The Challenges Faced By Medical Students In Nigeria

The Challenges Faced By Medical Students In Nigeria

This is the first article into a research project that deals with ways to improve and positively impact the health care system in Nigeria, and Africa at large. As the headline indicates, this will be talking about the problems affecting the medical schools, because before we can help the health care system, we have to know the factors hindering the system from moving forward actually. And what is the best way to go about this, which will make us go back to the foundation, that is, the Medical schools where the future and present medical doctors were/are been trained. Challenges faced by medical students in Nigeria, can’t be overemphasized but before going into it, lets first of all look into the meaning of some of these terms; Education, Learning, Medicine, and a Medical School


Education is a discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various nonformal and informal means of socialization (e.g., rural development projects and education through parent-child relationships).

Learning is “a process that leads to change, which occurs as a result of experience and increases the potential for improved performance and future learning” (Ambrose et al, 2010, p.3). The change in the learner may happen at the level of knowledge, attitude, or behavior. As a result of learning, learners come to see concepts, ideas, and/or the world differently.

Medicine is a broad term of a variety of practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness, including pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy, and surgery.

Medical School is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians and surgeons. Such medical degrees include the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, MBChB, MBBCh, BMBS), Master of Medicine (MM, MMed), Doctor of Medicine (M.D), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O)


Medical School allow students to study medicine and become a doctor. The main skills students learn are to help people end suffering. Medical School prepare graduates so they can enter and compete in medical education, qualify for medical licensure, provide competent medical care. Also, it help to produce competent medical researchers that research in their field and make their findings available to the world. And lots more.


If the problem of a matter is known, then the solution is not far from it. If there is a challenge and a problem in our medical school how do you expect the medical students to be able to do and show forth what they have been made for?

The factors that will be listed here, was taken from a real-life situation, and not from Google or the Internet. I was able to talk to medical students from different medical schools, here in Africa to know their present issues, compiled them, and will be talking about them here.

Starting from my home country here, Nigeria. I was able to discuss with Four (4) different students from Medical Students Association (MSA) across the country. Which were; University of Abuja MSA, Olabisi Olabanjo University MSA, Ekiti State University MSA, University of Uyo MSA… Moving out of Nigeria, I was able to get in touch with students from Two other MSA in Africa, which were; University of The Gambia Medical Students’ Association (UniGAMSA), Medical Students Association of Kenya (MSAKE). I got a lot of issues, and problems affecting each of the different MSA mentioned above, and will be listing the most common and frequent ones in this article.


Time has always been a challenge to all students, but to medical students, it’s the worst challenge This is because, medical students’ hours for taking lectures sometimes start from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM to prevent being left behind, they usually read ahead of teachers. A senior medical student once told me that, before they started lectures in part 2, he has read almost half of the anatomy textbook. But when they resume, the lecturer covered all he read in three days & before he knew it he has loads of work to cover up.

Also, a medical student in EKSU COM came from another viewpoint, “many of us have spent seven(7) years in this institution and still have more than a year to go, some will spend more than eight(8) before graduation, it’s really difficult to maintain the level of enthusiasm we came in with”
While medicine students at Uni Abuja gave it a different note and tagged it marathon system in medical school no room or time to rest.


Most medical students have this fear of failing, they’ll be afraid that they’re not studying enough. Though they’re trying their best. Some develop the fear of failure when they see their colleagues failing. They’ll be like, “this person study More than I do, but he has been withdrawn, what will happen to me too?” Such thoughts will make the person develop a fear of failure, which many medical students are facing!

And I also talked to a student of EKSUCOM, who said that “we medical students do not read because we so much love medicine but we read out of fear so that we would not fail and miss out”. Which we know has replaced the real intention of studying a course. We hear cases of repeating and withdrawal from the medical school; “a situation that makes 300level students go back to 200level, this strikes fear in us and makes us read in fear”.

The Challenges Faced By Medical Students In Nigeria


You might be wondering, how can these be a challenge? Yes, it’s a big challenge as there’s one doctor that told me, pronouncing Medical Terminologies & spelling them is the biggest challenge she faced in Medical school.
OOU COM, a student narrated how he nearly failed Anatomy in the 2nd year due to terms he was not familiar with. He said as quoted “at first I didn’t understand some anatomy term during my 2nd year because it was new to me, I had to first cram those big terms, but it did not help I crashed read during exams; it almost made me fail”


A student at the EKSU COM also shared a similar experience, about one of their colleagues that wanted to quit medicine in the 5th year because of the hike in price. “Paying more than half a million for tuition, when we still have other things to get, like feeding, textbook, health, and other personal needs narrated by the student.”

Also from Uniabuja College of medicine, a medical student said something similar “price of school fees keep increasing every year, and there is no increase in the salaries or income of our parents, my parents had to apply for a loan and they need to pay back before the can get another one, now that school fees keep increasing, am starting to become more afraid and thoughts of dropping out do come to my mind sometimes”

Finance is a challenge to every student, in Medical school, the case is the same. From the very start of becoming a student-doctor, financial challenges will be with you for a considerable time. For one, the course itself is long & expensive. Without adequate financial support, prior plans & strategies, overcoming the financial challenge will be very difficult In Medical school. Unlike other students, Medical students are always busy with Studies, Making it hard if not impossible for them to do side hustle along with schooling. This makes finance a great challenge to them


This problem is more found in the preclinical, less provision of facilities that help in good learning condition like standard accommodations; same issues in EKSU COM, Uni Abuja COM and OOU COM and beyond Nigeria, Kenya COM. Lack of adequate classrooms and lecture theatres, lack of standard laboratories for preclinical curriculum.

The Challenges Faced By Medical Students In Nigeria


“When the good and gifted lecturers that should develop us have all gone overseas and Europe to seek greener pastures, then how do you want us to come out exceptional. It’s not possible, because nobody is an island, we all gain knowledge from all spheres” this was made by a student in one of the Medical schools in Kenya.

And also Uni Uyo Com and OOU COM said the same thing “we call on the government and anybody concerned to please improve the paying wager of our doctors, and lecturers, because we eventually become what we are taught. If we are taught by incompetent then society should be ready for quack medical doctors.

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For an organization to be in good shape there must be good leadership and followership. Though medical school is not an organization, as long as it has people and board governing then it’s more or less like an organization.

Uni Abuja COM students came out strong by saying “our student’s representatives have been disbanded, there are no more people to represent and protect our interest, we have been made to keep mute and enjoy anything done to us, even if it’s affecting us feedbacks are necessary but when we don’t have a voice again who can tender our pains” oh! what a painful heart.

A student from one of the Kenyan medical schools said, “though we have a body that represents us, they are not always included in decision making to some extent which is not that fair”


COVID 19 is a pandemic that made the health sector of Nigeria and Africa knew they were not that improved. But kudos to our brave medical practitioners, that stood and fought it. “But clinical students were not given much consideration when it comes to health insurance during those times they were not given enough PPEs and other things and some were exposed to COVID,” said, a Kenyan medical school.


This is one of the challenges faced by many Medical students because, as a highly demanding course, the causes of stress in Medicine are many. And they affect both the physical & psychological health of the students.
The major cause of stress among medical students is that they learn all said of the things in a short time, undergo successive tough exams with the fear that if they fail that will be their end in Medical school.
The urge to meet the demands of their curriculum inhibits a sense of urgency to them as they struggle to work harder & try their bests. There’s also high stress among medical students after their graduation when they start training.


A student of EKSU COM also spoke about his view and challenges in medical school, same as OOU COM, the student simply said lack of hostel and resident problem.

“While in preclinical, there is no hostel for medical students, have you walked from the college to the school gate before? It’s just too far. Besides mixing with other students off-campus, it doesn’t create a conducive learning environment.” Said by the EKSU COM Student


There are more problems than what’s been pointed out in this write-up, if I was to go round Africa at large, then I would have met some more medical students that would have expressed their problems.
I plea to the government and other bodies both private and public parastatal to look into the grieve and pain of these ones because they are the future and the next generation of Medical practitioners In Nigeria and Africa at large.

The solutions and possible ways out to this problem and issues will be listed In the next article. Always committed to seeing a change and I will start one in my little way. thanks.

The Challenges Faced By Medical Students In Nigeria


Writer: Jesutoni Adedotun Omiye
Ekiti State University, ADO-EKITI, Nigeria.

Jesutoni is  is a youth from Nigeria, an undergraduate student majoring in Anatomy at Ekiti State University, Ado Nigeria.
He is obsessed in solving global problems, and with that has been involved in Model United Nations {MUN}. As a Medical student, in a bid to improve the medical conditions of Africa, he has decided to put into writing the issues affecting medical schools in Africa. He is also involved with the Federation of African Medical Students Association (FAMSA).

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