Medicine, dentistry programmes to run for seven, not 11 years

Prof. Julius Okojie Executive Secretary Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC)

Prof. Julius Okojie Executive Secretary Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC)

Sir: The new Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) for Medicine and Dentistry, which has since been made public by the National Universities Commission (NUC), provides for a seven-year training, leading to the award of MBBS/MDS and not the 11 years being erroneously circulated in the mass media.

Although the so-called ‘11-year Medical Programme’ stories had been credited to the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Professor Julius A. Okojie’s keynote address entitled,

“Development of Medical Education in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”, which was delivered at the Matriculation and Inauguration of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, on Saturday, March 12, 2016, nowhere in that lecture was 11 years mentioned or implied.

Prof. Okojie, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Professor Chiedu Mafiana, had explained that the new curriculum provides for a seamless seven-year programme. With the new curriculum, a Medical student would be expected to graduate in Basic Medical Sciences, with options in Anatomy, Medical Biochemistry, and Physiology in the first four years, before proceeding for clinical training that would run for three years.

Prof. Okojie had further explained that the reviewed BMAS went through a long process, which included wide consultations with the academia, professional associations and regulatory body, following the conduct of a Market Needs Assessment. According to him, the consensus was that medical training should be post-graduate. The measure is that the crop of graduates emerging from the programme are psychologically matured to practise, with a high level of competency.

The new BMAS for medical education still retains the fundamental learning objectives of the six-year programme: the national development goals for health, while retaining the international outlook to guarantee global competitiveness. While noting that the extant six-year programme shall continue to subsist for a period to be determined.

Prof. Okojie observed that attempts had been made over the years to run Medical programme using course credit system and that the hallmark of the new document is that it clearly apportions credit weightings to all the courses and activities.

“In line with global practice and to ensure that knowledge and skills are effectively imparted”, Okojie said, “modern course delivery systems have been prescribed. Among core teaching facilities and modes of learning recommended are:

• Clinical Skills Laboratory. The use of the facility would represent a shift in the current mode of medical training to problem-based solving approach and the application of modern techniques which involves use of Mannikins and simulation materials.

• E-learning materials and Research Information Platforms

E-learning materials accelerate understanding of courses taught and have become a veritable tool for learning.

Adebukola Olatunji (Mrs),
Head, Information Division,
National Universities Commission,
Abuja, FCT

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