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How to become a Medical Doctor in Nigeria

The medical field is arguably the most desired field for most Nigerian students career-wise. Year after year, students throng JAMB offices in Nigeria with medicine and surgery as their preferred course option on their JAMB forms. For some, this choice is fueled by the lucrative nature of the field – medical doctors are after all among the highest paid professionals in the world – while for others, there’s a genuine passion to save lives as doctors.

The competitive nature of the course option, as well as the strictness of the medical profession means that it is usually very difficult to gain admission into Nigeria universities to study medicine and surgery. This has, however, not deterred those who wish to study the course.

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Many students across secondary schools in Nigeria are already gearing up for JAMB registration, where they’ll fill in medicine and surgery as their preferred course option, and follow in the footsteps of those that have gone ahead to study the course before them.

However, there are still some among the crowd of students seeking to study medicine and become doctors who do not really know what is required of them. If you’re one of such students, this article is for you. Here in this article, we’ll give you a thorough breakdown of what is required academically and otherwise in other to become a doctor in Nigeria.

Becoming a doctor in Nigeria – admission requirements

A medical degree is the only thing that qualifies you to operate as a medical doctor in Nigeria and anywhere in world. Getting one is therefore a no-brainer. To do this, you’ll need to go through the education system in Nigeria from kindergarten up to secondary level, then proceed to gain admission into the university.

That is usually where all the hard work begins. Quickly, we’ll take you through the admission requirements you’ll need to meet in order to study medicine and surgery in Nigeria.

  • SSCE and utme – Your journey towards becoming a medical doctor starts with your secondary school education. Your must successfully complete your secondary school education by passing your SSCE examinations (WAEC, NECO, GCE, etcetera) and obtaining the required number of credits in all your relevant subjects. The relevant subjects include; Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. After obtaining your credits in these subjects, the next step is to begin preparations for your UTME. It is important to note that every university across Nigeria has a required UTME cut-off mark for medicine and surgery, with the range being around 300-400, so be ready to put in more than enough work in other to pass your UTME.
  • Gaining admission through direct entry and remedial programme – Aside UTME, you can also gain admission to study medicine in Nigeria through either direct entry or a remedial/pre-degree program. For the direct entry application, you’ll need to have studied a medicine-related course in a polytechnic or any other higher Institution of learning to be offered admission. Also, with direct entry, you’ll be offered admission into 200L rather than 100L. For the remedial programme, you’ll be required to take some prerequisite medical courses and sit for an examination over the course of one year at the university you’re seeking admission into. Once you’ve successfully completed your remedial programme, you’ll be offered admission into the university to study medicine and surgery.

Becoming a doctor in Nigeria – Getting a medical degree

Medicine and surgery in Nigeria is a 6-year degree programme. Over the course of the 6 years, you’ll be taking various courses that are relevant to the medical field. You’re required to pass all your courses successfully before you’ll be awarded your degree and operational licence. Quickly, we’ll brief you on the entire 6-year study period you’ll be going through, as well as the courses you’ll be offering as a medical student in the university.

  • First year (100L) coursework – Usually, in your first year, you’ll be taking courses that are more or less a reminder of some of the stuff you did in secondary school, plus some added workload. You’ll take courses in chemistry, biology, physics, zoology, mathematics, and GST (General studies). There will also be separate practical courses in chemistry, physics, and biology. You’ll be required to take and pass exams in each of these courses. If you should fail any of the courses, you’ll be required to repeat your entire first year. That is, while your mates will move on to 200L, you’ll remain in your first year and resit for the course you failed. This is very different from what happens in other course options where you’ll move on to the next year/level, but come back to resit for the course you failed as a carryover. In your first year as a medicine student, there are no carryovers. If you fail a course, you repeat the entire year.


  • Pre-clinical period (200L-300L) – After passing your first year, you’ll move to your 200L, which is usually referred to as the pre-clinical period (200L – 300L). Here, you’ll be taking purely medical courses in anatomy, embryology, histology, physiology, biochemistry, and community medicine. You’ll also take practical classes in gross anatomy where you’ll be required to perform dissections on cadavers. The purpose of these courses is to educate you on the normal body functions of the human body. You’ll not be required to sit for any examination in your second year, although there will be a series of tests. Your next examination will come after the pre-clinical period in your 300L. This examination will also be your first professional exam. It is called the second M.B.B.S professional examination, and is a combination of all you’ve done during your pre-clinical period from 200L-300L. Once you’ve successfully passed this exam, you’ll move to your 400L where you’ll begin clinical activities.


  • Clinical period (400L-600L) – From your fourth year to your sixth year, you’ll be dealing with clinical activities, and lectures at this stage usually hold in the teaching hospital of the university. In your 400L, you’ll be taking courses in pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, and medicine and surgery. After your fourth year, you’ll be required to sit for your third M.B.B.S examination before you’ll move to your 500L. In your 500L, you’ll be taking courses in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, and community medicine. Under community medicine, you’ll be required to write a medical project on any topic of your choice, as well as carry out a field operation. After this, you’ll then sit for your fourth M.B.B.S examination. After your fourth M.B.B.S examination, you’ll proceed to your sixth and last year in the university. Here, the only coursework you’ll be doing will be in medicine and surgery. Under this course, you’ll be required to clerk a patient, perform examinations and certain laboratory investigations on the patient, as well as prescribe possible treatment(s) to whatever ailment you diagnose. You’ll also be sitting for your fifth and final M.B.B.S examination at the end of the academic year. Once you’ve successfully passed this examination, you’ll be awarded an M.B.B.S degree (Bachelor of medicine, Bachelor of surgery), as well as be inducted into the medical profession and given a licence to operate as a doctor in Nigeria and anywhere in the world. The M.B.B.S degree is equivalent to a Master’s degree in Nigeria. Also, since medical schools do not use Grade points, there are no First Class, Second Class, or Third Class degrees awarded in medicine. All students who successfully pass out from medical schools in Nigeria are awarded the same degree. Once you have successfully completed your 6-year degree program, you can now proceed to your internship at any MCDN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) hospital of your choice.


The medical profession is a very noble one. Doctors across the world are tasked with the burden of saving lines and ensuring the healthy well-being of citizens in their various countries. The work they’re saddled with is the reason they’re highly respected and valued. Becoming a doctor is however not an easy task. The long duration of study, the numerous exams, and the bulky workload across the 6-year period makes the period of study anything but easy. However, it is still worth it. If you desire to be a doctor in Nigeria, we hope this article has been able to brief you about all you need to achieve your dream.  Let us know in the comment section.

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Adams Victor

Adams Victor is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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