I was sorely tempted to title this post, “How to make a N100,000 during NYSC” but that would have been a click-bait title. Although in all fairness that’s majorly what this post is about.
I’m aware that there has been a lot of campaign for the government to get rid of the NYSC¹ programme. While that hasn’t happened yet, I felt, it would be a good idea to share my successful NYSC experience. This will be for the benefit of younger vets out there. Some of whom are yet to serve and others undergoing the experience now.
I understand that success means various things to different people. In this post, I’ll be referring to success in mostly monetary terms.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND STORY
The right way to probably start this piece will be to give a little background story to my service year experience. I was drafted off to serve my country, Nigeria, in 2013 after 6 years and some months of studying veterinary medicine at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
In those days, (I can’t believe I am referring to 2013 as those days, but things have really changed technologically-wise since then), The Draft List was usually pasted on a board around Admins (Administrative Building). I was drafted to go with Batch A. That year, the list was pasted very late at night and I was far away at home. Thanks to Facebook, I found out and asked a friend and classmate to help me check what state I was posted to. As with most people I had previously arranged (although unpaid) to be posted to Ogun State. I didn’t want to go far from home (Ibadan) besides, Ogun state was paying MSS²- Medical Salary Scale. It wasn’t much (about 50k) but it was ok for me.
So, you can imagine my shock when my friend Paul called me 5am the next morning to tell me I had been posted to Bayelsa. Bayelsa ke? I was stunned. I didn’t even know where Bayelsa was on the map of Nigeria (even though the then-president was from that state). My mum and siblings strangely enough had peace about it. All the same, I was determined to go to school as soon as possible to see for myself. And off I went.
When I got to school, it was the same Bayelsa I saw staring at me from that board. I even tried to trace the line with my hand to be sure there wasn’t a mix-up with the persons before and after me, it was still Bayelsa. Furthermore, asking colleagues about Bayelsa, particularly about MSS (as not all states paid it) didn’t yield any positive results. That was a major concern for me oh, I won’t lie. After 6 stressful years of vet school, it’s important to have some sort of financial reward, abeg.
I finally prepared (mentally, financially and materially) and headed to Bayelsa. I still had no idea if the state paid MSS. The game-changer was the peace I had about serving there (which was important to me). It wasn’t until I got to camp and met other vets that I found out that Bayelsa State paid 75,000 naira. I was so thrilled! Even though, they paid t accumulatively at the end of the year, it was something huge to look forward to. In the meantime, though, I had to make use of the monthly Federal allowee³ of 19,800 naira to keep body and soul together.
My service year in Bayelsa changed the trajectory of my life. Without my experiences, this blog probably wouldn’t have been born as many of the dog chronicles were from my experiences there and consequently Port Harcourt where I relocated to afterwards.
TIPS TO SUCCEED AS A VET DURING NYSC
Without meaning to sound cheeky, this is how I made 100,000 naira while serving without the N19,800 allowee:
Read “The Richest Man in Babylon”
I was once asked to mention the top ten books that have changed my life. After the Bible, my next is “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. I was recommended this book by a friend of mine who had read it during her service year. It had helped her save a ton of money. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it before going to Bayelsa. Imagine my joy when I found it on one of the booksellers stands in camp. I hurriedly got a copy for 500 naira and put my service number details on it. I read it during camp and will encourage every vet to do so, better still before service year.
It’s a great book that teaches fundamental principles of money, saving and investing in a parable sort of way. IT LITERALLY CHANGED MY LIFE. I believe the same will happen to you. Get a copy, read it and APPLY what you read like I did.
It changed my mentality about making and keeping money. This mental change helped me to save a lot of money during NYSC.
Invest in Your First Medicine Kit: Be Prepared for Opportunities
A good friend and classmate of mine, Dr. Wole Adekola, advised me to invest in a few veterinary medical supplies to start ambulatory services with. After the 3 weeks in camp, I took out 5000 naira from my allowee and went to get some supplies. That was one of the best decisions I made in service year. It wasn’t much, just barely filling a duffel bag, but it gave me confidence as a new doctor. Two, these same drugs were being sold for more than thrice the prices in Bayelsa. So that was a big bargain as well. (I got the medical supplies from Ibadan).
This is my next tip. If you are going to serve far away or in a relatively expensive area, try to get your medical supplies handy. This is also applicable if you do not think you will practise.. The truth is, never say never.
Submit yourself to training and tutoring
I’m certain that if my classmates had been asked, “Who is unlikely to practice?”, I would have been one of those mentioned. I wasn’t that unserious, I just didn’t know or think that I would practice till around 500 level. (That is a story for another day).
I said all of these to let you know how inexperienced I was as a new veterinarian in the society. As a result, one of the first things I did in Bayelsa, was to find a senior colleague that was well-grounded and willing to teach and pass along his knowledge.
We went on many ambulatory visits together treating mainly dogs. At first, I simply helped with restraining then later, I got more involved. My senior colleague was always nice enough to give me some little change afterwards.
This helped me build confidence and experience. Soon enough, whenever the other doctor couldn’t go to attend to a case, he’ll ask me to go in his stead. By and by, I started getting referrals from other doctors as well. With time, I started building a clientele base. It’s important to also say here that anytime, I wasn’t sure what to do I called on my senior colleague who helped me out. I’m forever grateful for his tutelage and willingness to help me. As I’m now aware not many senior colleagues are that generous with their knowledge and time.
One thing I did that was so helpful was documentation. I recorded every detail of every case I treated. From the very first dog I treated- my neighbour’s local puppy which needed to be dewormed. This helped me keep a track of not only my finances, but treatments used. Also, it eventually helped me to remember the names and specific cases of dogs I talked about in my dog chronicles series.
Save, invest and live within your means
Finally, money usually accumulates by saving (and investing). By following the principles, I read in “The Richest Man in Babylon”, I always endeavoured to pay myself first no matter how small. I had different percentages of money I made or received for saving and investing. Let’s say 10% for saving and another 10% for investing. Investing in this case, means investing back into your business (what you are doing is essentially a business). The more cases you have, the more your medical supplies will be depleted. It is necessary to carve out a percentage of your earnings to reinvest in your medical supplies, so you don’t run out.
Another tip will be live within your means. This is not the time to go around feeling bigger-than-life because you are a doctor. One thing I did was to get accommodation that was near my place of primary assignment. Each day, I took a 15-minute walk to the abattoir where I served rather than having to pay for transportation. Think of things that would help you reduce your expenses on a daily and eventually monthly basis. Do this when deciding on where to live etc. A note of caution though, don’t sacrifice your safety for less money. By this I mean, get accommodation in a safe environment. Your safety is more important at the end of the day.
Attend the Annual NVMA Congress and Network
This s a bonus point. I’ll like to recommend that every serving vet go for the annual Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association’s Congress. It holds November of each year. As a serving vet, I was privileged to attend in 2013 and it was quite the experience! I was able to do a lot of networking. I even got job offers for after service (can you believe that?!). What’s more, you get to pay a more affordable fee as corps members (I hope that hasn’t changed). You also get a certificate of participation. This year’s congress will be held in Sokoto State. So hopefully, you have a lot of time from now to prepare.
This was how I made 100,000 naira during my service year without input from Government allowee. I realize that other people might have made more but I thought sharing these few tips will help a new graduate about to go serve the nation. If you are a vet and you had a successful financial year during service, kindly share your tips below. I’m sure it will help so many.
Overall, don’t forget to have fun, mingle, make new friends and enjoy life. NYSC can be a rewarding experience depending on what you make of it.
Also, let me know if these tips have been helpful. I’m really looking forward to hearing/reading from you.
¹NYSC- is the abbrevation for National Youth Service Corps. This is a scheme whereby Nigerian graduates are required to serve their nation for a year before entering the workforce.
²MSS- means Medical Salary Scale. The full terminology is CONMSS- Consolidated Medical Salary Scale. It is a salary structure for medical, dental and veterinary practitioners that enable them to be paid some further allowances as related to their jobs e.g Hazard Allowance.
³Allowee- commonly used amongst NYSC corps members, allowee is a colloquial term for allowance.