Vision Within Division

I’m finding it harder and harder to focus on my studies in the midst of all this BS happening around us.

It’s only been a little over a week since Inauguration Day and Donald Trump has already caused chaos in this country by issuing 14 executive orders (including one banning immigrants from several countries in a racist manner), trying to rush through the hearings for his cabinet picks (the vast majority of them are highly unqualified/unsuitable for their chosen positions), removing critical areas of American policy from the White House’s website, and repeatedly AND BLATANTLY to the American public, just to name a few of his actions.  As a matter of fact, click here to get a better overview of what his first week in office has looked like. It’s so sad to see how quickly he’s dismantling the progress that we’ve made as a country and how much he’s embarrassing us as a country. It doesn’t help that he has lil’ friends in the government are helping him embarrass us as well. From the topics of education, immigration and women’s rights to healthcare and climate change, the Trump administration just seems to want to set us back decades while increasing their wealth and political power. It’s insanely frustrating. Although I’ve been signing countless petitions, calling Congress multiple times a day on a daily basis, encouraging others to contact their representatives, and keeping up with current bills via this new app called Countable (you should really check it out), I still feel like I should be doing more to save the progress we’ve made in this country. But even with all the pressure people are putting on the current government, it just seems like things are rapidly getting worse. Plus, how much more can I do before I start to see a negative impact on my grades? And with my Step study period approaching, I really need to be able to adequately focus on studying the enormous amount of material that the exam covers. This all just sucks man. It really does.

And it’s only been a freakin’ week. Jesus.

Ima keep fighting though. And I have a good number of friends who are just as frustrated as I am but who are still fighting as well. We just gotta stick together and keep resisting this oppressive system of hatred and racism.

Alright I’m done venting for today. In other news, I just recently ranked my clinical rotations schedule for third-year! I’m sure different medical schools have different ways of choosing rotations, but here at Wake we are given 16 different schedules that all have the same rotations, but in different orders. After we are given those schedules, we need to choose the rotation order that we prefer the most and then rank the rest of them in preference order, all the way to 16. Hopefully I’m able to at least get one of my top three choices, although they say that it doesn’t necessarily matter what order we get since we’re all going through the same rotation schedule. But still. After we send our rankings in, a computer chooses which students get what schedule via some weird algorithm and we find out our finalized schedule a couple weeks later. So I should know what my third-year schedule is going to look like by mid-February! Regardless of what schedule I get, third year is definitely going to be one hell of a experience. I’m really hoping that I’ll enjoy it!

Earlier last week, I got the opportunity to shadow an ophthalmologist at a nearby clinic for an afternoon. He performed three different cataract surgeries while I was there, and they were all absolutely fascinating. The first two surgeries involved a laser breaking down the cataract in the lens of the patient’s eye. The doctor then scrubbed in and took out the pieces of the cataract manually as I looked on. I was actually able to scrub in for the third surgery though! It was my first time ever scrubbing into a surgery, so of course I was awkwardly going through all the motions that scrubbing in entails…but then once I was scrubbed in, I was able to view the surgery through the microscope! It was so cool man. This specific patient had to have his cataract removed manually without help from the laser, which made the surgery a bit longer. He actually went into asymptomatic atrial fibrillation during the surgery and also had this condition called “floppy iris syndrome“, where his iris just kept flopping around during the surgery. I saw firsthand just how steady and calculated the doctor’s hands had to be in order to successfully complete his eye surgeries. One bad move and you could literally rip a hole in someone’s eye. Then before you know it, you’re facing a judge. You don’t want those problems. It was quite an experience overall! I’m thankful to be in a place where physicians are more than willing to have students come in and witness what they do in real-time.

This past Friday, I was able to attend a talk on the current state of the nation that was hosted by the hospital. The keynote speaker was Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and she gave some hypotheses as to how and why we ended up in the current situation we’re in. Some of the things she touched on included the surprisingly large number of white women in this country who actually haven’t historically voted for Democrats, how Trump supporters reflect race/gender values that have been salient throughout the history of this country, our incredible ability to filter and forget things about certain people, the true nature of the 13th & 14th amendments, picking the right battles to fight that are in line with your social justice mission and how strategic cooperation is intertwined with the very nature of democracy. She also made a good point about the hallucinatory effects of the media and that there’s a good chance that representatives higher up in the government are actively working on solving the current issues plaguing our country right now, even if we don’t see them on the news or anything. It was quite an interesting talk, especially since Dr. Harris-Perry was giving it from the perspective of a self-proclaimed black feminist. In the interest of not going on another long rant, I’ll end here.

Shortly after the talk with Dr. Harris-Perry, I met with my lil’ 5th grade mentee again along with the mentors & mentees involved with the S.Y.S.T.E.M. initiative that I talked about in my previous post (Resisting The System). The kids were even more excited to interact with us than they were last time! During our time with them, we talked about how they’ve been implementing the lessons we discussed in the previous meeting in their daily lives. We also played an icebreaker game with them and continued to expand on the importance of understanding one’s emotions and stress levels. I’m loving the program so far! And last but not least, I had the opportunity to sit on a medical student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference hosted by our medical school yesterday morning. There were about 80-or-so students (high school, college and post-grads) in attendance in all! Being able to sit and talk with students in a position that I was dying to be in just two short years ago continues to humble me and allows me to continue to appreciate my growth as well as the circumstances that allowed me to get to where I’m at.

Another blog entry complete! Let’s continue to stay as positive as we can while fiercely resisting the forces that threaten our inherent goodness!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus Christ (John 13:34)

– Black Man, M.D.

Resisting The System

First off, I want to express my deepest gratitude to President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, both of their families, and the Obama administration as a whole for doing what they could to make this country a better place. I distinctly remember watching the Obamas on CNN as they graced the stage in Chicago on Election Night back when I was a 15 year-old high school sophomore. I also remember not having to go to school during his first inauguration due to snowfall (it was like a 1/2 inch of snow lol). I remember watching his inauguration in awe and beginning to wonder what all of this meant for the country. That’s when I really began to both watch the news and pay attention to how politics were played out in this country. Having a leader such as President Obama in the Oval Office during such a critical period of my growth has been a blessing and an honor. He has inspired me to learn so much about so many things and has been a powerful symbol of hope, love and equanimity. Getting the chance to see him speak during my sophomore year of college was a highlight of my college career!

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I took this picture…as you can see, I was hella close to the stage!

I actually videotaped most of his speech…I have no idea why. It really sucks to have had to see him and his administration go, but it feels good knowing that he will continue to interact with us as a fellow private citizen. It’s also dope that he and Michelle created Obama.org! Best believe I will be a frequent visitor of that site; I already got it bookmarked and everything!

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A dope picture that I didn’t take!

Now that I’ve had the fortune to mature during Obama’s presidency, I’m ready to fully resist anything that threatens the progress his administration made in this world. This so happens to include almost all of Trump’s agenda and the agendas of the many Republicans that support him. It was so amazing to see all the Women’s Marches happening across the world yesterday…it just shows how insane the predicament we’re in is and how many people are willing to fight against hatred and inequality. Shoutout to all of you who took the time to participate in the marches! I admire each of you!

If you plan on resisting the current government but aren’t really sure what to do, the easiest thing to do (other than signing petitions) is to either write emails to your Senators or Representatives or to call them! Calling is more effective though and it only takes a couple minutes to do so, if that! You can click this link to find the contact info of your senator. Or you could just dial (202) 225-3121 (U.S. House switchboard operator) and ask to be connected to your state representative! I personally plan on calling the NC senators everyday in order to help fight against the craziness we’re up against. One person calling may not do much, but if many people are coordinated to call on a constant basis like Michael Moore is suggesting us to do, then I believe that we can make some sort of impact. If that means annoying them to death and jamming up their call lines, so be it. And you don’t need to have a speech rehearsed or anything, just tell them how you really feel! We’re currently on an uphill struggle, and it’s definitely not going to be an easy battle…but just like others in the past have, WE WILL PERSEVERE.

Okay I could go on and on about that, but I need to finish up this post and get back to studying because I’m still a med student lol. We started the Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology block this past week and it has been pretty straightforward so far. There’s a lot of little facts associated with the different rheumatologic conditions, which have been annoying to memorize, but I’m positive that I’ll be able to efficiently categorize the diseases and get them all down before our exam next Monday. But didn’t I just take a Renal pathology exam a little over a week ago? Yes, yes I did. These tests have been coming in like rapid fire yo. This ain’t no joke. I did do pretty well on that Renal exam tho! After this block will be the Endocrine/Reproductive block, and…..that’s it. Then I’ll be studying for the Step exam. Boy am I ready to get that exam over with.

On a final note, I’ve recently gotten involved with a minority male mentoring program that one of my friends founded, called S.Y.S.T.E.M. (Supporting Young Scholars Through Empowerment and Mentoring). The overall goal of the program is to provide support and guidance to young men by building meaningful mentor/mentee relationships. We plan on supporting the growth and development of our mentees by strategically partnering with schools, engaging in group-based mentoring & one-on-one meetings, and providing models of success that focus on emotional/behavioral management, professionalism, personal, and academic growth. We started working on the new program a few months ago, and this past Friday we all finally got to meet our mentees, who are all in 4-5th grade. Our main topic of that meeting was managing stress and emotions, so we spent about an hour discussing their thoughts on that and how us as students in the medical field each manage our own stressors and emotions in our everyday lives. It was a great event overall and the kids were actually really excited to interact with us! I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the meetings that we have with them over the course of the semester!

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That’s all I have for today. Do your best to stay full of perseverance and empowerment this week!

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.

Keeping Steady as Time Flies

2017 is already looking like it’s about to be a fast year. Like, it’s already the middle of January and I feel like I just did the countdown to New Years’ last night! As a matter of fact, I may have said this before but second-year has been SPEEDING by really fast. When you’re always busy studying a new organ system while doing the other things that are important to you in your life, time tends to zip right past you. As of last Friday, we have completed six different organ systems this year and taken about 11-or-so exams. That’s a lot of stuff yo. We start the Musculoskeletal block this Tuesday and then our final block before our dedicated Step Study Period will be the Endocrine/Reproductive block. Two blocks separate me from Step-focused time, which starts in early March. Just two. And best believe, they will fly by very quickly. Oh boy.

upset breaking bad bryan cranston walter white oh no

We finished up our Renal block last Friday with a pretty short and straightforward Renal pathology exam. I’m happy to say that I don’t have any worries about my performance. I really love that the course director decided to split the Renal block in half, where we do physiology before winter break and pathology after the break. It made learning the material so much more manageable and because I had a pretty solid grasp of the physiology, understanding the pathology wasn’t too hard at all. (Also as an update from last week’s post, I did manage to get through all my lectures with a whole day to spare for review 😁.) Although we hit the ground running as soon as I got back from break, I was able to eventually hit a steady stride leading up to the exam. In order to do that though, I had to pretty much study most of the day everyday last week. So with that said, nothing too exciting happened to me last week. I did get to play with ultrasound in order to see some kidneys in real-time though!

Taking the test last Friday has allowed me to relax on this three-day weekend that I’m currently on. (Shoutout to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr! The legend would have been 88 years old today if hatred wasn’t so prevalent in this country.) I spent part of my weekend working as a station leader for glaucoma screenings at the annual health fair that us Wake medical students organize every year. This health fair, called Share the Health Fair, provides a number of free health screenings for the Winston-Salem community and also provides these residents a ton of information on how to live a healthier life. This health fair is the only healthcare that a good number of the attendees get all year, so it’s a very important event for them and it makes it all the more worthwhile for us to volunteer at it. It turned out that the glaucoma screening station that my volunteer team was running was the most popular station at the whole fair! The doors to the fair opened at 10 AM yesterday morning and by 10:02 AM we were swamped with patients wanting to be screened. I kid you not, there were literally like 20 people in line by 10:05 man. And that line did not get any shorter as time went on. It actually got longer on a few occasions! The screening consisted of us testing the visual field, the visual acuity and the eye pressure of every patient while the physician working with us checked their retinas and optic nerves. We all did this non-stop until about 2:30 PM. We must have screened close to 50 patients in that period of time! It felt more like 100 though! Alas, it was a fun time overall and time ended up flying by due to the fact that we stayed busy throughout the day. Our team did an awesome job in executing the screening and making sure that each patient in line got a chance to see the physician!

Lastly, I spent last night at the annual Med School Prom, which turned out to be a good time. Now, as I’m typing this post, I’m here contemplating on how best to use my free time, which is becoming increasingly rarer to come across. I guess I should stop messing around and actually do the things that are on my To-Do list lol.

Do your best to make your week an astounding one! Even though we’re about to inaugurate the new “leader” of America this Friday, who I’m highkey not claiming as my President. Sigh. Don’t get me started on the state of this nation. Just know that we’re about to walk into some strange and difficult times. Why do you have to go President Obama?? Why??? 😭😭😭😭😭

killer instinct

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

Straight Grindin’

Alright I knew I would be hitting the ground running when I got back to school…

BUT DAMN!!! *in my best Chris Tucker voice*

I don’t think I’ve really been able to catch much of a break since getting back from Atlanta last Monday. I started class Tuesday morning with four lectures of Renal Pathology (that I FINALLY finished getting through yesterday), followed by another four lectures the next day that I’m still working on getting through. (Yes, I’ve been playing the catch-up game again. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊) And I have about ten or so lectures this week before my Renal Pathology exam on Friday. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But you would think I would have been able to get through my eight lectures from last week by now. You know why I haven’t been able to? I’ll gladly tell you. Because I had another Clinical Skills Exam (“affectionately” called CPX for those of you not familiar with it) this past Wednesday where I not only had to go in and interview a standardized patient before performing a focused physical exam on her, but also had to document our encounter as well as provide an assessment and plan for her care. That took quite a chunk of my Wednesday overall. In my opinion, it may have been my best performance yet, but you never know these days. I’m just gonna hold my breath and hope that I don’t get another email stating that the history-taking portion of my encounter was “Unsatisfactory” and that I will need to “remediate my history-taking skills”. I don’t even wanna hear the word ‘remediate’ anymore. I’m tired of remediating my history-taking dammit. Lol.

I then tried to get through some more of Tuesday’s lectures after finishing my standardized patient documentation, but I didn’t get very far. Plus I was tired and wanted to get some sleep in order to attend a Case-Centered Learning (CCL) session early the next morning. Thursday turned out to be a pretty long day as well. I attended the CCL lecture and then attempted to study some more before having to go to my actual Clinical Skills class, which ended up taking up most of my afternoon. The class was especially interesting this time around though, for we learned a practical and helpful method to go about breaking bad news to patients as well as how to take a “SOAP Note”, which is a quick daily progress note of a patient that includes an evaluation of how the patient is doing from both a subjective and an objective perspective, a current assessment of the current health of the patient and a plan of care for the patient based on the overall evaluation and assessment of him/her. We also learned how to access patient files, which comes with a HUGE amount of responsibility and actually made me feel more like a healthcare provider instead of a second-year med student tryna stay afloat in this choppy sea of lectures and exams. It was pretty cool, to say the least.

After getting back from Clinical Skills, I played the catch-up game a bit more before having to attend a meeting for the annual “Share the Health Fair” taking place this Saturday. I’m going to be working as a station leader at the glaucoma screening station at the health fair all day, so I had to make sure I knew what the set-up was going to look like as well as make sure the volunteers working at the station that day knew what to expect. On top of all this going on that day was the fact that it was my Founders’ Day, so of course I had to celebrate for a bit with some other fraternity brothers in the area. I finally got back to my place later that night, studied for a bit and then crashed in order to attend a review session the next morning because Lord knows I definitely needed that. I attended the review session and then was able to get some more studying in after that, but my studying was cut short (yet again) by a mandatory presentation I had to attend where my class was formally introduced to the scheduling procedures for our third-year clinical rotations. By the way, this presentation further proved to me how freakin’ close third-year is. The fact that I’ll have patients in the near future that I’m somewhat responsible for is mind-blowing man. In addition, clinical rotation schedules are strict AF. I’ll have to be at the hospital damn near every waking hour of my week, although I’ll get weekends off on some rotations. So that means I’ll have much, much less control of my time. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride, that’s for sure.

Right after leaving that presentation, I made my way to Charlotte in order to fly to Irving, Texas (it’s near Dallas) for the SNMA National Leadership Institute. First off, I traveled back in time. That’s just cool to say. Also, it was ’bout cold as fuhhh over there! You would think Texas would be hot or whatever. But nah. It was 22 degrees when I landed. And it stayed cold the whole weekend. I wasn’t reaaadyyyyy! *in my Kevin Hart voice* But it IS January, so I guess I should have known better lol. The conference was fantastic overall though! I was able to interact with regional and national leaders in the organization from all over the country while representing my school. I also learned quite a bit from the sessions that I attended, including tips on how to efficiently plan your goals, why understanding the business side of medicine is particularly important, the importance of understanding the value of a personal brand, how to verbally communicate with people in a proficient manner in under a minute, and how to take advantage of the plethora of post-career opportunities available for medical school graduates. In addition, there was a SNMA Leadership Panel presented to us, which was made up of prior SNMA leaders who are now practicing physicians and the Dean of Texas Christian University’s future medical school came to talk to us about the innovative curriculum that they’re working to provide to their future students. Finally, we were given a talk during dinner last night that focused on the vital importance of voting in all government elections and being leaders in our respective communities. All in all, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and I feel that I’ll be making use of many of the connections that I made here, as well as many of the lessons that I learned here, in the future.

So now I’m back in Winston, where it actually snowed quite a bit while I was gone! Now all I need is to throw a snowball at someone and to drink some hot cocoa to be perfectly content. I’m lying, I won’t be content because I still gotta get through these lectures.

confused hand robert downey jr frustrated sigh

I hope you’ve started off the New Year on a phenomenal note! Keep on working towards your goals and powering through your resolutions! Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are usually both right!

Be the one who says they can!

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston  Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

New Year, Harder Hustle.

First things first.

I would like to wish each of you a

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

We all had both great moments and terrible moments last year, but through it all we were all able to not only learn from them, but grow from them as well. 2016 was a hell of a year in many different aspects. Best believe, 2017 will be a new year full of opportunities and further growth! Whether you plan on working on a new resolution or continuing to further improve on an already existing resolution, the arrival of the new year is definitely a wonderful and convenient checkpoint that is available for your usage. As for me, I’m using this checkpoint to not only improve on existing resolutions that I established for myself long ago, but to also double-down my efforts on school, for there is going to be quite a number of unusual challenges coming my way this year. From studying & taking the Step 1 exam to transitioning from second-year to third-year, I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be much busier than I have been in recent memory. However, the challenges that will surely present themselves to me this year will only serve to solidify my faith and strength as well as my determination in reaching the goals that I’ve set for myself. With patience, perseverance, and positive vibes, I’m sure that I’ll be able to handle any circumstances that may come my way and that I’ll be able to make the best out of them in order to further evolve into a better version of myself. You have the power to overcome the challenges that may run into you as well! As long as you can conceive it and believe it, you can absolutely achieve it!

With classes starting back up in a couple of days, it’s only right that I recap how the rest of my break went. It has actually been an awesome week! Ever since I wrote to you last Sunday, I’ve done quite a bit of travelling. As a matter of fact, I’ve been on an airplane on three separate occasions within this past week. And after leaving from Atlanta tomorrow, it’ll be four times. I’ve definitely set a new record for myself with that lol.

I spent the rest of Christmas Day with my family, cousins and close family friends, playing card games, FIFA and catching up with them throughout the night. We also had a pretty filling dinner! It was almost like a sequel to Thanksgiving Dinner! The next morning, I left home and drove to Greensboro, NC in order to catch a flight to Atlanta to spend some time with my girlfriend and her family. I’ve been straight up chillin’ since I got here, and have been continuously blessed with good food and company, just like I was back at home with my own family. I watched a good amount of football, Food Network (didn’t have much of a say in that), and Netflix, as well as hit up Lenox mall and the movies to watch Fences, starring both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I then had to catch a flight last Thursday afternoon to Miami in order to attend a wedding that one of my fraternity brothers invited me to. I had only been to one wedding before, so I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. It turned out to be a really great time! It was a small, outdoor wedding and it was actually quite breezy. The reception was really fun too, and both the bride and groom looked ecstatic the whole time. I had a blast catching up with my brothers and am honored to have been able to attend the wedding ceremony. I flew back to ATL yesterday morning for New Years’ and went out to dinner with my girlfriend and her family at this all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant called Maggiano’s. Soon after that, I brought in the New Year with her, some of her sorority sisters, and some old friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I then woke up this morning, praised God, and am now here typing this post. Like I said before, it has been an awesome week. I just have today and tomorrow left until I start up the never-ending grind again, but I’m ready for it. Could I use another week or two of break? Well, yeah. Of course I could. But beggars can’t be choosers right? So if I gotta suit up and get back to grinding on this Renal pathology, then so be it! Better to be mentally prepared for the grind than to be dreading it…POSITIVE VIBES PEOPLE!!!

I hope you all brought the New Year in a safe and fun way and that you start it off on a high note! Here’s to a blessed and prosperous 2017!

“Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” – Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.