Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Married to a Jobless Man

Growing up, it was common for girls to pray for rich men as their husbands; men from abroad, men working in oil companies, men who will 'take care of me'. If you were coming to date and you had a car, your chances were higher.

While there is nothing wrong with that, I wanted more - a man with good prospects, a hardworking man, a serious Christian, and of course a man that loved me. But I wasn't warned about the prospect of being the sole provider in the family for an extended period. During our premarital counselling, our counsellors had told us how for the first 6 months of their marriage, the man did not have a job. I thought I could cope with that. I didn't know it was going to be a case of one year for me.

My husband had a promising career as a Research Associate in a leading investment banking firm in Nigeria before coming to the UK for a postgraduate degree in Finance and Management. He wanted to go into a different aspect of Finance, at the same time longed for some foreign work experience. By the time he was through with his Masters programme and got married, he had 3 options – continuing with his work in Nigeria, accepting an offer for a desired role from a more reputable company in Nigeria, or staying back in the UK to find a job. After careful consideration, he chose to be with his newly wedded wife and continue trying to get a job rather than take up the good offer in Nigeria and be separate from his family.

I had a few challenges. Talk about having to answer the question of what your hubby does for a living. "Why not take up an unskilled job to just have something coming in every month and to have somewhere to go to in the mornings?", people would often ask; the awkwardness of bringing this up with him when I did, not wanting to sound like I thought he was lazy.

Well, he already had somewhere to go. He started volunteering with an organisation that prepares talented students from ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds for career success. He also joined a Charity, volunteering his skills to help vulnerable people in our community solve problems they faced. To him, taking up just any menial job would mean settling to fate, plus he would have less time to search for his preferred job.

He searched for jobs every day and night. Through multiple rejections, he kept on trusting. Observing him, I discovered job-seeking in itself is a full-time job. He was so occupied with it - searching for roles, studying the companies, learning new skills to be able to fit the role, writing cover letters, meeting current and former employees of the companies (many times in London), writing psychometric tests, doing video interviews and attending physical interviews. He always dressed professionally even when meeting potential colleagues for a chat over coffee. Well…some video interviews were attended wearing a shirt, tie and jacket on pyjamas.

Sometimes I felt guilty that I got my medical jobs on a platter, whereas he had to work so hard and wait so long for his first job in the UK. He was ready - from proper dressing, to time management, organisation, leadership, engaging in professional conversations and formal email correspondence, he's well rounded - he just needed an office.

Throughout this trying period, he maintained a good attitude. I saw patience, endurance, temperance and hardwork in display. I received strong support from him too. He drove me to work when necessary, woke me to study for my exam, sometimes made dinner when I was exhausted. He had no low self-esteem. He would draw up our budgets and manage the finances, accompany me to functions where my colleagues were, and was ever ready to answer the question "what do you do?"

Even in his jobless state, he slept less hours than I did. He was persistent. Though receiving uncountable rejection emails, he was never discouraged. He once received an offer bearing his full names, only to be told the following day that it was meant for a Kingsley, not Kingston. He would follow up the rejection emails with polite replies asking for feedback on his performance and stating that he was available for any other roles they deemed him suitable for. Finally, after the long wait, he commenced work with a FinTech start-up in London last November. All thanks to God.

In all these, I can say I am really blessed. Single girls, if you see a diligent man, marry him not for his money but for his character. If you see a lazy man with a lot of money, please run. For when the money disappears, you will become his crutch.

Radiant ~ December 2019
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please leave comments below. Happy new year. 

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Why I hated practising Medicine in Nigeria

I signed up to study Medicine and Surgery because it seemed like the most logical thing to do. I was a science student in secondary school and all my mates were either going to study Medicine or Engineering in university. The girls were more inclined to Medicine, so I joined the bandwagon. 

After trudging through an unexciting clinical journey in medical school, one that got me contemplating dropping out severally, I got my M.B.B.S. I survived housemanship in a teaching hospital, lazed away National Youth Service year in a primary care centre and became a job seeker for many months before landing in the private sector. 

I hated practising Medicine in Nigeria for the following reasons. I always didn't feel competent. I hated not knowing exactly what to do and not having reference points. As a medical practitioner everyone expected you to perform some magic; magic that you weren't trained for. As long as you are called doctor, they expected their ailment to end with you, not willing to be referred to a specialized institution. I didn't like the great expectation, the lack of support as a medical officer, often working alone, the fact that apart from the clinical pressure of functioning as a general practitioner without appropriate training, I had to deal with financial pressure as well. I had to decide/communicate the cost of treatments and factor that along with the size of the patient's pocket in making a clinical decision. 

In the places I practised, we had no universal guidelines. Lab results were unreliable. They often arrived late. Poverty of the people would not allow us perform necessary but expensive investigations. Deaths were hardly investigated. Housemanship made sure I had a fat pocket but I was more trained in running ward errands like chasing up investigation results than in the management of the sick - a total waste of doctor skill. Children suffered pain unnecessarily when we could have given numbing agents before bleeding them. Patients would endure multiple needle pricks to get several blood samples when only one prick most times would suffice with the appropriate equipment. Our medicine was crude; too crude to be human. I thought we were causing more pain than alleviating it. I couldn't bear practising like that for the rest of my life. It depressed me. I would rather spend my life making music, writing stories, bringing happiness, than watching the sick deteriorate and not offering much help, but worsening their debility. 

Now on the other hand, I've seen civilization in medicine here in the UK and this excites me. There is strong support. No one is left alone to tackle a case they are not trained for or fully confident about. As you work, you get trained on the job, while making a satisfactory living. Working hours are regulated also. You get enough breaks to recuperate from on-call hours. Theatre lists are not cancelled due to delay in laundry department providing scrubs. Skills are well maximized. Nurses administer IV drugs, so the junior doctors are freed to attend to higher skilled jobs. Hospitals are not shut down due to inter-professional feud or strikes. There are standard guidelines for every condition, for example the NICE guidelines or local hospital guidelines.  You are not expected to memorise the doses of all medicines. You are encouraged to check the BNF before prescribing. There are regular audits and quality improvement projects to keep us on track.

I could go on and on to compare the health system I witnessed in Nigeria to that of UK, but it is obvious Nigeria is centuries behind. Of course, it is not all rosy in the UK but this post focuses on Nigeria. Nigeria needs those that have seen the light, those that have tasted and imbibed best practice in a system that works to lead the way. So why should doctors in Nigeria not leave in search of light? The bone of contention should be why the ones that have the light are not coming back to guide the "blind". This is not different from other sectors. Sectors that have made progress have people there that have been trained in developed countries. Check the CVs of top performers in Finance or Business in Nigeria you will see that most of them have had foreign exposure. So doctors should not be criticised for going out to get proper training, rather we should be talking about how those that have been trained in these developed countries can give back to their country of origin.

Dear Lord, send labourers into Nigeria's health sector. We need to make advancements.

NB: This post by no means intends to belittle the work of faithful sound medical practitioners currently in Nigeria, making the best out of the harsh working environment and system. This is me telling my experience of how I turned from hating Medicine to loving it and a call for Nigerians in diaspora to think on how we can improve the Nigerian health system.

NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
BNF - British National Formulary

Radiant ~ December 2019