My background training was in Cardiothoracic and Vascular surgery which I completed in October 2008. Vascular surgery is not yet an independent specialty in Nigeria and therefore the training I received seemed not adequate by my own assessment. Following my appointment as a Consultant at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan in 2009, I have been engaged in clinical care of patients with vascular and cardiothoracic diseases including abdominal and peripheral aneurysms repairs, surgeries on patients with arteriovenous malformations and peripheral vascular trauma regularly. I also teach medical students on vascular diseases as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan. I was therefore looking for opportunities to improve myself. I was elated when I saw the ChM in Vascular and Endovascular surgery on the list of sponsored Online programmes by the Commonwealth Online scholarships. So, I found out more about the programme and was convinced it was the ideal step for me in my professional development.
It has been a tremendous valuable learning experience while working. The advantages included an opportunity to learn at my own pace and its flexibility. It was a big help as an adult learner coping normally with pressures in healthcare and competing demands of clinical, leadership and management needs coupled with clinical service delivery loads.
The programme has been professionally enriching to me; though, it was quite busy with six boards in the first semester of year 1 covering a very wide area of vascular surgery. The challenge also included the need to base each question on current best evidence helping to ensure I am up to date in a very dynamic field. I was motivated by the availability of study materials on the bookshelf provided by VascSURG platform and the rich university library. I was able to update myself and utilize the skills and knowledge gained from the courses in my practice as a surgeon and a boost to teaching students and residents. We learn better when we also teach. The abundant opportunities to apply real time, concepts including evidence-based vascular surgical practice, and skills gained from ongoing courses at work was a big morale booster to me. I was determined to keep on pushing hard to maximise the opportunity presented by the Commonwealth sponsorship and it was therefore a massive bonus when I received my scores at the end of the year 1 and especially the following commendation from the academic eFacilitator:
“Congratulations on achieving the highest End of Year 1 score across all cohorts! The Board of Examiners were very pleased with your performance as our Commonwealth Scholar.”
I also benefitted immensely from the reflective portfolio part of the course which is now a regular part of my professional development. The art of writing down my reflections with a structure gained from the course has helped me to clarify my thinking and bring out lessons for continuous improvement as a professional. Further, we also treated non-technical skills for surgeons as a course and made reference to it at various stages of the course and this has enabled me to understand and gained valuable soft skills which go a long way to define successful outcome for our surgical patients and team work. My final project work and the associated critical appraisal course work has also improved my research and academic writing skills.
The Commonwealth Online Scholarship has been a big boost to my career across all facets: provision of more evidence-based surgical practice, teaching and research. It is clearly beneficial to a busy professional like me who needs to work and still upgrade knowledge.
Having gained a lot from the excellent institutional support provided by the Edinburgh online education platform, I feel more confident and empowered in my practice of vascular and endovascular surgery. I also hope to use this experience to promote online education at my local institution.
Thank you, Commonwealth scholarship commission, and Edinburgh Online!