11 Things You Really Need To Know Before Starting Housemanship



Do you sometimes wonder what the housemanship year looks like for a medical doctor?

Life, they say, is in phases. This applies to virtually everything, including the life of a medical student. You will not be a medical student forever.

One day you will eventually graduate and become a medical doctor.

When you graduate, you need to move on to the next phase, which happens to be the Housemanship.

In this blog post, we are going to be looking at 11 important things you need to know before commencing your Housemanship training program.

1) What is housemanship?

Before starting something, you really need to know what it’s all about.

As a potential Housemanship candidate, you need to be able to answer the above question.

The Housemanship, in a nutshell, is a one year program in which newly qualified medical doctors are attached to a hospital and undergo training in different core departments.

At the end of the day, the idea is to get better in terms of skills and in terms of being fully grounded with the basics of the medical practice.

2) Why should you embark on Housemanship?

Like earlier stated, the Housemanship is a bridging gap between a medical student and a doctor. When you’re in medical school, you’re going to learn so many things.

However, you may not be allowed to practice everything you learn on real human patients.

You also have limited access to patients.

However, this all changes when you commence your Housemanship.

The Housemanship program is meant to introduce you to the basics of the medical profession and practice under supervision and guidance.

This brings a form of protection and a secure environment for you to hone your skills and develop so that after the program you can have or attain a level of confidence needed as a medical doctor.

This is why every newly qualified medical doctor should embark on this Housemanship program.

3) When do you embark on Housemanship?

There is timing for everything. This is the same as for Housemanship.

Housemanship program cannot, for instance, be embarked upon by a 400 level medical student or a medical student that has not yet graduated.

You embark on Housemanship immediately after graduating from medical school and receiving your license as a medical practitioner.

In Nigeria, for instance, you first of all issued a provisional license. Provisional means you are still limited in what you do, and you’re still required to be under supervision.

You cannot just move out on your own and begin to practice anywhere or anyhow.

4) How long is the Housemanship program?

Housemanship lasts for one year in most countries where it is practiced.

In Nigeria, for instance, it is supposed to be a twelve months program of unbroken clinical rotations.

You move through four core departments in the hospital. These departments are namely: Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Internal Medicine and Surgery.

In each of these departments, you’re going to spend three months.

Within these three months, you’ll be placed in a unit or units, and you’ll be expected to familiarize yourself with all the units and participate actively in all the unit activities.

These include ward rounds, clinics and other departmental activities like seminars, case presentations, journal clubs, discussions and so on.

You may also have medical students who are doing their clinical rotations in the unit at that time, and as their next senior colleague, you also need to be responsible for them in some extent in terms of teaching them.

Remember that in some institutions, house officers are also paid teaching allowance.

After the one year is completed, you can now be signed off and that marks the end of your Housemanship program.

5) How do you apply for Housemanship?

To apply for Housemanship in Nigeria, you need to do that through the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

Previously, House officers used to go to different hospitals for interviews, and successful candidates are admitted into the program of the Housemanship program by the hospital.

However, this has changed as the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria has introduced a Central House Officer Management System.

What happens in this process is that you now go online to their website and look for hospitals that have been recommended to admit doctors for the Housemanship.

When you get there, you look out for hospitals that have vacancies at the moment. You also see the number of spaces or vacancies available in those hospitals. You then apply.

This application is processed through the Medical and Dental Council. So you need to go to their website to do all that when after application and doing everything that is required.

When your application becomes successful, you’re issued an appointment letter.

From there, you need to proceed to that institution in order to complete your documentation and commence immediately as a House officer.

6) What are the hospitals for Housemanship?

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria maintains a list of eligible hospitals for Housemanship program.

These hospitals are the ones that have met the accreditation requirements of the Council.

It is important before you commence the Housemanship program to check with the council for the latest information as regards hospitals that you can do your Housemanship program in.

7) Who will you work with during the Housemanship year?

During the Housemanship program, you are the most junior doctor in the unit. You are going to work in a unit with other doctors who are senior to you.

This includes the residents (Junior Registrars and Senior Registrars), Fellows, and the unit Consultants.

You will also work with other healthcare professionals such as the nurses.

As a clinician, you have patients in the wards who are on admission.

You need to go and see them and interact with them and carry out the instructions of your seniors when they come for their ward rounds.

You are going to come in contact with every kind of staff while working as a house officer.

This is where you need to develop some skills.

We’ve discussed in an earlier blog post the skills are going to help you during your housemanship program.

8) Can you do your housemanship in a private hospital?

Some people may prefer not to do a housemanship in public hospital or teaching hospital.

Generally in Nigeria, most of the hospitals where you can do your housemanship are the federal teaching hospitals, state teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres, and some general hospitals.

In some cases, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria has also approved some private hospitals as qualified to provide housemanship opportunities for new doctors.

Take note that in order to qualify as a center for housemanship, these hospitals have to meet different criteria or requirements.

One of these requirements will be that they will have a structure whereby you can rotate through the four core departments earlier mentioned.

Any hospital that does not have such arrangements in place will obviously not be able to offer housemanship opportunities to new doctors.

There are also other requirements for housemanship approval for a hospital as listed by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

9) Is housemanship compulsory in Nigeria?

In order to continue practicing as a medical doctor in Nigeria, you need to do your housemanship.

In fact, in order to get your full registration certificate in Nigeria as a medical doctor, there is no other way around it except completing your housemanship program.

This is because as a newly qualified medical doctor, you are issued only a provisional license. This has its own limitations.

However, to be able to fully practice without restrictions, you need to have your full registration license. This can only be gotten after you have successfully completed your housemanship.

In fact, you cannot proceed to apply for a full license if you have not completed your housemanship program.

Yes, housemanship is compulsory in Nigeria. If you do not do your housemanship, you’re going to have problems or difficulties working as a doctor in Nigeria.

Apart from government hospitals, many private hospitals will not employ a doctor with just a provisional medical license.

10) Is housemanship the same as residency?

No. Housemanship is very different from residency.

In housemanship, you’re a new doctor and you’re trying to get confidence to practice.

You’re trying to learn the basics of the profession. You are trying to hone your skills.

You are trying to do all this under supervision of other senior members of the unit, after which you can stand and practice on your own in any part of the country.

However, as a resident doctor, you’re training to be a specialist or consultant in a particular aspect of the medical practice.

Residency is a longer process than housemanship and it’s more rigorous and thorough.

There are also more responsibilities and expectations of residents than house officers.

The pay, of course, is higher for residents than house officers.

11) Do house officers get paid?

Yes, house officers are paid. This is because they are qualified doctors.

Like every other doctor, house officers also have their roles and responsibilities in patient management.

As much as they can be called baby doctors, junior doctors, or different other names, but they are still real doctors.

House officers are paid for the work they do, just like every other doctor.

Wrapping Up

We’ve seen the important things you need to know before starting your housemanship. Which of these points do you find most interesting? Are you already doing your housemanship?

How has the experience been? Are you about to do your housemanship? How are you preparing for this?


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