NUC and coverage somersault for medical lecturers​

When the eggheads on the National Universities Commission (NUC) concluded plans to make PhD a prerequisite for medical docs instructing in Nigerian universities, they felt that they had accomplished the world a favour. Head, Education Desk, IYABO LAWAL writes that the plan is wrought with confusion and controversy.​

In 2008, a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie, had directed that every one college lecturers should possess a doctoral diploma by 2009 or lose their jobs. In the tip, no person misplaced his or her job besides Okojie. The identical menace was repeated in November 2009 by a former Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu. Nothing modified and nothing has modified besides the present furore an analogous directive has generated.​

The NUC introduced on its web site in June 2018 that it had developed educational postgraduate programmes (Master’s, PhD -Doctor of Philosophy and MD -Doctor of Medicine) in Medicine in its bid to satisfy the tutorial postgraduate necessities of the Nigerian college system. When the NUC eggheads concluded plans to make PhD a prerequisite for medical docs instructing in Nigerian universities, they believed that they had accomplished the world a favour.​

To the thoughts of the NUC’s government secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, there was a “general need to overhaul the medical curricula” for each undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.​

He had wished to “enhance” and “refresh” the medical career, thus, it assembled “experts in the field” to develop the curriculum which implies graduates of Medicine and Dentistry who had been lecturers at present on their fellowship, might now undertake their PhD concurrently with some concession.​

The seemingly unbelievable concept was to re-introduce the choice of MD by publication to supply a possibility for professors to maintain contributing “new knowledge” for so long as they wished with out the rigour of interfacing with any supervisor.​

Rasheed had famous that the PhD was not a substitute of the fellowship coaching within the medical subject “but an option to the medical profession as a whole”. ​

However, right here’s a press release that triggered a whirlwind of cacophony and controversy: “It would henceforth be a pre-requisite for any medical professional that wanted to pursue the teaching career,” the NUC had asserted.​

According to the fee, the three classes of individuals that might be allowed to get a PhD had been those who should have enrolled within the fellowship programme of both the nationwide or west African medical colleges and efficiently handed the half one among both or each and embark on half two with no Master’s diploma might be allowed to begin their half two and enrol for a PhD; fellows who need to have a PhD along with different {qualifications} might register for the programme with none necessities or course work however can be required to jot down a thesis throughout the specified interval beneath the supervision of a really dependable lecturer, and people not occupied with turning into fellows however have excellent MBBS levels however need an MSc and a PhD.​

Last December, the fee then issued a round to vice-chancellors and registrars, defining the construction of the PhD programme in medical sciences, period, admission and commencement necessities, informing them that the introduction of the PhD programme is to reposition “postgraduate training for medical academics in Nigeria, which has no clear-cut guidelines for Masters and PhD programmes in the clinical sciences”. ​

Some have argued that MD or PhD is enough to show. There are fundamental science colleges that solely have PhD educate medical college students as effectively. For medical directions, they conclude that MD, however not PhD, is required.​

In Uganda, medical docs had as soon as expressed robust views {that a} PhD or equal shouldn’t be a minimal requirement nor ought to it’s a prerequisite for promotions although it ought to be inspired. Policy paperwork from the nation’s universities didn’t require a PhD or equal {qualifications} at least requirement for appointment to the tutorial ranks of these establishments. ​

“Whereas it is desirable for the academic staff to acquire a PhD, it should not be a mandatory requirement. The policy was not in the best interest of the Faculty of Medicine and may not be for other medical schools to impose that requirement for appointment or promotion. University policymakers should consider schools of medicine as an exception to the policy requiring a PhD or equivalent as a minimum requirement for teaching at a Medical School,” a analysis research stated.​

In the US, within the medical instructing school, the minimal requirement for an assistant/affiliate professor is an MD or DO diploma with speciality board certification and eligibility for a medical licence; not a PhD.​

In the UK, as one other instance, necessities for the place of a lecturer/senior lecturer in pathology embody holding an academic qualification in related topic areas reminiscent of a medical diploma qualification e.g. MD, MBBS. MBChB; a postgraduate qualification and or coaching in a related space. Applicants making use of for the senior lecturer position have current proof of scientific publications, convention presentation.​

It is comparable in Canada.​

In March this yr, the chairman of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan chapter of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Dr. Dare Olulana, the NUC’s coverage would collapse the nation’s well being sector with its round on a doctoral diploma for medical lecturers in universities.​

According to Olulana, insisting on the obligatory acquisition of PhD by medical lecturers in medical colleges will sound the loss of life knell of the well being care system in Nigeria and that the variety of medical lecturers standing at about 50 p.c of necessities within the medical colleges can be additional lowered.​

It would additionally result in a mind drain of senior lecturers who’re fellows however with out PhD. In the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, a residency coaching programme culminating within the fellowship of the postgraduate medical faculties, is the minimal requirement to practise as a specialist and to show medical medication.​

“The PhD alone is an inadequate qualification to imagine duty for affected person care or to show medical medication. For this motive, the schools require medical lecturers to have the fellowship of the postgraduate faculties, in addition to to follow as specialists with the instructing hospitals so as to have the ability to educate as lecturers in medical medication within the college.​

“Whereas the PhD is beneficial to these people which have chosen a voluntary profession path in analysis (the place analysis infrastructure exists), it doesn’t considerably translate into improved affected person care abilities, nor higher in a position to educate medical medication.​

“Patient care is the overriding focus of medical training each at undergraduate and postgraduate ranges, from the inception of medical training by the founding fathers of medication up to now, a goal that the nation is nowhere close to assembly at present.​

“The structured residency training programme of a minimum duration of six years is a mandatory requirement for the employment of clinical lecturers by the universities, a condition not imposed on other lecturers. To add to this the burden of compulsory acquisition of PhD is simply superfluous,” stated Olulana.​

In reality, in February, the President of the MDCAN, Prof. Kenneth Ozoilo, threatened at a Jos press convention, that docs would go on a nation-wide strike if the NUC determination was not rescinded.  ​

“We agree that PhD is a highly respected degree. We don’t have issues with that. It (PhD) should be by choice for doctors that have completed their residency programme, and should not be made compulsory for them because of the peculiarity of medical training. Acquiring PhD is of no much value in the training. It is cosmetic,” Ozoilo argued.​

The MDCAN had since written to the NUC however it claimed the fee refused to acknowledge its letter and didn’t deal with the council’s considerations.​

Said Ozoilo, “We have written to NUC to this effect, expressing all these concerns, but they did not even deem it fit to acknowledge our letter not to talk of responding to it. That was what led to the (strike) ultimatum of 24th of this month (February).​

“No university will employ you to teach clinical disciplines if you have not done residency training, because you have to be hands-on-patients in training the students.”​

The NUC has been accused of “duplicity and deceit”. Those on the council’s facet claimed what was agreed with the fee was that pursuing a PhD be a “personal, voluntary and optional endeavour for academics”. ​

The NUC boss claimed in any other case. He said, “Our circular seven never prescribed PhD as a requirement for them to teach in the colleges of medicine. We said PhD is desirable but not necessary for progression in medical education.” ​

According to Rasheed, what the NUC stated was {that a} advisor within the college system would proceed to be promoted however the promotion of these with a PhD can be sooner.​

Rasheed was mendacity, stated Ozoilo. He said, “(It) is an outright lie. If full fellows (together with professors of medication) require PhD, to what rank will they be promoted? While a PhD is a predominantly educational pursuit, fellowship is each educational {and professional}. ​

Some have argued that the MDCAN has no say within the matter as a result of it’s the NUC that has the mandate to control greater training in Nigeria together with postgraduate medical coaching to make sure that it’s consistent with international finest practices.​

In the UK, most medical lecturers could have a PhD and a few expertise of working in a sensible medical surroundings. They could have an excellent bachelor’s diploma: a primary or higher second class. Clinical lecturers are typically anticipated to do a instructing qualification quickly after they begin, run by their very own college. This is finished part-time whereas working. An instance of that is the Diploma in Post-Compulsory Education.​

“Our problem is with the universities, NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education. We have no problem with the teaching hospitals, but they will, however, become affected in due course if the NUC does not accede to our demands. Apart from withdrawing their circular and returning to the status quo, NUC should convene stakeholders’ meeting to address the injustices that clinical lecturers endure in the universities that are making teaching unattractive for medical doctors,” Ozoilo added. ​

Well, by March the flaring tempers had been calming down when the NUC and the MDCAN resolved at a gathering in Abuja that the PhD is just not a obligatory requirement for the profession development of medical lecturers.​

At the tip of the assembly, the opponents agreed that the Fellowship is the very best qualification for medical specialists and stays the qualification for employment for medical lecturers into the college (Lecturer I); that the PhD is the very best educational qualification within the college.​

It was additionally agreed that the possession of PhD by medical lecturers is voluntary and elective; that non-possession of PhD won’t hinder the medical lecturer from being promoted from one rank to the opposite as much as the extent of professor within the Nigerian college system.​

In Nigeria, medical college students are taught medical by lecturers from medical faculties and consultants (the latter bear fellowship coaching from the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, West African College of Physicians, West African College of Surgeons amongst others) from the instructing hospitals.​

Still, the NUC was decided to have its say and its method.​

“One of the issues on the front burner is the postgraduate training for medical academics, which has no clear-cut guidelines for Masters and Ph.D. programmes in the clinical sciences. To this end, after exhaustive deliberation at series of meetings held between the commission and the management of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), stakeholders unanimously agreed to introduce PhD programmes in the clinical sciences in the Nigerian university system, for the postgraduate training of interested medical practitioners, especially for those in the academia,” Rasheed said after the assembly.​

According to him, medical faculty graduates with related Masters of Science levels; holders of the Fellowship of the NPMCN, WACP, and WACS; and those that have accomplished first stage (part-one) of the Fellowship can enroll for the PhD in Clinical Sciences. But holders of the Fellowship will solely be required to finish a thesis to get the PhD.​

For many observers, the scenario is a conundrum of confusion and controversy. In October 2017, the doctoral diploma difficulty was stated to have been laid to relaxation. ​

The then-President NPMCN, Prof. Ademola Olaitan had argued that holders of postgraduate fellowships didn’t have to possess doctoral {qualifications} to realize profession development within the NUS and added {that a} coverage determination can be taken on the difficulty, which typically disqualifies holders of medical postgraduate fellowships from attaining the place of vice-chancellorship for not having PhD. ​

“Any clinician that has only a PhD as his only postgraduate attainment cannot be appointed as a consultant or have patients under his care,” Olaitan had said.​

“The possession of a Fellowship is thus a sine qua non for the appointment of anyone as a consultant and clinical lecturer.  The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria is, therefore, the only Federal Government agency that has the capacity to certify specialists that will train other medical and dental doctors to professorial level.”​
At the 35th convocation ceremony of the faculty, Olaitan had stated additional, “Comments have been made, fears expressed and diverse reactions abound on the relevance or otherwise of clinical teachers’ possession of PhD to teach or to progress in the university system. This was associated with uncertainties about career progression for holders of the fellowship of our college or its equivalent. The fear of inability to make progress academically or administratively as holders of our fellowship or its equivalent has been laid to rest.​

“The executive secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, by his declaration has confirmed that the fellowship training undertaken by our college is robust, all-inclusive and possession of the fellowship or its equivalent was all that a clinical lecturer requires to get to the top of his career.”​

Similarly, in 2017, Prof. Stanley Anyanwu had disclosed, “But we have discussed with the NUC and we agreed to get PhD programme structured into the fellowship training programme so that while the resident doctors are doing the residency training, they will register in a university and the dissertation they will submit to the college can be used as a thesis for PhD programme. This template obtains in many parts of the world. It’s not something new.”​
Case closed? Hopefully.​

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