Focusing On The Vision

I miraculously found the time to write this post today while participating at this conference in Philly, so excuse me for a second as I proceed to congratulate myself by giving myself a pat on the back.

*Pats self on back*

The conference that I’m speaking of is the annual conference held by the National Medical Association, and this one just so happens to be the 115th meeting! Talk about a legacy. I was unexpectedly invited to this conference via the Rabb-Venable Excellence in Research Program, a program whose purpose is to further the academic mission of the NMA’s Ophthalmology Section by celebrating the research achievements of medical students, residents and fellows and allowing them to interact with the members of the NMA in both a professional and social atmosphere. I was invited to be an “Observer” of the program, which pretty much means that I’m here to literally observe the research projects being presented by the participants, the information being shared by various speakers in the sessions and to interact with whoever I want here at the conference. And here’s the best part of all of this — everything was paid for! So I’ve been allowed this incredible experience at no cost to me!

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I was able to recieve this opportunity by going to the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference back in April, where I met an Ophthalmology resident who ended up telling the coordinators in the Rabb-Venable program that I was interested in this field, who in turn emailed me to invite me to the conference, all-expense paid. Go ahead and try to imagine the look of absolute surprise and obvious glee I expressed as I read the email. Mannn I tell you, connections really are a MAJOR key to success. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll begin to run into incredible opportunities! Boy am I glad I made the effort to go to AMEC this year, and best believe I’ll be going next year as well! If you’re a medical student, post-baccalaueate or undergrad student interested in the field of medicine (especially if you are part of an underrepresented population) , I STRONGLY encourage you to try and make the trip to AMEC at your earliest convenience!

I’ve been really enjoying my experience here in Philadelphia so far and have been making new friends & connections left and right. I’ve also been slipping people my newly made “Black Man, M.D.” business cards whenever I got the chance to do so, which have been getting mad love! (I decided to make them last week since I was coming to a conference, because why not? Not like I have much to lose lol.) Ever since I’ve arrived here last Friday night, I’ve been able to attend very informative sessions about various research topics in the field of Ophthalmology as well as about financial planning, the history & future of Ophthalmology, communication skills, minimizing risk and exposure while practicing medicine, and other interesting topics while at the same time learning about the lives, career goals and achievements of other program participants and physicians. I’ve also been able to walk around and appreciate some of the wonders that Philly has to offer, although I haven’t really had the time to check out some of the city’s popular tourist destinations. And since I’m going to be leaving tomorrow morning in order to finish off the last week of my Internal Medicine clerkship, there’s a good chance that I won’t be able to check them out in the near future. 😥 But there’s always next time! Except that I don’t know when I’ll be in Philly again…

Speaking of my clerkship, can you believe that I’m about to finish it?? Because I sure can’t! Twelve weeks really done flew by, meaning that this summer has been flying by at a similar speed. Finishing off this clerkship also means that I’ll be taking my first shelf exam this Friday, which is, believe it or not, the first exam that I’ve had to encounter ever since taking Step 1.

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In addition, it has been said that the shelf exams are typically just as hard as Step was.

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If THAT wasn’t enough, the Internal Medicine shelf is notoriously one of the most difficult shelf exams due to the vast amount of material that one needs to understand in order to perform well on it.

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So yeah, I’m not too thrilled about having to take on this test. But I’m also not worried about it either. After having rammed through Step 1, I’m certain that I can take on just about any exam thrown at me. After I power through some more practice questions and watch a few more review videos this week, I’ll be set! In regards to how my most recent week went on the wards, it was good overall. I kept up-to-date with my patients and took the opportunity to really bond with them and their families. I was also reminded of how critical it is to remember just how important each procedure is to each patient, because although ordering procedures is an everyday thing to the healthcare team and is highly important in treating the patient, these same procedures are easily seen in a different light by the patients. They are the ones who have to go through having various things done to their bodies. So although they may understand that these measures are necessary for the betterment of their health, they may still disdain or worry about having to go through a particular procedure due to the discomfort or pain that they may experience. Viewing situations in the perspective of others is very important in administering effective healthcare and highly instrumental in being an excellent physician.

That’s all I have for ya! I’ll probably go outside and walk around for a bit before going to the dinner sponsored by the program I’m with. Or I may just do practice questions. That would be the smarter move. Yeah, that’s what I think I’ll do. Then dinner. Because I’m hungry. Very hungry.

I hope you have a blessed week!

“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

– Black Man, M.D.

Taking Control

MAN does it feel good to be waking up at 4:45 AM everyday. Nothing like getting snatched out of your sleep by a screeching phone alarm that yanks your eyes open at the speed of light long before the sun even comes up. I love it when I find myself trying to calculate how much time I would lose if I snoozed for a few extra minutes, only to find myself getting annoyed at how much time I’m losing by making those calculations. The best part of all this is the moment I throw my covers off of me, turn on my bright-ass lamp, mutter a few words to myself, and get up to start my long, glorious, and enlightening day. 😊😊😊

Lol in all seriousness though, it has been a very fruitful week for me overall! My experiences with my team and my patients this past week have made waking up so freakin’ early worth it. I was able to do quite a bit of things for the first time, especially since the new interns started their academic year recently. In order to help the interns out as well as to build up my own confidence, I made myself available to call various departments for consults, to answer phone calls, and to put in orders for various patients. I also put in a nasogastric tube for the first time! The attending, upper-level resident and interns on the team unanimously decided that it would be a good learning experience for me and decided to task me with inserting the tube into the patient before I even had the chance to think about what they were asking me to do. As I performed the procedure on the patient he looked very uncomfortable, which was making me uneasy the whole time. But he then complimented me on my work after it was all done, which I greatly appreciated and thanked him for…because your boy was quite nervous about doing it. It also helped that he had these tubes placed in him before, so he knew what to expect. I also had the opportunity to pull a PICC line out of somebody, a task that is actually much easier than I had anticipated.

By making calls, checking on my patients periodically, performing procedures and providing updates about my patients to the attending physician on service, I’ve been thriving in this opportunity to take ownership of the patients under my care. With each task I complete for a patient, I become even more determined to provide the best care I can for that individual. With each presentation I give for a patient of mine, I gain a little more confidence in my skills. With each question I pose to the team, I feel a bit more knowledgeable. I’ve been part of the direct care of five different patients within this past week and I’ve appreciated all of my experiences with each of them. I’ve gotten especially close to one of them, with whom I had an almost two-hour long conversation with the first day I met him. It’s incredible to realize just how much trust he has put in me in the short time I’ve known him and how much he believes that I’ll grow into a great physician. I’ve also been moved by the positive spirit he has been carrying throughout his time in the hospital and the love & support that his family has given to him. Another moving moment that I experienced during the week happened while I was running to check on another one of my patients, who ended up not being in his room at the time. A worker on the janitorial staff was mopping up the floor in the room and I had asked him if he knew where the patient went. The janitorial worker, a man who looked like he could have been my grandfather, replied with,

“I’m not sure where he went, sir. I think some people came to take him somewhere.”

I was a bit surprised at the formality of his answer and told him, “Hey man, you don’t have to call me sir. And ‘preciate your help!”

He then stopped what he was doing, looked up at me and grinned. After asking me how much longer I had left as a medical student, he went on to say, “You know what man, you’re going to be a great doctor one day. I just know it.”

I looked at him in slight wonder and replied, “Oh yeah? How do you know?”

He smiled even wider and stated, “I can just see it man. I see it in your eyes, in the way you dress, in your bowtie and in your attitude. Keep it up man.”

In a moment of awe and gratitude, I thanked him for his kind words and that they meant a lot to me. I then wished him a wonderful day and went about my way. I ended up being in a pretty great mood the rest of that day! Small moments like that really do make me stop and think about how my interactions with some people convince them that I’ll become an amazing doctor. All I’m really doing is being nice to the people I encounter and taking the time to exchange a few words with them in a genuine manner. It’s wild that those basic actions, which are just a natural part of my personality, have the power to convince people that I’m going to become such a great physician one day. It’s also very refreshing to recieve those compliments, especially in the most random of times, and I really appreciate it every time someone goes out of their way to tell me about how positively they view me. It reminds me that I’m at least doing something right in this new dimension of learning.

I want to add one last thing to this post before I close it. I saw some new, unfamiliar people dressed in short white coats walking into patients’ rooms this week while I was going about my usual business. When I finally realized that these people were a few members of the new first-year class of med students, I was floored! It made me reflect on how far I had personally come from being that fresh, brand-new medical student who was a bit nervous about being in the hospital wards and talking to patients one-on-one. I really used to stress out about taking an accurate history from a patient! 😂😂😂 As I saw them wander into the rooms of the patients that they were assigned to, I wondered just what they were thinking about. I could only imagine how excited they must have been to finally be a medical student and to be able to interact with patients one-on-one. It honestly was refreshing to see them, and I hope to run into some of the new first-years soon in order to partake in their aura of excitement and enthusiasm!

That’s all folks! I hope your week turns out to be a joyful one!

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it it because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

– Black Man, M.D.

Shifting Setbacks

So you know how I was all like, “I’ll be working night shifts for the first time all of next week!” last week in my previous post? Meaning that this upcoming week would be the week where I would be working night shifts? Well, turns out that I was actually scheduled for nights LAST week.


I didn’t realize this until I was at the hospital last Monday morning at 5:55 AM, all dressed up with my coffee mug, ready to start my first day in my General Medicine sub-rotation…only to learn from my other two classmates that I was in fact scheduled for nights that week.

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After double-checking my schedule (something that I should have done the day prior…), all I could do was burst out in laughter. I couldn’t believe that I had made such a ridiculous mistake. Instead of being in my bed enjoying my precious slumber, I was unnecessarily at the hospital at the butt-crack of dawn looking like a damn fool. After I met the intern and shared some laughs with my classmates, I went right back home and crashed on my bed, thanking God that I hadn’t drank any of my coffee yet.

Apart from my minor mishap that morning, I had a dope experience with the night team this past week! The atmosphere was relatively more chill than the daytime, and I got to wear scrubs all week as opposed to having to dress up in my shirt/bowtie/khakis combo. Only thing is, I did actually dress up when I came back on Monday night to my ACTUAL shift…only to learn that I had no need to do so. SMH. I was just racking up on L’s that day. Nevertheless, it was a great time overall! Throughout the week, all of us on the night team had very interesting conversations about our lives and on what our respective plans are for the future. In regards to what treating patients looked like during the night shift, it was very free-flowing. In the daytime, the structure of the day was pre-rounding, rounding, finishing notes, going to the daily morning report, going to the student lunch conference, checking up on patients, listening to a lecture from an upper-level or attending, studying material for the shelf exam and then going home. However, during the night shift we just observed as the intern, AI (acting intern = fourth-year medical student literally acting like an intern) and resident wrote up notes and answered pages about the patients that they were covering. We would follow them as they visited patients who needed to be checked on and admitted new patients who arrived in the Emergency Department. While following them, we would also ask multiple questions about what they were doing and why they made certain decisions. It was a neat and unique learning experience that was only made better by the great attitudes of the people on the team. And as a critical bonus, I got sooo much good sleep during the week! I was also able to get a lot of studying done and to take care of tasks that I had been pushing off for weeks. With all of that factored in, I have been in a very pleasant mood as of late. 😄

Before wrapping up this post, I suppose I should mention that I got some really good news last week that lifted my spirits even higher! I actually received this news on Monday morning, so I guess I didn’t take L’s that whole day lol. I got an email that morning stating that I had been selected as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows of the Student National Medical Association! Only ten medical students and ten pre-medical students throughout the nation are selected, so it was an absolute honor to have been given this unique opportunity to work with SNMA leadership on the national level and to further hone my leadership capabilities in this program. You know, it’s funny how life works…I ran for SNMA chapter president here at Wake last year and lost, I bombed my speech at AMEC a few months ago and, as a result, blew my chance on becoming the Regional Community Service Liaison for Region IV of the SNMA, but yet I was able to acquire this highly selective position on a national level. Patience, perseverance and persistence mannn, I tell you. You just keep shooting your shot and eventually you end up making a basket!


Now that I’m all out of updates for you, I can officially wrap up this post.

Make sure to have a splendid week!

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

– Black Man, M.D.

Appreciation of Life

Do you know what it feels like to realize that you don’t have your laptop charger after driving 4+ hours away from the location where you last had it? And then coming to the crushing realization as you fruitlessly search for it that you completely forgot to pack it in your bag before you headed out on the road? Well, guess who’s currently experiencing that WONDERFUL feeling right now? SMH.

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Aside from this mishap though, I had a pretty eventful weekend with my family and family friends back at home! We had gathered for the wake of my late grandmother at a nearby funeral home and then proceeded to celebrate her life back at my family’s home with food, music and good vibes all around. I talked to family members and family friends that I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid and some that I had never even met in my lifetime! They all came from all over the country to pay their respects and to spend time with my family as we continue to work through our loss. It was incredible! I was also given an opportunity to say a few words at my grandmother’s wake and I made sure to make the most out of my farewell address to her. Overall, the weekend was one filled with love and connectedness, even though the house was packed with overnight visitors throughout the weekend. We all made it work though! My family, especially my parents, sincerely appreciated the outpouring of support and love that we recieved from everyone that came through as well as from all the people who’ve given their condolences and prayers to us.

Switching gears to my most recent week of Internal Medicine, I found myself working in the ACE (Advanced Care of the Elderly) Unit of the hospital in order to help care for, you guessed it, elderly patients. Every patient that was on this floor was 65 years old or older and, for the most part, had multiple comorbidities associated with their chief complaints. While on this unit, I was made very aware of just how important it is to review the medications of this patient population in order to assess the various interactions and adverse effects that they can have on these patients. The elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects of medications, and can very well develop unwanted symptoms as a result of medical treatment targeted for another issue. In addition to learning about the effects of medication on the elderly, we were made aware about the risk of falls in this patient population and about the various causes of cognitive impairment that the elderly can suffer from. All in all, it was a good and productive week that flew by especially fast due to the July 4th holiday landing on this past Tuesday!

I’m now officially two months into my Internal Medicine clerkship with one more to go before I switch over to OB/GYN! That also means that I’m about 1/6th of my way done with my third year! Time keeps flying by man…I’m literally trying to slow it down at times because things are moving too fast for me lol. This month will be my general medicine month, where I’ll see a wide array of patients who will be just as diverse as the illnesses that we will be working to treat while they’re in the hospital. I’ll also be working night shifts for the first time all of next week! That’ll surely be quite an experience…

Have a fantastic week and continue basking in the (almost unbearable) summer sunshine!

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” – Dr. Christiane Northrup 

– Black Man, M.D.

Facing Tranquility

You know, it’s quite annoying that I have to be at the hospital tomorrow, only to be off on Tuesday for the July 4th holiday. I mean I’m not complaining or anything for the free day off, but it would have been more ideal to return from my weekend trip to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon as opposed to having to return here this afternoon.

But such is life.

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I had a peaceful 5-hour drive back to Winston that happened to fly by due to the audiobook (Michelle Obama: A Life) that I was listening to. I picked up this new listening-to-audiobooks-during-long-trips habit not too long ago and I must say, I’ve enjoyed listening to them more than bumpin’ music the whole ride. It really makes the drive go a lot faster, especially if you’re listening to really good books. I’ve learned so much about the Obamas from this book as well as from President Obama’s two other books and as a result, I have an even greater level of admiration for them then I already did!

As to why I was in Atlanta, I was just visiting my girlfriend and her family because I had a relatively free weekend to do so. As always, I had a wonderful time with them! I also had a blast crushing her in mini-golf at a rooftop arcade…but then she came back and beat me (barely) in skeeball. Lol. Between going to the movies, eating out at various restaurants, accompanying her as she coached her kids through a swim meet and just hanging out at her house, the time spent with her was very satisfying. Can’t wait to see her again when she finally moves to UNC next month for her combined master’s/doctorate program!

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I spent this past week at a hospice care facility, where I spent time talking to patients there while learning more about the roles of healthcare providers in hospice care. It was my first time ever going to a hospice care facility and I was definitely blown away at how beautiful the center was. There was lively greenery all around the facility, the patients’ spacious rooms had a very homey feel to them with their hardwood floors and radiant rays of sunshine beaming through the windows, and there were flowers stationed all throughout the facility. The atmosphere there was very calm, quiet and peaceful as well. Family and friends were constantly visiting their loved ones and the patients there all seemed to be content with the care they were receiving at the center. The beautiful scenery at the center drew an incredible contrast to the tragic stories that the patients carried with them. It was so sad to hear about the terminal conditions of these people and to watch their families try and prepare themselves for the imminent passing of their loved ones. However, it did make me feel better to witness the amount of quality care that these patients received as they waited to pass on.

Along with talking to the patients and their families, my two classmates and I were granted the opportunity to understand the roles that the chaplain and the massage therapist played at the center. The chaplain spoke with us about how vital his role was to the patients he serves and how he attended to their spiritual needs. In particular, he emphasized the spiritual tasks of making meaning & finding hope and on the principles that he uses in his everyday routine, which include understanding the ministry of presence, embracing the struggle, normalizing feelings, promoting life review, addressing unresolved issues, and utilizing the spiritual resources most comfortable with the patient. As for the massage therapist, he spoke with us on how he uses integrative approaches to help tend to the patients needs. With using the power of the healing touch and manipulating chakra flow, he seeks to make patients cope with their chronic pain better via unconventional avenues. Learning about these perspectives proved to be quite interesting!

One other experience we took a part of was learning from the perspectives of caregivers who were staying in a nearby Family House dedicated to housing caregivers from outside the county. Both myself and a nursing student spoke with one of the caregivers there, who shared with us his perspective of how healthcare has been delievered to his loved one. He specifically emphasized the importance of providing hope and of being compassionate as healthcare providers. He also stated that he has always remembered the providers who had been especially compassionate as well as the ones who had lacked compassion. I’ll forever remember the stories he shared with us and his overarching message of the power of compassion will continue to be one of my guiding principles as I continue working in the healthcare field.

Now that I’ve completed my week of hospice care, I’m headed to my week of inpatient geriatric (elderly) care, meaning that I’ll be back in the hospital after having been working in outpatient care for the past couple of weeks. This also means that I’ll be waking up around 5:45 AM this week, since I have to be there by 7 AM. Ohhhh how much I’ve missed waking up at the crack of dawn. But just like the previous weeks have been so far, this week should be a good one!

Make your week a good one as well! Happy (early) 4th of July to my American readers!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – July 4th is cool and all, but it’s too bad my people weren’t granted that glorious freedom as well on that special day. Lemme not get into all that though.

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