Number of Years to study Gynaecology in Nigeria
Before you study Gynaecology in Nigeria, you must first study Medicine and Surgery as a single course in the university or any approved Medical college. As an undergraduate, you must first become a medical doctor with just M.B.B.S (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree. To obtain MBBS, it takes a minimum of 6 years.
After your undergraduate study, you have to do your Housemanship which is compulsory before you are given a permanent license to practice. If you are qualified for NYSC; you have to proceed for NYSC before coming back to start what is known as residency. It is in your residency that you specialize as a consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This shows you are not just specializing in Gynaecology alone but also in Obstetrics. The two fields of study go hand in hand. Gynecology is the study of diseases relating to only women whereas Obstetrics is the study of diseases and care of pregnant women.
Therefore when you want to study Gynaecology in Nigeria, you will study Obstetrics as well.
Number of years it takes for Undergraduate study of Medicine and Surgery
Starting Medicine and Surgery as an undergraduate from 100 level takes 6 years to complete and be given a temporary license; or 5 years for those who came through direct entry. This only occurs if all things go normal such as no period of strike action; either the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) or Medical Workers (Doctors and Nurses).
You also need to pass all your exams at once because there is no carrying over of courses in Medicine and Surgery. It is either you fail or pass. When you fail, you have to repeat the exam after 3 months; if you pass, you then continue with others but when you fail again, you will have to repeat the year.
So in essence, the 6 years of undergraduate study of Medicine and surgery may actually be more than 6 years but can not be less.
Period of Housemanship
After your undergraduate study, you must attach yourself with an approved hospital or center to further learn a more practical application of your medical knowledge. This period of training yourself to gain practical knowledge is known as Housemanship. You must pass through this before getting a permanent license. It lasts for one year. After this, you are given your permanent license.
Proceeding for NYSC or Writing Primaries Examination
When you complete Housemanship, you have the option of going for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps – if you are qualified or proceeding to write an exam called primaries examination. If you have not passed the age to serve, you have to go for NYSC but when you have passed the age of serving, you are given an exception letter.
If you are going to serve, then it will take another 1 year. But if you are not going to serve, you can just write your primaries in the field of your choice. Since you want to study Gynaecology, you then write the primaries in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
For those going for NYSC first, what most people do (depending on your field); some people write their primaries during NYSC so that when they finish, they can proceed for residency when there is an available vacancy in any hospital while some have to finish their NYSC first.
Some areas of specialties require your NYSC certificate before allowing you to write your primaries in such a field while some do not need such a requirement.
What is a Primary Examination in the Medical field?
The primary exam is an examination that determines the field or aspect of medicine in which you want to specialize in. If you want to study Gynaecology, then you write primaries in Obstetrics and Gynaecology; the same applies to all other specialties.
You must know that once you have started in one field, you cannot switch to another again. If you decide to switch, you must go back and write the primary examination of that field of study and start all over again. Assuming you wrote primaries in family medicine and have started residency for three years but then decide to switch over to Gynaecology; you have to go back and write primaries in Gynaecology and start from the first year of residency in Gynaecology irrespective of the number of years you have spent in other fields.
This is the main reason why you need to choose very carefully and know about what each area of specialty entails before deciding to specialize in such a field. It can be frustrating having to start all over again or continue with something you have no passion for.
Primaries examinations come once a year; missing one year means you have to wait for another year.
Residency in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O & G)
When you write your primaries in Obstetrics and Gynecology and pass, you can apply in any Teaching hospital of choice or approved center by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). If the hospital accepts you, then you can start your residency in O and G.
You start from a Junior registrar and be trained for a minimum of 30 months ( 2 years and 6 months) before you are qualified to write an examination called Part 1 postgraduate examination. This is the exam that promotes you to a senior registrar.
If you pass the Part 1 exam, you become a senior registrar. You again have to be trained according to the requirements of the postgraduate medical college of Nigeria as a senior registrar for 24 months (2 years); after which you write another examination known as Part 2 postgraduate examination. When you pass this part 2 exam, congratulations, you are now an expert professional in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. You will be called a Consultant in obstetrics and gynecology.
When you become a consultant, you are called a “Fellow” by your colleagues because you now have a fellowship in their college. What this means is that there are two colleges that can award Consultants after passing part 2. Either you write the part 2 examination of the West African College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology or you write that of Nigerian (National) College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Anyone of the colleges you decide to write your part 2 exam in, you have their fellowship when you pass the exam. But if you have the National Fellowship, you cannot be recognized as a consultant in West Africa. If you have the West African Fellowship alone, you cannot be recognized as a consultant by the National College. This is the main reason why some people write both the West African and National exams. to gain the recognition of both colleges as well as the prestige attached to that when your colleagues and students see you as a true specialist in your field compared to those who pass only of the two.
Summing up the years it takes to study Gynaecology in Nigeria
- 6 years of undergraduate study in Medicine and Surgery. 5 years for those who cam through Direct entry.
- 1-year Housemanship
- One year of youth service. Not applicable to those with exception
- 2 years 6 months for the junior residency program
- Another 2 years for the senior residency program
In total, it takes a minimum of 12 years and 6 months to study Gynaecology in Nigeria and become a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This time includes starting from 100 level to a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.s