How Nigerians can stay safe from COVID-19 pandemic – Dr. Godwin Iheme
Can we get to meet you? Please tell us about your background
My name is Dr Godwin Onyegbere Iheme. I am a medical doctor with experience in occupational medicine, emergency medicine, and infectious disease management. After my housemanship at the University College Hospital, Ibadan in 2008, I proceeded for my youth service in Rivers state. I later worked in several hospitals before going into the oil and gas industry where I worked for International SOS and other companies. I worked on jack-up rigs, drillship, semi-submersible rigs, ROV marine vessels in several locations in Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Principle, and Sao Tome and Principe for about 10 years. I have also been a front liner in the fight against COVID-19.
I started my education at Estate Nursery School, Ilupeju, Lagos then proceeded to Community Primary school, Ilupeju. I began my secondary education at Federal Government College Ikot Ekpene in 1991 and passed my Senior Secondary certificate examination with 7As and 1 C in 1996. I then gained admission at the University of Benin to study Medicine and Surgery and graduated in January 2007. I have a Distinction in NEBOSH, UK, also a certificate in Leadership and Health Management from the University of Washington, USA.
I am from Egbu town, Owerri North Local Government of Imo State.
How did the idea of becoming a Medic come about?
I had always had that passion to render help to people. My mum of blessed memory who was a nurse and my elder brother who is also a doctor inspired me greatly.
What was your key driving force to becoming a doctor?
The never-give-up mentality. There were challenges on the path to my dream but I knew I had to be focused to get to my goal.
How did you raise funding for your venture?
My family has also been my pillar of strength, my lovely wife and my daughters. With God on our side, my late parents were always there for me, my siblings were very supportive too.
What piece of advice would you give to students who want to become a doctor?
My advice to students aspiring to be doctors is to know it’s not a smooth ride. Therefore, they need to be hardworking, resilient and have a never-give-up mentality. There are times when things might not go the way you expect but be consistent and keep moving ahead.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Apart from my clinical skills, I would sharpen my entrepreneurial skills. It makes you a better, more comfortable doctor.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful Doctor?
Communication skills, time management, and empathy
What professional tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
I have learned to always communicate properly with patients. I believe nobody can take of yourself as you, therefore the patient has an integral role in his or her clinical management. You must let patients know medications, why you are prescribing, and how they work. This would help better compliance. When I arrive at my workplace, I endeavor to clear any outstanding issues and it makes me focused for the rest of the day. It’s also important to document and escalate issues when necessary.
What key activities would you recommend medical professionals invest their time in?
Doctors should always think outside the box. They should not always be medically informed but socially, politically, and economically. I would suggest entrepreneurial skills, attend business seminars, read newspapers and magazines. They to know the trend of things in the country. Engage in sporting activities. Lastly, spend quality time with your family out of your busy schedule because they pay a lot of sacrifices while you are away at work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted a lot of activities in Nigeria amidst other complications. Is there any foreseeable end to this pandemic?
The threat of the pandemic has been experienced all over the world. we have to start living our lives intentionally and maintain optimistic activities. To win the fight against the pandemic, we have to continue washing our hands, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance, avoiding touching the mouth, nose, or eyes, avoiding crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, especially where people are talking, going to get tested if one develops symptoms and isolating if one becomes positive.
Most importantly, getting vaccinated; Vaccination would give a very high degree of protection against the virus. to protecting ourselves.