- (1) Story Behind LAMS
- Versions of LAMS: (A) LAMS UK (B) Nigerian National LAMS and (C) Nigerian Regional LAMS
- Awards Associated with LAMS
- Winner Selections
- LAMS Gallery and Links to Past Editions
For the records, the OCI Foundation is an international (Nigerian-Australian-British) non-profit, charity organisation established to break down barriers to attaining excellence among Nigerians through Education, Health and Public Welfare activities.
The Literary Award for Medical Students (LAMS) initiative is a component of the Foundation’s educational project, and exists alongside FIVE (at least) other scholarship schemes. The other scholarships can be found HERE.
LAMS is an essay competition designed to identify, inspire, and reward medical students who show literary dexterity, and serves as a way to entrench literary and research skills among young doctors to be. LAMS reflects the OCI Foundation President’s commitment to inspire youths and medical undergraduates across Africa and Europe.
The OCI Foundation’s involvement with the support and sponsorship of LAMS was an easy one, given that the Foundation’s Founder, Assoc Prof Chris Ifediora (OCI), was very active in the affairs of the Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) in his undergraduate years. NiMSA is the national body that represents all the medical students in Nigeria, and is made up of medical schools from all six geo-political zones in the country.
Ifediora (OCI) was also an alumnus of the Southeast Zone of NiMSA, having been a prominent member of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical Students Association (NAUMSA). As a medical undergraduate, Dr Ifediora, nicknamed “the Scribe” for his literary abilities, served as the Secretary-General of the Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations, FAMSA (the body of all African medical students) in 2001. Before then, at the NiMSA General Assembly hosted by the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (Nigeria), he ran to become the Director of the NiMSA’s Standing Committee on Medical Education (SCOME), a position he lost narrowly in a very keenly contested election.
Ifediora remained active in NiMSA, featuring prominently in the associations’ national activities across all regions of Nigeria between 1999 and 2002. He was also an invited delegate to the General Assembly of the 2001 International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) in Taipei, Taiwan. However, he could not make the trip despite obtaining the required visa for reasons beyond his control.
Dr Ifediora also served as the Secretary Generals of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical Students Association (NAUMSA) and the ROTARACT Club of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (ROTA-NAUTH), among other positions. He was a recipient of the inaugural “Most Academically Outstanding Medical Student Award”, offered at the time by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical Student’s Association (NAUMSA).
His exposure to a balanced mix of academics and politics helped him hone his literary skills, which has guided him to achieve excellence in his careers to date as a medical practitioner, researcher and academic. Those skills were also vital in his sojourn through institutions in the United Kingdom (University of Liverpool), the United States of America (Harvard Medical School) and Australia (Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland).
The brief history above underlies Dr Ifediora’s firm convictions that developing literary and research skills among doctors can unlock huge potentials that significantly complement medical practice and research The LAMS Initiative offers a way of inspiring upcoming doctors in this regard.
1) LAMS UK
Following the official registration of the OCI Foundation UK in October 2023, the idea of a British national competition for all eligible medical schools in the United Kingdom, was conceived. Modalities for this contest, which is expected to become an annual event in 2024, are still being developed in consultation with stakeholders.
A schedule for this event is yet to be fixed, but will be sponsored by the OCI Foundation UK.
2) NIGERIAN NATIONAL LAMS
LAMS became a Nigerian national event in 2021 (with the awards for that 1st edition delivered at a virtual ceremony in November of that year). It was preceded by a national essay competition that was staged in 2020 by NiMSA’s Auwal Shanono Foundation, an organisation established to honour the late Auwal Shanono, NiMSA’s former president who died in 2011 while on active service for the body. That national exercise was inconclusive due to NiMSA’s difficulties in fulfilling the benefits tied to the award at the time. Following the success witnessed in an earlier (2020) OCI Foundation-sponsored regional essay competition for the Southeast Nigerian medical schools (see below), the OCI Foundation, was approached by the NiMSA executives to help in clearing up the pledged benefits from their inaugural national competition. The OCI Foundation’s Board graciously voted to assist in clearing up that debt. Further discussions thereafter led to the establishment of the annual Nigerian national version of LAMS, which is tagged the “Auwal Shanono-OCI Foundation Literary Award for Medical Students”.
This event is usually held in the final third of every year and is sponsored by the OCI Foundation Nigeria and Australia, and delivered as part of a partnership with NiMSA and its Auwal Shanono Foundation.
3) NIGERIAN REGIONAL (SOUTH-EAST) LAMS
A regional version of LAMS, exclusive to only the medical schools in the South-east of Nigeria, also holds annually. In August 2020, the OCI Foundation sponsored the first-ever LAMS, which was staged at the time for the medical schools in the Southeast of Nigeria, a group that initiated the idea and helped coin the current name for the initiative. The Southeast LAMS has remained an annual event to date. Details from the 2021 version of the event can be found HERE.
This event usually holds in the final third of every year, and is sponsored by the OCI Foundation Nigeria and Australia.
The OCI Foundation offers cash prizes that go with the winners of LAMS. Usually, the top 3 wins cash gifts. In addition to the top 3, an extra 7 contestants are rewarded with compensatory gifts, which varies from year to year. Previously, branded medical scrub outfits and stethoscopes have been offered to all top performers in the competition, along with automatic memberships of the OCI Foundation.
In keeping with the core principle of transparency within the OCI Foundation, LAMS usually adopt a transparently competitive process. Essay topics are chosen annually by the OCI Foundation. The medical students then submit written essays, which are all collated within a specified timeline. These entries are then anonymised by representatives of the medical students, who also set the marking criteria and other guidelines (subject to approval by the OCI Foundation). Judges, also selected by the medical students’ body (not the OCI Foundation), mark and score the entries, before sending in the top 10 performers (all anonymised) from their assessments. A team from the OCI Foundation then remarks all 10 entries. The final scores from the OCI Foundation determine the order of the final winners.
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