A former car mechanic in Cleveland, Ohio, who recently became a doctor is using his story to encourage black men to join the medical field.
Carl Allamby, 47, began his residency earlier this month at Cleveland Clinic Akron General hospital where he now diagnoses and treats patients instead of cars.
Allamby grew up in a home where money was scarce and work was more important than getting an education. At 16, he got a job at a neighborhood auto parts store and became so knowledgable about cars that customers began asking for his advice on how to install parts in their vehicles.
“I just started saying, ‘Hey, yeah. I can take care of you after work in the parking lot,'” Allamby said.
He eventually started his own car repair shop, and later enrolled in college to obtain a business degree. However, in order to graduate Allamby was required to take a biology class, and that changed everything.
“After the first hour of class, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do. I have to go into medicine.’ It was like a light switched on,” he said.
Allamby says that being a doctor and a person of color has helped him connect with his patients.
“There are so many times throughout the different hospitals where I will walk in and [a black patient] will say, ‘Thank God there’s finally a brother here,'” he said, adding that “We absolutely need more black doctors.”
Data shows that the number of black men pursuing degrees in the medical field has fallen significantly in recent years, according to a report by NBC News.
The report states:
Even with efforts to increase the number of minority ethnic groups in science and medicine, the proportion of black men pursuing and obtaining degrees in these fields has reached a historic low. In 1986, 57 percent of black medical school graduates were men — but by 2015 that number had dropped to just 35 percent, even as the total number of black graduates in all fields had increased. And that downward trend is expected to continue. In fact, fewer black men entered medical school in 2014 than 1978.
Dr. Vanessa Gamble, a professor at George Washington University, says societal issues are partly to blame for the decrease in numbers.
“It’s been a persistent, stubborn racial disparity in the medical workforce,” Gamble noted. “Medical schools have tried, but it also has to do with societal issues about what happens to a lot of kids in our country these days.”
However, Allamby says belief in oneself can open the doors to a world of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard to achieve their goals.
“Believe in yourself. There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome through unwavering determination and belief in your abilities. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. It’s never too late to do something you are passionate about!”