Of Postgraduate Medical Fellowships, PhDs and the Politics of Vice-chancellorships

Of Postgraduate Medical Fellowships, PhDs and the Politics of Vice-chancellorships


By Oshaloto Joseph Tade

Why won’t postgraduate medical colleges just take on the status of a university by redesigning its curriculums and segmenting it’s teaching as masters and PhD? Call it simplistic, but this is the question on the lips of many.

Products of postgraduate medical colleges are indispensable. They are what we know as consultants in hospitals. They are also the ones with the competence to teach/train medical students. There simply is no telling the centrality of their contributions to advanced medical knowledge and care. Reminds me of our Aviation colleges and the centrality of their products to not just flying and fixing airplanes but the entire aviation sector.

But, notwithstanding the rigorous training and the abundant capacity of their products, the conventional academic community in its overwhelming majority appears to still regard postgraduate medical colleges no more than monotechnics where a single specific technical subject is acquired rather than a place where a professional in medicine gets certified to teach, research, train and mentor other researchers through relevant academic teaching methodologies.

Monotechnics, except for the stupendous pays of their products, are clearly the unsung heroes of the nation’s specialized skills. I recall in 2012 when I a postgraduate application for my brother in a Nigerian university. He had done the equivalent of an HND at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT Zaria. By the way, in aviation 74 percent is failure. Pass mark begins from 75. You would think I came from Mars the way the Dean of postgraduate looked at me when I tried to convince him that my candidate was qualified for a post-graduate diploma. Quoting him, “you and your brother are not serious”. But of course we were.

Despite the discriminations, doctors enjoy better recognition. At least, the law establishing their post-graduate medical fellowship expressly recognizes them as members of university community. Doctors continue to defy the odds to become not just professors but often even rise to become vice chancellors. And that is exactly where it gets really interesting. Vice chancellorships is the point where tongues begin to wag. And they get wagged the fiercest whenever there is a viable prospects that a non-PhD academic is becoming a VC.

It is unclear how altruistic these objections are but anyone who is interested in harmonious relationships between our educators would easily spot the need to avoid unnecessary stalemates wherever avoidable. And avoidable, it, indeed is. Because the postgraduate medical fellowship is by no means an orphan. In fact, it probably commands about the biggest prestige among postgraduate certification you would easily find.

For instance, the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria NPMCN came to being through the National Postgraduate Medical College Decree No. 67 of 24th September,1979, now Cap N59 Laws of the Federation 2004. It’s mandate is clear. But it is clear only to the extent that it made the institution a powerful center of excellence for medical practice and/training.

The laws establishing it appear to say little about the classifications of degree it offers and how it can be integrated into the conventional academic environment without a career progression hoopla. Otherwise a fellow of the postgraduate medical college won’t ever have to struggle to convince university kingmakers that she is eminently qualified to become a vice chancellor even though she hasn’t a PhD.

Since their competence cannot be faulted, nothing else, other than the lacuna, seems to be a germane-enough premise upon which those who want VC-ship exclusively reserved for core academics (those with PhDs) base their arguments.

It is also highly unlikely that Nigeria would dare take a position that would anger the medical community. The moratorium given to non PhD professors by the NUC shows that not much can be done other than admit that, even though there are no evidences of incompetence against doctors in classroom, and that their research papers often top the chart, the postgraduate medical fellowship may need a sort of restructuring that will usher them into their well deserved pride of place.

But certainly before then, a non-PhD professor will, apart from competence, require additional qualification given from Nigeria’s school of power and politics to take her place in peace.

Oshaloto Tade Joseph

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