A Review of the New Dispensation Tenure; The Office of the Special Duties Officer (Preclinicals)

For many who were excited by the thought that for the first time in history, UIMSA would have an all-female executive council, Mr Folusho Olu-Adegbola must have been a massive spoiler (at the start of the tenure, before another male executive joined the council) but the blessed-amongst-women has become truly loved and recognized by the populace, evident through his bagging the Executive of the Year award at the UIMSA Awards Night despite being an office holder for the first time.

The struggle for this particular post started in 2022 with three other aspirants from the 200-level constituency. After having gone through the publicity process, the Press Night, Manifesto Night and the election proper, Mr Folusho emerged victorious and was sworn in on Saturday, the 7th of May 2022 as the Special Duties Officer (Preclinical).

This official’s constitutional duties include serving as Secretary of the Academic Committee and organizing an orientation for new preclinical students as well as freshers. He is also expected to come up with projects and activities that will further the goals of the Association.

According to Mr Folusho, the nationwide strike that accompanied the start of the tenure made the job quite easy to fully focus on SDO duties and the support he received from other members of the executive council ensured he had a seamless journey. He stated that the hardest part of holding this office for him was trying to balance duties with academics and other extracurricular activities as one had to make way for another overtime.

Now It is May again, the end of the tenure and a time to reflect and hold leaders accountable. In this article, I will be doing three things: jogging your memory and giving you a closer look into the SDO Preclinicals’ tenure using his manifesto, tagged ‘Ligature’ and his account of stewardship earlier presented to the Senate, assessing how effective he was constitutionally as well as in accordance with his campaign promises – or not, and determining if truly the manifestation matches the word on the street.

Constitutional Duties

As is required, he served as Secretary of the UIMSA Academic Committee. He also conducted an election for the 100-level constituency to co-opt three members into the Senate and elect a majority leader.

200-level Preclinical Orientation

This program was themed Metamorphosis: Becoming a Stellar Medical Student and it was held on the 12th of November, 2022. The speakers talked about getting distinctions, navigating relationships, and handling extracurriculars. It was confirmed from a participant that the event started a bit later than scheduled due to lateness on the part of class members but still met his expectations just as advertised.

Fresher’s Welcome/Orientation

The event was held late in the tenure, on November 25th and 26th, 2022, and was tagged “C’est la Vie: It is the life”. It was a 2-day program consisting of a football match and the main event which included talks and various games. In his manifesto, the SDO said he would organize a female football/volleyball/basketball game to ensure female inclusion depending on the availability of a team. There eventually was no female sporting event reported that day and when asked why, he said the reason females couldn’t participate in the sports events was actually due to the unavailability of a female sports team for all of the games and not a failing on his part. Regardless, at the end of it all, participants stated the event was fun, insightful, and met their expectations.


Mental Health Talk

The program was slated to hold on World Mental Health Day, the 10th of October, 2022 but due to the Industrial strike action, the program could not hold and was also not rescheduled by the SDO to the disappointment of UIMSAites. Upon further questioning concerning why the event was not rescheduled, he explained that the event was meant to be a collaborative effort among himself, the Vice President and Asido Foundation. He stated there were efforts to make it a virtual event but due to the drastic reduction in the participation of UIMSAites in virtual programs up until that point caused by ‘virtual program fatigue’, the program being virtual was decided against. He added that after the strike, the lineup of events up until the Health Week also hampered the rescheduling of the program.

The Ligature Project

The project aimed to create opportunities for UIMSAites in career and personal development through exposure to UIMSAites who are thriving in various fields. The plan involved a three-step approach:

1. Interviews and making copies available to UIMSAites.

2. Virtual sessions between these persons and UIMSAites.

3. Monthly sharing of opportunities tailored to each class.

The expectations of many UIMSAites of what this compelling project would bring were dashed as it never came to fruition. This project was meant to be the keystone of ‘Ligature’ and it was quite disappointing that not even one step made it out of pen and paper. The SDO linked his default to the interruption caused by the eight-month-long industrial strike action. He admitted that he could have kick-started it after launching the mentorship scheme but it was at the time participation of UIMSAites in virtual programs drastically reduced. However, he has promised to work with his successor to ensure its rebirth and completion in the next tenure.

Peer-Assisted Physics Practical Tutorials (PAPPT)

This innovation made his tenure stand out. It was a session spanning three days, from the 1st to the 3rd of June with two experiments carried out per day by tutors who volunteered from the 300-level class. The aim was to put an end to the longstanding issue of low grades in PHY118. It now serves as a reference for the 100-level constituency as well as students from other departments. A 100-level student said he held the tutorial like a prized possession, making sure he watched the videos before each practical. Another said he didn’t know if he’d have made it on his own due to the long strike period; It was a real lifesaver.

Revival of the UIMSA Mentorship Program

Initially established by Mr Ikponmwosa Ebengho in 2018, (three tenures ago) the mentorship program is a vital part of ensuring progress and support systems in medical school. However, from the onset, there had been an imbalance in the ratio of mentor to mentee so much so that the initiative could not run at all during the last tenure. This time around, there was a total of two hundred and five applications, with a 1:1 ratio of mentors and mentees, plus three extra mentors on standby. Matching was based on both parties having at least two common interests. The program also included new extracurriculars such as forex trading. A virtual orientation was held on the 23rd of July with the theme, ‘Building and ideal mentor-mentee relationship’; it received a high turnout from UIMSAites. Along the line, however, the SDO stated that there were difficulties maintaining this mentor-mentee relationship and the follow-up monthly evaluation entered a state of gradual decline as it kept receiving low responses.

MB Talk 2k23

Organized for the 300-level class, this program was themed ‘A guide to acing MB1’. It was a three-hour long event held on the 14th of January, 2023, having two students and a lecturer from the Anatomy Department speaking to the intending crossers. They spoke about Dos and Don’ts, time management, and what to expect from examiners. All in all, it was very helpful, impactful and timely. The SDO recommended that as opposed to having just one lecturer speak, his successor should have lecturers from all three departments speak during the event. When asked why he wasn’t able to invite three lecturers himself, he responded by saying that what was customary was inviting high-flying seniors to speak and his addition of a lecturer was only a welcome development.

In conclusion, it was a tenure full of ups, downs and major wins with most of the shortcomings at the beginning of the tenure having the strike to blame. Regardless, it is safe to say that Mr SDO performed satisfactorily. And with his successful innovation and excellent but uncompleted plans, the coming fight for this seat will be tough as UIMSAites will be expecting the office to receive much better hands. Indeed, we have come to the terminus of the ‘New dispensation’ train and those who wanted an all-female executive council (including myself) can acknowledge that gender preferences matter less compared to what is eventually brought to the table. Record-breaking will just have to wait till the coming elections. May the best men and/or women win.

Osaretin Vanessa Ehiorobo

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