An Afghan Refugee's Road to Becoming a Prize-Winning Doctor

Medscape Staff

October 07, 2021

Saleema Rehman, MD, was born and raised in refugee camps in Pakistan, where she saw a need for better health resources for women. Now a gynecologist serving displaced Afghan women, she has received international recognition for her work.

What to know:

  • Rehmanthe, the first female refugee doctor from Afghanistan's Turkmen ethnic group, recently won the UN High Commissioner for Refugees's regional Nansen Refugee Award for outstanding work for displaced people.

  • Rehman credits her father with setting her on the path to becoming a doctor by encouraging her, traveling with her while applying to medical schools, and working to pay for her education.

  • She decided to become a gynecologist because of her residency work with refugee Afghan women, as well as her mother's difficult experience giving birth to her, when few health resources were available.

  • Rehman faced obstacles in setting up her own medical practice because of her status as a displaced person. After several rejections, she was granted her license to start her own clinic in Attock, Pakistan.

  • Today she speaks at schools for refugees. She provides advice for young women, encouraging them to pursue their goals with hard work and determination.

This is a summary of the article "An Afghan Refugee Girl Grew Up to Be a Prize-Winning Doc — With a Little Help From Dad," published by NPR on October 5, 2021. The full article can be found on

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.