Challenges Faced by Nigerian Doctors Abroad: A Perspective from the MDCN Registrar
In a recent interview, Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), shared his insights on the difficulties encountered by Nigerian doctors practicing abroad. He expressed concerns about the mass emigration of doctors, commonly referred to as the “Japa syndrome,” and emphasized the need for doctors to stay and contribute to the healthcare system in Nigeria. Additionally, he discussed issues related to discipline within the medical profession and the importance of mentorship for young doctors.
Job Challenges as a Regulator:
Dr. Sanusi highlighted that being a regulator comes with a responsibility to prioritize the public interest over personal favors. Despite the challenges, his 20 years of experience in the field has equipped him with the knowledge and understanding necessary to effectively carry out his duties. Dr. Sanusi emphasized the importance of being proactive and adaptable in the face of new challenges that arise daily.
The Japa Syndrome:
Dr. Sanusi acknowledged that the decision to migrate abroad for medical practice is an individual choice. However, he cautioned doctors about the potential drawbacks they may encounter. He encouraged doctors to take advantage of opportunities for postgraduate training overseas but emphasized the importance of returning to Nigeria once they have gained specialization. He argued that Nigerian doctors have been trained with taxpayers’ money and should contribute to the development of the healthcare system in Nigeria. He also criticized the exploitation of third-world countries by developed nations seeking cheap medical professionals.
Challenges Faced by Doctors Abroad:
Drawing from discussions with Nigerian doctors practicing abroad, Dr. Sanusi highlighted the frustrations and difficulties they encounter. Many doctors who have migrated abroad have found that the reality is far from the idealized image they had envisioned. Financial challenges, such as high costs of living, loans, and constant relocation, often overshadow the perceived benefits of better salaries. Moreover, discriminatory practices in foreign healthcare systems and the need to maintain high professional standards further compound the challenges faced by Nigerian doctors abroad.
Importance of Good Mentoring:
Dr. Sanusi stressed the need for effective mentoring, which he believes should start at home and extend to schools. He urged parents to take an active interest in their children’s education and recommended surprise visits to schools or involving trusted individuals to assess their children’s progress. By providing proper guidance and support, he believes that young doctors can be better equipped to handle the challenges they may face.
Improving Working Conditions in Nigeria:
Responding to concerns about inadequate welfare and remuneration, Dr. Sanusi pointed out that doctors are not the least paid professionals in Nigeria. He highlighted the need for fair compensation, particularly for doctors involved in academia. He also advocated for job redistribution and better healthcare infrastructure to address the issue of overworked doctors and the shortage of healthcare professionals in certain regions.
Addressing Placement Challenges:
Regarding the scarcity of placement opportunities for doctors seeking housemanship positions, Dr. Sanusi emphasized the need for proper mapping and efficient management of training programs. He suggested implementing systems to track the duration of doctors’ training and ensuring timely exit for those who have exceeded the recommended time frame. By streamlining the placement process, frustrations among young doctors can be minimized.