Can we meet you?
I am Dr. Abimbola Ayodeji Abolarinwa, a UIMSA alumnus from the Class of 2004.
I did my House job and NYSC in Lagos and Kaduna, respectively, and completed a Residency at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Surgery and Urology.
In 2013, I became a certified Urologist and later a hospital consultant in LASUTH.
Two years later, in 2016, I became a Senior Lecturer at Lagos State University and an Honourary Consultant.
Why did you choose medicine as your profession?
I fell in love with medicine as a child because I had a good example. We grew up in the hospital, I and my sister, who is a dentist now. My father is a general surgeon in the air force, so hospital life, medical books, and all were demystified to us early. It was not far-fetched that I ended up in the medical profession doing what I saw my father do.
Why did you choose the University of Ibadan?
No specific reason. UI was the best-known school for medicine. I wasn’t going back to the North, so UI was my first choice and Unilag my second.
How hard or easy was it during your time to gain admission into UI and this department?
It was difficult. The cut-off was hiked. I didn’t start with medicine but with physiology, and then I transferred towards my 300 level. Medicine was very competitive and tough, but UI maintains standards and always takes merit, especially for medicine, law, and the like. I was still determined to study medicine even if I had to finish physiology first.
Were you, during the course of your schooling, affected by the ASUU strike?
ASUU Strike has always been there. We were two years behind because there was a strike just before we entered.
My set was the largest. We were about 500 students because of the delay. Other strikes went on apart from ASUU such as health workers, NASU and SSANU. I spent about 8 and a half years throughout my stay because of this. The same thing is happening; it’s just the actors changing.
Can you summarize your UIMSA experience both in the Preclinical and Clinical schools?
Ibadan warms my heart when I think of it. Although Ibadan may be a quiet and traditional society, I enjoyed my stay. It was my first time living in Yoruba land. There was a striking difference between the way of life in the North and the classical innocence of the northerner so I had to adapt.
I stayed off-campus in a private hostel in Agbowo, Achievers, but later needed to go on campus after transferring to medicine. There was a strike during that period, and it paid me because I had little time to prepare for Part one so I used the period to catch up. While I was waiting for the change, of course, to be finalized, I didn’t abandon physiology because I knew I still had to hold on to what I had and maintain my good grades.
To help with MB preparations, I joined the NCCMDS (Nigerian Council of Christian Medical and Dental Students). I joined late, and it felt as if I was pulling them back, so I joined the MSSN (Muslim Student Society of Nigeria) instead and they were accommodating. I got a BQ in Abadina, so it was easy to meet up with their schedules. Being a Yoruba person and having lived in the North with Muslims, it was easy for me to blend well with them.
I passed Part one and moved to UCH. I found that I enjoyed surgery. Medicine was just confusing. Pathology was interesting to me but I didn’t like histology just the dissection aspect. Pharmacology was a bit complex but I was able to escape. The way the curriculum is, you get to see the beauty of Pathology and Pharmacology in retrospect, when you do Medicine 2 and Surgery 2.
I was in love with O&G which we did for about 11 months because there was another strike. We used that period to fill our log books, catch babies in paediatrics and add to our clinical experience. Although I appreciate their service, I detested psychiatry with a passion. I didn’t like ENT either. Urology was so difficult, and that’s ironic because I am now a urologist. I loved general surgery also. So this was how I was able to narrow down my options for final year.
Our final results came and it was bloody; a 35% pass. We got to know our results after our provost dinner which we used to call ‘Last Supper’. They eventually posted it inside ABH at the notice board and I passed.
I didn’t want to stay for house job in Ibadan so I left for Lagos and then Kaduna for further studies.
Were you involved in any UIMSA activities?
I was not directly involved in UIMSA activities but I was involved in several other things such as the DOKITA editorial board where I was a member and then business manager before I left; Playhouse, a theatre group where I became director before I left and ABH politics where I became Deputy Hall Chairman in 2003.
I remember we plotted a lot in my room during the UIMSA elections. When we were leaving, we made a junior in 400 level class, UIMSA president over our immediate juniors in 500 level because then we saw them as rebellious although we’re all good now. We just wanted to reset the traditional seniority thing. So those were the UIMSA activities I was involved in. Laughs.
What type of student would you say you were, a bookworm or more of the social, active person?
I was a bit of everything. I wasn’t a front-rower. I used to sit behind with the boys in class. I used to bake and cook a lot and do all the other activities I mentioned earlier but with all these things there was no indication of unseriousness. I never failed an end-of-posting test. So I was a bit of both sides. Some people know the book side of me while some people know the social side. I did all these things to keep myself balanced.
Medicine is a jealous lover. Most of us have many talents, but we can’t manifest those things fully, so you just have to find balance.
What motivated you through the ups and downs in your medical school journey?
To finish. My motivation was to finish. I just wanted to get it done with. I asked to do medicine and I had been sacrificing a lot so I just wanted to finish.
What was the highest point for you asides from your induction ceremony?
Crossing over to UCH because that was the first major challenge. It was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.
What drove you to specialize in your field, urology?
I loved orthopaedics. One day, while I was still in UI, I went to see a friend from MSSN in orthopaedics, so I snuck into the theatre, was given a gown and everything, and I witnessed an amputation and I enjoyed it. From that point, I was drawn. Even in my yearbook, I was very specific about being an orthopaedic surgeon. In NYSC, I used to sneak to go assist in surgery. I loved to hold limbs. But when I started my Residency, life pulled a fast one on me. During rotation as a junior resident, I just lost interest completely and I was distressed because I never had a second option. I decided to just go round all the rotations and see if I’d find something else and if not I’d go with general surgery, my father’s path, but then I fell in love with urology. It was different from what I experienced at UCH. I was trained by the Consultants directly as the Senior registrar was unavailable at the time and that helped a lot. After passing my exams in the two colleges, I decided that was it. I had backing from the HOD who had always wanted to train a female for the longest time. I had no idea I was the first female in the country until my second year. So I fell out of love with my first love and then fell in love with urology.
If you had the chance to go back in time, would you choose medicine again, and why?
I’d choose it over and over now with hindsight and maturity. I don’t regret it. It’s an honourable profession that is ageless. It’s a privilege to be a medical doctor.
If there is one thing you would change about the Nigerian Health care system, what would it be?
The educational sector.
One reason why we have poor health care is the foundation of education in Nigeria. We produce doctors that are not trained to find solutions to our problems but rather doctors that are trained to continue with things the way they have always been. We cannot align everyone into a bottle. We need to train people with excellence. Teachers themselves need to learn how to teach. Doctors need to learn other things like administration and business to be able to handle the health care ministry. The curriculum needs to include more that can prepare young doctors in other aspects like academia and research. If we get education right, what will be left are government policies and we would have better prospects globally.
Thank you very much for your time ma.
Thank you for having me.