How can a Medical Laboratory Scientist become a Medical Doctor in Nigeria

We have come across several cases whereby students were admitted into university programs different from what they initially applied for. This is a very common practice amongst highly competitive universities and courses in Nigeria. For example, it will take a whole lot of work to get into schools like UNILAG, UI, and OAU, due to the high competition. 

Another factor that makes these institutions harder to get into is the program you are interested in. Programs like Engineering, Law, Medicine & Surgery come with a very high competition with very limited slots available. Before you can get admitted into programs like this, you must beat your competitors at UTME and Post UTME to boost your chances.

For example, if you want to secure admission for Medicine & Surgery into any of the Federal universities listed above, you should have a UTME score of around 300 to be able to compete better. Asides from the UTME score, your Post UTME score must also be on the high side to complement it better. On average, you should total 80% to gain admission to an MBBS program.

If you are unable to meet the required cut-off mark for Medicine & Surgery in the university you have selected, it is safer to switch to a medical-related program like Medical Laboratory Science, Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, or Pharmacology, amongst others. These programs are less competitive, boosting your chances of securing admission into them.

In some cases, the university will change the program on your behalf if you do not meet the required cut-off mark. Medical Laboratory Science is the most common course given to such applicants. Although it might be discouraging to be given a course different from what you have chosen, it does not stop your dream of being a medical doctor.

Did you know that it is very possible to become a medical doctor with your Medical Laboratory Science degree? Just in case you are interested, this article will show you how a medical laboratory scientist can become a medical doctor in Nigeria. However, it is important that we fully understand both terms.

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Who is a Medical Laboratory Scientist?

Sometimes referred to as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS), or a Medical Technologist (MT), a medical laboratory scientist is responsible for performing diagnostic testing of blood and body fluids in clinical laboratories. You can become a medical laboratory scientist by applying for the program at any tertiary institution. 

The program, Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) is not only offered in universities but is also common in polytechnics. Thousands of those who graduate from the program every year come out of polytechnics. Whether you train at a polytechnic or university, your roles will be the same, except for some minor differences.

In a polytechnic, it’ll take just three years to obtain a National Diploma (ND) in Medical Laboratory Science. However, it will take four years to obtain a first degree in Medical Laboratory Science (Microbiology) at a university. You can opt for whichever option suits you best.


Who is a Medical Doctor?

A medical doctor is simply a health professional who practices medicine, concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. 

Although both medical laboratory scientists and medical doctors are medically related, they will undergo different training to work. This is the reason a medical laboratory scientist can never work as a medical doctor unless they get the required training. Let’s see a possible answer to the question “How can a Medical Laboratory Scientist become a Medical Doctor in Nigeria?”


The process to become a Medical doctor as a Medical laboratory scientist  

As I mentioned earlier, a medical laboratory scientist can become a medical doctor. However, there are processes you must follow carefully. To become a medical doctor with a Medical Laboratory Science certificate, there are two options for you;

  • Applying for Direct Entry
  • Rewriting UTME for Medicine and Surgery


Applying for Direct Entry

Direct Entry is a very common procedure amongst Diploma holders who wish to get admitted into any university in Nigeria. However, degree holders can also make use of this method if they wish to apply for a different program at the university. The condition is that both programs must be similar.

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That being said, it is very possible to apply for Direct Entry into a Medicine & Surgery program in any University in Nigeria with the first degree in a related field like Medical Laboratory Science, Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, etc. By applying for Direct Entry, you will be admitted into the 200 Level for your preferred program. 

Direct Entry is conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and allows both Diploma and degree holders to enter the university while skipping the first year. Do you wish to know how to apply for JAMB Direct Entry? If yes, you should see this.

  • Go to the JAMB Registration Portal
  • Obtain the Direct Entry form
  • Fill out the form and make copies. You will be asked to submit a copy to JAMB and keep the rest for yourself
  • Visit the school you are applying to and submit a copy of your form to them. Remember to ask if they also sell Direct Entry Forms (This is very important).
  • If the school sells its Direct Entry form, make sure you purchase and fill it too
  • Wait for admission

Just like UTME, there are limited slots for Direct Entry students, especially in competitive courses like Medicine & Surgery. Depending on the school you choose, there might be only an average of five Direct Entry slots for the program. This is where it becomes very hard to get admitted.

If you are interested in getting in for Medicine & Surgery via Direct Entry, ensure you have an upper credit in Medical Laboratory Science or a first class in Microbiology. This will boost your chances of securing admission in any Nigerian university.


Rewriting UTME for Medicine & Surgery

Sometimes, the better option is to rewrite UTME and forget about your Medical Laboratory Science or Microbiology degree. Although this is slower, it is safer since you have better chances of entering Medicine & Surgery from scratch. Let’s see how it works.

  • Get the UTME form as soon as it is out
  • Fill out the form and include the necessary information. Ensure you fill out for Medicine & Surgery
  • Print out your copy
  • Before the exam date, you will be asked to make a new print out which would be required for entry on the day of the examination. Print the form and make sure you have more than two copies
  • Write your UTME and Post UTME and wait for admission
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Final Words On becoming a Medical Doctor from Medical Laboratory scientist background

Some people might ask if it is possible to apply for UTME and Direct Entry at the same time to further boost your chances of admission. Unfortunately, this is illegal and is considered double registration. If you believe you have better chances with UTME, then go for it. If you believe DE is better, go for it. In all, there is no simpler answer to the “How can a Medical Laboratory Scientist become a Medical Doctor in Nigeria?” Question. I am sure even your career consultants would offer this same advise 

It would be very bad to jeopardize your chances of admission through this singular act of double registration. If you are lucky enough to get admitted, ensure you put in a lot of work in the program as Medicine requires hard work. It might be easier for you since you already have experience in a similar discipline.

However, it would still need that effort as a newbie in the medical space. Medicine & Surgery takes six years of university training and one year of internship to become a medical doctor. After this, you can now be called a Medical laboratory scientist as well as a Medical doctor.


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