Doctor With Spinal Cord Injury

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Backbones
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Fernami Okanlami is a physician in family medicine. He has a C6 spinal cord injury. Backbones interviewed Fernami to show how every day he is “demonstrating that being DISabled does not mean UNabled.”

“Now with my disability, It’s a new world. I am both a patient and a provider so I am learning new perspectives.”

Picture of Fernami Oklanlami. He has glasses and bow-tie on.

Fernami currently resides in South Bend, Indiana. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the United States when he was two years old. He states half of his family still lives in Nigeria.

Fernami went to high school in Massachusetts, college at Stanford, medical school at Michigan and an orthopedic surgery residency at Yale (where he had his accident). After his accident, Fernami went on to pursue a master’s at Notre Dame and is now completing a Family Medicine residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana.

“I am proud of a lot before my injury but anything I have done post-injury has been 10x sweeter. I didn’t stop pushing and surpassed expectations.”

Fernami says the cumulation of all his work he recently accepted a position at the University of Michigan. He will be working in three departments - Family Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.

In his free time, Fernami mentors fellow people with spinal cord injuries. “I want to share with people that even if you don’t get function back it is what you make with what you got,” he says. One of Fernami’s long-term goals is to have an accessible and inclusive healthcare system for patients and providers with disabilities.

Fernami leaves readers with this thought: “Why do we focus so much on what a person can NOT do rather than celebrate people for what they CAN do? You’d be surprised at the things you could learn, and the people you could meet.”

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