Three Week Sprint

I hope that you had a phenomenal Thanksgiving break!

I can’t complain about my (unofficially extended) break at all. These past 11 days have been very refreshing for me. Getting out of Winston-Salem to see friends and family in Miami and Virginia was revitalizing, to say the least.  One of the highlights of my trip back home had to be all the free, home-cooked meals I had on Thanksgiving Day. The leftovers were hella clutch too. (Shoutout to my mom and my little sister! 😄) Another highlight was the fact that I wasn’t walking into freezing temperatures due to the unusually warm weather that hit Hampton Roads this past weekend. Like, the sun was actually beating down on me for the past few days and I could actually wear a T-shirt and cargo shorts out. Pretty crazy. And oh yeah, I can’t forget about my airport experience that further confirmed my belief that taxi drivers are MAJOR a-holes…but that’s another story for another day. All in all, between gaining several gratifying pounds in three days and showing no mercy to everyone I crushed in Mortal Kombat and FIFA, my few days at home were pretty relaxing.

But of course, you can’t ever be totally relaxed and in medical school at the same time. I was playing catch-up with biochemistry the whole break and every time I thought I was close to finally being 3/4 of the way done, there would be new material to study. Not only that, but I had several assignments to complete, one of which was an essay. Good thing I still have another week to finish that…because that definitely did NOT happen over break. I meant to get that done on the plane to VA, but I only got up to the brainstorming phase of it 😅. Although I’m still playing catch-up with biochem, it’s really helpful that I’ve already studied most of this material back in college. Therefore, I’m not stressing. As a matter of fact, I’m very ready for the all the chaos that these next three weeks are about to bring.

We got four different exams to take before winter break? Shiiii, bring it.

We have about 20 lectures between now and break? Whaaateva.

I’m pretty much going to be studying non-stop until Dec. 18th? STUDYING IS LIFE.

All I needed was some time off out of Winston-Salem with friends and family to get re-energized. And now that I’ve done that, I’m ready to give 100% everyday until I leave here again for winter break. It’s also worth noting that being done with the repetitive and drowning cycle of anatomy has given me new life. SO here I am, a rejuvenated man, ready to take off on this harsh three-week sprint to my next break.

Before I take off though, I have to get back to studying the biochem that I neglected over the break. 😐

So stay blessed and make sure you have a productive week! And happy Cyber Monday shopping! I would have loved to indulge on the deals myself, but you see, the way these student loans (BLOOD MONEY) work…

Also, if you’re currently going through the med school application cycle, stay strong and keep on pushing! 

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Life After Anatomy

Ayyyyeeee!!!

Guess who blazed thru his Anatomy CUMULATIVE final exam?

Guess who doesn’t have to mindlessly memorize muscle groups and innervations anymore?

Guess who has (slightly) more free time now?

 

THIS GUY!!!


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Ain’t no more Anatomy bihhh!!!

After almost 13 grueling weeks of learning the intricacies and wonders of the human body, I can finally say that I’ve completed my first major milestone of medical school. After taking five demanding anatomy exams, I feel like I’ve finally gained a grasp of what to expect moving forward in my adventure at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It’s a pretty glorious feeling. Knowing that I’ve sucessfully completed a subject that many people fear coming into medical school makes me feel like I’ve achieved something momentous. More importantly, I hope it proves to those that haven’t experienced anatomy yet that passing and getting a decent grade in it is FAR from impossible. In my opinion, if you can make it to medical school then you automatically have a very high chance of passing anatomy. It’s a tough adjustment for sure, but if the admissions team selected you at their medical school in the first place, then they probably had a good feeling that you could handle anatomy, not to mention the demanding nature of medical school as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Life after anatomy. Finishing anatomy feels awesome, but that’s just the beginning of this journey. I now have to tackle Cellular & Subcellular Processes (CSP) for the next three months, which include Biochemistry, Pathology, Molecular Biology/Medical Genetics, Pharmacology, Microbiology & Immunology.

As a matter of fact, they actually thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and start biochemistry the day after the final anatomy exam. They must not know who I am. They cwwwazy if they thought I would go to class only to sit and have my eyes glaze over as they drone on about material I could watch online and learn on my own. Thank God for recorded lectures. (Shoutout to the Tegrity heroes of our class, y’all know who you are 😉).  I had to go ahead and start my Thanksgiving break a week early, y’all already know I needed to leave country-ass Winston-Salem for a little bit. I simply couldn’t take two exams and start a block of new material in a single week…that’s just ridiculous to me. If they won’t give me the breaks I want, I’ll make my own damn breaks. Who gon’ stop me?

I also finally got to talk to my assigned ophthalmologist mentor and he told me now that anatomy is over, I should begin supplementing my studies with Step 1 materials. Not really the words I wanted to hear. Honestly, I didn’t want to have to think about that crucial exam right now seeing that I’m taking it in the spring of 2017. But if it is going to be the one test that pretty much determines my future, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to start investing some time (and money) into it as early as possible. He was so gung-ho about getting a great score on Step 1 though…like I asked him about summer research and volunteer work and he just said, “depends on how you’re feeling with your Step 1 studies.” I hate that one test can single-handedly limit my options as to the type of doctor I would like to be. With the fact that you can only take it once and that there are specific cutoff scores for different specialties at different residency locations, it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a lot more annoying than the MCAT. That’s just great.

You see, this is why I needed to unofficially extend my Thanksgiving break.

I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to come back to Miami for a few days before flying back home in a couple of days. It has been awesome to surprise old friends down here with a visit and to catch up with them on life. I even ran into a number of people that have told me that they actually keep up with this blog and love it! That warmed my heart up. 😄 It’s good to see that pretty much everyone I’ve talked to is doing pretty well and are keeping their eyes on their respective goals. By the way, I want to give a huge shoutout to Tau Rho for bringing in their new line Friday night, y’all hella deep now lol.  Special shoutout to the #12 too, you know who you are 😉. It’s also been nice to look at all the palm trees and to walk around UM’s campus again. I don’t miss the ridiculous traffic here though, or the strangling humidity. I know that people can’t drive down here, but it still surprised me how much bull I’ve seen on the streets so far in the few days I’ve been here. Smh. Anyhow, I’ve really missed it here…but we all gotta grow up and expand our comfort zones right?

Well, I’m going to continue enjoying this break and each of y’all out there should do the same! Happy early Thanksgiving to each of you! And to those of you that don’t necessarily celebrate Thanksgiving, feel free to still stuff your face with food! And to those of you that got money to blow, have fun Black Friday shopping!

– Black Man, M.D.

Being Thankful in a Crazy World

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to take a break from school than I am now.

Sure growing up, I loved Thanksgiving, winter and summer breaks, but this is very different. I feel like I need this break coming up. I’m mentally exhausted and I feel like I need to leave this area for a little bit…I’ve been here since July. I need to see my family and friends again, and I just need to interact with people that aren’t just going to talk about school 24/7. Anatomy has worn me the hell out, and I still got this final CUMULATIVE exam that I have to take on Wednesday. Sheesh. I just took my fourth anatomy exam two days ago and I’m still recovering from that block of material…but they wanna slap us with this BS knowing damn well most of us are gonna be looking at this final like:

I mean come on. Like, I tried to start reviewing stuff that I learned back in August, but then my eyes started glazing over after five minutes and now here I am typing out my latest post. I don’t know how on earth I’m going to even start reviewing all of anatomy in the next two-and-a-half days. I’ll probably just do a good amount of review questions and call it a day. I’m convincing myself I know all the material I need to know for the final, I just have to find it in my head lol. Also, I’m just happy to have gotten thru my fourth test, meaning that there are no more lab dissections (😄) and NO MORE PRACTICALS!!! Speaking of my previous test, I think that I did alright on it, but I don’t know if I topped my third test. A lotta people were telling me that this test, which tested the upper and lower limbs, was going to be easier than the third test (head & neck). Nahhhhh. This was probably just as hard as the third test in my opinion, because there was just SO much information thrown at us at once. Also, it didn’t help that our weeks leading up to this test were packed with extra afternoon sessions, which didn’t give me as much time to study for this test as I had for the third one. But whatever, I did my best on this one like on the other ones and I hope it shows when I get my grade back this week.

You know, I feel annoyed that I’m complaining about this final exam. Almost ashamed. I mean here I am acting like this final is the biggest burden of my life while kids in places like Syria are living in daily fear that either them or one of their loved ones will be permanently silenced by the inferno of an explosion or the deadly penetration of a bullet. Innocent lives are lost everyday for no reason and all I can do is sit here and watch. It reminds me that I’m so privileged and blessed to be where I am, doing what I’m doing and to have such a strong support system in my life. Sometimes I wonder how and why I ended up with the life I currently have and not as a young man of Muslim faith desperately seeking refuge, or a child somewhere in an impoverished region of an African country living on pennies a day. Or as a young farmer born in the isolated North Korea. Or as the son of a wealthy billionaire in California. Or as one of those brutally murdered in the recent, atrocious Paris attacks. Only God knows. The most I can do is accept where I am and help to provide healing and peace to the world, something I still don’t know how to do on a large scale. Crazy things happen in this world every day and I’ve become numb to a lot of it, but this recent massacre in Paris has been weighing on my mind as of late. After hearing about it Friday afternoon, I first thanked God that my family in Paris and in France were safe. Then I actually fell into a mini-depression the rest of the day. I was left wishing there was something I could do to prevent things like that or the Syrian Civil War from happening, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Why can’t some people just see each other as people? Why can’t they recognize that we are all the same in that we are different, and as human beings we are united? Why do we have to discriminate against and negatively stereotype each other in order to make ourselves feel better? Why do some of us insist on turning this magnificent planet into a terrible world? Hell, why can’t we all just get along? It’s highly frustrating to me that a concept as simple as love cannot be universally realized in this world; a world that has already been sprouted from the roots of greed, insecurity and pride. Of course, there is plenty of good happening in the world, but it usually gets overshadowed by the widespread evil coursing through a good portion of the people that inhabit this planet.

But I’m most likely preaching to the choir here. I’m just rambling my current thoughts. There is really no point in adding my two cents to the many issues that we are all presently facing right now. I’m just another guy with another opinion. Opinions by themselves don’t do a damn thing. Actions are what catalyze change. I don’t know if the world will ever be peaceful and equal. Human nature just won’t allow it. But we can continue to work to get as close to that goal as we can. It pains me that the most I can do is pray for the current state of the world, but if that’s all I can currently do, I’ll pray my heart out.

Y’all be blessed and have an incredible week!

– Black Man, M.D.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

Final Push!

TEN MORE DAYS.

That’s what’s separating me from now and freedom. Well, freedom from anatomy. Biochemistry is right around the corner but we won’t talk about that right now. Just ten days. Granted, I gotta take two different tests in this ten-day span but at this point I don’t even care. I’ve finally developed a study groove in anatomy and I plan on finishing strong. Bring on test #4. Bring on that CAS Cumulative Final Exam. Speaking of which, who’s idea was it to have a cumulative final exam on 12 weeks of jam-packed anatomy FOUR DAYS AFTER our fourth exam?? Like, how could someone possibly cram details of the whole body in four days, especially right after taking an exam? I don’t know what kind of games they playing or what they’re smoking. But it’s gotta be done. So this is what I’m going to do. I’ll give it my all once again on my next exam this Friday and then I won’t stress about the final. Sure I’ll study during the four days before it, but I’m not going to kill myself over it. As a matter of fact, I’ll mix some Bernie Mac Show, Netflix movies, college football and FIFA into my studying. That’s the beauty of pass/fail y’all. If I do decent enough on the test before my final, I don’t have to worry about scoring high. Shiii, it may even be possible to score a zero on the final and still pass the class. Granted, I’m not scoring a zero…I literally won’t allow myself to tank a test on purpose lol. But I also won’t spend 18 hours a day trying to digest material that I spent the last 11 weeks learning at an accelerated pace. You see, I’m convinced they’re playing mind tricks y’all. Alongside learning the art of medicine, I’m convinced some of the faculty wanna see us stress and struggle as well as observe how we handle all the stress they put on us. They not gonna stress me tho! No suhhh, NOT ME!! I’m really about to be on that “work smarter, not harder” grind during the four days before the final. They really got me all f-ed up if they think ima be posted in the library studying till 6 AM like it was the USMLE Step 1 exam.

So yeah, ten more days and I’m done with anatomy. It’s come to the point where I’ll be unconsciously naming muscle groups in my head while I’m lifting weights. I even go as far as trying to figure out what arteries and nerves supply the muscles I’m working on. That’s when you know it’s gone too far. Anatomy has taken over my life y’all. 😳 If I had this same study mentality in college, I know for a fact that I would’ve gotten summa cum laude. But I also had a much bigger social life in college, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world lol. Enough about anatomy. In regards to the practical skills that I will actually use as a doctor, I’m finding that I’m starting to feel more confident in patient interviewing. I don’t know what it is about taking a patient’s history, but I was having a good amount of trouble at first trying to keep a conversation flowing while remembering what specific questions to ask and how to specifically ask them. So I ended up getting additional practice with my clinical skills coaches, because although I’ve been told my personality has been helping me with my patients, my patient interviewing skills were pretty sub-par. Which means your boy can only go up from here and shoot for Most Improved! The more I practice patient-interviewing, the more I realize that the whole process is a game, in a way. You see, you gotta go in there hella confident and have the purpose of getting the patient to trust you while you are getting to know the patient. Confidence is key because even if you are only four months into medical school, the patient is going to see you as a doctor of some sort since you have a white coat on. Then as you’re learning from the patient, you gotta hit the key points of the interview:

  • When did your symptoms first start?
  • How long have you been dealing with your pain?
  • Where exactly is the pain located/Where is the pain radiating?
  • How would you describe the pain? (Quality of pain)
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bad is the pain? (Quantity/Severity)
  • What are some activities that alleviate the pain?
  • What are some activities that aggravate the pain?
  • What are some associated symptoms of your condition?
  • How is the pain impacting your quality of life?
  • What were you doing when you first noticed the pain?
  • Have you had any past experiences with your current condition?

And each time questions are answered in the interview, you get points. The more points you get, the better your chances of winning the game when you have to give a patient presentation. Trick is, you have to ask these questions without coming across as cold or disassociated from the patient’s emotions. You have to let the patient have some control over the interview and show them that you care if you want to get as much information as possible. But you see how hard it is to remember all that while trying to hold a regular conversation with the patient?? Okay maybe you don’t, but I found it very challenging. And that’s just the history-taking portion! In real life, I’ll have to do a physical exam, a separate family and social history, a past medical history, a review of systems and a treatment plan.

I think my problem was that I gave the patient way too much time to talk about his/her life and that I couldn’t necessarily redirect the interview to where I needed it to go. Hell, the last two patients I interviewed ended up crying mid-way thru the conversation. That’s where my empathy skills shined bright. It goes to show how human the patients are and how as doctors we have to remember that we are treating more than a disease; we’re treating a human being with a disease that is impacting his/her overall life. I definitely plan on keeping my empathetic skills strong, and I’m glad to say that I’ve been recently doing better gleaning vital information from the patients I’ve been interviewing. As a matter of fact, one of the patients I interviewed made me promise to her that I would keep my bedside manner and active listening skills as I grow into a doctor. So I intend on keeping that promise.

I mentioned patient presentations earlier. That’s when you go to your team and present to them the information you got from the patient. I had to do that for the first time last Thursday and mannn was that a challenge. My clinical skills coach didn’t even give me time to gather my thoughts 😐. There’s actually a certain way you have to present patients and the presentation comes with certain terminology. I was forced to think quick and use the notes I hastily scribbled down during the interview to come up with a presentation. I’m not sure if that’s how patient presentations work though, I could have sworn doctors had more time to organize their notes before presenting…

Oh and I am also currently learning how to do patient write-ups, which is where we write a formal description of the patient that includes the answers to all the questions that we asked them in the history-taking portion of the patient interview. The overall write-up also includes the other parts of the patient encounter such as the physical exam review, the family and social history, the past medical history, the review of systems and the treatment plan for the patient. But we’re taking baby steps right now, so I’ve only done the HPI (history of present illness), family/social history and review of systems portions. I thought it was simple enough to write a description of the patient, but I’ve been ripped both times I’ve submitted a write-up so far lol. I’m not sure if my coach is just being hard on me or if my write-ups actually suck, because I genuinely thought I was doing a good job on those. 😅 Well we all gotta start somewhere right? I’d rather suck and learn valuable advice now than go into my third-year with no prior clinical experience. Shoutout to Wake for having us interact with patients often throughout our first two years of medical school, this experience is really helping me out.

Alright, I’m finished.

Thanksgiving needs to hurry on up and get here.

Have an incredible week everyone! Stay positive and focused on your goals! Be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Shoutout to everyone back in Miami that got tapped into Iron Arrow!! I was very excited to see all of the new members of the tribe! I wish I was there for the tappings and for Homecoming…nevertheless, Welcome to the Tribe! Y’all deserve it!!!

Still Chugging Along

Shoutout to this extra hour we got today!

Because of this extra hour, I was able to get through this past Friday’s lecture, get my laundry done, cook my lasagna, write this post, and STILL have time to continue studying tonight. And the best part is, I woke up at noon! 😏

One thing that always annoyed me about Daylight Savings is the fact that it gets dark so early…but now that I’m always up by 7 AM, it will actually be nice to have the sun halfway out by the time my alarm slaps me out of my dreams. I usually study my afternoons and nights away regardless, so it doesn’t really matter to me anymore that it’s going to get dark early. Plus it’s getting cold outside so you won’t catch me enjoying nature after class or anything. So again, shoutouts to this extra hour!

Also, about that MIRACULOUS final play of the UM vs. Duke game last night…yooooooooo I’m still trippin’ over it. I damn near lost my voice watching it because I was mad that they started lateral passing….I was yelling at my screen because I really thought it was gonna all end on some BS…but then I was like, “this could ACTUALLY work”….and then by the time Elder started sprinting to the endzone to score, I had lost my mind. It didn’t help that I already had a bit of Ciroc in my system (s/o to Diddy). The best part of it all was that I was watching it with a couple Duke fans that were talking hella mess right before the kick return because they were up by one point with eight seconds left. The football team really needed that win, considering the insane week they’ve been having. (R.I.P. Dana Smith). It’ll also give them the confidence they need to smash UVA this weekend at Homecoming. (I’m still hella salty I’m missing Homecoming this year…but there’s always next year. SMH.) But anyways, that whole scenario definitely made my night, even if it was a hella controversial call. If y’all wanna talk controversy, let’s talk about why we don’t have six national titles…

That win made my already great weekend that much better. Between being Trinidad James (LMAO) at the Halloween party that Wake threw and going to WSSU’s (Winston-Salem State University) homecoming party, it ended up being one of the better weekends I’ve had so far in good ol’ Winston-Salem. You would be surprised at how much free time you can make for yourself in your first-year of med school if you schedule your studies and commitments right lol. Too bad I probably won’t have that much fun on a weekend again here until who knows when. *Sigh.*

I’m glad to say that I have 17 days of anatomy left until I’m finally done with it all. It has been a rich experience and I’m happy to say I’ve learned a ton of useful information…..but I’m over it. I like learning in lab and all too, but I’m also over going to mandatory labs to dissect. Shiii, I just need a little break from medical school in general. Thank God for Thanksgiving. I’m so ready to go home and chill for a little while. It’s taking all I have to get through this last section of anatomy. As for the test on the head & neck region that I took a little over a week ago, it ended up being by far my best test as of yet! Turns out those brain lesion artery questions and the nerves on the practical didn’t end up tanking me. 😎 So that makes my personal record 2-for-2 now, I’m keeping the streak alive!! Let’s see if I can top this score on my next test… 😅

Well, that’s all I got today. Gotta get back to studying, it’s gonna be another long week since the faculty wanted to pack our schedules with afternoon classes (again) along with lectures and labs on the arms, and eventually legs. However, I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor I got paired up with at a faculty/student mixer later on this week, so that’ll be nice. Even though I know what my interests are in and what I’ll need to do in order to get where I want to be, it will be nice having an ophthalmologist dedicated to my personal and professional growth in medicine.

Lastly, to everyone going through the application cycle for medical school, STAY STRONG!!! Trust yourself, you’ve already made it this far!

Y’all have an awesome week! Thanks for reading!

– Black Man, M.D.