Doctor of Medicine, Physician, Moscow Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia
English, Russian, Amharic
I have always wanted to be a doctor. Going to health clinics can be a nightmare scenario for many children, but I liked going to the clinic compound. It was adjacent to our family home and I enjoyed observing the liveliness of my local clinic, directed by staff in their smart white coats. At that time, I didn’t understand how big my dream was because in the rural town where I grew up, we could only get basic health care from a health assistant, who had little medical training but was always a “doctor” to us. Driven by my aspiration to help others, I held on to my ambitious dream of becoming a medical doctor.
I received a government sponsored scholarship in 1990 to pursue studies in chemistry. I earned my department’s recommendation to study medicine after my first year. I graduated in 1997 and returned to Ethiopia, where I worked as a general practitioner in various hospitals until I was awarded another university scholarship to specialize in ophthalmology.
Subsequently, I worked for a non-governmental organization that operates in Cambodia as a medical doctor, where I was also responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of new health clinics countrywide. This allowed me to develop my expertise in emergency and relief assistance in post-conflict areas—yet I was still yearning to reach as many people as possible.
I learned about serving as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV). In January 2001, I received an offer to serve as a UNV medical officer in the United Nations Mission in East Timor. My dream had finally come true, yet it was a bitter sweet moment as I knew this would also mean being apart from my family. I served in East Timor until February 2004, and then joined the United Nations Mission in Kosovo as a medical officer. Later, I moved to the United Nations Mission in Haiti.
Working in the field may bring about concerns ranging from security to health. Yet despite these challenges, I am proud to serve with peace operations, which fulfill a mission’s mandate from ensuring security to protecting civilians - especially women and children. This is the essence of my childhood dream.
If you are versatile, hardworking, talented and passionate about tackling such global challenges, this could be the career for you. I find this life professionally and personally rewarding; for me there is nothing more satisfying than my job as a Medical Officer because serving others is a calling. Working in the field requires you to be dedicated to serving others in often difficult places in remote parts of the world with limited infrastructure.
Throughout my United Nations career, I have been able to enhance my knowledge in clinical medicine by acquiring invaluable field experience above and beyond my area of expertise. Life is an exercise in life-long learning, and that is certainly true when you work in peace operations.