Medical doctor turned fashion designer


Many Nigerian doctors are leaving the medical profession for other ventures due to dissatisfaction, brain drain, burnout, and poor remuneration. Dr. Elizabeth Pius tells LARA ADEJORO her story

Elizabeth Pius spent eight years in medical school, and months as a medical intern but she decided to go into fashion designing.

She had wished to be a doctor when she was 10 years old when her mother died of anaemia and her father had an underlying health condition.

Growing up, the Delta State indigene developed a love for fashion designing.

“It was, first, a childhood wish and then pressure from my father and school pincipal because I was intelligent.

“I didn’t want to be in science class. After secondary school, I told my dad that I wanted to be a fashion designer but he was against it.

“I started studying medicine at Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, but after its accreditation for medicine was withdrawn, I went to Ukraine to continue my studies. I did well in school both in Nigeria and in Ukraine,” she said.

Elizabeth wanted to quit medicine in her third year but she was ‘stuck’. “My father wouldn’t let me quit,” she said.

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While in medical school, she learnt how to sew from online videos and made money from it, and won awards in fashion designing.

“I had no choice but to graduate, even though I was juggling between sewing and studying.

“Whenever I came home on summer holidays in Nigeria, while doing my internship in medicine at a private health facility, I was learning fashion designing, she said.

Despite earning good grades in medical school, Elizabeth decided that medicine was not for her.

“I was not enjoying it; so, I told my dd that I didn’t want to continue. He was angry and he was not ready to support my dream, and I left Nigeria for Ghana to learn fashion design.”

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She, however, said she is better off being a fashion designer than being a medical doctor.

“I feel that I am making more money than my doctor friends. Some of them complain that the salary is not worth the time and sacrifice at the hospital; while others say they are not being paid on time. I don’t feel bad leaving medicine.

“It is better they have doctors who have passion for the job than having someone like me that doesn’t like the job.

“I feel there are some doctors who don’t like the job but they are still doing it. You can tell on their faces, especially when attending to patients. They often vent their frustration on patients,” the fashion designer said.

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Elizabeth advised the Federal Government to reconsider the salary being paid doctors so they can be encouraged to stay in the profession.

“I have doctor friends in Ukraine who will never come back to Nigeria to practise. Over there, they earn well and there is a good working environment.

“Nigerian doctors work hard and I think they should get other benefits apart from good pay but they don’t treat doctors nice here,” she said.

Just in one year of specialising in her passion, she has three workers already on her payroll.

“I make more than what my doctor friends make and that is when my father finally supported me because he sees that there is a lot of money coming from it,” she said.



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