An Interview With The Editor-in-Chief, IFEMED Journal Club: Chukwuemeka Obuekwe

IFEMED journal club is an organ under the Medical Students’ Association of Obafemi Awolowo University. This is an interview with Chukwuemeka Obuekwe, the Editor-In-Chief of the association

Medivoice: Can we meet you, please?

My name is Chukwuemeka Obuekwe. I am currently in my final year of Medical School and the incumbent Editor-in-Chief of the IFEMED Journal.

Medivoice: IFEMED journal club is often regarded as one of the most prestigious clubs in IFUMSA. Can you tell us more about this club, what you do & what stands it apart from other clubs?

The IFEMED Journal is undoubtedly the most prestigious club in IFUMSA and also the oldest medical student journal (club) in the west African sub-continent. Since its inception in 1975, the club has proved to be worthy of its repute by an unrelenting effort in publishing scientific journals on topical issues in contemporary healthcare. As of today, we have 26 volumes of the journal spanning across 47 years.

Several academic repositories and public libraries, such as the Stanford University Medical Library and the Hezekiah Olusanmi Library, index us. We also attract online readers from all over the world as evidenced by our high number of monthly citations. The club is also responsible for providing basic research training to IFUMSITES which we do via our annual research seminars that has now grown to attract even non-IFUMSITES and several allied healthcare professionals.

We also have a public health education arm called Campus Doctor where we post interesting, informative and engaging articles on health related issues relevant to the university community on our blog and our notice board in front of HSLT B. Finally the club hosts the Late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti Memorial Essay competition every four years in honour and the Late Professor Olufisan O. Taiwo Memorial Essay Competition every two years. We typically get submissions from students across geopolitical zones who submit brilliant essays for large cash prizes.

There is no doubt that our work in research and academic writing evidenced by our robust contributions to the burden of scientific literature as well as our corporate social responsibility to IFUMSITES and the community at large sets us apart from other clubs in IFUMSA. Let’s just say that the journal club does some pretty extraordinary work and we’re extremely proud of our legacy.

Medivoice: Kindly tell us about your journey into the club and ultimately becoming the editor-in-chief.

I joined the journal club in 2018/2019 when I was in Part 3. I attended the Journal Launch Event for the Infectious Disease Journal in my part 2. If I remember well, I was impressed by the event and the journal’s content. As the former Provost Professor TK Ijadunola would say, “IFEMED Journal Club is in a class of its own”. I had no idea that medical students could be very involved in academic writing and research in that way.

That day, in my part 2, in the conference center on campus was when I made the decision to join the journal club. I later applied for a membership position and had a challenging interview (we tend to do that in the journal club) to ensure that only the most qualified candidates are selected, as the interview for the journal club is highly competitive. The year I joined the journal club, I was very much involved in the club’s activities and I came up with innovative ideas such as our open access project as well as transforming the Campus Doctor arm of the club.

I was appointed the Editor of Campus Doctor and later elected the Graphics Editor and Associate Editor-in-Chief under various leaders. The path to my becoming the Editor-in-Chief has been one of great tenacity, dedication and innovation.

Medivoice: What has been your proudest accomplishment since assuming office?

I recently assumed office about a month ago and since then, I have had meetings with some our journal club alumni and other stakeholders in the journal club. We as a club have also outlined our activities for the journal year. Hence, at this time, I cannot particularly say that I have had my “proudest moment” yet. The highlight of our journal year is the launching of the IFEMED Journal, which is the official journal of the Obafemi Awolowo Medical Student’s Association. This is a proud moment for the journal club and for all IFUMSITES.

Medivoice: What are the club’s biggest challenges and how are you tackling these challenges?

There is a latin phrase that says “nani gigantum humeris insidentes” which loosely translates to “dwarves mounted on the shoulders of giants”. We have been fortunate to receive support from our alumni, editorial board members, and private donors, in the form of ideas and financing. The alumni and editorial consultants also play a significant role in the journal club, making running the club easier.

Medivoice: What plans does your administration have in store for IFUMSAites? What can we look forward to?

The SRB instituted the journal club close to 50 years ago with the mandate to train and educate IFUMSITES in research and academic writing. We have never defaulted on this mandate. This journal year, we certainly are going to continue in our tradition of organizing stimulating research seminars for all IFUMSITES.

I encourage every IFUMSITE to participate in our programmes. It is never too early to start a research oriented career path. I started a project last year that pairs non-journal club members in Part 5 and 6 with senior members of the journal club and a consultant so they can write articles for our journal.

I plan to continue the project this journal year. Finally, we would be having online periodic reviews and critiquing of original research articles by our final year members. I encourage every IFUMSITE to join online so we can all learn how to review and critique research, an invaluable skill for us as future clinical researchers.

Medivoice: IFEMED journal club is tasked with publishing periodicals on topical issues. Can you tell us the process that goes into arriving at the theme for each journal?

Our journals result from months of intensive research, reviews and critiquing. An alumni member or the incumbent Editor-in-Chief usually suggests the theme for each journal. The other members then discuss the subject, and they may revise the proposed theme until they reach a final decision. This theme then guides drafting of the topics for Narrative Review Articles by an Editorial Consultant. The most important concept in deciding a theme is relevance. The theme must be relevant to our practice of medicine in this environment.

Medivoice: What are some of the themes of previous journals that the club has published

Some themes we have published in the past include: Tuberculosis; Diabetes Mellitus; Malaria; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Hypertension Kills; Female Infertility in Africa; Infectious Diseases in Children; Cancer in Nigeria; Emergency Medicine and some more recent themes on Infectious Disease, Adolescent & Youth Health, Depression, Critical Care and COVIDEMIC.

Medivoice: Who can join IFEMED journal club?

Membership of the IFEMED Journal Club is open to IFUMSITES from Part 2 to Part 5. Anyone who has a deep passion for research and thorough academic writing is welcome to join the journal club.

Medivoice: Any words of advice for those that would love to join the club?

Attend all public seminars, maintain good grades, and stay informed on recruitment activities to join the Journal Club. Interested applicants usually need to submit two essays and participate in an interview to demonstrate research and academic knowledge.  We have a transparent recruitment process and it starts towards the end of the current journal year.

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