So this is very random, but I figured that I had to start of by saying that I just googled “Black Man, M.D.” for fun and this blog is actually one of the first things that pop up as a search result! Ayyyeeee!!! And then I googled “black medical student blog” and I'm also on the first page!!
We movin' on up!!!
In other news, Test #1 of my second year is coming up in a couple of days…and to tell the truth, I'm feeling pretty good about it. I feel like I've sufficiently been able to take in almost everything that has been dished out to me, mainly because this block was effectively taught. Like, the course director of this block has been absolutely phenomenal. Because of her love for teaching, she has gone above and beyond for us in making sure that we understand hematology. It's been such a good block that I've physically gone just to about every class this month, something I didn't do as much in the past couple of blocks. (It also helps that I can skedaddle from my kitchen to school in under two minutes.) As I've said before, this material has been very interesting and applicable to the clinical setting, which has helped in digesting everything. I can effectively read a complete blood count (CBC) now and, for the most part, decipher what's going on in the patient's blood! I also understand how blood clots are formed as well as the mechanisms of a large number of cancer drugs. It's all been really cool and although the piles of lectures I had to face looked quite daunting during the first week of classes, I can happily say that I've blazed through them all and it hasn't been that bad!
The morning after Tuesday's test, we start our Cardiology block. I have a fascination with how the heart works, so I'm pumped to get to that unit…but I've heard that: 1) it's not easy at all and 2) it's nowhere near as effectively taught as the heme block. Ehhh, nothing's really easy in med school so I'm fine with that, but if the teaching isn't effective then I'll just find other ways to take it all in. That's never stopped me in learning what I have to learn. I still gotta pay my tuition either way. Then I gotta become a doctor and scrape myself out of this negative-net-worth hole that I've been free-falling in. So, yeah.
Apart from my test, I was able to attend an Emergency Medicine lunch talk last Monday and was also able to help host a lunch talk with the Doctors In Training program with SNMA on Wednesday. I enjoyed both of the talks. The doctor giving the EM talk was a very good presenter and it was blatantly obvious that he absolutely loved his occupation. He made Emergency Medicine look so exciting and fulfilling; I'm sure he enthralled a number of the first-years that were present. I have absolutely no interest in EM, but I must say, he did present the occupation as if it were one of the best jobs in the world. As for the Doctors In Training lunch talk, I served as a campus representative for them and as such, I was able to connect the representatives from the program to the first and second-year students here. They mainly talked about how we could use their program to study for Step 1 and how well students that use their program do on average. (They said that their most recent data states that students using DIT score an average of 233. That's a pretty decent score.) They also gave out free shirts, some pretty good lunch from Jason's Deli and they even raffled a free full program to a lucky student. Oh yeah, can't forget the most important part…they served us free chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A earlier that morning. That's real yo.
This past Friday, our course director of Hematology brought in some of her patients to talk to us in order to give us a patient perspective on the diseases that we've been learning about. One of the patients was afflicted with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, another one was afflicted with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and the last one had been afflicted with Burkitt's Lymphoma. It was amazing being able to listen to their experiences with their illnesses and how they've worked to combat them alongside our course director. They told us how vital it was to listen with your heart as well as with your ears when talking to patients and to keep in mind that patients are pretty nervous, if not scared when we interact with them. What could be another normal, everyday encounter for us could be a pivotal and life-changing moment in the patient's life. They also pointed out that medical students play a much larger role in patient care than we realize. Medical students tend to spend more time with the patient than the residents or doctors do, so they get to know the patient more, which the patients really appreciate for the most part. I never really personally thought of it that way…I just assumed I would be running around as a third-year, being useful for errands but being useless at the same time when it came to actually helping diagnose and treat the patient. Guess I was wrong, thankfully. Finally, they extensively talked about how critical it was for them to have support systems as they were fighting off their illnesses and how it was important for the health care provider to know that each patient has a full life to live outside of the hospital, just like the provider. All in all, it was a really cool presentation. I love it when we get to interact with patients that have had first-hand experiences with the conditions that we are learning; it humanizes the diseases and allows me to appreciate learning about them more.
A couple more things, and then I'm done. I promise. 😉
I'm participating in this initiative called the Melanin, M.D. Mentorship Project, where medical students and residents of color get paired with pre-med students of color nationwide and work to serve as a mentor for those students. I finally got to meet my mentee last night and he seems to be a pretty cool guy overall. He's an upcoming sophomore and he's working to get into medical school in order to become a physician. This whole project is pretty awesome and necessary and I'm just excited to be able to directly impact someone else's life in a positive way in this fashion, especially another young, black man trying to get to the position that I'm blessed to be in.
Finally, I've been volunteering at the Brenner's Family Room on the Pediatric unit of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for the past several months now and my experiences there have allowed me to witness another side of medicine. The Brenner's Family Room, which is an adjunct to the Ronald McDonald House across the street, serves as a safe haven for families whose children are being treated in the hospital. The room has couches to relax on, snacks and coffee for anyone that needs it, and both telephones and computers for the families to use. The best part about all of this is that it's all free. Because the room is on the same floor as the Pediatric unit, it's very convenient for the families to utilize it and I've found that they are extremely appreciative of it. The thing is, in order for the room to be open, there must be a volunteer present. This isn't much of an issue on the weekdays, but when it comes to the weekends, the room struggles to stay open. Because of this, I've volunteered early in the afternoon these past two Saturdays and it has amazed me how many people have showed up within both of my three-hour shifts. The people that have come in during my shifts have been so thankful and appreciative that the room was open, which always makes it hard for me to tell them that no one is coming after me when my shift is over, since I'm usually the only one volunteering to come in on Saturdays. I remember one man telling me I have the most chill job in the world and after I told him that I don't get paid for this, he was so surprised and sincerely thanked me for being there. Another woman expressed her support of the room to me and told me how she has benefited from the room although she lives down the street from the hospital. She said that she couldn't imagine how valuable it must be for families that are from out of town. Because these families are so appreciative of the service, I want to be able to do more to keep the room open on a consistent basis during the weekends. As a matter of fact, I'm going to try and find a way to make it happen. I got the power to do so, so why not?
With that said, y'all have an incredible week! You have the power to make it a great one!
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
– Black Man, M.D.