Moving from your home country to study a master’s is a daunting prospect for every international student that embarks on their Manchester experience. However, for Nigerian Audiology graduate, Awajimijana Allison Otana, there was the added pressure of following in his Father’s footsteps…
Before coming to Manchester for the MSc Audiology programme, I had completed a BSc in Information Technology at the National Open University of Nigeria, where I was adjudged the best graduating student in the Faculty of Sciences and the best graduating student in Information Technology.
My inspiration to pursue audiology and further pursue initiating Bridge Hearing to tackle the problems with hearing services in developing countries (more on this later) stemmed from my first Audiology training experience at Otana Hearing and Edu-health services, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
As an international student, qualifying as an Audiologist in the UK was almost impossible as there were so many obstacles to surmount. However, I really needed the clinical audiological knowledge to solve existing audiological service gaps in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Before coming to The University of Manchester, I was told that if I wanted to do a clinical placement in Audiology, I’d have to apply under social responsibility. This application is reviewed by heads of Audiology across northwest England and students are only eligible to compete for the very few clinical placement places if their application is successful.
I received tremendous support in every way from the Audiology department at Manchester and the careers service when putting this application together and I owe them a great debt. These experiences made me feel well supported as an International Student at the University of Manchester.
My success story in Manchester started when the Heads of Audiology Services in the NHS (North-West) approved my application to train as a Clinical Audiologist following my MSc (This clinical programme is called the Certificate of Clinical Competence – CCC). I was ranked first in the competitive process and was offered a place at Aintree University Hospital.
However, being offered a place was only half the battle. The next obstacle was getting the right visa for my clinical placement. Thankfully, the student services at the University were very helpful and advised me on the most appropriate visa for my placement which The University of Manchester sponsored. In addition to this, AuDMed awarded me a grant of £1000 to contribute towards my placement fees.
I then started my journey at Aintree University Hospital and qualified recently as an Audiologist after completing my clinical year with a distinction. An interesting part of my story is that I fell in love with a lady called Alexa who is now my fiancee.
Alexa also works for the NHS in London as a nurse and together we are putting together a social enterprise called Bridge Hearing Initiative; We aim to use tele-audiology to meet the Audiology services needs in Nigeria and Africa at large. During my training, I have been invited to international conferences such as “Audiology Across Borders” to discuss this initiative.
I have also recently been invited by the Audiology department at the University of Manchester to present my research which has been submitted for publication and was awarded a distinction at the “Deaf Children Now conference”
Studying Audiology in Manchester was very rewarding – My father, Dr Allison O. Otana (formerly Okpojo) completed a PhD in Audiology at the University of Manchester. His PhD led to his invention of a novel biocompatible mouldable polymeric material with relevant clinical application in audiology.
Coming to the same Audiology department, meeting with some of his colleagues, and achieving academic excellence within the department is rewarding and extends the legacy he’s previously established in the field.
Manchester Audiology graduates are well respected in the private audiology firms and NHS Audiology departments. This became apparent to me when I had lots of interviews before even concluding my clinical year.
I was able to choose the best department I wished to work in which turned out to be the Audiology department at Aintree University Foundation NHS Trust. This department was the first to get the IQIPS registration in the UK and is led by a well-known and respected Tinnitus Specialist – Mr Tony Kay.
I am pleased to be one of the Audiologists on their team and so far I have had a very smooth transition from University to Hospital. I look forward to seeing where my career will go from here.