Mentorship programme for Nigeria’s young physicians enters 2nd edition

Nordica Foundation has announced the 2nd edition of the Dr Abayomi Ajayi mentorship programme that helps Nigeria’s young physicians get a handle on their career paths.

This is built on the philosophy that physician leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to nurture the development of others. Mentoring can have significant benefits in a professional setting.

With increased brain drain in the Nigerian health sector, at the height of COVID-19, the UK revised its migration visa rules to encourage more doctors to migrate from countries like Nigeria to the UK, US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Africa.

This brain drain in the medical/healthcare sector should be of tremendous concern to us as a people.

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Abayomi Ajayi, founder/CEO, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, and the initiator of the programme is of the opinion that upon observation, the reason for this is clear noting that the cost of training a doctor in Nigeria, especially through our public medical school system is relatively cheap compared to the cost of training a doctor in most of the countries our doctors emigrate to.

“Nigeria is supplying top-rate professionals to the world at a cheaper cost, strengthening their healthcare delivery systems to the detriment of our own. Who suffers? The ordinary Nigerian who is probably unable to afford private healthcare, especially in rural areas,” he said.

Speaking on the mentoring programme, according to Ajayi in my experience as a trained Nigerian medical professional, I observed that the major weakness in our doctors is a dearth in entrepreneurial education. That is, the capacity to see the breadth of opportunities that brings professional and financial reward.

“It is said that success is the application of knowledge to solve problems. In a country like ours with a myriad of challenges in healthcare, Nigerian doctors are meant to be extremely successful if they apply entrepreneurship skills.

“That is exactly what the Dr Abayomi Ajayi Mentoring Programme seeks to do: change the mindset of our doctors and hopefully stem the brain drain by proverbially teaching them how to fish instead of giving them fish. Through the mentoring model, we expose young Nigerian doctors to the wealth of experience of successful Nigerians in different fields of industry to equip them with the expertise needed to build successful enterprises, and to help build a robust healthcare system in Nigeria,” Ajayi emphasized.

However, the Physician Mentoring Programme has assembled successful Nigerians from diverse calling to mentor 12 selected doctors, tapping into the wealth of each mentor’s experience to bring out the best in the mentees. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to identify and achieve their goals.

This distinguished team is the resource base that enabled by personal interactions with the mentees drives new thinking, fuelled by professional and entrepreneurial capacity building to grow a new-age Nigerian medical doctor.

“The first edition was a huge success, with the 12 mentees attesting to how much they were greatly impacted by the series of training and mentor-sharing sessions. We will be deepening the scope of input in the 2nd edition, which should commence by mid-October 2021 and run till the end of the 1st quarter of 2022. The call for entries is currently ongoing and the selection process will be rigorously demanding on prospective entrants,” said Ajayi.

He added that this a life-transforming project which has been fully funded by the Nordica Foundation since inception requires the support of well-meaning organisations to be able to impact more doctors in our goal to increase the number of yearly participants. The 2nd edition promises to crack more opportunities for the mentees to have a more engaging relationship with the mentors.

Speaking with past beneficiaries from cohort one of the mentoring programme on how the programme has helped in building their profession, Yejide Okungbaye, a medical doctor, who is currently working with a non-profit organisation said her experience from the mentoring programme gave her clarity.

“I joined the programme, when I was just about to complete my one-year internship programme, I was very confused and I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I didn’t have so much passion for clinical practice; I felt that there must be some other parts of consultation that I didn’t want and that was worth remembering programme.

“I learned a lot outside my clinical knowledge. The programme broadens my knowledge on emotional intelligence, management, and multi-tasking generally. I got to network with other young doctors, it is been very fulfilling for me, and I enjoyed it. So, the programme is one that I would definitely recommend for people,” said Okungbaye.

Also sharing her experience Al-Hassan Mariam said the programme has helped and impacted part of my life. “I gained more orientations of financing in healthcare. I did not learn any financial skills in medical school, I didn’t learn any presentation skills, networking skills. This programme is integrated and it has also helped me on how to set actionable objectives and how to communicate with people, how people communicate with me, non-verbal and verbal cues, in the workspace.”

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