Fixing cars to fixing people, black car mechanic graduates from medical school

He went from fixing cars to fixing people, the story of Carl Allamby, former car mechanic who graduated from medical school at 47 to address shortage of black doctors.

After spending years as a mechanic, Carl Allamby decided to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. He is now an emergency medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General hospital.

Allamby grew up in East Cleveland and ran auto repair and used car shops for more than 25 years.

He had wanted to be a doctor as a child, but somewhere during junior or high school he lost sight of it. He also said there were no black doctors as role models for him to emulate.

Although 13% of the U.S. population is black, less than 6% of medical school graduates are black, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Allamby hopes to encourage more young black people to become doctors. “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,’” Allamby said. “I think you remove a lot of those barriers when there is a person there who looks like you.”

Black patients are known to respond better to black doctors. In a 2018 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, black men were more likely to share details with and heed the advice of black doctors. It found that having a black doctor was more effective at convincing them to get a flu shot than a financial reward.

“When I speak at a junior high or high school, I tell the kids, ‘Hey, if you are interested in medicine, reach out to me because I will help you as much as I can,’ ” Allamby told the Plain Dealer.

Allamby’s entire family is working to be a part of the medical profession in one way or another. His 23-year-old son, Kyle, is a firefighter who is pursing a paramedic degree. Kyle’s twin sister, Kaye, is studying to be a registered nurse. And Allamby’s wife is a physical therapist.

“I have this big business plan,” Allamby told the Plain Dealer, “where my son will bring in the patient, I will save their life, and my wife will rehab them, and my daughter will take care of them while they’re in the hospital. And then they’ll get a free oil change on discharge.”

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