If you are observant enough, you should have observed the current trends among Medical Students and young doctors on social channels. You must have heard people using the jargon; “Japa plans”, and the rest; based on their plans to leave the country as soon as they see an opportunity. Could there still be some hope for other Medical students and young doctors who decide to remain in Nigeria and tap into the available resources in the country? This Interview is an Inquiry into the Entrepreneurship Opportunities for doctors and Medical Students in Nigeria and is with Dr. Joel Akande; one of the top Medical Entrepreneurs in the country.
It is a rare opportunity to hear from such a person whose rich experience in the Medical Profession is worthy to be shared.
This Interview is based on His Inspirational comment on the post Career Pathways after Medical School.
The Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Doctors in Nigeria: Dr. Joel Akande
Question: Please Take a Few Moment and Introduce yourself to your readers
Hello! I am Dr. Joel Akande, I am a Fertility Specialist and Gynecologist. I am the CEO and founder of Strategic Insight Healthcare which is also known as; THE HOSPITAL. I am an author and Publisher. I also write for The Nation as their Health Columnist. I am a Medicolegal Consultant.
Also, Read; 9 Lists of Business Ideas for Medical Students
Question: You Stated that what Medical Students learn in School May not be what they practice to earn money. Please Elaborate on this.
DR. JOEL AKANDE: Medical Degree is is a narrowly defined Career Pathway for doctors. Ironically, physicians are also scientists in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Maths. This means doctors have a wide spectrum of areas to operate. Doctors are fast learners and very intelligent. But being a physician seriously creates a tunnel vision without a lateral view for doctors. Most doctors can’t read economic data or be interested in one: simply because this skill is suppressed. If you are a doctor, you need to break out of this constraint.
So the question of what may earn you money, there is abundant evidence to show that school learning (your degree) does not translate to income-earning (your actual occupation that earns you income). For example, the current MD/CEO of First Bank is a Medical Doctor. Now, what has banking got to do with Medicine?
Dr. Amy Jadesimi is an oil magnate and millionaire in dollars. What has oil and gas got to do with medicine? (See BBC NEWS to confirm Fact).
In sports, Sócrates was a physician, a rare achievement for a professional footballer and he achieved excellence.
I know of a doctor who is a property developer in Nigeria. There are doctors working in the stock exchange and business consulting firms. The examples are legion.
The lesson: Find a skill to harness to earn you a good income regardless of your degree, medicine, or not.Dr. Joel Akande (CEO of THE HOSPITAL)
The Entrepreneurship Opportunities For Doctors in Nigeria
What are those other fields outside Medicine you feel that doctors can do perfectly well in outside health practice?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: First, most doctors, if not all, forget Medicine or healthcare is a business, and thus practicing it must conform to business principles. The fields you can go to are uncountable. It all depends on your interest, your life objective, skill, and focus. Do you want to be independent and free from receiving instructions from others on what to do? Then go private in your enterprise: Medical practice as a specialist or general practitioner.
It goes without saying that for specialists, you need further studies and training. Still, in Private, you can go to any business that you fancy. If you don’t mind receiving instructions and you hate taking risks, then go to civil service, get employed by companies, other businesses as a doctor in their healthcare facility, or in their business arm say in PWC, Ernst and Young, Philips Consulting, and so forth.
Still, learn the additional language to get employed by International Organisations like WHO, UN, World Bank, etc. You may need to retrain to diversify your skills. It goes without saying that politics is another avenue. HMO, writing, public speaking, journal or book publishing, administration, software development, TV pundit, and some others.
Why do you think that doctors who want to go into business and entrepreneurship should still bag an MBA Or Diploma?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: The biggest lacuna and hindrance to doctors’ advancement the world over is lack of business management which is never taught in medical school. The second biggest is the lack of diversified language skills. Speakers of English don’t often speak other international languages like French and Spanish. These two limit global opportunities for English only doctors. So, a doctor who wants to be free of shackles should consider re-training in business management. Lack of business skills often leads to failed enterprises and not willing to take risks.
Any Advice for young doctors/medical students who want to venture into Entrepreneurship? what first necessary steps should they take?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: First, get the necessary skills you need outside MBBS. Be bold, do thorough research in areas of interest, be resilient, determined to succeed. Work with people. You can’t do it alone but you will be the last man standing. No short cut. No easy way to succeed. Be resolutely focused.
Do you think that doctors can combine Health practice with Entrepreneurship? How can they cope with this?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: Yes. Make no mistake. Health practice is entrepreneurship either private or public.
Recently, many medical students are considering career pathways outside the country. What is your take on this?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: Traveling is good. Seeing what other people outside your domains are doing is good. Getting additional skills outside the country is good too. If all these fail, then focus and utilize the talent that God has placed in your hand. Don’t throw it away. Then focus on making a success of yourself, locally. If you do go overseas and find it daunting, have Plan B.
Don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Nigeria will always be there for you. If you go abroad and of course you will meet barriers and competition and you do make a success of it, decide what you want to achieve in life.
Do you think there is still hope for the health sector in Nigeria? Why?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: Correction: We really don’t have a well-organized health sector in Nigeria. Nothing cohesive. Seems chaotic to me. But then, the chaos creates immense opportunities for would-be takers. So, there is hope if the stakeholders will seize the chances available. Our consumers, patients, and people are waiting. As it stands, we all distracted in one way or another.
Any final advice, or general note you would like to add?
DR. JOEL AKANDE: The Nigerian environment is challenging and feels intimidating. But then, overseas is not heaven. You need to balance the two if you have the chance. My mother taught me a lesson through a song. In short, it says, if a big tree fell on your way, what would you do? I asked my children this same question: They said, “cut it or go over it, go under it, by-pass it, or find another way.”
Thank you, Dr. Joel, for your time, and for the insights.
DR. JOEL AKANDE: Thank you for having me. I wish you a successful future.
From the interview, one can easily deduce that even amidst the chaos and seeming hopelessness, there could still be a possibility for success for those doctors and medical students who decide to remain in Nigeria.
But all the same, traveling out to gain one or more experience could be used as leverage to promoting healthcare in Nigeria; assuming these health workers who leave finally return to the country and find innovative ways to improve the health sector. Besides, there are still some entrepreneurship opportunities for doctors in Nigeria which could be tapped into.
Whether you decide to remain in the country or to leave, your future is in your hands.