How to succeed in Medical school in Nigeria/how to survive medical school in nigeria/how to be a successful medical student in Nigeria.

Congratulations on getting into medical school. You should be proud of your achievement. Consider this your first big success. But remember its just the first step -This is just the beginning of a long journey to success. I think it’s important to put the word ‘success’ into perspective before we talk about how to achieve it.

While we may not agree on a singular definition of what success is, one thing that strikes true is that success in medical school involves bagging the degree in record time along with acquiring the requisite knowledge to help your patients.

At first I thought I probably shouldn’t be the one giving this talk because I do not particularly consider myself a genius nor a part of the upper echelon in my class from medical school but hey! I made it, so let’s go!

Here’s a few things you may need to know to have a great time in medical school

Be inquisitive.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back”
The first part of this quote is so popular yet only few ever add the second part. Medicine may seem like an entirely different terrain of knowledge especially from your sophomore year and how much you know may be dependent on how curious you are and being humble enough to ask questions; so whether it’s your first or final year, seek to know and beyond knowing, seek to understand by always putting on the cloak of humility and asking those ‘foolish’ questions. Even though curiosity killed the cat, you are not a cat 😉

‘Come around’…show up for classes, practicals and postings.

In a viva voce, one thing that almost always spells doom for any medical student is when the local examiner says to the external examiner ” he/she doesn’t come around”. It almost always ends in tears. It suggests you are a bad student who would go on to make a bad doctor.

How to succeed in Medical school in Nigeria
How to succeed in Medical school in Nigeria

William Osler, one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital had this to say, “He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all” uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all”

There are hardly any truer words than these because one gets into medical school to learn to save lives, promote health and prolong life.

Merely consuming books at home doesn’t cut the mustard. It is by “coming around” that we understand our tutors and their exam behaviours and predilections. It is when we come around we are also able to see and learn first hand how cases are managed in real life.

Amat Victoria Curam_ – Success loves preparation

Very early on in medical school this saying proved true as it was evident that those who got the best grades were the ones who were putting in the work, knowing success only came to those who fought for it. It stemmed from simply having your own class notes and devoting time to study those notes along with the textbooks.

A classical example was my class where certain individuals earned the tag ‘hand of the class’ (I am tempted to mention names, but I’d pass).

These ones made notes which the entire class relied upon so it was easy to see why they always aced the CAs and exams. Med school, like life, rewards only those who put in the work so be ready ready to dig in and dig deep.

There will bad days

Failed tests, numerous bulky materials, resits, lengthy boring classes, demanding posting requirements-medical school is not a bed of roses.

What makes this more difficult is the fact that most medical students were the best of the best in secondary school and are not accustomed to failure.

Sometimes it may seem like all the bad things are happening to you while others are flourishing. You must remain undefeated in your mind, remembering why you first got in.

You must be ready to push yourself harder. No one ever died from the stress of medical school.

Do not walk alone

Like the Liverpool anthem goes, med school gets easier when you move with friends and allies, so invest in friendships both for leisure and study.

I am not sure how I would have fared without discussion groups, especially during exam preparations. Many loners end up struggling because no man is an island of knowledge.

When you walk alone, you miss out on the recent and valuable materials, you miss out on the golden info that may just be the difference between passing and failing on the score board.

Med school is proof that stress is better when experienced together in groups as iron sharpens iron.

Try to find a balance

Medical school can be a pretty large chunk of one’s life. Doing just books can be exhausting at times so find some extracurricular activity to mix with it. For some it’s sports, for others religious service, politics, volunteering (Red Cross, JCI), singing groups, book clubs, video games. This helps your system reboot while also ensuring you don’t miss out in life.

Finally…”Man, Know thyself and to thyself be true”.

There will be a plethora of counsel if you seek it but like the Delphic oracle puts it, understand yourself and know what works for you and then don’t lie to yourself.

Find out what reading styles work for you, what time of the day works for you, what kind of textbooks jives with you, how much extra-curriculars you can handle along with books and follow through with it. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon!

So my friend, again I say congratulations on your journey; it’s sure to be an interesting one so make the most of it and like my friend Eric says, ” No man gets to the top of Everest with one quantum leap but with many gentle, persistent steps, one at a time.” See you on the otherside. Ciao!

Written by Akpughe Ogaga (MBBS, Benin)


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