Shaking Up The Status Quo

WELLLLLPPP….it’s about that time again.

I’m taking my oh-so-lovely 2nd Neuro exam in less than 24 hours. (Testing My Brain On A Test On The Brain…..Take #2!) I want to believe I’m ready for it, but I also felt ready before the last exam I took and I ended up being left pretty bamboozled, to say the least. However, I now have a better feeling of what kind of questions to expect going into this upcoming test and I feel like I’ve been studying harder/smarter than I did for the first exam. Plus, I’ve prepared myself the best I could to handle any potential foolery that may be thrown at me during the test. Sooo even though I may have been hoodwinked last time,  I won’t let it negatively impact the way I approach this exam tomorrow. I honestly do believe I’m ready. I’m also ready to get it over with in order to move on to the next section of material, and to the end of the semester in general. Confidence is key y’all. Without it, you’ve already lost. Believe it to achieve it!

A few days ago during dinner, I got the pleasure to listen to Dr. Manisha Sharma speak on what it’s like to be a family medicine doctor that practices social medicine (social, not socialized) while engaging in “disruptive healthcare”. She defined “disruptive healthcare” as innovations in healthcare that challenge the status quo in the establishment and make quality healthcare more attainable and affordable to all. I’m so glad I decided to attend the talk. She was freakin’ awesome y’all. And hilarious. Coming from the Bronx, she described herself as a Puerto Rican girl trapped in an Indian girl’s body. 😂 It was a small amount of us there listening to her speak, but she took advantage of that by engaging all of us, making it an intimate conversation. She even took the chance of trying to learn each of our names (she said my name right…ON THE FIRST TRY!). It was, by far, one of the best talks I’ve been to since I’ve been here. After having dinner with some of the attendees, she began the conversation by telling us she never intended to be a doctor and was actually very interested in music, which really upset her Indian parents. They didn’t get any happier when she enrolled in music school after high school and got hired later on as a backup dancer for Prince. Yes, THE Prince (R.I.P.). She was all good until she was hit by a car in her early 20s by a careless driver, who childishly fled the scene. After going through surgery and racking up hospital bills, she learned that insurance wouldn’t cover her because a “3rd party was involved in the accident”. So here she was, a 22-year old music school graduate that could no longer dance, slapped with hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills because of a situation that wasn’t her fault. She said that’s when she started to get involved in health equity and in working to change how the healthcare industry worked. After some time, she realized that she would get further in her passion for health equity and policy change by becoming a doctor, so she enrolled at St. George’s University School of Medicine in the Caribbean, much to the delight of her parents. While she was there she became deeply passionate in getting to know the community surrounding her campus and she also became highly involved in community efforts by working heavily with Doctors for America. After finishing medical school, she took a break and focused on her work with Doctors for America (she was plugging hard for this organization lol), where she got the chance to even open up for President Obama at one point! She then completed her residency with a focus in Social Medicine and is now in Maryland working with the Surgeon General on policy change while at the same time teaching classes at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and treating patients in an innovative & integrative patient-centered environment (google Iora Health). Didn’t I tell you she was freakin’ awesome?

Throughout the whole presentation, she talked about how important it was to not only network on a continuous basis, but to also have a sense of community responsibility, or in her own words, “street cred”. She developed “street cred” with her patients by actually living in the communities she served and by learning where the people in the community went in their everyday lives (churches, grocery stores, parks, etc.). She also made a huge point of talking WITH the patients you’re treating, not talking DOWN on them. Treating your patients with dignity and respect will cultivate an environment of trust and will further build up your “street cred”. Another thing she stressed on was how crucial the “why” was when it comes to doing your job. She repeatedly stated that she has been able to successfully do everything she’s done so far by focusing on why she’s doing it all. Her passion truly guides her as well as drives her. What impressed me even more about her presentation (how is that even possible) was that although her PowerPoint was full of random & simple pictures, she was able to connect each of those pictures to her overall presentation in personal ways, which made her presentation all the more entertaining. She has a very powerful way of expressing her beliefs…she had me captivated throughout the whole presentation, even with the cold she had! Boooyyy she really made a career in Family Medicine sound good. Because Family Medicine is so flexible, she’s been free to pursue her passion of health equity in various ways. She keeps herself busy, but it’s very obvious that she loves what she does. I’m still riding strong for Ophthalmology, but like I’ve said before, I’m keeping my options open…

Okay lemme stop typing in wondrous awe and actually review some more for my test tomorrow. My ol’ 😍😍😍 lookin ahhh…

Have a blessed week! And remember, you gotta believe it to achieve it!

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

– Black Man, M.D.

What A Week

Aiiiiiight…..so this material for Neuroscience Exam #2 is starting to stack up on a youngin’.

We’ve had three weeks of lectures (23 lectures to be exact), and we have another 10 coming up this week. And our test is next Monday. We’re gonna be tested on material that encompasses all 33 lectures.

So with all that said the real question is how did I end up back in Miami this weekend? Lol I can’t seem to stay away from this place…plus my girlfriend and I are doing what we can to make this long-distance thing work. In order to be down here however, I had to grind hella hard last week and make sure I was on top of my studies at all times…which meant locking myself in my apartment and enjoying the company of general anesthesia, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, movement disorders, anticonvulsants, yeah you get the idea. So I’m happy to say that I’m all caught up in terms of lecture material, but I’m by no means comfortable for this test yet. ESPECIALLY after the fiasco that was last exam a.k.a. the first test on the brain that I tested my brain on. Ever since then, I’ve been searching for ways to study smarter while at the same time studying harder (Idk how much harder I can study 😩) and have also been making sure to look at the things that the professors told us not to worry about because as you are well aware, we “didn’t have to worry” about drugs for last test….aaaannnd we all know what happened with that. 😐 Gotta keep my guard up. At the end of the day though, if I’m passing then I’m passing. Being able to comfortably apply the material that I’m learning to the USMLE Step 1 exam and to patient encounters in the future is more important to me than getting a high score on these exams in front of me today.

I know I said I locked myself in my apartment this past week to stay caught up, but I also had to leave at times for my mandatory afternoon class sessions. We also had a mandatory lecture one morning where we not only learned from a neurologist about what different movement disorders looked like, but also witnessed what the terrible condition of Huntington’s disease looked like in real-life. One of the neurologist’s patients came in to talk to us about what life was like with the condition and showed us what she could and couldn’t do because of her affliction. Fortunately, she’s still in the early stages of it so she’s able to drive when it’s not raining and she can still do daily activities by herself, but she’s had a very hard life ever since being diagnosed with Huntington’s. Because the disease is genetic, she was forced to witness her mother succumb to it…so sadly, she has the dreadful knowledge of what’s next to come for her. But through it all she’s been trying to maintain a positive attitude about life, which was evident with her interaction with us. She was joking around and making light of her condition, but also strongly desired to be saved from her suffering. Huntington’s is a terrible, terrible disease man.

In my clinical skills class, we’ve been learning how to conduct a neurological exam. It consists of the set of maneuvers your doctor makes you do whenever you go to a checkup. You know, where you follow his/her finger, resist his/her force, walk in a straight line, etc. After practicing the maneuvers with classmates, it’s been confirmed that I don’t have a patellar reflex…😅. That’s where your leg is supposed to kick out after being tapped on the patellar tendon at the knee. Both my class facilitator and another doctor didn’t believe me and banged on my knee endlessly to make it work, but they got nothing. So if any of you out there happen to not have a patellar reflex, don’t worry. We’re in this together. In the same class, we talked about how different it is to talk to older patients as opposed to middle-aged and younger patients. We had a discussion about how ageism is subconsciously reinforced throughout the healthcare setting due to the fact that most of the elderly people we encounter are typically frail or sick in some way, shape or form. Because of that, healthcare professionals and students make the assumption that an elderly patient will need to be accommodated in some shape or form, so they either dread interacting with them or end up treating the elderly patient like a kid that doesn’t understand certain things. Adding to that, the healthcare professional or student will typically consult one of the patient’s family members or friends instead of directly interviewing the elderly patient. All of this leads to a good amount of frustration from a number of elderly patients and thus negatively impacts the doctor-patient relationship between them as a whole. I believe it’s important to not only interact with elderly patients the same way you interact with other patients but also to realize that older patients have lived lives full of experiences up to the point that you met them. Disregarding them as old, frail people that are hard of hearing and are lost in their own world is just wrong. Some elderly people may even be in much better physical and/or mental shape then the younger doctors that treat them. Funny huh?

And last but not least, we discussed the topic of allocating health resources to certain patients that need them in my medical ethics class this past week and the agonizing decision-making that goes into allocating these resources. As a matter of fact, we took it a step further and actually played a game called “Who gets to live?” where my small-group class served as an allocating committee and chose which three out of five patients would receive dialysis. Our choices were based on various factors of the patients’ lives that were given to us one at a time. We were given the patients’ marital status, age and # of children at first and were forced to make a decision on who would receive dialysis and who would die. After that initial decision, we were then slowly exposed to their salary/insured status, occupation, comorbidities and race/ethnicity and we had to make decisions each time we were given a new factor of their life. It was agonizing man. I literally felt like I was allowing people to live while sentencing others to death based on my judgment of their life….which is exactly what I was doing. While playing this “game”, I felt like each of us were creating some kind of “value” or “worth” for the patients we were deciding on, whether it be social worth, economic worth, etc. It had me thinking seriously about how this actually used to occur in real life before funding was passed to allow dialysis for anyone that needed it. I couldn’t imagine having to be on a committee that decided who would perish simply because there weren’t enough resources to go around. When it came to race/ethnicity, my group unanimously agreed that race shouldn’t be a factor in choosing who got to live. But then one of our facilitators brought up the point of “restorative justice”, describing that one could argue that race/ethnicity should be considered when you take into account that some people in certain groups (ex. African-Americans) were simply born into the condition they were in due to social injustices and the environment they grew up in that reflects those said injustices. The foods these people eat and the habits they pick up would be a direct reflection of how they were raised/the environment they grew up in, which in turn could influence their long-term health. She really knows how to keep us thinking man. This session was, without a doubt, the most fun/interactive one we’ve had all year. If each ethics session was structured in a similar way this one was, I feel like it would be a MUCH more popular class.

I sure left you with a good amount to read this time around lol. Definitely made up for last week’s post…

Hope you have an extraordinary week!

Pressure can burst pipes and create diamonds. Only you can decide what it will do to you.

– Black Man, M.D.

Quick Talk

Okay, I’m keeping this post short because I lowkey have a busy week coming up that I have to adequately prepare for. Plus I don’t really have much to say today. 😅

I just got back from a great (and short) weekend spent with some undergrad fraternity brothers here in NC. Our weekend started in downtown Charlotte and we ended up driving up thru the state as time went by, making pit stops in Pleasant Grove, Burlington and Greensboro before I finally got dropped off today here in the good ol’ Dash city (Winston-Salem if you didn’t catch on). I probably have said this multiple times but it deserves to be said again; outside of the cities, North Carolina is country as fuhhhhh. Had a lot of fun with them boys tho…it was almost like we were in college again. Except the fact that we were in NC and not Miami. And that it was cold. And that I don’t know when I’ll see them again…

Schoolwise, we just finished our Population Epidemiology course for the year! It’s really not as exciting as I just made it sound but I figured it deserved to be said. However, it does serve as a reminder of how close I am to finishing my first year as a medical student. Crazy, just crazy. We’ve also been learning about how local anesthetics work, how the brain perceptualizes the environment around us and how it allows us to move on a regular basis. I’m telling you yo, the brain is freakin’ incredible. You most likely have no idea how much work goes into every single movement you make. From running a 5K to simply getting out of bed each morning, your brain has a complex series of sequences it goes thru in order to perform the actions you want to perform. And these sequences happen very quickly at all times via the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, the brainstem, motor neurons, etc. Sheesh. It’s incredible how much we take our bodies for granted on a daily basis. Learning everything I’m learning just continues to appreciate the astounding marvel that is the human body.

Kept it short, just like I promised. Now go on and make your week a phenomenal one!

 

  In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years!

President Abraham Lincoln

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S: In regards to the test I was annoyed about last week, we actually ended up getting credit for the dropped questions if we answered them correctly after some back and forth with the course director. So I got myself a few more points. 😎 Still got a lower grade than my first Anatomy exam….but by only .10 of a point thooo!

It Doesn’t Have To Be So Complicated…

First off, that test I took last Monday was some bull. Like, sheeeeesh! I felt betrayed while I was taking it man. Like I said last week, I was feeling pretty confident last Sunday night and that confidence carried over into the testing room on Monday morning. I had my coffee on one side, water on the other, and some Winterfresh gum to help keep me alert. I was ready. I started the test with Question 1 and blazed thru it. Got to Question 2 and wasn’t too sure about it, so I answered it but also marked it for later review. Then I proceeded to blaze through the next few questions and I felt like I was on a roll…until I arrived at question 11. The question was worded in what I felt was a tricky way and it looked as if there could be more than one answer. That’s when the haze started to set in. I ended up marking that question, but then I hit another question a couple minutes later that I had to mark because I didn’t even recognize half the answers. This “marking for review” trend was starting to unsettle me quite a bit. I prodded on thru the test…but then I hit question 25 and my mouth dropped. I had distinctly remembered being told that we didn’t have to worry about knowing specific drugs for this test, but yet I was looking at a question stem asking for a specific drug to treat a specific condition. Boyyyyy was I livid. I think I smacked my teeth a bit louder than I meant to after reading the question. So, of course, I marked it and even left a comment for the Neuroscience director about it, which is something I hardly even do. Most of the rest of the test proved to be an uphill battle. I think I started to truly realize how hard the test was when I got to question 35 or so and I had already used up an hour of my time. Not to mention the sighs of frustration from my fellow classmates that kept piercing the silence in the room and the number of times I smacked my teeth throughout the hour. I continued to press on and would breathe a sigh of relief whenever I got to a small stretch of what I thought were easy questions. But then I would get slammed with another stretch of tough questions. It was as if the professors were trying to make the questions as difficult as they could. Smh. After I finished answering all the questions, I painfully realized that I had marked about a quarter of my test and that I had about 45 minutes left. I then looked around the room and realized about three-quarters of the room was still full, which was unheard of. So I went back and checked each of those questions again and after about 30 minutes I had about 12 marked questions. I took one last rapid run-through all my questions and with 45 seconds left to spare, I submitted my exam. Even then, there were still about 20 or so people in the room when I ended up leaving. That just goes to show how unnecessarily difficult that damn test was.

Even so, I still thought that I did pretty decent and was sure I passed it. So I went about the rest of my day kind of annoyed, but content I was finished with that exam. I also watched Deadpool that night, which was freakin’ HILARIOUS by the way. We proceeded to learn new material the next couple of days, but in the back of my mind I was very curious to see how I actually performed on that test. We got our scores back two days after the exam and I opened my email to see how I did. My eyes popped when I saw my score. I had passed, but did not do anywhere near as good as I thought I had. As a matter of fact, the grade I got was worse than my first Anatomy exam…and that’s saying something. Even the average for the class (80%) was much lower than normal, and the standard deviation was 8 points. Like, c’mon man! I was mostly annoyed because I knew that I knew the material well, but the test was just unnecessarily difficult. Shiiii I’m still annoyed. What annoys me even more is that although they dropped a few questions, the people that actually got those questions right didn’t even get any points for it. I got two dropped questions right and was awarded nothing. Arrghhh. I kept my calm throughout the rest of the week, but I was lowkey feeling like:

But hey at this point, I’m just glad I passed. Even after going through all of that, I still like this block. I ended up reviewing my test and I had missed both hard questions and “easy” questions that I thought for sure I had gotten right. Best believe I took major notes. Guess I just need to study both harder as well as smarter for the rest of this block. They say the next test is gonna be easier…but I don’t trust ’em no more. Who’s to say Young Metro does? 👀👀👀

Okay I’m done venting. On a lighter note, we learned about the eye this past week, which if you didn’t already know, is one of my favorite structures of the body. We only spent a day on it, but we went over the anatomy of it, the physiology of the different parts of the eye (cornea, lens, retina, etc.) and went into even further detail about how vision works. I’m having a great time learning about all that. 😊 We also learned about hearing and balance the very next day and about dizziness the day after that. It looks like they’re already trying to stuff us with an insane amount of knowledge for this next test…but what’s new?

This past weekend was also Second Look weekend here at Wake. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Second Look is an opportunity for the students that have already been accepted at a medical school to literally check out the school a second time to see if they truly want to attend that institution. It also gives the school another chance to reel in the prospective students and to persuade them to attend the school. So with that said, I got to meet a good number of students that have already been accepted here and I had a pretty great weekend hanging out with them. Some of them have also already decided to come here for next year, which is great! I personally never got the chance to attend Second Look, because I didn’t even get accepted here till later 😅…so I was especially curious to see how it all worked.

 

Aiiiiight I’m done. Have a spectacular week!

 

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Black Man, M.D.