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28 Nov 2016

900 doctors fight for 40 slots at National Hospital

Nearly 900 newly graduated doctors turned up at National Hospital to interview for some 40 housemanship positions, Daily Trust has learnt.

That’s a ratio of nearly 23 doctors for each available slot.

House officers practice a year after graduation on a temporary licence, before going on national service and thereafter acquiring full licence from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

The interview began Monday, and candidates are spread randomly through a couple of centres on the hospital premises, one candidate confirmed.

Another noted he had knowledge that up to 900 candidates were vying for only slots at National Hospital, all without guarantees of any placement.

“You can apply to 50 different hospitals at once, but that doesn’t give you any guarantee of getting taken at any one of them,” the candidate said anonymously.

National Hospital officials could not be reached for comment immediately.

Slots for house officers have become contentious in recent years, with accusations that teaching hospitals cut down the number of slots to save costs or to accommodate the inadequate infrastructure at their disposal.

As many as 3,000 candidates have struggled for 200 slots in Bayelsa, and nearly 1,000 vied for slots at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in recruitment early this year.

MDCN, which regulates medical-school training for doctors, says schools exceeding their quota bred more doctors than hospitals could afford to accommodate.

Insecurity and economic pressure also mean many new graduates are angling to serve as house officers in cities as Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, an MDCN official said.

“They don’t want to go to Borno or Adamawa to do housemanship. Some hospitals will be staggered while others are always very, very busy,” the official said.

MDCN has proposed the health ministry could begin posting new medical graduates in the same manner as NYSC does other graduates in order to spread the number of house officers across hospitals with room to take them.

But that will require data from the health ministry and the budget office agreeing to set aside fund to pay house officers from source.

“In absence of that, they have to apply by themselves directly to hospitals, and they will be struggling. Some even do housemanship twice because housemanship pays them more,” the source said.

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