For the physicians who graduated from Nigerian Universities and are licensed in America and Canada, it is not stretching the truth to stake a claim that Nigeria had done a lot for these doctors. Mostly, they have escaped the crushing load of college debt which, in combination with fluency in English language, enabled many immigrant Nigerian physicians to barrel through the socioeconomic burdens, ascending to the top 1%. For families without this edge, it is often a second generational accomplishment.
Even in Nigeria, doctors and medical students enjoyed a reasonable deference in the status accorded them. In effect, the little they got from this often dysfunctional system is still a lot to be grateful for. It is for this reason and a genuine desire to give back to Nigeria that this piece is attempting to tug on the heart strings of these beneficiaries. To be clear, many individuals and organizations have shown leadership through medical missions, graduate medical pedagogy, update seminars, telemedicine, policy papers, scholarships and community clinics. ANPA in particular has done multiple medical missions, impressive Haiti disaster response, and commendable leadership on Ebola outbreak, supportive Diagnostic/Hospital ventures, teaching missions and clinical fellowship opportunities for residents. These are very commendable efforts, yet not enough. We need to give more, more effectively.
The ultimate end of all we do with ANPA is to give back to our country of training, birth or ancestry. It is also to collaborate and learn from each other while contributing to the community we have adopted as home. To give is not just to abstain from taking, but an active desire to not have so others may get. It goes even beyond this to include sacrifice of comfort, indulgence, safety and sometimes, life. It is an active process of letting go so that another in need may have. It asks us to actively seek out the ones on the receiving end as they may be unaware of its availability or process of acquisition. It is a labor of love for one’s country and for her people because it may never be appreciated. The giving may be money, skills, knowledge or time. Many have given so much to Nigeria and Nigerians and some have argued, somewhat undeserved. In spite of our frustrations we must continue to give. So much was given to us in Nigeria and so many look up to us to give back with more coalescing efforts. Fusion of these efforts is more efficient. Giving more effectively is better than giving more. What we need now is to come together as a band of brothers and sisters.
The very idea of ANPA means that we are already committed to this process. Like snowflakes, the question now arises as to how we can transform this potentially powerful group of competent, skilled, knowledgeable individuals and groups who continue to give, into a snowstorm for greater good. To form such a storm, the fragile flakes must band together. A situation in which only 25 of the potential 500 doctors in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area attend meetings will yield very little. Most national conventions average about 500 participants out of over 5000 physicians. Worse still, a vast reservoir of extremely qualified and accomplished individuals is locked away taking with them their knowledge and wisdom. This approach will not sustain ANPA’s vision of the future. It certainly will not preserve its past. We therefore cannot effectively give, if we do not come together. We cannot meld if we do not organize. We cannot effectively organize if we skip meetings.
We therefore ask that on the next local meeting and in this annual convention, you drag, beg, cajole, entice and drive, talk, and whatever has to be done to swell our numbers so that when we stick together, plan together and work together, then we can win together and celebrate together.
Our greatest accomplishments are in the future, just beyond our sight. See you in Orlando!
Oranudu Ibekie, MD
The United States