Unanticipated Enthusiasm

I’m one week into my Surgery rotation and I must say, it has been such a fascinating experience thus far. It has actually been going better than I had expected! I’ve been able to not only observe, but actively participate in some interesting operations while on the Surgical Oncology service alongside some amazing surgeons. (These surgeons are SO KNOWLEDGEABLE about their craft, and they make performing surgery look so easy…meanwhile I’m over here struggling to suture a wound. It’s really hard to imagine that they were all once students like me…) I’ve also been able to go to Surg-Onc clinic a couple of half-days in order to appreciate the continuity of care aspect in this field. Plus, who knew that I would get so much independence as a medical student on this service? After morning rounds, I am literally able to jump into any operation I want to on this service and I can choose to go to clinic whenever I want to. I don’t think I’ve ever had a schedule this flexible before as a third-year. Actually never mind, I definitely had a ton of flexibility during my OB shifts in my Ob/Gyn rotation. But still, the amount of freedom I have to maximize my learning opportunities is pretty cool!

Although it has been an overall positive experience thus far, I would be lying through my teeth if I said that getting up at 4:15 AM each morning has been easy. It’s so damn early bruh! 😩 But waking up that early is necessary for me because the earlier I wake up in the morning, the longer it seems to take for me to get ready. Plus, morning rounds start at 6 AM sharp so I want to make sure that I’ve seen my patients and have already prepared my presentations, which are so much shorter compared to what I’ve been used to in other rotations. The early mornings are then usually followed by really long days in the hospital, after which my body is typically screaming for rest. I didn’t get back home until after 7 PM on a couple of times last week. Getting used to these long days has been tough, especially since I only have like a couple of hours to study and prepare myself for the cases of the next day before I have to go to sleep and do it all over again.

Bored Daymond John GIF by Shark Tank

Even with the tough nature of this service though, I haven’t been unhappy or stressed out at all. I haven’t dreaded going into the hospital each day either. On the contrary, I’ve found myself looking forward to engaging in the interesting new cases that lay ahead of me! And I’ve also noticed that I’ve been doing a good amount of studying just by reading about the cases that I’m planning on scrubbing into. (Just FYI, I’ve gotten a LOT better at the process of scrubbing in lol.) In all honesty, I believe the reason that my experience has been a great one so far is mostly because of the interns, residents and attendings that I’ve been working with. They all have had such great attitudes about what they do and have made the atmosphere a really comfortable one to learn in. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this service because I had heard it was a hard and busy one (which I can fully attest to) but now that I’m a week into it, any anxiety I may have had before I started has vanished. I’m really glad that I was granted the opportunity to work with these gifted surgeons on this stimulating service, and although waking up so early each day is going to continue to suck (like, really suck), I greatly appreciate the fact that I’m able to actively engage in these awesome cancer-removing surgeries.

That seems like a good point to end on, so I’m just gonna stop here. I have to get some studying in and prepare myself for the cases I’ll be scrubbing into tomorrow. Too bad I’ll be missing the majority of the Grammys since I’m going to bed so early…and now that I think about it, I’ll be missing a good amount of the Super Bowl next Sunday too…😭😭😭

Y’all be sure to have an awesome week!

“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.” – Debbi Fields

– Black Man, M.D.

A Different World

The completion of my Neurology shelf last Friday marked the end of the fifth block of my third-year.

Wild huh?

If that isn’t wild enough, I’m about to start my 8-week long Surgery rotation this week, which is, from what I hear, a very different world than what I’ve been used to. The services that I was granted the opportunity to work on are Surgical Oncology, Ophthalmology and Anesthesia. That’s not a bad lineup at all, if I do say so myself. I’m excited about being one of those selected to rotate through Ophthalmology because as you know, I have had a strong interest in it for years now. It will be cool to get to work side-by-side with the residents and attendings in this specialty for three weeks straight, and I’m sure that I will get to learn so much about vision care and treating various conditions of the eye in general! Although I’m pretty much set on a career in Pediatrics at this point, I’m still planning on going into the Ophthalmology service with an open mind and will allow myself to really appreciate everything that this service has to offer. I will absorb as much knowledge as I can from everyone that I encounter and will deeply engage myself with the patients that I will be helping care for.

I will, of course, keep this mentality throughout my time on the other two services. I haven’t really had any experience in Anesthesia before, so I’m really interested to see what that service has to offer. And as for Surgical Oncology, which is the service that I’ll be spending the next three weeks working in, I don’t even really know what I’m about to walk into. All I know is that I’ll be in the Operating Room all day every day learning a ton about how to remove tumors from people while being constantly refreshed *cough* PIMPED *cough cough* on human anatomy. I’ve also heard that the days in this service can be very long. I’m talking about 5 AM – 7 PM type days. And here I was, thinking that starting at 6 AM was early. I’m not gonna lie, although it’s really dope that I’m getting the chance to engage in this learning opportunity, I’m a bit apprehensive about the fact that I’ll potentially have almost no time at all to do anything else outside of school these next three weeks. I’m also not sure how I’ll fare in the surgical cases that will run for 5+ hours at a time. It takes a ton of willpower and discipline to be able to concentrate on something for that long while standing up and remaining sterile. Plus, if you start to get really hungry, tired or you suddenly have the urge to use the bathroom, things can get really uncomfortable really fast. Aside from those two concerns though, I feel that my experience on the Surg-Onc service will be a dynamic and positive one. In regards to my Surgery rotation as a whole, I’m quite intrigued as to how everything will end up playing out!

In contrast to two weeks ago, where I didn’t have time to do much of anything outside of the hospital, I had an ample amount of free time last week due to the combination of MLK Day, shelf day and all the snow that got dumped on the region. I actually only worked three half-days throughout the week, and a good amount of patients ended up not showing up to their appointments due to the weather. However, I did get to interact with patients that were recovering from strokes and with patients who were dealing with conditions such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and muscular dystrophy. I also was able to get a lot of studying in for the shelf exam (shoutout to being trapped in the snow) and participated in a lumbar puncture simulation, where we practiced performing an LP on dummies. I must say, I was successful on my first attempt. 😊 Please don’t ask me to perform one on a real patient though…I don’t think I’m ready to take that next step yet lol.

Neurology was a fantastic rotation overall, and I learned so much while rotating through it. I’ve vastly improved on my Neuro physical exam and even developed a system so that it would be hard for me to forget how to perform the exam. I saw a ton of neurological conditions in person that I had previously only read about, I had some unforgettable interactions with some of my patients and I got the opportunity to work with and learn from some phenomenal physicians. I sincerely hope that they realize how much their teaching is appreciated. I also hope that I had a great performance on my shelf exam. Although I feel like I did fine, you never really know with these standardized exams until you get your actual score back. At the end of the day though, this exam was only worth 10% of my overall grade, so I’m not too pressed about it. 😄

Make sure to have a spectacular week! And I’ll let you know how my first week of Surgery goes in my next post!

“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” – Arianna Huffington

– Black Man, M.D.

Rude Awakening

You know, it’s hilarious just how pumped and bright-eyed I ALWAYS seem to be right after a break from school, only to be brutally reminded about what’s really good when I get slammed with work to do as soon as my first week back starts. And I’m not even necessarily talking about the work I do in the hospital; yeah it was a very busy week and I was taking care of multiple patients with various neurologic conditions, but I’m used to all that. I’m more so talking about all the extraneous tasks I told myself that I had to complete within a certain time frame, getting my fourth-year schedule in order, having to study for the Shelf exam that I’m taking this Friday (I swear that test crept up on me SO fast), and finding the time (and energy) to do all of those things in the couple hours of free time I have each day after a 11+ hour shift at the hospital. Oh, and how can I forget about the oh-so-pleasant feeling of being SNATCHED out of sleep at 4:45 AM each morning? I was up and running on Monday morning with a pep in my step, but it only took until Tuesday morning for me to remember why waking up so early sucked so much. All I could do that morning was groan, lay there in bed for a couple of minutes, chuckle randomly, roll my eyes, take a deep breath and throw myself out of bed to start another day in my General Neurology inpatient week.

tired bill murray GIF

The actual experience on the inpatient service was pretty dope, especially since everyone on my team were such great people! From the interns all the way up to the attendings, everyone was just so nice. There were plenty of good vibes to go around and I learned quite a bit through their fantastic teaching. We as a team also rounded on an interesting array of patients, some of which had rare enough conditions deserving of a case report. In addition, I was able to sit in on a family meeting with my team and further appreciate the humanity of this side of medicine. The time just seemed to fly by while in the hospital, especially in the mornings when we pre-rounded and rounded on patients before going off to lunch. My afternoons consisted of additional patient care, meetings and required lectures on multiple topics in neurology. I would leave around 5 PM each day and try to summon the strength to study and complete little tasks before eating dinner and crashing onto my bed…only to be abducted from my dreams again the next morning. Although the days were filled with long hours, the week seemed to fly by pretty quick overall!

Earlier, I mentioned having to get my fourth-year schedule in order. You may be like, “Wow, you’re scheduling your fourth-year already? Why? It’s only January!” Well yeah I agree, it is quite early. But then again, it’s not that early because if I’ve learned anything in med school, it’s that time literally flashes before your eyes on a constant basis. So with that said, some members of the current fourth-year class went out of their way to give us a presentation regarding fourth-year scheduling. God bless their hearts. Turns out that there is SO much that I have to figure out between now and the start of my final year of medical school in late May. This includes figuring out if I want to do away rotations or not, deciding which acting internships and ICU rotation I want to complete, what electives I want to take, what to do with my “flex” blocks, where I want to apply for residency, when I want to take both parts of Step 2 (I literally just registered this exam a couple days ago…here we go AGAIN 😒), who to ask for letters of recommendations, yadda, yadda, yadda. Decisions, decisions. And I gotta really start figuring this out sooner rather than later.

stressed the big bang theory GIF

Quite a bit of pressure, don’t you think? Luckily, I have a good amount of people to talk to, including an assigned career advising counselor, who can help me figure all of this out. And I’m most definitely going to be hitting them up, believe that.

Remember that meeting that I had to set up for my “Less Than Satisfactory” performance on the rapid-style CPX that I told you about back in my Stroke of Misfortune post? Well I finally had it a few days ago with the clinical skills course director and we talked about how I did and what I could do to improve my performance for the next CPX in May. The main thing that I need to work on is quickly coming up with an accurate assessment and plan while writing up the patient note in less than ten minutes. So with that said, I’ll be specifically focusing on that skill between now and May, because I’ll be damned if I can’t move onto fourth year due to another “Less Than Satisfactory” performance with some standardized patients. Also, I plan to ace the Step 2 Clinical Skills portion. Sooo yeah, I got some work to do in order to transform this temporary setback into a major comeback!

On that note, I’m gonna go ahead and sign off for today! Have a fantastic week and be sure to take some time to reflect on what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rest of the civil rights activists sacrificed in order to make our lives and this country a better place! And wish me luck on this Neurology shelf exam! 😄

“If you can’t fly, then run: if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

Starting Off Strong!

Well would you look at that, it has already been a week into the New Year!

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My first week of 2018 was spent in Atlanta, where I enjoyed a fantastic week full of relaxation, goal-setting, and brainstorming. New Year’s Eve was a blast, and New Year’s Day was full of some spectacular college football games. The other days of the week seemed to blend together, all the way up until yesterday when I returned here to good ol’ Winston. Within those days, I FINALLY watched Girls Trip, Bright (wasn’t a bad movie at all, despite what the movie critics say), the new season of Black Mirror (shoulda seen my face when I realized there were only six new episodes), the new Dave Chappelle Netflix specials, the series premiere of Grown-ish, and some other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. I can’t remember the last time I watched that much TV. I also ate a lot of good food from multiple restaurants, met a few of my girlfriend’s old friends and went ice skating for the second time in my life (first time was as a first-semester college freshman and my dumbass had decided to wear a v-neck t-shirt with some cargo shorts back then…I wasn’t so dumb this time 😊). I was wobbling about 97% of the time….buuuutttt I DID NOT FALL!!!

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It was a fun and restful week overall, and an awesome way to finish up my two-week long break from my clinical rotations. I honestly don’t even know when I’ll have that much time off from school again. Probably sometime deep within my fourth-year. Who knows. All I know is that I made the most of my break and I feel more than ready to return to the grind and knock out these last two weeks of my Neurology experience! Then comes my eight-week Surgery rotation, and I’ll be ready for that too, belieeeve that! I’m not letting anything stop me, scare me or slow me down man! Remember, a positive mindset = positive results!

Lol can you tell I’m pumped up? This holiday break really invigorated me, just like pretty much all my breaks in the past have done. Also, I just feel so grateful for where I am in my life and where I’m headed, Lord willing. There are hundreds of millions of people in this world who would kill to be living the life I’m living, so why wouldn’t I be pumped up about being able to continue my medical journey? I know how hard I’ve worked to get this far, how hard I’m willing to work to reach and surpass the goals I’ve set for myself and how much support I’ve been blessed to receive along the way, so what reason do I have to complain or become discouraged? As you can see, when you take some time to put things into perspective, you realize just how great your life is and how much worse off you could be! Perspective is key, never forget that!

That’s all I got for you today, short and sweet! I have a really good feeling that 2018 is going to be such a dope year; I hope that you feel the same about this year as well! Let us continue to prosper and reach our desired goals as we move further into this year!

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey

– Black Man, M.D.