How I Broke Tradition to Emerge SUG-OOU Medical Director – Adebayo

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Femi Johnson Adebayo

The truth of the saying by Dale Carnegie that “the man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare” was recently proven at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ogun State. Contrary to the convention of having only medical students occupy the post of  the school’s medical director, the current holder of the How I Broke Tradition to Emerge SUG-OOU Medical Director position is Femi Johnson Adebayo, a 500 Level pharmacy student. In this exclusive interview with ADEBAYO OLADEJO, Adebayo, who is the immediate past president of PANS, OOU, reveals his path to the historic feat. He also highlights his achievements as PANS-OOU president, while baring his mind on the general state of pharmacy education in the country. Excerpts:

 

How did you arrive at the decision to study Pharmacy?

While I was very young, my great-grandma relied majorly on using herbs, leaves, vegetables and other traditional medicines to fix broken bones and help sick people. It happened that I was very sick and all herbal medications and concoctions didn’t improve my condition, let alone cure it. My parents were referred to a pharmacist in Akure, who is also a close relative. The pharmacist spoke with so much confidence and eloquence, talking about the harmful effect of using some herbal drugs. Then he dispensed some medications, and after taking them, I became hale and hearty.

I remember asking my dad what the pharmacist studied in school to arrive at his profession. My dad then took me back to him and he told me more about Pharmacy. The discussion stirred my passion for Pharmacy, coupled with the understanding that I might have died without the intervention of the pharmacist. I also thought of many others who would have died through illiteracy and ignorance.

After I concluded my secondary school education, I attempted JAMB three times because I wasn’t given the course of my choice, which was Pharmacy. So, I applied for the Pre-degree programme. It was during the programme that I got the opportunity to study Pharmacy.

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What were your motivations for contesting for the post of medical director, SUG-OOU?

In the history of SUG-OOU, the post had always been occupied by medical students, despite the post’s availability to all students studying health-related courses. During the past years, students of Pharmacy and Basic Medical Science had contested for the position and lost to medical students, even in keenly contested elections.

After my administration as PANS president, I considered that the same issue had been happening in the health sector generally, where doctors are oftentimes appointed commissioners for health or ministers of health. Then, I saw the need to challenge the status quo and change the system by contesting and setting some records straight.

In the past, the functionality of this position was not really felt by students in OOU and that is exactly what I am trying to change, by handling cases of emergency, mental health, drug abuse, students’ medical card and NHIS plans for the students.

 

What aspect of your responsibilities as the SUG medical director do you consider particularly challenging so far?

We currently run a multi-campus system and we also have health centres across the campuses situated far apart by several miles. So, extending the functionality of my office to those campuses in record time is a challenge I am dealing with.

However, as a new administration, we are currently working on constituting committees on other campuses. We will saddle them with the responsibilities regarding health and medicine-related affairs on their various campuses.

 

You were the president, PANS-OOU. Could you tell us some of your achievements and challenges while in office?

Despite the administration running for seven months, due to the school’s plan to make up for time lost during COVID-19, we commenced the immediate renovation of the PANS Secretariat.  We also donated waste bins across all classes and corners of the faculty, to keep the faculty clean at all times. We were also represented at the 46th PANS National Convention.

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We introduced statutory bodies in PANS-OOU, such as PANS Public Health Team and IPSF-OOU. We also had collaborations with PSN-Ogun state. We donated ceiling fans across all classes in the faculty. We also donated utility cupboards across all classes.

We organised the first Pharmacy Profession Awareness Campaign across all secondary schools. We conducted medical outreach in a community to celebrate World Pharmacists Day. We had the first field trip visitation to pharmaceutical industries, made provisions for indoor games, as well as providing reading aids, as welfare package to students during exams, etc.

The shortening of the session was a challenge, which limited our ability to raise more funds for other capital projects for the administration. We had to review our plans and programmes, to make sure we didn’t overload the session, knowing that our academic programme was the primary assignment.

The Faculty of Pharmacy, OOU, has produced an SUG president in the past. What effect did this have on your faculty?

It gave students of the faculty a long-lasting morale to continuously pursue whatever they want, while having their academics as their primary assignment. It also gave the faculty relevance.

How are you balancing academic work with the stress of running the SUG office?

Special thanks to some of my classmates. Some of us don’t stay at our apartments in school. We often pass the nights in school. I have friends that wake me up after a nap. I sometimes photocopy some people’s revision jotters and join group discussions.

At times, some even read into my ears just to aid comprehension and I sometimes go to the extent of downloading YouTube videos. Proper planning and good human relations and management have really been helpful.

 

If you had the honour of changing some things about Pharmacy education in OOU, what would they be?

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Apart from some of our curriculum being reviewed, I would ensure that Industrial Training (IT) is part of our curriculum and must be a mandatory exercise for students, despite the fact that we undergo an externship. This is why I fully support the PharmD programme that is more clinically oriented. I would also ensure that the Drug Information Centre is upgraded to play more roles in its research and service to the University Teaching Hospital. This will further create a lasting relationship between lecturers and staff of the University Teaching Hospital, thereby preferring better training for pharmacy students during the externship.

I would also ensure that leadership is introduced to students and continuing education for graduates to increase political participation by pharmacy students – who are mostly glued to their books – with the aim of encouraging specialisations in pharmacy graduates.

I would also ensure that the faculty attains autonomy and decides which calendar and exam timetable is best for pharmacy students. We are often subjected to the same treatment, even when some of our colleagues in other courses offer quite a fewer number of courses than pharmacy students in a semester. We sometimes offer 11 to 12 courses, with practicals. The timetable isn’t usually prepared with this in consideration. It’s not a beneficial strategy for the majority of us because we get weighed down mentally by virtue of a very short period of time to prepare for our exams, although our lecturers are extremely sound and committed.

When you finish Pharmacy School, which area of the profession would you like to specialise in and why?

I’d like to venture into academia and research. I have the desire to reach the peak of my profession and pursue my interest in molecular pharmacology, as well as in the community aspect of Pharmacy because of my society, where many people die due to ignorance and poor knowledge of drugs

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