You are currently viewing Bunmi Okanlami, MD, Pediatrics, Critical Care Medicine Specialist, Physician Executive

Bunmi Okanlami, MD, Pediatrics, Critical Care Medicine Specialist, Physician Executive

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What is your current title and role?

Bicentennial Chair of Palliative Care,

Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences, Indiana University, South Bend, Indiana

Where did you grow up?

 I grew up in Nigeria.

Tell us about your professional (medical, nursing, allied health, etc) school?

I completed my medical school education at the University of Ife, now known as Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

I started postgraduate training in Anesthesia and earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Anesthesia at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria prior to relocating to the USA.

In the USA, I did a Pediatric Residency at Howard University, Washington, DC and Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, MD.

I practiced Pediatric Critical Care Medicine for 26 years and retired from clinical service in 2016.

I was invited back to Teaching and Administration in the College of Health Science in 2019, where I now work to develop Palliative Care Education for the University and the community.

Tell us about struggles and challenges in achieving your goal and how you overcame?

 Some of my greatest challenges were associated with relocating to the USA, getting accepted into training programs as a foreign medical graduate and obtaining proper residency status to enable me to work in my specialty in the USA, all while raising young children at the same time.

Faith and Family support are the keys to overcoming my challenges in life.

Please share with us about your family and your support group?

 I am the first of a family of 6 and married a man who was also the first of 6! Together we supported each other through our different phases of life and career development. Our parents remained very encouraging and provided prayerful support at every stage. Both of us also needed to guide and support our siblings even when we were struggling ourselves, but the success of all was more important than the success of one.

Please share a highlight from your practice/current role.

The highlight of my current role is the recent approval of a new Minor in Palliative care which I recently developed and is going to be one of the first of such undergraduate courses in Palliative care at a US university. 

Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?

In terms of my career, I am most proud of my contributions to the development of Pediatric Critical care services in the Northern Indiana region and continued involvement in training health care providers in the critical care management of children in underserved regions of the world.

In general, my greatest pride is of my children: I am grateful to have had the blessing of a boy and a girl, both of whom are now adults, accomplished professionals and people who know the Lord.

What do you like and dislike the most about working in healthcare?

Healthcare demands our complete attention and invariably takes its toll on our personal and family time. It is tough on marriages.

I love the fact that in health care, there are multiple opportunities to serve mankind and there is never a day in which one does not make an impact in another person’s life.

What are three things that you are grateful for?

  1. The “calling” to serve as a healthcare provider, being God’s hands at the bedside as God does the healing.
  2. The leading of God on my path in life, including the ups and downs.
  3. The grace to serve as a role model for my children and other women and children: that a woman can and should contribute to every sphere of life and not only aim to be a wife and mother.