Meet Dr. Getnet A. Tioum, a Hospitalist in Griffin, Georgia, a city about one hour drive from Atlanta. Dr. Tioum was born in Addis Ababa, the Capital City of Ethiopia, an East African Country with a population of more than 110 million. He is from a big family with nine siblings. His parents were dedicated and determined to provide their children with an education and send every one of them to college. Dr. Tioum is grateful for his caring and protective family. He is also recently engaged and is about to start another exciting chapter of life with his soon-to-be wife.
Growing up, Dr. Tioum witnessed his grandmother suffer debilitating pain from rheumatoid arthritis. This led to his determination to become a physician and emboldened his enthusiasm for medicine and desire to help make people’s lives better. After passing a competitive medical school entrance exam, Dr. Tioum enrolled in Addis Ababa University School of Medicine. He acquired knowledge in medical school that not only broadened his scientific horizons, but also helped him discover tremendous gratification in satisfying real patients’ needs, easing their physical and psychological problems, and watching smiles replace their pain.
After graduating from Addis Ababa University School of Medicine in 2007, Dr. Tioum accepted a job offer from one of the teaching Universities in the southern regional states of Ethiopia, Hawassa University. Dr. Tioum has always been fascinated with the academic side of medicine as with the clinical aspect. As a lecturer, Dr. Tioum taught medical students various internal medicine courses until December 2008. The University had a referral hospital that served a population of around 15 million at that time. Dr. Tioum gained invaluable experience while working in such a demanding environment for nearly two years. This experience gave him the required stamina, patience, and determination to be a successful physician.
After lecturing at Hawassa University, Dr. Tioum joined a three-year internal medicine residency in January 2009 at Addis Ababa University, which he completed in 2012. Upon completion of his residency and obtaining certification in Internal Medicine, Dr. Tioum returned to Hawassa University and worked as an attending physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine for two years. He also served as the Head of the Department during that time.
In early 2014, life took Dr. Tioum on a different course that landed him at a prestigious job as a Medical Advisor for the East African region at a multinational pharmaceutical company, Novartis Pharma AG. Dr. Tioum accepted the offer with enthusiasm due to his passion for clinical trial research and strong interest in the pharmaceutical aspect of medicine. Dr. Tioum welcomed the opportunity to participate in the company sponsored clinical trials and served as a speaker on numerous continuing medical education (CME) programs. In June 2015, Dr. Tioum left Novartis to travel to the U.S. for personal reasons.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday, June 23, 2015, the day I traveled to the U.S. It is a tough decision, to leave your most beloved ones back home to start a new live. However, after many sleepless nights, I made the final call and applied for asylum. I was fortunate enough to have family members and close friends here in the U.S. who were very supportive and helpful in this regard. I applied for asylum after a few months in the U.S. I wasted no time and started preparing for the USMLE exams right away while waiting for my Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Once I received my EAD, I completed all the required step exams and was ECFMG certified in August 2016.”
Dr. Tioum started applying for residency in September 2016 for the 2017 match season. He was matched on his first attempt to his top choice program in internal medicine. Dr. Tioum completed his residency (in fact, his second residency) in June 2020. After completing his US residency, Dr. Tioum decided to stay in Georgia at WellStar Health System. He is now working as a full-time Hospitalist at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital in Griffin, Georgia since August, 2020. As a Hospitalist, Dr. Tioum evaluates and treats hospitalized patients and works in collaboration with other consultant physicians and services to best benefit patients.
“I love my job very much. I feel blessed as I believe God has chosen me to serve his most loved creatures … human beings. It is a very satisfying job indeed. If I was given a second chance to choose a career, I would definitely choose to be a physician again.”
Dr. Tioum has mentored many medical students both in Ethiopia as well as here in the U.S. He along with other physician colleagues have a mentoring group called YetenaWeg, where they mentor medical students. His current Hospital will be starting an Internal Medicine residency this year and Dr. Tioum is excited to welcome the first batch of residents and continue his academic mentoring to share and transfer his knowledge in the field.
“My main motivation is my internal desire to not give up on my dreams or what I want. I am very optimistic. I always do what is expected of me and leave the rest to the Almighty God. This has never failed me. I am grateful for all the choices I have made, all the risks I have taken, for the wrong decisions that led me to the right ones that have put me on my current path, for all the challenges that made it all so worth it at the end. I am grateful for every day that’s given to me as a gift, to achieve my purpose of existence, to laugh, to learn, to love and to enjoy the life journey.”
It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Tioum on his immigration journey. His asylum case is still pending, but we are guiding him on a different and quicker path that will allow him to obtain his permanent residence through employment-based immigration, hopefully by this year.
“What I have learned in life is that life is not an easy ride. Life might take you on a different course than what you wanted with many ups and downs but no matter what, try to enjoy the ride, keep focused and work on achieving your dreams. Dream big and never give up! I believe the U.S. really is a country with opportunities and I am forever grateful for getting this chance to continue my dream of continuing to be a physician.”
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