For 25 years, Carl Allamby ran an auto repair shop. Always a tinkerer, he loved working on engines. However, he had a dream since childhood of becoming a doctor. At 47-years-old, the former mechanic graduated from Northeast Ohio Medical University.
In an interview with the Association of American Medical Colleges, Allamby mapped out how his career changed so dramatically.
“I wasn’t able to take the traditional route into the medical field. Growing up in an area of low socioeconomic prosperity, finding a job to support myself was a necessity and didn’t allow for me to pursue education beyond community college. It wasn’t until many years later that I would rediscover my passion for medicine. At the age of 34, I decided to return to college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business management. While completing my degree, I had to take an introductory biology course as my second to last class. Learning about some of the incredible basic functions of the body reminded me of my childhood ambitions to become a doctor. I decided after I finished this degree, I would begin to make a transition to the medical field,” he said.
“After my decision to pursue medicine, I started volunteering at a hospital in the Cleveland area. Initially, I worked in a pediatric ward for immune-compromised children, providing activities for them during their oftentimes long-term stay. In addition, I performed many hours of shadowing/volunteering in the emergency, urology, and neurology departments at this and other hospitals. Every exposure I had in medicine further solidified my choice to pursue a medical career.”
Allamby currently works as a resident at Cleveland Clinic Akron General hospital, reports Cleveland.com. He attributes one particular program in helping him realize his dream of becoming a physician: Partnership for Urban Health founded by Cleveland State University and Northeast Ohio Medical University, and also includes Ohio University.
The partnership “seeks to recruit and train a more diverse healthcare workforce to provide primary care to medically underserved urban communities,’ as per the Cleveland State University website.
Through the program, Allamby says he found, “the support I needed to succeed and developed the skills necessary to provide excellent medical care to the populations and neighborhoods that need it the most.”
There is currently a shortage of students entering the medical field, and in particular, black students. So much so in fact, that HBCU Morehouse College launched an initiative to get more of its students into medical school.
And, a recent Johns Hopkins study showed that black patients had better experiences with black doctors.
The shortage of doctors, overall, has even led New York University School of Medicine to offer free tuition to medical students.
Allamby, who is interested in Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine, offered this advice to those who may be looking to go to medical school:
“Know why you are pursuing a career in medicine. It is a difficult path and there will be challenging circumstances that will test your patience, determination, and faith. Having a good understanding of why you chose this career will keep you focused during these times of despair and will allow you to persevere through the difficulties that are sure to occur.”