I once felt like dropping out — BU best graduating student

Dr Belusochi Joe-Ikechebelu, who emerged as the best-graduating student during the recent convocation at Babcock University, Ogun State, talks about her journey towards achieving the feat.

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My goal was to work hard and do my very best. I was not expecting a perfect CGPA, but I felt it would be a good feat. I am content with my performance, and I know that I did my best to come out with the best result.

To whom do you owe your success?

I owe my success to Almighty God, my parents, and my friends. My parents and siblings were there for me when I was overwhelmed, tired and exhausted. I had classmates that turned into a family; the struggles brought us together and we celebrated our successes together.

You are the daughter of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State, Prof. Joe Ikechebelu. How did your parents influence you academically?

My parents’ position put me on my toes. However, talking about my choice of career – Medicine, I can say it’s my choice, though not without the influence of my parents. I have been surrounded by Medicine for as long as I can remember. I thought about other courses, but Medicine was better economically as it provided better job security.

Were you a sociable person?

I will really say I tried to be a social person. I had friends but it was a really small circle of amazing people that I was glad to have found in my life. I also had friends who studied other courses that I met up with and we socialised. It was difficult for me to maintain many relationships on campus due to the volume of work in Medicine.

Were you involved in extracurricular activities?

Yes! I was part of the school’s badminton and football teams. I had other hobbies which included yoga, hand balancing, and contortion. They were very important to me as a source of recharge to be able to push through and get to the finish line. I am not an advocate of focusing on one’s academics only, not making time for anything else. It is important to create a healthy balance in all parts of your life.

Was there a time you ever felt like giving up?

A lot of times; it is the most common feeling in a medical student’s life where one just wonders whether he or she can drop out.

How did you handle such moments?

Whenever I thought of it, I just told myself, ‘You’ve come too far now, you have to finish and finish strong’. The last two years were the most difficult as they tested every inch of my mental health. How did I handle it? I prayed to God for strength and received great parental support. Also, I took breaks when needed and kept going.

Medicine doesn’t have a ‘B’ grade. It is distinction, pass and fail and it is usually a cumulation of assessments and the final professional exam. I had two pass grades and eight distinction grades out of the 10 professional courses offered in medical school. I took 10 courses throughout

Dr Belusochi Joe Ikechebelu my time in medical school. Right now, my favourite is Surgery because it’s very hands-on.

How did you manage to cope with the challenges in medical school?

In retrospect, the first two to three years passed by quicker than I could imagine. I was filled with excitement about learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body and others. Nevertheless, it was still hard. The most unsaid thing about Medicine, or maybe it’s said but doesn’t weigh in till one is studying the course, is the volume of information that one is expected to know. Why wouldn’t medical students always read? At one point, I got tired of constantly being in school and studying one course after another. But it was the point of no return; that degree has to be bagged!

I remember that, in my second or third year, I asked a senior with so much hope in my voice, ‘Does it get easier as you go higher?’ They said, ‘No, it doesn’t’. I was dumbfounded at their reply. What helped me cope was having other extracurricular activities. I was part of the school’s badminton and football teams. I had my other hobbies, and they were very important to me as a source of recharge to be able to push through and get to the finish line.

How did you manage the attention you received from men?

Medicine naturally shifted male attention away. Everyone knows medical students are super busy and barely have time. So, when they (men) found out that it was Medicine I was studying, they naturally pulled away because they knew I would not have much time. It made it easier.

Getting outstanding results requires hard work. What were the sacrifices you had to make to stay focused and consistent?

Usually, the most common sacrifice was social life, but I am not much of an extrovert. So, there was not much to sacrifice in the first place. I think the major sacrifice was the hours spent perfecting my understanding of Medicine. It’s gruelling and mentally tasking to say the least.

What is your view that doctors in the country are largely relocating abroad?

This to me is a result of a failing health system and loss of value for training received in the country; a country that doesn’t value its labour force. Everyone deserves good remuneration for his/ her hard-earned training. Doctors are underpaid, under-resourced, overworked and under-protected. Looking at the budget allocation to the health sector alone will tell you that the Nigerian government has not given adequate priority to the healthcare system. About six per cent of the budget is allocated to the health sector instead of 15 per cent as advised by African Union. This poor budget allocation in turn leads to poorly resourced federal, state and local hospitals and understaffed, overworked and under-paid workers. If a doctor has to start a side hustle to survive in Nigeria, then there’s something wrong as Medicine itself is already demanding. The government has to do more for the health of the citizens by improving the welfare of the workforce and the work environment.

What awards and prizes did you receive from the university for your success?

I received the award for 2023 Best Graduating Medical Doctor of Orion VII Class, Benjamin S. Carson Medical School, Babcock University; 2023 Price for Best Medical Graduand, Distinction in Internal Medicine (2023), Distinction in Surgery (2023), Distinction in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2022), Distinction in Pathology (2020), Distinction in Pharmacology (2020), Distinction in Human Physiology (2019), Distinction in Human Anatomy (2019) and Distinction in Human Biochemistry (2019). SOURCE PUNCH






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