Fall 2010 |
A Doctor in His Homeland, Student Works to Practice in Nebraska
As a young boy, Salomon Compaore wanted to be an English teacher one
day—he was the best in his class. In his final years of high school,
however, he decided to become a doctor. "I wanted to be someone who is able
to help people who are suffering," he said.
By achieving the right U.S. credentials, medical professionals
like Salomon Compaore will be able to bridge the linguistic and
cultural gap between doctors and patients.
Compaore attended eight years of medical school and became a doctor in
Burkina Faso, a West African country about the size of Colorado. Working in
three clinics, he treated patients for illnesses like malaria, respiratory
infections or diarrhea.
Now 29, Compaore is again pursuing medical education far away from his
home town. Two years ago, he was awarded one of the few permanent resident
visas available through the U.S. visa lottery. He felt new doors would open
to him in America. "I knew the U.S. was a country of a lot of opportunity,"
he said. He landed in Omaha in January 2009 to live with his brother. A few
months later, he was in an MCC advisor's office to get a waiver for an
intermediate level anatomy course—did he really have to take the basic
prerequisite? He was, after all, a doctor.
The surprised advisor enrolled him in the class. She also told him about
Project Bridge. After meeting with Program Manager Victoria N.
Nakibuuka-Muli, Compaore now has a plan to practice medicine again, although
the process will take years. First, he needs vocational English to shore up
his fluency and learn about U.S. healthcare systems. Then, he will take
certified nursing assistant classes and phlebotomy. Later, he will work
toward entering a Physician's Assistant program and, eventually, medical
By entering Omaha's healthcare workforce, Compaore will be able to serve
the 100-plus immigrant Burkinabés living in the area, among others. He
will be able to understand their history, culture and context in a more
profound way than American-born doctors. "If we can get Salomon practicing
medicine, we can bridge that gap to care for French-speaking immigrants and
people from Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso," Nakibuuka-Muli said.