Career & Jobs

How to Become a Medical Doctor in Nigeria [Expert Answer]

There are several career paths the average Nigerian youth can choose. While it is okay to choose whatever career path one seems most comfortable with, it appears some career paths are nobler than others. Due to this, they are very highly sought after.

Also, beyond simply being noble, some career paths are generally regarded as being lucrative. One career path that is considered both lucrative and noble in Nigeria is a career as a medical doctor. In as much as this is not always the case, the average Nigerian youth is not aware of what is obtainable.

Lots of young people in Nigeria look forward to becoming medical doctors. However, lots of them do not have an idea of the exact way to make this a reality. Some others know the steps to take to become medical doctors. However, they do not have a lot of information about what being a medical doctor in Nigeria entails. They are not aware of the challenges and the benefits of becoming a medical doctor.

In as much as not every young person in Nigeria is interested in becoming a medical doctor, I can assume that you are interested in becoming a medical doctor but do not know how to go about it if you are reading this article.

Well, becoming a medical doctor in Nigeria is not Rocket science. You simply need to know what to do and at the right time also.

Requirements for Becoming a Medical Doctor in Nigeria

Not everyone can become a medical doctor in Nigeria!

The reason for this is there are certain demands that must be met by anyone looking to become a medical doctor in Nigeria. If you can meet those demands, then, you are on your way to becoming a medical doctor.

On the other hand, if you cannot meet those demands, then, becoming a medical doctor just might not be for you.

You Should Be Passionate About Medicine:

There are several criteria for anyone looking to become a medical doctor in Nigeria. Chief among them is having a passion for medicine. This might seem like it is not so important. However, in the absence of passion, the average Nigerian youth might not be able to get the best out of medicine and surgery even if they get a chance to study medicine and surgery at the university.

A lot of parents are interested in the fact that there is a lot of nobility associated with being a medical doctor in Nigeria and due to this, they end up forcing their children to study this course. Now, they might do everything in their power to see their children successful as medical doctors. Nonetheless, in the absence of passion, it will be almost impossible to be successful as a medical doctor in Nigeria.

While some parents force their children to train to become medical doctors because of the respect associated with being a medical doctor, others simply do so because they are competing with their friends.

The truth, however, is regardless of the reason for making a child train to become a medical doctor in Nigeria, the best a parent should do is help their children understand the pros and cons of becoming a medical doctor and leave them to make their choice. When things are done this way, a child with the right passion for medicine can become a medical doctor.

However, if a child is not given the chance to choose, they might end up studying medicine. However, they might never make it to the top in the field.

Although it is general knowledge that one needs a good level of passion to be successful in whatever field, the need for passion before becoming a medical doctor in Nigeria is even more as there are several pronounced challenges associated with becoming a doctor in Nigeria.

Must have at Least 6 Credit Units in Subjects that are Science-Related:

It is common knowledge that you can only become a medical doctor by attending a university. Well, before you get admission into the university to study medicine and surgery, you need the right results in the right subjects. If you do not have the right subjects but have an excellent O‘Level result, you will not be able to proceed to study medicine and Surgery in Nigeria.

This rule is not limited to just studying in Nigeria. If you want to practice as a medical doctor in Nigeria but want to study outside Nigeria, you will also need the right subjects.

So, to ensure you are qualified to become a medical doctor in Nigeria based on the subjects you pick, you will have to be a science student in secondary school. This is the foundation. If you miss it at this point, you should simply forget about becoming a medical doctor in Nigeria.

In addition to being a science student in secondary school, you must write the right subjects in WAEC or any similar exam. Some of the subjects you must get at least a credit in before you can even think of becoming a medical doctor in Nigeria are physics, chemistry, biology, English language, mathematics, and any subject you are comfortable with. This could be economics, geography, agriculture, or further mathematics.

English is the language of communication in Nigeria. So, it is obvious that you will need to know it quite well, biology on the other hand is important because a good knowledge of biology will help you do well in more advanced courses like hematology, histopathology, etc. If you do not have a good knowledge of biology, you will definitely struggle with several courses. That’s not all. Chemistry comes in handy in helping you understand drugs and how they function. It will also help you easily grasp the concept of pharmacology, biochemistry, and chemical pathology. Additionally, such things as CT-scan, X-Ray machines, MRI, etc., become easy to use and understand when you are grounded in physics.

After getting the right result in WAEC, you will have to sit for the UTME and get a very high score. The higher your score, the higher your chances of becoming a doctor in Nigeria because of the competition associated with the limited slots for students that are looking to become medical doctors in Nigeria.

Go to the University to Study Medicine and Surgery

If you must become a medical doctor in Nigeria, you will have to study Medicine and Surgery at the university. There are various ways to gain admission into the university to study Medicine and Surgery. They are; through UTME and direct entry.

Studying Medicine and Surgery Through UTME: UTME is an acronym for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. It is an exam that you should write before you get admitted into the university to study medicine and Surgery. This exam is graded over 400 and you must score at least 180 to be considered qualified to move to the next stage of the test before finally gaining admission to study Medicine and Surgery. Although 180 seems like the average mark, due to the craze lots of people have about medicine and surgery in Nigeria, you will need a very high score.

Direct Entry: Not everyone can make it into the university at the time they want to. So, if you fall into this class of people, you could head to a polytechnic and study a course that is can be upgraded to medicine and surgery. An example of such a course is biological science. Also, if you are able to get admission into the university to study any course related to medicine and surgery, you can apply for a direct entry to study medicine and surgery when you are done with the initial program.

Furthermore, you could get into the university to study medicine with direct entry if you have a degree in a course such as anatomy or physiology. Since these courses already have a background in medicine, you can be sure you will cope well if you decide to study medicine.

Preparing for a Degree in Medicine and Surgery

Before graduating with a degree in Medicine and Surgery, there are certain courses you must do. These courses are compulsory and are broken down into the different years you will be in school. Let’s find out the specific courses you will be doing from your first year, all the way to your final year.

First Year: Medical students in their first year will undergo lectures in courses such as General Studies ( GST), Mathematics, Zoology, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry.

Unlike other courses in the university, if you want to become a medical doctor in Nigeria, you cannot afford to fail any course. When you fail a course, instead of carrying it over, you will end up repeating the year.

Second Year: In your second year in the university, you will move from just studying any course to getting an introduction to what your life as a medical student will be like. Some of the courses you will be doing in your second year are community medicine, anatomy, histology, embryology, physiology, and biochemistry.

In your second year as a medical student, you will not be dealing with any exams. You will simply write tests.

Third Year: This is the year medical students in Nigerian universities write their premier medical exam. It is an exam that comprises of the things they learnt in 200 level and 300 level. This exam, known as the second M.B.B.S professional exam can only be passed when you study consistently and pay absolute attention in class.

After passing this exam, you will be introduced to clinical activities that will characterize your remaining years as a medical student. These clinical activities will be mixed with lectures and a University Teaching Hospital in your city will be your new learning ground.

This period is one in which you move from simply learning about basic body functions to learning about abnormal functions and how you can deal with them. So, you see why you must be really good at biology if you want to become a good medical doctor in Nigeria.

Fourth Year: Your fourth year as a medical student is the year you will take lectures in surgery, medicine, pharmacology, and pathology

Fifth Year: In your fifth year, you are almost getting ready to step out of medical school. So, you can expect the workload to get very demanding. Some of the courses you will be doing at this level are Gynaecology, pediatrics, community health, and obstetrics.

Sixth Year: This is your final year in the university and at this level, you will be doing only medicine and surgery. Medical students at this level are expected to be able to examine patients efficiently. Also, they should be able to save lives. This is important because every medical student gets a license to practice as a medical doctor after the final exams at this level.

The Compulsory Year of Service

It is impossible to work as a medical doctor in Nigeria once one is done with all the academic requirements. This is because everyone that wants to work as a medical doctor in Nigeria will have to go through the year of national service. This is a must for every graduate in Nigeria. This is regardless of where the graduate studied, In Nigeria, or outside Nigeria.

What is the Strength of the Medical Certificate?

Unlike other courses, in medicine and surgery, you cannot graduate with a first-class or a second class. It is either a pass or a fail. If you do not get a pass, then, you cannot work as a medical doctor in Nigeria. However, if you get a pass, then, you are free to practice in hospitals.

In very simple language, your worth as a medical doctor in Nigeria is not dependent on your grades but on how well you can perform.As soon as you are done with your final exam and then, your induction, you will go on to your internship more specifically called housemanship.

This can be done in any hospital you select. However, whatever hospital you decide to do your horsemanship in has to be approved by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. This is very important as only the MDCN can give out the license to practice as a medical doctor in Nigeria.

Surviving as a Medical Doctor in Nigeria

Medical school in Nigeria is not easy. However, even more, difficult is practicing as a medical doctor. In as much as a lot of people know that medical school might not be very easy, a lot of people expect the difficulty to end with medical school. Well, if this is what you assume, then, you are wrong.

Working as a medical doctor is very challenging. So, things could go wrong if you do not have the right level of discipline.

To survive as a medical doctor in Nigeria, you must go to medical school for the right reasons. If you got enrolled in medical school for the wrong reasons, then, you are bound to struggle or you just could end up quitting.

Beyond just being disciplined, you will need a great deal of patience.

What is the Financial Reward of Becoming a Medical Doctor in Nigeria?

Medical doctors in Nigeria are generally known to do well financially. However, if you want to become a medical doctor in Nigeria because you think it will make you rich, you might want to have a rethink.

In as much as you are almost guaranteed a comfortable life if you are a successful medical doctor in Nigeria, you might never get rich as a medical doctor.

If your aim in life is to be rich, then, I will advise you forget about being a medical doctor and probably go into business. The satisfaction of a medical doctor in Nigeria does not come from the financial rewards. It comes from how many lives one is able to save.

What Happens When you Struggle in Medical School

Just like students studying other courses, some medical students just find it very difficult or almost impossible to cope in medical school. This is not the way things should be. However, the struggle through medical school is inevitable for some people.

Medical school is not one people should struggle through. Due to this, people that seem unable to cope will have to end up doing other courses that are related to medicine and surgery. Some of these courses are anatomy, physiology, etc.

Now, having to quit pushing for a career as a medical doctor and settle for anatomy or other related courses is not something anyone that initially got admitted to study medicine and surgery plans for neither is it what they see coming. However, sometimes, it is the only alternative when it appears a student just might be unable to cope.

Is Becoming a Medical Doctor the Ultimate?

For lots of young people, there is an assumption that everything is perfect after they get out of medical school, go through compulsory housemanship, and one year of national service. However, this is not always the case. Nigeria might not have the right number of doctors based on the World Health Organization’s density of medical workers.

Regardless of this, there are lots of unemployed doctors in Nigeria. In as much as there is no perfect explanation for this, lots of people assume things are this way because most doctors want to work in urban areas.

Since several doctors look forward to working in urban areas, there is a huge degree of competition for the available spaces in the urban areas. Simultaneously, the rural areas do not have the right number of doctors.
When Nigerian doctors are unable to get the right job in urban areas, some opt for private practice.

This might seem like the easy way out. However, it is not as easy as people assume. As a matter of fact, it is more difficult than the struggle to get a good job. The major reason for this is the cost of setting up a private clinic.
The challenge of getting a simple job as a medical doctor is not the only challenge that medical doctors in Nigeria have to deal with. There is also the challenge of becoming a specialist.

A lot of medical doctors in Nigeria work towards becoming specialists as this is one way to get a great deal of satisfaction as a medical doctor. However, this is difficult as starting a program that is needed for doctors in Nigeria to specialize is not easy. All things being equal, doctors have to spend a lot on the examinations and the process that leads to this examination.

Materials for this examination are generally known to be expensive. That’s not all. The exams that medical doctors in Nigeria have to go through before they become specialists are not very easy. So, it is associated with a high rate of failure.

In as much as there are several obstacles that doctors looking to become specialists have to go through. Some of them are able to pass their primaries very well and do not struggle to buy materials. However, that is not all. After going through the already mentioned stages, lots of doctors also struggle to get to the right hospital where they can complete their specialist program.

Although the struggle to get the right place for completing a specialist program is difficult, there is more. When a medical doctor in Nigeria finally gets a place to complete their specialist program, going through the process smoothly becomes a major challenge because of regular strikes.


Anyone looking to become a medical doctor in Nigeria has to realize that they will not necessarily get rich because they are medical doctors. Going by this, they must make up their minds on helping humanity before even applying to study medicine. If they fail to do this, they might live a life of complete struggle and also might not get the financial reward they seek.


I am a student with passion and hunger to help individuals and students get more useful, legit, accurate, and up-to-date information by providing them with valuable resources and information.

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