Knowing what you want gives you strength and ability. But nothing is quite as bad as uncertainty. This is why smart people always have a plan. They know they can only move as fast as is fueled by focus on their goals.

For medical students, the future holds countless possibilities. We choose from these by virtue of what we believe is best for us and the counsel we get from colleagues in the profession. But are we really giving it enough thought? Are we making the best decisions? Everyone wants to live a comfortable life, be rich and practice their chosen specialties in an enabling environment. It is therefore not surprising that most people want to leave Nigeria.

Agreed, Nigeria is not in a great place right now. The economy has seen better days. The medical system is decrepit and it’s not nurturing. Those at the top make it increasingly difficult for those coming after them. Plus, the weather is so hot. And here we are, young brilliant people with much hope for your future, looking at these frustrated doctors around and dreading finding ourselves in that situation later in life. So most of us decided to look outside the country for greener pastures.

However, nothing ever gets better from being abandoned and there is in fact, no place like home. The only way these things are going to get better is by Nigerians solving the Nigerian problems. This task is enormous and it can only be undertaken by us. Nothing great ever comes from comfort seeking. The countries where everything seems great got there as a result of selfless sacrifices and inconveniences on the part of their citizens. Is it then not cowardice and selfishness to abandon your place of birth when she needs you the most? Can we really blame those people for resenting our gold digger attitude and making it harder to enter into their shores? Their shores, won, kept secure and conducive by the blood and sweat that they were willing to expend instead of running away from problems.

At the same time, every man has a choice and we all want different things. After all, why should you love or make sacrifices for a country that seems bent on beating you down, right? No money? No job satisfaction? And then what?

To the patriotic and strong hearted, these are but empty excuses. The majority of those leaving the country are actually people who aren’t poor. They have enough to spend on international exams, passports and travel, don’t they? So we can conclude that those people only want the cup to run over. As for job satisfaction, nothing is quite as satisfactory as the knowledge that you are making changes, helping people and being a part of something greater than yourself. And what better place to do this in than Nigeria. What is referred to as job satisfaction by most people is actually just convenience, smooth sailing.

No one is a monster for trying to get a better life or trying to have a better career path. In fact, most people plan to go over there and bring the goodies to Nigeria at the end of the day. But the problems on ground cannot be solved from afar. This is proven by the many well intentioned people abroad who are absolutely useless to our economy right now. But hey, thanks for the well wishes sirs and mas. A lot of them complain about the requirements for returning to Nigeria to practice. Of course, there are requirements. This is a country not a village. If they can stretch themselves and meet the requirements to enter a foreign country, why can’t they do the same for their own country. Here’s why, there’s nothing in it for them.

Staying in Nigeria, you have the opportunity to live without discrimination. You can practice whatever specialty you choose and you can make changes and do the things that matter. Leaving Nigeria, you have the opportunity to grow rich, get better in the profession, practice in a stress free environment.

It’s our choice whether we want to gratify our personal wants or look at the bigger picture. This is not to castigate, condemn or make a decision for anyone. This is just to invite everyone to reason along certain lines and consequently evaluate our choices. Whatever path we take, it is best to be true to and sincere with ourselves. There are reasons not stated here why people may want to leave or stay. I hope this has provoked some thoughts in evaluating those also.

*Special thanks to the doctors and the members of the 2015 and 2016 classes that gave their input to this article.