Name: Wumi Oworu
Country of study: United Kingdom
Elective Location: University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria
Elective Period: 04/04/16 to 27/05/16
Duration of Elective: 8 weeks
Speciality: Obstetrics & Gynaecology
My experience in Nigeria was a wonderful experience, although I have visited Nigeria several times before, this elective period was my first experience of living in Nigeria independently and working in a healthcare setting. Starting at the beginning, I arrived in Gwagwalada on Monday and met with my supervisor Professor Ekele, who briefly described what was to come while at AUTH. I was introduced to the head of the O&G department and the senior class representative from the University of Abuja Medical school, a young man called Etuk, who assisted me with settling in. Etuk showed me to my accommodation and was kind enough to take me to a few places to buy some food, utensils, etc. My accommodation, was a 2-bedroom flat in a block of flats containing only medical students, I had my own bathroom and I shared the kitchen and living room with my flatmate. The accommodation was a few minutes from the hospital, but still on the hospital grounds. The flat was clean and well kept, with good space and the basics. Later that day I met my flat mate Tolu, who was a lovely young woman in her penultimate year of medical school.
During my 8 week placement, I was allocated to one team for 4 weeks, where I joined them on their ward rounds, gynaecology clinics, antenatal and post-natal clinics, theatre sessions and on-call duties. Every week day morning began with a morning meeting, cases that were managed the day before were discussed and assessed. I spent 2 weeks in the labour ward, observing and assisting in the management of labour and Caesarean sections. I spent a total of 2 weeks in the gynaecological emergency unit and special care baby unit. During my elective I was taught how to perform vaginal examinations and perform a pelvic examination using a speculum. During antenatal clinics I had the opportunity to examine numerous women at various gestations. I attended to a few patients independently under the supervision of consultants in the gynaecology clinics. I performed investigations such as pap smears, endocervical swabs and high vaginal swabs. I observed cases that are uncommon in the UK, such as large uterine fibroids, primary presentation of metastatic endometrial cancer and the management of labour in a patient with sickle cell disease. I understand the Nigerian Healthcare system consists of both a private sector and national health service insurance scheme, both with their own advantages and disadvantages. The use of traditional medicine also had an impact on health, I often observed patients with advanced disease because they delayed their presentation to the hospital because they sought cheaper traditional alternatives. I had theopportunity to complete a cross-sectional study titled, ‘The Perception of pregnant women about Caesarean section at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada’. It consisted of 131 pregnant women presenting to ante-natal clinic. I was granted ethics approval for this study. I used interviewer-assisted structured questionnaire to collect data. The acceptance rate was 70%, other literature quoted acceptance rates of 7-30%. The study showed a higher acceptance rate amongst pregnancy women who were older, married, multiparous, educated and have had a previous Caesarean section. This developed my research skills; it also exposed me to the difficulties of international research such as language barrier and limited resourced such as electricity, internet and time constraints.
I enjoyed the food to the absolute maximum, I probably ate grilled catfish at least twice a week and utilised the hospital canteen and ate pounded yam with egusi (my favourite) often. I definitely ate well while in Nigeria. The heat Gwagwalada was a different experience entirely, one I have never experienced before, I learnt to avoid being outdoors between 9am-4pm, to be well stocked up on bottled water and bought a mini-fridge as soon as I arrived (to the manifold wisdom of my mother).
When not working at the hospital, I often enjoyed myself in Abuja with my cousin and the new friends I’d made. I appreciated the order and subtleness of Abuja, in comparison to the hustle of Lagos.
I also had the opportunity to visit Kaduna, which was just a 2 hour drive away from Abuja, or an hour flight from Lagos. I also visited an orphanage a couple of times and gave some assistance.
I wish I had taken the opportunity to visit Jos, a popular city known for their cool climate, internationally known for their medical education at the University of Jos, as well as other things. Once my elective was complete, I travelled to Lagos to spend some time with friends and family.
My elective has enriched my undergraduate education, I developed basic obstetric and gynaecological skills which will be useful throughout my career. I have improved my knowledge and skills in maternal and foetal medicine. It has also given me an appreciation for the healthcare system available to patients in the UK. I have experienced another element of medicine that I will always be grateful for.
My experience has made me more passionate about pursing a medical career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It has also exposed me to potential opportunities in the Nigeria, especially for someone like myself – young, ambitious and open-minded.