but surely excited, I managed to pose for photos at the end of the day:
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*I mere añunu? – How are you? (in my dialect)
*Mpas and mmas – Fathers and mothers (the elderly)
*nwa Moses, Ada ya – Moses’ child, his first daughter
Love,
Annie (or I should sign off with my Igbo name, Chioma? 😁)
Ps – This outreach was part of the infamous August Meeting, the annual meeting Igbo women attend in their village. Isn’t it cool that it has evolved to become an avenue these women seek ways to give back to the community? Shout out to the Onicha Amiyi-Uhu women of Isuikwuato local government area, Abia state. Onicha Amiyi-Uhu to the world! ❤