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Bruce Dahlman, MD of Grand Marais Honored with AAFP 2020 Humanitarian Award

Feb 18, 2021 05:38PM ● By Editor

Dr. Dahlman working in Africa.  Photo courtesy : MAFM


From the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians - February 17, 2021


The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has named Minnesota family physician Bruce Dahlman, MD, MSHPE, FAAFP, of Grand Marias, Minnesota, the 2020 recipient of its prestigious Humanitarian Award.

This award was developed to acknowledge extraordinary and enduring humanitarian efforts, both within and beyond the borders of the United States, and is presented annually to 1 of the AAFP’s 136,700 members.

Dahlman has made a lasting impact on the specialty of family medicine through his efforts to expand family medicine training to under-resourced communities across rural Africa. For more than 25 years, Dahlman has worked with medical missions through the African Inland Mission International and Institute of Family Medicine (Nairobi) to provide essential medical care while also teaching and mentoring physicians. Among his accomplishments, he helped launch Kenya’s first family medicine training program at Moi University and was the founding head of the Department of Family Medicine at Kabarak University in East Africa.

David Hutchinson, MD, past delegate of the AAFP and past president of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, had this to say: “With vision, focus, courage and perseverance, [Bruce] has helped to re-craft the landscape of medical practice in Sub-Saharan Africa in the image of family medicine’s values. It is not surprising that in Kenya he is considered the ‘father of Kenyan family medicine’.”

Dahlman began his career as a full spectrum rural family physician, serving some of the most underserved rural communities in Minnesota. While he has worked in Africa to expand family medicine training and develop physicians and faculty, Dahlman has continued to have a presence in our state, teaching and educating family medicine residents, medical students and colleagues about the relationship between global health and family medicine.

As part of his work in growing and developing the family medicine workforce in under-resourced areas, he has helped to develop and distribute the Digital African Health Library Service to primary care workers who are practicing in remote locations in East and Central Africa. The service is a mobile phone-based, integrated search engine with more than 50 evidence-based handbooks, guidelines, formularies and journals with special emphasis on Africa-relevant resources that support clinical decision-making at the point of care.

President of the AAFP Ada Stewart, MD, FAAFP, said, “Throughout Dahlman’s career, he has worked tirelessly to improve the health and lives of people in underserved communities. He has done this not only by providing essential medical care, but also by working to build a sustainable education and health care delivery system on a family medicine foundation. The AAFP Board of Directors commends Dahlman for his excellence as a clinician, administrator, teacher and mentor; his innovative spirit; his lifetime contributions to medical education and our specialty; and the profound influence his collaborative leadership has had in Africa and the United States.”

Dahlman currently provides emergency care through Wapiti Medical at North Shore Health and is a hospitalist for the Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia. He continues his work in Africa to expand family medicine training and the Digital African Health Library Service and is also working to expand emergency team training through the Global Comprehensive Advanced Life Support course. Dahlman is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he began his training on the Duluth campus. He completed his residency in family medicine at the University of North Dakota and received a master’s degree in health professions education from Maastricht University in the Netherlands.


About the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians
The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota, representing more than 3,100 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students. The MAFP is the state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians and works to promote the specialty of family medicine in Minnesota and support family physicians as they provide high quality, comprehensive and continuous medical care for patients of all ages.

About the American Academy of Family Physicians
Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.