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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Jul 14, 2021

Oluwaferanmi Okanlami MD is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Urology at University of Michigan. He is also the Interim Director of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and Director of Adaptive Sports & Fitness within the Division of Student Life at the University of Michigan. He is the Spokesperson for Guardian Life in their Equal & Able Partnership. Dr. Okanlami was featured on Robin Robert’s Good Morning America Series “Thriver Thursday,” and has a catch phrase, “Disabusing DisabilityⓇ.” He received Michigan Medicine’s Distinguished Early Career Alumni Award in 2020, and was given the “A Teacher’s Teacher Award” by the Academy of Medical Educators. He speaks around the country on topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and has been featured on CBS News, Fox News, PBS NewsHour, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

During his orthopedic surgery residency, Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami took care of patients with disabilities. He treated patients with spinal cord injuries, but didn’t know how inaccessible the world was because he had never experienced it that way. After the diving accident that left him paralyzed, Dr. Okanlami saw life from the other side of the stethoscope. He recognized that he had been unintentionally complicit in ableism that excluded an entire population. Today, Dr. Okanlami shares his message that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just for minority populations. They are conversations that all of us need to be a part of.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Find your passion by asking what excites you. Then follow your passion and make your passion your profession. be intentional about where you hope to make an impact and really focus on that area.
2. Discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just for minorities. We all need to be concerned because any inequity will impact us all.
3. Disability is not the same as inability. Disability is ubiquitous if we identify it as that feeling of being less, feeling inadequate, and imagining how it would be to feel like that all the time.