A psychiatry doctor basically diagnose, treat and prevent mental related health conditions. Mental health concerns are typically stigmatized and misunderstood in Nigeria, as they are in many other countries, resulting in a lack of resources and attention to this sector.
Psychiatry Specialization in Nigeria
One important impediment to the growth of psychiatry in Nigeria is a scarcity of educated psychiatrists. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Nigeria has one psychiatrist for every one million inhabitants.
The scarcity of psychiatrists makes it difficult for those suffering from mental illnesses to obtain appropriate treatment and care. Even when they can find a psychiatrist, sometimes the cost of treatment is too high for them.
Another challenge is the lack of awareness about mental health and psychiatry in Nigeria. The government and non-governmental organizations are beginning to recognize the need of directing greater attention and resources on mental health care.
They are also planning initiatives to remove the stigma around mental illness and encourage people to seek treatment when required.
This policy will allow for the development of specialized training programs to train more psychiatrists and mental health professionals, which will increase access to mental health care for Nigerians.
Moreover, the Nigerian psychiatric association is working hard to foster the growth of this specialty. They are working to provide education and support to medical schools, universities, and hospitals to promote psychiatry specialization.
They are also working to create public awareness programs to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
How to become a psychiatrist in Nigeria
To become a psychiatrist in Nigeria, you need to follow these steps:
1. Obtain a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from a Nigerian or international institution with a medical school accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). This should be followed by an internship at a reputable hospital.
2. After completing your MBBS, then, apply and complete the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program.
3. After the NYSC program, you will then need to pass Part I of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) examination or the National Postgraduate Medical College (NPMCN) in Nigeria.
4. Next, you will complete a 4-year residency (post-graduate) training program in psychiatry at an accredited institution.
5. Once you complete your residency training program, you will need to pass the Part II of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) examination in psychiatry, or the National Postgraduate Medical College (NPMCN) examination in psychiatry to attain a fellowship in psychiatry in Nigeria.
6. To operate as a psychiatrist in Nigeria, you would also need to register with the MDCN.
Becoming a psychiatrist in Nigeria requires obtaining an MBBS degree, completing an internship program, passing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), passing the WACP or NPMCN Part I examination, completing a 4-year residency training program, and passing the WACP or NPMCN Part II examination in psychiatry.
Top Nigerian universities that offer specialization program in psychiatry
There are a number of universities in Nigeria that offer postgraduate programs in psychiatry. These are the top Nigerian universities that offer specialization programs in psychiatry:
1. University of Lagos – The department of psychiatry of the University of Lagos offers a residency training program in psychiatry after passing the part I exams of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
2. University of Nigeria, Nsukka – This university offers a postgraduate program in psychiatry after completing the MBBS degree and completing the NYSC program.
3. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – The department of psychiatry of Ahmadu Bello University offers a residency training program in psychiatry after passing part I exams of the National Postgraduate medical college of Nigeria.
4. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife – This university’s department of mental health offers a postgraduate program in psychiatry after completing the MBBS degree and completing the NYSC program.
5. University of Benin – The department of psychiatry of this university offers a residency training program in psychiatry after passing part I exams of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
6. Lagos State University College of Medicine – The department of psychiatry of Lagos State University College of Medicine offers a residency training program in psychiatry after passing the Part I exams of the West African College of Physicians.
7. University of Ilorin – The department of psychiatry of the University of Ilorin offers a residency training program in psychiatry after passing part I exams of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
These are some of the top Nigerian universities that offer specialization programs in psychiatry. It’s important to note that these universities are just a few of the many universities in Nigeria that offer psychiatry specialization programs, and interested candidates should do thorough research to find which universities offer what they need.
Job opportunities for psychiatry doctors in Nigeria
Job opportunities for psychiatrists in Nigeria are quite diverse and include both public and private sector employment. Some of the job opportunities available for psychiatrists in Nigeria include the following:
1. Public Hospitals: Most Nigerian public hospitals, such as teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centers, and State Specialist Hospitals, have psychiatry departments where psychiatrists can work.
Psychiatrists in public hospitals also take part in consultations, research, and teaching.
2. Private Hospitals: Private psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria provide care and treatment for patients with mental illness. Psychiatrists in private hospitals conduct assessments, provide psychotherapy services, prescribe medications, and help in patients’ rehabilitation.
3. NGOs & Mental Health Advocacy Organizations: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Mental Health Foundation Nigeria, the Mental Health and Leadership Initiative, and the Mental Health Advocacy and Awareness Initiative provide mental health assistance and advocacy.
Psychiatrists in these organizations, especially those with specialist expertise, provide clinical care/management, research, training, communications, and advocacy services.
4. Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers: Rehab centers in Nigeria help people who are struggling with various addictions to drugs and alcohol. Psychiatrists in these centers provide assessments, counseling, and therapy with the aim of helping the patients overcome their addiction problems.
5. Private Practice: Many psychiatrists in Nigeria work in private practice. In private practice, psychiatrists offer mental health services, including assessments, therapy services, and medication management to patients seeing a psychiatrist directly.
6. Research: There are many opportunities for psychiatrists in Nigeria to conduct research on mental health issues. Research positions in mental health clinics or academic institutions offer opportunities for psychiatrists to explore new developments in the field, and also contribute to making advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.
There are many job opportunities for psychiatrists in Nigeria, from public to private sectors. Depending on their interest or expertise, psychiatrists can choose from a variety of employment options for a rewarding career in mental health care.
Why chose psychiatry as a career path in Nigeria
Choosing psychiatry as a career path in Nigeria can be highly rewarding. Here are some reasons why someone might choose psychiatry as a career in Nigeria:
1. High Demand: Mental health care in Nigeria is highly underserved, and there is a shortage of trained psychiatrists.
2. High Salary: Psychiatrists in Nigeria are among the highest-paid medical specialists. With the high demand for their services, they are often able to negotiate salaries that are above industry average.
3. Career Flexibility: Psychiatrists can choose to work in different sectors, including the private and public sectors, emergency rooms, teaching hospitals, NGOs, mental health advocacy organizations, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers.
This gives them career flexibility and the ability to explore various areas of interest within the field.
4. Personal Fulfillment: Psychiatry offers the opportunity to help people recover from their mental health problems and lead a better life. Being part of the team that helps these patients recover and get their life back together can be incredibly fulfilling.
5. Mental health awareness: There’s more to know about mental health. Nevertheless, the awareness of the condition is on a significant increase as compared to the previous years.
This means that psychiatrists play a vital role in promoting mental health awareness and reducing stigma surrounding mental illnesses in Nigeria.
Choosing psychiatry as a career path in Nigeria can be rewarding, both professionally and personally. The high demand makes psychiatry a promising field, psychiatrists are among the highest-paid medical specialists, and with career flexibility, they can explore various areas of interest within the field.
Psychiatrists also get the satisfaction of improving people’s lives by helping them recover from their mental health issues, ultimately contributing to the betterment of society.
Mental health care in Nigeria is gradually improving, and psychiatry specialization is becoming increasingly important. You can consider a lucrative career path by subscribing to become another renowned psychiatry specialist.