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From West Africa to Western Minnesota: Attracting Global Talent

Published in OB/GYN Services, Medical Professionals Author: Laamy Tiadjeri,MD

A small-town clinic in the heart of rural Minnesota must be doing something right if it can attract top-level physicians from around the world. Considering the average low temperature hovers around zero in the winter, it’s even more impressive to hear the story of Dr. Laamy Tiadjeri, an OB-GYN in Willmar, Minn.

Dr. Tiadjeri grew up in Togo, a West African country east of Ghana known for its sunny, palm-lined beaches and hilltop villages with a tropical view. It’s about as close to the equator as Willmar is to Canada. In other words, it wasn’t the weather that brought Dr. Tiadjeri here—and it’s not what’s keeping her here either.

“I really love the people here, both the providers I work with and my patients,” Dr. Tiadjeri said.

Encouragement From the Very Start

Dr. Tiadjeri’s first experience with ACMC left a lasting impression on her. She was a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota when she enrolled in the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP), which brought her to Granite Falls clinic. RPAP is a unique program in Minnesota that gives med students a chance to hone their skills with patients of all ages and backgrounds in a rural healthcare setting.

For Dr. Tiadjeri that rural setting is what caught her attention. She loved the University of Minnesota, but wasn’t in love with the big city traffic and fast-paced lifestyle—she knew she’d get all the faced-paced excitement she needed on the job. Plus the RPAP program gives students more opportunities for hands-on learning and skill development than any big city hospital can offer.

With the promise of working directly with patients and learning from seasoned physicians in a more intimate setting, Dr. Tiadjeri packed her bags and headed north to Granite Falls. During her rotation in the RPAP program, she had the opportunity to travel to different ACMC clinics and train in different departments within the healthcare network.

“During that time, I spent six weeks here in Willmar in the OB-GYN department,” Dr. Tiadjeri explained. “That’s how I first got to know the people here, and I really liked that experience.”

Those six weeks ended up making a bigger impression on Dr. Tiadjeri than she ever could have expected. More specifically, the mentors she found at ACMC’s Wilmar clinic helped shape her future career path.

“The physicians that I worked with in Wilmar were really great,” she said. “I wasn’t really considering OB-GYN at that time, which is why I did RPAP to get exposed to other specialities. I really like the providers that I got to work with; from the nurses to the doctors, everybody was so helpful. Their willingness to teach me and let me practice was incredibly rewarding. They were really encouraging and had a big impact on my training.”

A Trip Home Brought Her Back to Willmar

Ever since she was a little girl growing up in Togo, Dr. Tiadjeri knew she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Her family had many friends who were physicians. Her own pediatrician was one of her parents’ closest friends and became one of Dr. Tiadjeri’s most prominent role models growing up. But it was an experience in a rural setting that really opened her eyes.

“When I was six, I started talking about being a doctor,” Dr. Tiadjeri said. “I spent a few weeks with one of my aunts who is a nun in a rural area, and they had a small infirmary where I spent a little bit of time. I thought the people who worked there were the coolest. From then on I never really thought about doing anything else because I had such great role models.”

Yet even though she knew med school was in her future, she wasn’t at all sure what her focus would be when she got there. It wasn’t until her time in Willmar that OB-GYN started to call her name. But it took a trip back home, where the dream all began, to confirm what her heart was telling her.

“After medical school, I went back home to work and volunteer,” Dr. Tiadjeri said. “That’s when I really found my passion for women’s healthcare.”

Back in Togo, in a rural setting much like the one she enjoyed so much in Willmar, Dr. Tiadjeri discovered OB-GYN was going to be her specialty, and in the back of her mind, she already knew that Willmar was where she wanted to practice.

“I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t have respect for the organization and the people I worked with,” she said. “Plus, the size of the town is perfect for me. I don’t like big towns or traffic, and I don’t have any of that here…but the people I work with and also the patients I work with are what brought me back to Willmar. People are really nice and very grateful for me being here, so I feel like I’m needed…and that’s a really good feeling to have.”