Former car mechanic graduates 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.


He went from fixing cars to fixing people.

After spending years as a mechanic, Carl Allamby graduated from medical school this year at age 47 and 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.

In 2006, he decided to pursue a business degree as his auto businesses grew. He took night classes at Ursuline College and put off taking a biology course until he was told he needed it to graduate.

When he finally enrolled in the class, he was inspired by his professor, Dr. Micah Watts, to go into medicine.

“He just lit up when he walked into the room,” Allamby told the Plain Dealer. “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 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.

After earning his business degree with a 3.98 GPA, Allamby started taking basic science courses at Cuyahoga Community College and then earned a second undergraduate degree from Cleveland State University.


In 2015, Allamby dissolved his auto repair business and sold everything off in a day before attending Northeast Ohio Medical University.

“It was like, ‘Finally, I am free of this and I can go after something I’ve always wanted,’" Allamby told the Plain Dealer.

He aced every class in the program and was even appointed to serve as the student representative on the NEOMED Board of Trustees by then-Gov. John Kasich.

Allamby is now completing his three-year residency in emergency medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital. On top of his personality, academic record and work ethic, his race will benefit 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,’" Allamby said. “I think you remove a lot of those barriers when there is a person there who looks like you.”

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.

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.

Allamby hopes to encourage more young black people to become doctors.

“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.”