Breezing Thru Break

I’ve forgotten how easy life could be sometimes. This past week has been the chillest week I’ve had since summer break, and it has felt amazing. Just being able to wake up and not having to plan out where and how I’m going to study has been a blessing in itself. The free and authentic food I’ve had this past week has been a BIG plus too. I’ve been having a pretty great time sharing laughs with my family and friends here in VA and just relaxing in general. From playing video games to sleeping in to reminiscing on childhood with my siblings, there hasn’t been a dull moment being home from school. I gotta say, both my life and the people in it are surely blessings that I’m truly thankful to have. Growing up and understanding the true meaning of Christmas and the holiday season in general has made each subsequent holiday break I’ve experienced that much more meaningful and enjoyable. It’s come to the point where I don’t expect anything for Christmas anymore…I’m just happy to be able to come home to a strong and healthy family that is continuously being blessed by God. Seeing my siblings and parents happy and doing well is a good enough gift for me. The pajamas and wheat bran flakes I got for Christmas are just a bonus. 😂

I still have another good week of relaxation before school starts back up again, but I’m well aware that when school starts, IT’S GONNA START. With that said, I’ve been doing some real planning on what I’m going to be doing this next semester as well as this upcoming summer in order to become a more effective student. Not only that, but I feel that it’s about time that I start seriously considering how I’m going to approach the USMLE Step 1 exam that I’m taking in less than two years, since my score on that exam pretty much seals my fate. People keep telling me it’s never too early to start studying/reviewing for that test, so I’ll take their word for it. Lord knows I can’t screw up on that exam. I think the best thing I can do is get some Step 1 review books and review high-yield material in them while I’m learning the actual material in class. Much easier said than done I know, but I gotta start somewhere right? Also, I’m thinking about doing research possibly in regenerative medicine next semester because that field has really piqued my interest. It’s so freakin’ cool to me that cells are being engineered to grow into tissues and organs that can replace damaged ones. It’s almost like science fiction, except it’s real life. Regenerative medicine really looks like it’s going to be a big part in the future of medicine, so why not take a peek at how it works? But besides that, I’m thinking of also doing some research in ophthalmology or something relating to that field of medicine for the summer. I apparently need some kind of backbone in research to be seen as “competitive” when it comes to an ophthalmology residency, so I figured this upcoming summer would be as good of a time as any to get involved with that. And if research doesn’t work out for me in the summer, then I’ll maybe do some volunteer work abroad. I’ve been looking at this opportunity called Unite for Sight, where you can go to one of three countries (Ghana, Honduras, India) for as long as you want and help break down patient barriers to healthcare by educating the population about the importance of healthcare, performing glaucoma screenings, performing eye exams, testing visual acuity, observing eye surgeries, and doing many other things. Regardless of what ends up happening, I know for a fact that I’ll be using my summer in a productive manner. I’m not really giving myself a choice.

Well that’s really all I got to say today. See you in the New Year and enjoy the rest of the holidays with the company you plan on celebrating them with! Stay happy and true to yourself!

Bless up! (Shoutout to DJ Khaled 😂)

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (1/8) M.D.

 

Aye….guess what?

 

I JUST SPRINTED THRU THE FINISH LINE!!!

MY FIRST SEMESTER OF MEDICAL SCHOOL IS OVER!!!

 

 

 

The morning of July 27th almost feels like a lifetime ago…but at the same time, it’s incredible that we’re already in the middle of December. I really had to pause for a minute and reflect that it has really been 21 weeks since my first day of Orientation. 21 weeks. If we wanna count days, that’s 145 days starting from 9:00 A.M that July morning (7/27) up until last Friday (12/18) at noon.

145 days.

Bruh, that’s 3,459 hours.

Better yet, that’s 207,540 minutes.

I’ve been an official medical student for 207, 540+ minutes. Sheesh.

I’m so glad to be on this two-week break. SO GLAD. Like, I don’t know if you fully understand. These days of relaxation and celebration ahead of me are making me very, VERY ecstatic. I’ve been looking forward to them for a very, VERY long time. I had been looking forward to Thanksgiving too, but I had to worry about an impending Biochemistry exam. With this winter break, there are no impending exams. As a matter of fact, we don’t take our next test until the end of January. Turn uhhhhhh!!

Speaking of tests, let me tell you about this Genetics/Pharmacology exam that we took this past Friday. It was supposed to be very straightforward and relatively easier compared to the tests we have taken this semester. Our professors had implicitly assured us that we would be 100% prepared for the exam.

“You just have to know the overall concept,” they said.

“I won’t test you on specific details,” they said.

Of course, when a teacher says don’t worry about a particular thing in their notes, I still glance at it and make mental notes…but I definitely didn’t commit a majority of what they said not to worry about to memory. Also, the questions about the concepts that we needed to know were made quite a bit harder than I anticipated. That’s why my jaw had dropped so hard to the floor by the time I hit the 10th question. You know it’s gonna be a long test when you spend a good 25 minutes on the first ten questions…and mark near half of them to come back for review. There were only 66 questions on the test too, so each question had a good amount of weight on it, which made it all the more important to get as few wrong as possible. I had come into the test feeling so prepared, just KNOWING that I had a shot at getting a score in the 90’s for once, maybe even…….a perfect score?? 👀 👀 👀 But it turns out that the professors had ulterior motives. I went from shooting for a score in the 90’s on question 1 to just tryna make it through the test by question 45. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some pretty straightforward questions on the test that were easy to get through…but there were also quite a few complex, wordy questions with weirdly descriptive answers. We were basically bamboozled into thinking that it was going to be an easy test. But of course, it was made a lot harder than it needed to be. It was sad yo. And the whole experience was made even more dreadful with the crashing of the testing system in the middle of the examination period. I had already answered all my questions and was 10 questions away from completing my exam review when it crashed on me. When it crashed, a white screen popped up with a small sentence that stated that the system crashed and that I needed to restart my test.

Bruh, I was so scared that I lost all my answers. I literally stared at that white screen for a couple of minutes before realizing that half the people in my testing room had the same issue. The exam proctors were stuck with trying to figure out how to fix this issue while keeping a room full of highly annoyed medical students calm. Thankfully, they helped us in getting the issue resolved and I didn’t lose any of my answers…but not before having to sit there for an additional 30 minutes in that room when I had been literally 5 minutes away from submitting my exam. But oh well, such is life. Like I’ve said with my tests in the past, I’m sure I passed it…I just don’t know by how much.

Whaaaaatever, it’s done with and I’m chillin’ now. I’m going to have a blast spending Christmas with my family here in VA and then spending New Years’ with my girlfriend down in ATL. I don’t even wanna think about medicine right now. Thing is, I repeatedly find myself not only accidentally using medical terms when talking with my family, but also thinking about the mechanisms of the most random things. Sigh. I suppose this is what my life is becoming. I guess it isn’t so bad. Could very easily be a 100,000x worse.

I’m currently catching the itis because I just had some amazing iHop, so all I want to do is nap…but my brothers are begging to get their asses beat at FIFA, so now I gotta go and serve them the fixings. So I’ll leave with wishing each of you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy Holidays!

Please be safe and enjoy your loved ones! 

Be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Final Hurdle!

One More Week!!

You would think with the three examinations I had last week and with the never-ending supply of information being force-fed to us throughout these past couple of weeks that I would be crawling and gasping for air while hopelessly searching for the finish line…but I’m honestly not. As a matter of fact, I feel like I’ve caught my second wind. I feel like I’m in total control of my studies and that I’m at a very reasonable pace for my Genetics exam this Friday. It’s a glorious feeling. And yes, it’s entirely possible to feel calm and collected in the frenzied heat of medical school.

But to get to where I’m currently at, I had to get through last week….starting with the Biochemistry test bright and early last Monday. Have you ever taken a test where you blaze through a few easy questions and then get to a sequence of questions that tests you on topics that either go into WAY more detail than you covered in class or that you “weren’t supposed to worry about”, according to the professor? And the cycle just repeats itself over and over? That pretty much sums up that whole exam. I swear I had a couple cold sweats and gave more than a few blank stares to my computer screen while taking that exam. After finishing it, I felt like I had passed it but I didn’t really know by how much. We found out a couple days later that they ended up throwing out eight questions (GO FIGURE) from the 87 questions on the test, so my grade ended up being a lot higher than I expected. 😁

We ended up having afternoon classes the same day as the test, which dragged the day on..but I got through all that. We started Genetics the very next day, which actually wasn’t bad…but I was already busy preparing for my clinical skills exam (CPX) I had on Wednesday. I had decided to myself that if I was gonna do great on any test that week, it would be that one because I had to redeem myself from the first CPX exam I took back in October. Granted, I had done well on the physical exam portion of that first CPX, but my history-taking skills had fallen flat. They were so bad that I had been advised (required) to create and implement a plan to get better with history-taking, since it’s such an important part of being a doctor. 😅  So for the next few weeks, under the supervision of my coaches, I ended up getting extra practice with taking HPI’s (History of Present Illness) from patients as well as taking social, family and past medical histories. So with all that said, acing the interview portion of the exam this time around was a necessity. I went into the exam room with the standardized patient on Wednesday afternoon, where I was challenged with obtaining the chief complaint, HPI, Past Medical History, Family & Social History and to ask a series of general health questions called the Review of Systems, all before doing the actual physical exam where I would be taking her vitals (Heart & Respiratory rate, Blood pressure), performing a HEENT (Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat) exam, and palpating both her lymph nodes and thyroid.

I fell flat, again. 😔

Nahhhh I’m playing, I killed that interview! Turns out that all that extra practice paid the hell off, because I felt comfortable and relaxed throughout the whole encounter. I miraculously remembered everything I was supposed to ask her and I really just let the conversation flow while tailoring all my questions to whatever she was telling me. You know you’re doing it right when your 30-minute patient encounter feels like 10 quick minutes. The doctor that graded me pointed out a few mistakes I made, but overall she thought I did great and gave me an “effective performance” grade!

So I plan on only going up from here when it comes to interviewing patients and just doing my best to perfect that craft. The next day, my clinical skills group and I went up to the cardiology wards to do some more patient interviewing in order to become even more familiar with it. Before we did that though, we learned and practiced the new skill of taking a sexual history on each other. (Role-playing scenarios, of course.) It was…..different. It will absolutely be a skill that I’ll need to work on. Asking patients about their sexual history is definitely going to be quite the experience.

Then Friday came around, and our medical ethics exam/quiz came with it. That quiz was……yeah. I’m just going to say that giving a multiple choice examination on ethics is not the best idea, in my opinion. They should just stick to giving us papers to write and letting us have our discussions, not trying to force ethical questions from readings into multiple-choice format. We already have enough tests to worry about. I mean, I think I did fine but I won’t lie, there were some tricky questions/answer choices up there. But whatever, I took it and got it over with.

Then I had an awesome weekend. A couple of my classmates threw a holiday party Friday night where I sipped on some eggnog for the second time in my life, saw a ornamented deer’s head hung on a wall and made S’mores on an actual fire. Lol. Then on Saturday, I got the chance to be one of Santa’s little helpers at a church that was throwing a Christmas party for children diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. We helped the kids make Christmas cards, paint masks on their faces and make reindeer out of candy canes. Then we passed out wrapped, donated gifts to the kids, who all for the most part were pretty excited to receive them. It was a fantastic experience. Later that night, I found myself in Durham at an SNMA (Student National Medical Association) social, networking with other minority medical students from Duke and UNC with my fellow Wake friends. That was a ton of fun, if I do say so myself. It was awesome to be able to connect with medical students from other schools and to compare curriculums as well as share experiences. Also, you can’t beat free full-rack ribs and a turn up.

Now I’m here working on trying to end this semester with a BANG by doing the best I can on this test on Friday, which means I gotta get back to studying. THE GRIND NEVER STOPS.

Y’all make sure to have a positive week!

Walk with a smile and do to others what you would want done to you! 

– Black Man, M.D.

 

 

I’m Still Sprinting.

I don’t think I like having exams on Mondays.

Actually, I know for damn sure I don’t like having Monday exams.

But alas, we have our first Biochemistry exam tomorrow…and guess what Biochemistry topics are going to be on the exam? Go ahead, take your best shot. I insist.

Enzymes? Yeah.

Bioenergetics? Yep. Keep going, there’s more.

Lipid Metabolism?? Uh-huh.

Amino Acids??? Yuuuuuup.

Are you starting to catch the drift? You guessed it, we’re being tested on ALL of Biochemistry tomorrow. Yes, we started the topic less than three weeks ago. How they managed to pack a class that took me a treacherous semester to get through in college in 18 days, I will never understand. And that’s including weekends and Thanksgiving y’all. I’m pretty amazed that I’ve been able to retain all this information in such a short amount of time…or at least I think I have. We’ll see tomorrow. Granted, all I’ve been doing since my last post is studying, studying, and studying. Almost every waking hour this past week has been spent poring through biochem notes ranging from pH to Carbohydrates to Interorgan Metabolism and everything in between. It’s been ridiculous man. I’ve even had to push back my bedtime so that I wouldn’t be too far behind in the class…to tell the truth, I have actually been playing catch-up in the class up until last night 😒. Shiii, I would still be like three lectures behind if it wasn’t for my awesome peers in my class. I greatly appreciate the fact that the vast majority of us are so willing to help each other out. It really reinforces how far teamwork and collaboration can get everyone…and it turns out that those are both highly essential skills that are needed in order to be an effective physician. Look at us working together like the little doctors we’re trying to be! So a HUGE shoutout to my class here at Wake and our guardian angels in the classes above us, y’all are much appreciated!

But like I said last week, I’m ready to keep this sprint going until I’m finally free for winter break. I’ve been working hard and it’s been an intense week, but I knew what was coming. I knew that I had to take on this exam tomorrow, take my clinical skills exam on Wednesday, and then take my medical ethics test on Friday. I also knew that I had to power through the very last day of class before break where I’ll be taking my Genetics/Pharmacology exam. None of this is fun…but at least it’s making the time fly by. Now I have only a two-week sprint in front of me. 😊

Positive vibes, Positive vibes.

I mentioned being an effective physician earlier and it made me think of what we discussed in our medical ethics class this past week. We focused on both bias and stigma, and how each of those implications of health in society could affect the doctor-patient relationship as a whole. I found it especially interesting how easy it is for some doctors to seek medical labels for people who differ from them in order to make their jobs easier. Kind of like fitting a patient into a box of some sort, you know? We also discussed how stereotypes can affect the way patients are treated, and how it can stifle opportunities to learn about people of other races, classes and cultures. As doctors, I’m sure that we’ll be trained to screen for specific diseases based on a patient’s ethnicity or race. And in my opinion, that’s all good because if it’s proven by research that people of a certain ethnic group are more prone to a certain disease or genetic trait, it only makes sense to use that knowledge to help guide the doctor in curing the patient. Stereotyping becomes a problem when it’s used to make judgments about a patient that doesn’t help the patient get well. Asking a young, uninsured black African man if he has been screened for sickle-cell disease is different from assuming that he is unintelligent and is probably living off welfare. Screening out diseases for a susceptible group of people is being effective and looking out for the health of the patient ; assuming character traits is not. Being an effective physician also means not only realizing that every patient has their own unique life story, but also how to use their story to come up with a solution to their health issue. Trying to judge a person by what they look like just won’t work. That plus it’s a very simple-minded approach. Hell, you could be a more effective person in general just by remembering that everyone has a life story just like you. The world would be a better place if people just simply treated others the way they would want to be treated.

But I digress. I need to finish preparing for this test tomorrow, not spilling out my thoughts.

I hope that your week turns out to be a remarkable one!!!

– Black Man, M.D.