An investigation by Daily Trust has revealed that graduates of medical and other allied health courses are increasingly finding it difficult to secure placement for housemanship (as house officers), internship, as well as residency training programmes in hospitals.
The graduates include those who read Medicine, Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science, Nursing, Physiotherapy and Radiography, to mention a few.
But some health facilities said the graduates were the architects of their problems because they always want to be posted to certain places.
Findings revealed that public hospitals and hospital management boards have few spaces and slots yearly, compared to the number of applicants.
Therefore, many of the applicants have to rely on connections to highly placed or influential persons or resort to bribing officials to secure placement.
The challenges in securing placement often leave many of them frustrated and struggling for years, thus missing other employment and academic opportunities.
While the now central placement of doctors for housemanship by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has helped, when compared to previous years, doctors are still having difficulties securing placement for housemanship because of limited spaces and waiting time for posting, among other issues.
Pharmacists and other young allied medical and health practitioners have also called for central placement by their regulatory councils to alleviate their suffering.
In Kano, graduates of medical and allied courses have joined their colleagues in other states to lament the difficulties currently encountered in securing spaces for housemanship, residency and internship programmes.
There are four hospitals accredited to take interns in Kano: Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala; Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital and Muhammed Wase (Nasarawa) Specialist Hospital.
Halima Jacob, a pharmacist who has applied to two federal hospitals and participated in the examination conducted by the AKTH, has not gotten any word from any of the facilities.
“I have applied to 9 hospitals across Nigeria, including the AKTH and Dala in Kano. I have not applied to Murtala and Nasarawa because theirs is done through the Hospital Management Board and the strike action prevented me from getting the departmental signature needed on the form, so I have not submitted it.
“I have gone to Abuja, Kaduna and Keffi in Nasarawa State, and in all, I have discovered that only those with connection – either by knowing someone in high places or those ready to grease the hands of the officials – have been considered.
“However, in Kaduna, Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital is willing to take interns but they told us that they don’t pay. So, you see, those that won’t pay you are eager to take you in, but those that will give you some little allowances have become the hot cake,” she said.
She appealed to the federal government to “consider adopting the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) approach, where they will ask our schools to send our names to the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN), which will then post us to these hospitals. With that, I believe this problem can be addressed.”
Also speaking with our reporter, a student of Physiotherapy who asked not to be named said she applied in three different places but had to give bribe before being enrolled.
“This is my second month. You know how the system is – even right from school admission one has to give something (buy or give out bribe) before one gets what one wants.
“In my case, I had to dole out N50, 000 before I got enrolled in the place of my choice. They will tell you it’s closed or full. Honestly, everywhere you go to, people are booking ahead of time while the people there also have their own people they want to bring. It is challenging,” she said.
Efforts to contact the authorities in Murtala Muhammad and Abdullahi Wase Specialist hospitals, the Kano branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), were not successful as calls put across to the Chief Medical Directors were not attended to.
Also, the public relations officer of the Kano Hospital Management Board promised to enquire about the issue and get back to our correspondent. He has not done so at the time of filing this report.
In Rivers State, a medical doctor, Nonso Okiti, said people who were lucky to get placement were those who have people in top positions and others who could bribe their way through.
He said, “I had difficulty securing a place for housemanship, so I had to use one contact or another to get placement. To succeed, you must have someone at the top management level. Some people go as far as bribing their way through. The placement is carried out by the MDCN and it is very competitive. It is a matter of who knows who. That is the situation. I have to work very hard to get placement.”
Another allied medical science student said she had tried severally to get placement but could not succeed.
The student, who pleaded anonymity said, “It is not an easy task to get placement for housemanship and internship. In Nigeria everything ends up with who knows who or if you have the resources to bribe your way through. The people that have connection at the top scale through easily while others have to bribe their way to be considered; I don’t know anybody and I have no money to bribe anybody, so I have to rely on God to succeed,” she said.
At the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), our correspondent could not get the number of persons on internship.
The hospital’s public relation officer, Meni said it was the responsibility of the MDCN to place doctors on housemanship.
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