Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim 

MD

University of Minnesota

In 2005 he became the first Somali to graduate from University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dr. Ibrahim had intended to go to medical school in Somali but was forced to flee the country to Kenya after civil war broke out. He went on to work in Saudi Arabia for two years before returning to Kenya, where he learned about a program that allowed former employees of the U.S. government a chance to resettle in the United States.

Ibrahim said he was inspired to pursue medicine after witnessing a close cousin suffer from a leg injury because of an explosion and then suffer more from improper medical treatment, including a leg amputation without proper pain medication.

"Visiting him and seeing him in such pain was one of the reasons I thought, in my mind, there must be a better way," Ibrahim said.

After arriving in 1993 in the United States, he found getting involved in medicine was more of a challenge than he anticipated, he said.

"I didn’t have anything to get into medical schools - not even a certificate that I’d graduated from high school," Ibrahim said. "I had to write persistently to the State Department to corroborate that I had graduated from high school."

To pay for an undergraduate degree, he attended vocational school to learn to be a dialysis technician in Washington, D.C. and eventually got his associate’s degree in nursing at a community college in Maryland, where he met his wife, he said.

Using this training, he said, he worked full time while getting his undergraduate degree from Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

He did well on his Medical College Admission Test and was attracted to the University of Minnesota Medical School because of a partial scholarship and the close relationships between professors and students, he said.

He was also attracted to the Twin Cities because of the large Somali population, which he said is good for his wife and four children.

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