The BRIIDGE program - Bridge to Residency for Immigrant International Doctor Graduates through clinical Experience - is a 9-month program that aims to help international medical graduates develop the skills necessary to become successful residents in the United States medical system.

To be eligible to participate in the BRIIDGE program, potential applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • MD degree or international equivalent
  • ECFMG Certification
  • Passing score on USMLE Steps 1 & 2 within 3 attempts
  • Born outside the United States
  • Now resides permanently in the United States as a citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • Has resided in Minnesota for at least 2 years by time of application
  • Did not enter the United States on a J1 or similar nonimmigrant visa following acceptance into a United States medical residency or fellowship program.

Learn more from this presentation.

To learn more and begin the application process, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Current participants can find the program manual here.

BRIIDGE trainees at the 2022 American Academy of Family Physicians conference

BRIIDGE trainees at the 2022 American Academy of Family Physicians conference

BRIIDGE in the News

Read about the BRIIDGE program's collaboration with the Community-University Health Care Center (CUHCC) in this 2023 article.

The BRIIDGE program and its important work to address the growing shortage of physicians in the U.S. is featured as part of the "Caring for regional communities" article in the November-December 2020 issue of Minnesota Medicine.

BRIIDGE Participants

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BRIIDGE Participants

Muhammad Reza Chaudhry (Reza)

Mohammed Reza Chaudhry

Born in Iran, med school grad in Grenada 

I was born in Iran and grew up in the United Arab Emirates. I have always loved traveling and visited several countries before moving to the beautiful tri-island state of Grenada, West Indies, where I completed both my medical degree and graduate degrees from St. George’s University. I am passionate about medical education, have conducted healthcare research, and co-authored published journal articles. 

Since being in Minnesota, I have found  job opportunities in workplace health and safety as well as healthcare simulation, which has allowed me to draw from my medical training. 
My long-term career goals include practicing medicine in underserved communities in Minnesota and patient advocacy. 

Outside of medicine, I enjoy looking for interesting items in antique stores, photography, hiking, and spending time with family.

Maxim Nikolaevskiy (Max)

Maxim Nikolaevskiy

Born and med school grad in Russia

My family was given the Diversity Visa, and we moved with our two kids to the USA, Moorhead, Minnesota from Russia in 2018. We have been living there since then. Before that I worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist in St. Petersburg, Russia, for two years after my residency. 

The reasons to choose Minnesota were numerous: good social support, high Human Development Index; one of the most important reasons was the four-season climate with temperatures close to my home country.

In the USA I started as a research coordinator and later worked as a Clinical Research Associate, which means that I traveled a lot to different parts of the country to ensure that investigators conduct clinical trials according to regulations.

After residency, my hope is to be not just a physician for this patient, this minute, but for families of the community over a long period by helping to maintain and build health and well-being throughout their lifetime.


Melissa Rieger

Melissa Rieger

Born in Chile, med school grad in Colombia

I am originally from Chillan, Chile.  I graduated Medical School from the Universidad Javeriana 

Bogotá, Colombia in 2008.  I completed my Masters in Biomedical Research in 2010 and my PhD in Molecular Oncology at the University of Navarra, Spain in 2014.  

After moving to the US I have been a Stay-at-Home Mom.  In my free time I have completed observerships at Hudson Physicians in Hudson, WI and volunteered at LEX Pregnancy Center, East Bethel as an advocate for women considering abortion. These experiences reinforced my passion for Primary Care.

Dadee Saye

Dadee Saye

Born in Liberia, med school grad in The Gambia 

I was born and raised in Liberia, West Africa. I completed my undergraduate degree in biology from Cuttington University in Liberia. Thereafter, I enrolled at the University of The Gambia, where I completed my medical education. After graduation, I went back to Liberia and completed my internship training and an additional intensive six months of emergency surgical and obstetric training offered by the Ministry of Health of Liberia. This  additional training provided general practitioners the skills needed to work in rural Liberia. I was later assigned as a general practitioner at Phebe Hospital in central Liberia. My practice consisted of inpatient care on the surgical and medical wards, emergency department shift work and chronic disease outpatient clinics. My experience working in central Liberia with vulnerable populations solidified my passion for primary care and my desire to work with underserved communities.

After moving to the United States to join my family, I completed a master’s degree at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. I have done clinical observerships at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and the HealthPartners Clinics in Brooklyn Center and St. Paul. I am eager to go into primary care and work in rural and underserved communities in Minnesota, a state that has become a home for my family and many immigrants.

2018 Participants


L to R: top: Emily Langerak, Jaya Durvasula, MD, Hope Pogemiller, MD, Mike Westerhaus, MD, Bukhari Burale, MD, Chris Miller
bottom: Ahmad Al-Anii, MD, Mahmoud Alatbee, MD, Salahudin Maalim, MD, Pat Walker, MD

briidge 2018

2021 Participants

Sonia Chowdhury

Doctor Sonia Chowdhury

I was born and raised in Bangladesh. I attended a Government Medical College for my medical school training. I have stayed in Minnesota since I migrated in the US. I love the distinct four seasons I get here, the explosion of fall color, the breathtaking cold on a moonlight night, and the warm breeze on a relaxed summer evening. I am delighted I live in MN, the heaven on the earth.

Medicine is my passion. I feel rewarding to work with people of all ages to help them as they establish their health care goals and needs. I am excited to be a part of the UMN BRIIDGE Program and is proud to work with such a fantastic team of preceptors. 

Outside of medicine I enjoy outdoor activities, spending time with my family, friends, and gardening.

Hear Dr. Chowdhury's story in her own words

Asila Osman

Doctor Asila Osman

My name is Asila Osman, I was born in Somalia, But I grew up between Saudi Arabia and later in my childhood my family moved to the U.S., then I went to Medical school in Sudan at the international University of Africa. The experience of growing up and going to school in very different countries helped me develop good skills in communicating with people from different cultures and backgrounds and really enjoy it. After graduating Medical School I moved to Minneapolis, and worked as a Medical Interpreter and in health insurance. During that time I also found opportunities to do observerships in different primary care clinics, which is where I found my dream to be a practicing primary care physician in the future. While working there I enjoyed seeing the long- term relationships and trust the doctors built with their patients over the years, and how they helped them manage complex chronic illnesses. I am very excited to get back to learning and practicing medicine, and looking forward to giving back to the community.

Hear Dr. Osman's story in her own words

Folubi Salami

Doctor Folubi Salami

My name is Folubi Salami. I was born and raised in Lagos Nigeria. I had the collective experience of growing up in a country that had limited access to healthcare services. The resilience of the human spirit coupled with experiencing the healthcare delivery system in the United States blostered my intrest in quality health care. I moved to the beautiful island of St Kitts and Nevis to attend medical school at Windsor University school of medicine. I am passionate about health equity, a big advocate of helping the underserved minority community and ensuring patient access to health services.  Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, cooking, playing soccer, discovering new music, and pretty much any activity outdoors.

Hear Dr. Folubi's story in his own words

Grace Kollannoor Samuel

Doctor Grace Kollannoor

Dr. Grace Kollannoor Samuel, MBBS, MS, PhD, is a medical doctor and epidemiologist with significant expertise in public health, social determinants of health, and health care research. After earning her medical degree, Grace practiced among the rural communities in her home state of Kerala, India. Later, she earned her Doctoral degree in Public Health (Chronic Disease Epidemiology) from Yale University, and Masters in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut. Grace has worked closely with the coastal communities and undernourished pediatric populations in Kerala, underserved Latino communities in Connecticut, and public program beneficiaries in Minnesota. Grace has published 10 peer-reviewed original research articles in reputed journals, including the Diabetes Care and the American Journal of Public Health, and has been contributing to the wellbeing of Minnesotans in her current role as a Senior Research Scientist in the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Hear Dr. Samuel's story in her own words

2022 Participants

Abdulaziz Gabow


Abdulaziz Gabow

I was Born to Somali parents and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I earned my medical degree from Elrazi University in Khartoum, Sudan. After completing my medical intern year in Riyadh, I moved to the US in 2017 to pursue residency training.

During this journey, I discovered a profound interest in community-focused projects while working for 2 years at an FQHC clinic as a clinical assistant and community health worker. This experience ignited a strong passion for primary care.

I'm excited to further my training through a community-oriented program, aiming to enhance my skills and make meaningful contributions to the realm of primary care. My future aspirations are centered around immigrant/refugee health and improving health literacy in underserved communities.


Adaobi Izuora


Adaobi Izuora

I was born in Enugu, Nigeria and am a graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka, College of Medicine. I trained at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in the Department of Pediatrics. I obtained a Master in Public Health at the University of Lagos. I practiced at the Isolo General Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria-- a Community Hospital that has a high patient load with a focus on preventive, primary, and secondary health care. I worked simultaneously at Roding and Havana private hospitals in Lagos, taking care of pediatric patients with communicable and non-communicable diseases. 
Since arriving in the US, I have been working at a DaVita Dialysis Unit as part of the team caring for end-stage renal disease patients on dialysis.

Khalid Haji-Kusow


Khalid Haji-Kusow

I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia but moved to Toronto, Canada, at a young age following the civil war. I graduated from Windsor University School of Medicine and completed my clinical clerkship in Chicago, IL working extensively with its various underserved communities. Upon graduating, I practiced as a general practitioner in Kenya and Somalia, where I discovered a true passion for primary care. My time there was eye-opening and taught me life lessons that I will always carry with me. 

I moved to Minneapolis in 2019, and relocating here has been a gratifying experience. It has allowed me to engage in many efforts targeting vulnerable populations in the Twin Cities, focusing on health and wellness. I've worked with organizations on projects varying from improving health literacy to combating the stigma around substance abuse disorders. I am interested in preventative health and community wellbeing, promoting inclusivity, and advocating for minority and immigrant communities, particularly in the clinic setting. I am excited to be a part of this program and very grateful for the opportunity to learn from such accomplished preceptors.

Mervat Lotfalla


Mervat Lotfalla

I am originally from Egypt. I earned my medical degree from Cairo University School of Medicine. After graduation, I worked as a Family Physician in an underprivileged part of Egypt. I continued my post-graduate education at Minia University School of Medicine, earned a Master’s Degree in OB-GYN, and served as an attending OB-GYN Physician in Egypt. I have done research (now published) on the age of menarche in Mallway, Minia, Egypt. When coming to the US, I finished all the three steps of the USMLEs and obtained a second MD degree from the All-Saints University School of Medicine in Dominica. I hold two RN Licenses in the US.  I am eager to begin residency and obtain my medical license in order to contribute to efforts to address health inequities in Minnesota. I am a compassionate person who always wants to help people and enjoys participating in community outreach. I am currently the president of Saint George Antiochian Women Organization, a non-profit organization in Minnesota that serves women and their families. I am also a children’s teacher at St. George church school. I enjoy cooking Middle Eastern cuisine and socializing with family and friends in my spare time.



Education Manager

Emily Langerak
Phone: 612-626-6103

CIH Site Director

Mike Westerhaus, MD

UMM-FV and Ridges Site Director

Hope Pogemiller, MD

FV Highland Park Site Director

Deqa Mohamed, MD

CUHCC Site Director

Aarti Bhatt, MD