Temitope Ben-Ajepe: Pharmacy students tough love with Medicine students [NEW VOICES]

by Temitope Ben-Ajepe

In a few days from now, the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students PANS) chapter of which I’m a member will be partnering with a social enterprise/health startup involved in the promotion of maternal and infant health to organise a market outreach in our host community. Apart from the fact that the number of women signed onto their services will increase, there is a lot more on the agenda for that day; deworming the kids, live demonstrations on how the service can help women – both pregnant and nursing mothers alike and fee health consultations for everyone who shows up, amongst other things.

Of course, preparations are in top gear and they are exciting as they as exhausting. There are the small problems of logistics; from hunting down a suitable venue for the program to sourcing great deals on rentals, and the PR challenges where we explain to the community head in clear terms that no money will be paid to anyone anywhere for us to be allowed to help people – not even if said benefactors are ‘coming all the way from Lagos’. With every day comes a new challenge. We tackle problem after problem as is wont with these things and try as we might initially, every plan comes with several duplicates in case they fall through upon contact with the ground (which they always seem to do). Insightful? Yes. A welcome distraction from the rigours of Pharmacy school but in a strange twist of fate still a huge part of it? But of course. Tiring? Very much. Smorgasbord for the most unlikely WTF problems that induces the pulling of weave tracks – who would have thought?

Refer to paragraph one which clearly states that the event is being brought to the community (in event speak: powered by) our health startup/social enterprise in collaboration with the Pharmacy students’ body in my school (read: official partners). Unfortunately, the social enterprise will be travelling down with a limited personnel but it’s fine because PANS members are ready on standby to volunteer and augment low manpower. However, SE made a request for a few med students preferably in their final year to also assist as there will be very few doctors from their end being that the outreach falls on a weekday and doctors go to work. So, med students.

This is where things get a little tricky.

Circa April 2016, when the world stood still for malaria, the PANS chapter in my school held an event as well to commemorate the grand occasion. Complete with a rally, door-to-door outreach and town hall meeting that saw to the dissemination of information surrounding malaria, locals receiving free malaria testing, drugs and mosquito nets provided by partners in pharmaceutical companies and a state ministry of health, it was a huge hit when you overlook all the drama that went on behind the scenes – a place full of crushed egos, dirty politics and student doctors attempting to weigh out medication and doing terribly at it too.

Maybe medical students (in my school at least) haven’t gotten the memo just yet. When called upon to support in medical outreaches, it is because their place in the healthcare delivery team is recognised with respect to the wellbeing of the patient—the reason why we’re all in business in the first place. Their demigod approach to every collaborative effort is not only nerve wrecking but also distracting and takes away from the quality of care the patient actually receives in the end and it seems the hostility outlives the colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine and seeps out into the real world… Pharmacists aside, no human likes to feel like a second class citizen wherever they are found especially when they have every right to be there.

Back to the present, I’m thinking twice about calling the president of the medical students association for the umpteenth time to remind him about this little outreach we’ll be hosting which they’re totally forming for but will no doubt steal the credit for when it becomes a huge hit, again.

This is me massaging my temples.


Temitope is on her way to becoming a Legal Drug Dealer during the day and weans her sweet tooth at night because jedi jedi is a real thing. She tweets from @temi_benjamin

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