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A glorious end to fellowship, PhD controversy for clinical teachers 



At last the altercations that developed on the relativity of postgraduate fellowships in medicine and dentistry vis-à-vis PhD in the Nigerian University System (NUS) has been put to rest.

The argument was that lecturers who possess medical postgraduate fellowships without doctoral degrees are not qualified to attain certain position in the nation’s university system. This however generated diverse reactions among stakeholders.

President, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), Prof. Ademola Olaitan had argued that holders of postgraduate fellowships do not necessarily need to possess doctoral qualifications to achieve career progression in the NUS.


He promised to meaningfully engage relevant stakeholders to take a policy decision on the issue, which sometimes disqualifies holders of medical postgraduate fellowships from attaining the position of vice chancellorship for not having PhD, insisting that in Nigeria and other parts of the world, the topmost postgraduate qualification recognised for clinical sciences is the Fellowship.

The college explained, “that the uniqueness of its Fellowship training is the fact that it combines the full academic and research content as obtainable in any sound doctoral degree with structured clinical (professional) postgraduate training, adding that “any clinician that has only a PhD as his only postgraduate attainment cannot be appointed as a consultant or have patients under his care.

“The possession of a Fellowship is thus a sine qua non for the appointment of anyone as a Consultant and Clinical Lecturer.  The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria is therefore the only Federal Government agency that has the capacity to certify specialists that will train other medical and dental doctors to professorial level.”

Despite these explanations, there were still comments that PhD remains the highest qualification through which any university teacher could get to the peak of his career.

Olaitan had during the 35th convocation ceremony of the college announced that the National Universities Commission (NUC) had waded into the matter.

According to Olaitan, “Comments have been made, fears expressed and diverse reactions abound on the relevance or otherwise of clinical teachers’ possession of Ph.D to teach or to progress in the university system. This was associated with uncertainties about career progression for holders of the Fellowship of our College or its equivalent. The fear of inability to make progress academically or administratively as holders of our Fellowship or its equivalent has been laid to rest.

“The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed by his declaration has confirmed that the Fellowship training undertaken by our College is robust, all-inclusive and possession of the Fellowship or its equivalent was all that a clinical lecturer requires to get to the top of his career.

Also, Chairman of the committee that is streamlining the PhD programme, Prof. Stanley Anyanwu, said over the years the medical practice as a professional and academic training was structured differently, which brought about the confusion.

“But we have discussed with the NUC and we agreed to get PhD programme structured into the fellowship training programme so that while the resident doctors are doing the residency training, they will register in a university and the dissertation they will submit to the college can be used as a thesis for PhD programme. This template obtains in many parts of the world, is not something new.

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Ademola OlaitanNPMCNNUC
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