After hearing about their achievements in the world of research,the UIMSA Clinical Press met with,Ehis Aigbonoga,Iyawe Efosa and Owoputi Taiye, some of UIMSA’s research finest.
Interviewer: What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?
Efosa: disciplined, jovial, charismatic, creative, and analytical
Owoputi: resilient, determined, disciplined, accommodating, analytical as well.
Ehis: optimistic, action-oriented, friendly and adventurous.
Interviewer: What area of medicine would you like to specialize in?
Efosa: Currently, a blend of medicine and surgery where you use endoscopy.
Owoputi: Neurosurgery is my preferred specialty.Specifically I’m interested in spine surgery. If I’m not doing neurosurgery, maybe cardiothoracic surgery. For the research part I’m interested in neuroscience, so that’s where my research cover would probably fall in.
Ehis: Due to the fact that I have a keen interest for better therapeutic management for patients majorly in Africa, I would like to specialize in Anasthesia. Either Neuroanathesia or Cardioanasthesia.
Interviewer: What got you interested in research in general?
Efosa: In medical school, we are not really exposed to this area. It is more of “Read and Pass”, except towards the end of medical school when you get exposed to it. So earlier on I began searching up things that can improve your CV and would make you stand out. I found out that research is the coding of medicine and also got to know that research was one of the keys to progress in this field. I had lots of friends and senior colleagues that helped me get exposed to research and I began to grow into it, I reached out to people who were experts and they put me through a couple of things and I also watched a lot of videos and courses on research work.
Owoputi: Curiosity led me to research. I’m a very curious person, like I said “I would see a machine and want to know what it is made up of”. I had the determination to start up research since my 300level because of the term papers we were exposed to and in 400level I started taking courses,from there I got into a lot of research work. I also had to ask for directions from friends, and join some research organizations.
Ehis: Like speaker one said before, all we did back then was just read to pass exams and do well in preclinicals. We really didn’t get into any extracurricular activities. Later on, the first set of graduating medical students came from abroad to do a program then they set up an organization which birthed CRIM. One of the students invited me and I feel that’s when my interest started to grow.
Interviewer: Is research something you will like to actively pursue after school alongside your career?
Efosa: Of course, like I said earlier research is the very key of advancement in the medical field. If you don’t want to remain stagnant, you definitely need to keep on publishing and churning out papers. So yeah, its something I will definitely like to pursue.
Owoputi: It absolutely is one of my career choices. I don’t just want to read textbooks, I also want to contribute to the scientific world. I want to work on the molecular and genetic level to know why somethings are done, not just question them, I want to be seen carrying out this research and discovering things. So research is one of my major career choices.
Ehis: For me, I think yes. I like both clinical practice and academics, if I am practicing clinical medicine, I definitely will have to research.
Interviewer: So you guys were involved in a research program recently? How did you hear about it?
Efosa: We were all involved in the research. I heard about it from a friend in school after looking through it I thought it was something I will like to get involved in.
Owoputi: For me, I heard about it from about two or three places and I saw it on a friends whatsapp status, so I got interested.
Interviewer: So what area of research was this one about?
Efosa:The theme of the conference was “Managing Diseases Outreach”. So I looked at the trend of corona virus and the state of it in Nigeria, and decided to work on describing the ups and downs and giving recommendations.
Owoputi: My presentation was on Covid 19: knowledge, attitude and patient education in the teaching hospitals of Nigeria. We had a study that led to two results and I handled one. .
Interviewer: So you both worked together?
Efosa: Yes ,we worked together for that but we produced two manuscripts for that study. The one I presented was knowledge and perception and health education of patients in Nigeria. The motive behind it was that a lot of fake news was flying around over the media, a lot of conspiracy theories and religious biases about the outbreak. We wanted to know if the people had this perception and how it affected their abilities to adhere to the Covid 19 guidelines. We wanted to know people level of knowledge.Those were the objectives of this study.
Ehis: The data for the study I presented was collected between August 2020 and September 2020 during the lockdown, from outpatients in the university college hospitals and the research was basically on the impact of Covid 19, on delivering adequate care services amongst outpatients in Nigeria using the University College Hospital as the study site. So it was to access the impact of Covid 19 and services that are delivered to the patients.
Interviewer: We would also like to know, aside this, what other area of research interests you.
Efosa: Personally, I am interested in ways we can improve medical education in Nigeria. I am also interested in gastroenterology. Research on weight loss, nutrition, weight gain and anything nutrition related. I am also looking to explore public health.
Owoputi: I am approaching my interest with a funnel approach. For now it’s anything that comes my way, as long as it relates to Medicine and Technology. I am interested in anything that helps me improve my research skill, so I am not focused on one thing.
Ehis: Currently I have streamlined my options to things that I will love to do eventually. I am also very interested in the technological part of Medicine after taking a Havard course in 2019 ‘Launching into Technologies’. I am looking to explore more and secondly I am interested in opportunites that can take me to developed countries.
Interviewer: Ehis, what did you win your grant in?
Ehis: Bayer foundation is foundation part of Bayer pharmaceutical company which is a multinational company. They offer different prizes, awards and grants. This particular grant is the Carl Duisberg Fellowships for Medical Sciences fellowship grant by Bayer foundation. They provide funding for you to go to Germany. I first saw the application from Boluwatife Adewale who sent me the application form, he told me 13 days to deadline. And I needed a recommendation letter from a professor in a school in Germany as well as two recommendation letters from Professors in UCH, At first I felt 13 days was to short a time to get this done so I gave up on it. I was later by a friend of mine who at the time was writing MB exams but still applying for the grant and I began working on it again. Shortly after I found a German professor who was willing to write a recommendation letter for me without I also got a couple of other recommendations and sent them. After a few weeks of delay the result came out and I was qualified and given a grant of 5500 Euros.
Interviewer: Do you have tips for anyone trying to get a grant?
Ehis: I think No 1 thing is “ACTION”. One thing I’ve done since 2018/2019 is to try and act on any opportunity I see. I tried a lot of things, applied for different scholarships both in Africa and outside and got rejected. So rejection is normal part of the process but making sure you act on every opportunity that comes your way is key. Secondly, mentorship, having people to help review your work is very important.
Interviewer: What are your tips for people who want to go into research in general but may not have any idea what to do.
Efosa: For me, first thing I tell people is to find what they are interested in, it can just be a topic, then get someone who is efficient, can be student, a lecturer who has experience in research, ask for their help in carrying out the research, they may be able to tell you what to do, this can help you learn and build your skills. Secondly, read about research, try to study publications, check up methodology. Thirdly, put yourself out there, be where researchers are, let people know you, try and be in the field, join organizations and groups, just be known somewhere.
Owoputi: For me, for anyone that wants to go into research I will say you need interest. Research takes a lot of time and work, so if you’re not interested, you will lose interest along the line. Secondly, taking courses and having the knowledge should come before going into the field. You need a community of friends that are either experienced or are like minded. It matters a lot. Also when you are going into the field, you need to be very proactive, and if you don’t know something ask questions. Mentorship is also very important, and of course, applying for opportunities, this exposes you to different people and you share ideas and learn new things.
Interviewer: It is nice to have you all here at the UIMSA Clinical Press.Once again, we say congratulations to you all and wish you the best in your future endeavours.