Studying Pharmacy in Nigeria: Making it a Blessing, not a Burden

Obiakor Adanna
Studying in Nigeria is discouraging, however getting a pharmacy degree in the motherland can be hellish. I knew I wanted to be a health professional, yet I dreaded being in a hospital space, so I chose pharmacy instead. Having gotten a Pharmacy degree from one of the most prestigious universities in Nigeria, I’ve seen the nook and crannies of attending a Nigerian university to study a professional course.

In the first two years of pharmacy school, being in a new environment with all the stress, I was muddle-headed. But these experiences have helped me devise principal points that can help one attain a good fit for pharmacy school in Nigeria. My four key pieces of advice are:
  1. Choose a good pharmacy school.
  2. Don’t lose focus.
  3. Time management is the key.
  4. Protect your mental health.

1. Choose a good pharmacy school

Before now, pharmacists graduated with a B. Pharm certificate, which was a problem for those who wanted to travel abroad to further their studies or work. In 2016, PSN (Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria) introduced the Pharm D curriculum with more clinical exposure. When choosing a pharmacy school in Nigeria, it is essential to choose from schools that offer the Pharm D curriculum. There are schools like:  

  • The University of Nigeria. 
  • The University of Benin. 
  • The Bayero University, Kano. 
  • The University of Jos. 
  • The University of Ibadan. 
  • The University of Ilorin and others.

These schools are the top-ranking pharmacy schools in educational management and facilities. The cost of attending a federal university is less than the cost of attending a state or private university in Nigeria.

2. Don’t lose focus

Beyond the prestige and respect attached to the profession, pharmacy is not the regular all-fun course. The health and well-being of the world is on our shoulders. Studying pharmacy in Nigeria is not a gift given on a platter, not in a country like ours. Unlike in several other countries, getting admission into pharmacy school can be an actual struggle in Nigeria.  

The first step is preparing for and writing the JAMB examination (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board). Jamb records many casualties yearly because of the difficulty. The trick to writing the Jamb exams is paying attention to the prerequisite subjects needed for your course in the university.

I wrote the Jamb exam for three years before making the cut-off mark for my school of choice. Many students don’t make the cut, which can be heartbreaking. However, let’s talk about what happens when you have made the cut-off mark for Jamb.

Next is the Post UTME, an exam you write in the school of your choice. Writing the post UTME can be hard or easy, depending on how prepared you are. Past questions are always available and easily accessible for those who need them at an affordable price.

Finally, the list comes out, and hopefully you make it. I vividly remember what it felt like to see my name on the list of successful candidates. It was divine.

The university is a community for all, with lots of activities, mindsets, and people from different ethnicities and cultures. Distractions that come with the university environment can be so overwhelming that you can lose focus. But always remember, you didn’t get this course on a platter, so you must fight to the finish when studying pharmacy in Nigeria.

3. Time management is the Key

In the university, you are in absolute control of your time. If you manage your time as you should, you’ll excel. There should be time for everything, with ample study time, because that’s the goal.

The fact is, I wasn’t a pro at time management, and this wasn’t pleasant for my second year. Being an artistic girl, I used to sing, write songs, edit videos for fun, take pictures, and write articles, and I was a pharmacy student. I never knew situations like this could make a student fall into a relapse; you end up dropping that part of you and choosing the course. I didn’t manage my time efficiently, and my first professional exam had to suffer for my deficiency. At last, I learned from my failure how to manage my time. The very moment I mastered that, I never failed again.

Make use of time management apps when studying pharmacy in Nigeria and have a scheduled time for all activities. It might all seem like jargon at first, but with time, it’ll make sense.

4. Protect your mental health

Honestly, the stress in pharmacy school can break you down because there is always a lot going on; lectures, practicals, lab workbooks to fill out, impromptu tests, and exams. My fourth year was a struggle, with plenty of workloads for the semester. My friends came to my dorm to cry for a couple of minutes, and then we retired to our studies.

When studying pharmacy in Nigeria, to be in the best mood and not break down, avoid putting so much pressure on yourself, and unwind between preparations. If you feel overwhelmed by the stress and struggle, try to ease off by doing something other than school work.

They built the Nigerian educational system in a way that you have less time for yourself and more time for your books only. Make use of any time you have as a pharmacy student, forbid procrastination and have a life outside of being a student.  

My final thoughts

Pharmacy is still one of the top professions in Nigeria. Unlike our medical counterparts confined to hospital space 247, we have other wings of pharmacy. If clinical practice isn’t your thing, you can go for:

  • Community practice
  • Industrial practice
  • Administrative practice
  • Sales
  • Tech
  • Research
  • Government/NGO
  • Entrepreneur
  • Drug safety officer and so on

These and more are roles a pharmacist can take up other than being in the hospital at all times.

I’m a locum community pharmacist and have a very flexible work shift. My shift allows me to incorporate other things, such as being a freelancer and taking care of myself.

The salary earned by a pharmacist in Nigeria is one unresolved issue. Although some establishments pay their pharmacists well, others pay the pharmacists a minuscule amount with excess workloads. Groups like the PSN-YPG (pharmaceutical society Of Nigeria Young Pharmacist group) educate young pharmacists not to accept such payments that belittle the profession.

One thing I also enjoy as a pharmacist in Nigeria is the close netted relationship all pharmacists have. We can identify senior colleagues in case help is required at any point.  

The key to being successful when studying pharmacy in Nigeria lies in the zeal and willingness of the scholar.

Obiakor Adanna

Obiakor Adanna graduated from the University of Nigeria with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. Currently, she works as an Intern pharmacist in a community pharmacy while being a freelancer. She takes photos, reads and writes for fun. Contact her through Linkedin and Upwork.
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