Déjà Vu

I’ve been having some serious déjà vu as of late.

Waking up at the same time every morning to complete multiple UWorld question blocks only to have to spend most of my afternoon reviewing my answers and related material…hmmm, sounds familiar doesn’t it? However, unlike my Step 1 preparation, preparing for this exam has not been nearly as taxing on my mental health 😁 (although I did do my best to maintain a positive attitude while studying for that test). Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a tough week having to study for this exam. Having the same monotonous routine on a daily basis is never fun. But I’ve found that my overall scores on my question blocks have improved in a much more rapid manner than they had done when I was preparing for Step last year. I remember going through question blocks for almost two straight weeks last year before starting to see some substantial overall improvement in my performance.

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This time around, I’ve been doing questions for a little over a week so far and although I’ve had a few less-than-desirable scores, my average peformance has already vastly improved with over half of my scores already at or close to the level that I would want to be at by the time exam week rolls up on me. I must say, this is a much better feeling than feeling like you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle that you’re always losing at. It definitely helps that I’ve had prior experience with Step studying before, so I pretty much know what to expect throughout this study block and I also have a pretty solid idea of what Step 2 is going to look like. In addition, being an attentive and hard-working third-year medical student has prepared me a lot for Step 2. Having to think through diagnoses and management plans for real-life patients all throughout the year, coupled with the constant barrage of content and study questions I had to drill through all year long ultimately transformed my mind into one that is more suitable for a great Step 2 performance…..not to mention that it’s a mindset that is absolutely required for a great physician to have.

These factors have made my time during this study block very tolerable so far, but it would be very remiss of me to not mention that I’ve been spending my study block with my girlfriend, which has seriously made all the difference in the world. She has made my life this past week so much easier and relaxing, even with my marathon study days. It helps tremendously that she understands how much effort I need to put in preparing for this test, and she goes out of her way to ensure that I’m comfortable during this study period. Even with all this studying though, we make time to have fun together as much as we can. Like, we went to a TDE concert last night and I saw Kendrick Lamar along with the rest of the crew (minus SZA 😔) for the first time! We also have been watching our favorite shows together and will be having a number of movie nights in the forseeable future lol. Oh, and how could I forget the glorious home-cooked food. She’s been feeding me a LOT better than I’ve been feeding myself these past few months with good food that I probably would never even consider making on my own. And she’s been doing all of these things while completing her own graduate school-related summer work! Yeah I know, she’s pretty awesome. Lucky me! 😄

Now I must go back to reviewing my answers and making sure that the information I’m relearning sticks long enough for me to use during the exam. Then I gotta go and get some SNMA stuff done. Then I’ll chill for a bit after that.

Be sure to have a wonderful and productive week! At the very least, aim to be more productive than the U.S. government currently is. Then again, they haven’t set a high bar for us to jump over. The bar is actually pretty low. Very low even. Lol, there hasn’t even been a bar set. All you gotta do is make someone smile and you would have already done more than they’ll probably be able to do all month. But you get the idea. Just go on and live your best life.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs – even though checkered by failure – than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Back Into Step

Well I must say, I like being a fourth-year so far.

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Yeah I know it’s only been a week and all, but man has it been chill. It has actually been one of the most relaxing weeks I’ve had in a while. I mean, I did have to go through my Procedures OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination), my final CPX (Clinical Practice Examination), and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training over the course of the week, but even with those things in place, it’s been a chill week overall. I haven’t had to study for another looming Shelf exam nor have I had to prepare myself for a shift in the ED/clinic/OR/wards. I literally have been able to calm all my nerves down and relax for a little while….sort of. I may not have another Shelf exam coming up, but I do have this little thing called Step 2 CK that I’m gonna have to pounce on in less than a month. With that said, I’ve had to mix my relaxation with the initial phase of my preparation for the exam. This means that I’ve been forcing myself to complete UWorld question blocks for the past few days while reviewing material that I’ve learned all throughout the year, just like I was doing for Step 1.

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In addition to beginning my Step Study Block, I’ve been having to make time to fulfill my duties as the External Affairs Committee Co-Chair for the SNMA. There’s quite a bit of work that goes into this position and I’m still grappling on how to be as efficient and effective in this role as possible while continuing to put forth my best efforts in my studies. I’m sure that as time passes, I’ll grow even more into this new role and I’ll also figure out ways to complete the things I need to do in a more efficient manner. There’s just so much paperwork that I need to keep straight but as long as I keep my organization game A1, I should be good. Plus with a Co-Chair as good as mine, I’m confident that our committee will be strong and healthy well before our quarterly National Leadership Institute, which is where the Board of Directors of the SNMA meet. This first one will be taking place at the end of June in Minnesota. I ain’t never been to Minnesota, nor did I think I would ever have to travel there. But then again, never in a million years did I think I would ever be blogging. Yet here I am. Just ty-ping my thoughts away.

So yeah, gist of this post is that I’m liking my final year of school so far, I’m still busy even when I’m not, I’m glad to be done with the testing I had to do this week (OSCE and ACLS went fine. This CPX was definitely my best performance yet, but even with that said I definitely screwed up a few things…and it wasn’t that easy of a test. I’m pretty sure I did alright on it overall…but I’m still gonna pray on it 🙏🏿) and I’m starting to crack down on this Step 2 studying. I’m so not looking forward to four straight weeks of question blocks and review…but whatever, it’s gotta be done. Plus, I’m going to be with my girlfriend most of the time so that should already make these next few weeks better than last year’s Step Study Block!

Alright, back to studying I go. I have a couple hours to get some in before I attend Wake Forest’s annual SNMA graudation banquet tonight. Wow! I’ll be a graduate in that banquet next year! 😆😆😆

Be sure to have an awesome week!

“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” – Mae Jemison

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Okay this is really random, but I got a professional massage for the first time in my life a couple days ago. Maaannn have I been missing out! And I also watched Deadpool 2; it’s freakin’ hilarious. You definitely gotta check it out. But be warned, there’s a lot of gruesome action scenes. And very crude humor. Lots of it. 😂

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (3/4) M.D.

My third year of medical school is officially over!

So you aaallllrrrready know what time it is!!!

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It’s so exciting to be able to finally go into fourth-year and to focus on rotating in the electives that I’ve picked for myself. Ever since my first year, I’ve heard how wonderful fourth-year is and how much fun I’ll end up having, especially after trekking through the organized chaos that is interview season. Also, I’ve been looking at all the brand new medical doctors who just graduated from medical school this weekend and it’s awesome to know that I’ll be in that very position in just a short year! Well, awesome and quite nerve-wracking. Like I know that I know a lot, but do I know enough to be a full-fledged doctor? Only time will tell lol. I have confidence that I’ve been prepared well to this point in my education, and fourth-year will only allow me to further sharpen my skills in preparation for intern year.

There’s a lot to look forward to now that I’ve finished my core clinical rotations! At the same time though, there’s a lot of work to do with Step 2 CK and CS coming up, residency applications awaiting me, interview season on the horizon and in my fourth-year electives where I’ll still be working hard even though I don’t have a test to prepare for in most of them. And I can’t forget about fulfilling my role as an SNMA National Officer throughout the coming year. Yeah, it’s going to be busy but if I take things one day at a time, I know that these tasks will be accomplished for sure!

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As I look towards a future full of promise and blessings, I would like to take a moment to reflect on this past year of growth and maturation. When I sit here and think about all that I’ve been able to witness and participate in while on my clinical rotations, I’m left feeling absolutely amazed. The connections I made with my patients throughout the year were priceless. I’ll never forget the various deep conversations and clinical experiences I had with one of them who ended up being diagnosed with a terminal condition. We had become so well-acquainted with one another that he trusted me, and even encouraged me, to place a nasogastric tube into him, which is not a pleasant experience at all.

It’s hard to forget the sight of the amputated patient being treated for heart failure looking out of her window, lost in deep thought. I always wondered where her mind was in those moments. Then there was the pleasant elderly woman (she looked about 30 years younger then her age) who always had a bright smile on her face whenever I walked into her room. The time where I de-escalated a situation between a family and the healthcare providers after pinpointing a misunderstanding and providing clarification to the family. Trying to convince a young man to quit using cocaine in order to reduce his risk of death from a heart condition he was born with. The patient with a chronic illness in his kidneys who enjoyed my company so much that he wanted to get my number so that we could grab a beer after he got out of the hospital. (Of course I had to decline the offer, but I did tell him that I appreciated his kindness).

Witnessing the birth of four children on my 24th birthday. Not getting the chance to deliver a live baby, but participating in various ways in the births of a number of children. Delivering five placentas. Coaching mothers through childbirth. Staring into the eyes of an infant who was crying in pain but not making a sound due to her tracheal tube and her medical condition that affected the muscles throughout her body. The hope and life in the demeanor of another child that I ended up spending a considerable amount of time with who was suffering from renal failure. A family’s despair as we informed them that their kid was being diagnosed with cancer.

Shocking the brains of patients with electroconvulsive therapy. Getting screamed at by a psychiatric patient five minutes before having a delightful conversation with her. Treating suicidal and schizophrenic patients as well as patients with various personality disorders. That patient who suffered from a devastating stroke that equally devastated her daughters. The very pleasant patient who presented with the re-occurrence of a rare neurological condition that my team and I decided to write a case report about. All of those patients that my surgical oncology team and I saw in the clinic. Helping perform a Whipple procedure in a patient with pancreatic cancer. Maneuvering the camera being used by the surgeons to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Getting the opportunity to operate one-on-one with a fellow on a patient with metastatic cancer.

Becoming proficient at using the slit-lamp, the retinoscope and the direct ophthalmoscope during my Ophthalmology rotation. Treating the endless number of patients in the Ophthalmology clinic. Witnessing LASIK eye surgery for the very first time. Making my massive career switch from Ophthalmology to Pediatrics. Putting patients to sleep in the Operating Room. Watching a patient undergo open heart surgery while I learned about pharmacology from an Anesthesia resident. Learning how to intubate and bag-valve-mask patients. Enjoying the calm and collaborative atmosphere in the Family Medicine clinic. Flying to California for the first time in my life. Talking about my blog at a Narrative Medicine conference. Practicing my Phlebotomy skills in the clinic.

Watching a patient die in front of me right before being shocked back to life in a dramatic fashion by his implantable defribillator. Helping restrain another panicked and angry patient who suffered a gunshot wound to his face. Reassuring the concerned parents of children in the Emergency Room and letting them know that their children will be alright even though they may look sick. Witnessing firsthand the drastic consequences that come with severe dehydration. Learning how to manage trauma cases via simulations and real-life scenarios in the ED. Treating massive burns, heart attacks, septic shock and seizures. Becoming great friends with my rotation group. Giving various presentations during my rotations. Fully engaging myself in my educational activities.

The list goes on and on…..and on and on and on. These reflections are just the things that came to my mind at the moment. There are so many experiences this past year that I could write about; so many that I could literally write a book. There will be many more experiences to engage in, and I’m very much so looking forward to them! I’m so honored to have been blessed to engage in these educational and priceless experiences at such a young age. It’s wild to think that these life-altering experiences for people have become an everyday thing for me. Talk about perspective.

Well if you have made it this far into the post, I would like to thank you for taking the trip down memory lane with me! You are much appreciated! With third-year now behind me, I’m officially 75% done with medical school. That a substantial amount of schooling complete man! I have to get through some procedural testing this week as well as a clinical skills exam (CPX), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support training. Then after all of this, I’ll be free to study for my Step 2 Clinical Knowledge exam, which I’m taking on Friday, June 15th. 😅😐🙃 It’s about to be another busy month, but I’m ready to head through it with full force! I just pray that everyone was right when they said that Step 2 isn’t as treacherous as Step 1. 🙏🏿

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Be sure to have a superb week! Congratulations to all of you who are graduating from your respective programs this month! And Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you amazing, loving and spectacular mothers out there!

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” – Sigmund Freud

– Black Man, M.D.

ONE. MORE. WEEK.

This is it y’all!

I’m heading into my final week of third-year rotations!!

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I’m finally going to be taking my eighth and final Shelf exam this Friday, and I couldn’t be more ready to get it over with. It’s taking everything in me to get through all the material that I need to study in order to perform adequately on the exam, especially since the Emergency Medicine exam is one that can test me on just about anything. So yeah, you already know that there’s no way I’m going to know everything I need to know for this exam. If there’s one thing I learned about Shelf exams this year, it’s that the questions on the test are a total crapshoot. There’s pretty much no telling what’s coming at you once you hit “Start Exam” and enter into the 2-hour-and-45-minute time crunch that you’re given to complete the 110 questions. It’s annoying as hell. But regardless, I’m gonna put my best effort into it and deal with whatever score I manage to squeeze from it. Unlike other rotations though, I also have a 30-minute oral exam that I have to complete the morning of my Shelf. So I have the glorious opportunity to prepare for that too. Lucky me. Hopefully that ends up helping out my overall grade as opposed to hurting me!

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Before I get to finish off my third year and move on to fourth year like I so desperately want to, I have to work two more ED shifts tomorrow and Tuesday as well as participate in a Pediatrics Simulation Lab and finish writing up this required case report about a patient that I helped treat a couple of weeks ago. This is all after having completed a Peds ED shift today just prior to typing this post.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I actually do like this rotation and the people I’ve worked with in it have been some of the best and nicest that I’ve worked with all year long. Plus, both the didactic and the on-the-job teaching I’ve had the opportunity to receive while in this rotation has been phenomenal. I feel like I’ve learned an incredible amount of information in these past three weeks and like I’ve been treated as a true member of the healthcare team while working my shifts. And I can’t forget about the fact that I’ve gotten the chance to see some pretty crazy things happen to patients while on my shifts. But even with all that said, I’ve recently come to find that I’ve become quite exhausted with this school year overall. It has been getting harder for me to will myself to get things done and to engage myself in the rotation at times. There have been also times where I just completely forgoed studying and found something else to do with the limited time that I have. For a second, I had thought I was starting to perhaps experience some early signs of burnout…but I don’t think that’s really what it is. I think it’s moreso that now that I know what field of medicine I want to go into, I’m just itching to start working in that field specifically. I have most of my fourth-year schedule locked in already, and I have a fantastic start to the year with my first four blocks being Step 2 prep (🙃🙃🙃), the Victory Junction Pediatric Summer Camp, Neonatal ICU and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Acting Internship. And not only am I excited about my schedule, I’m also thrilled about the fact that I don’t have any exams to prepare for in most of my blocks next year!!

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That’s literally one of the best parts of fourth year; I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in the rotations and study the material that I want to study in the fashion that I want to do so without having to worry about getting through a certain number of questions and memorizing buzzwords and whatnot. I can read research articles to my heart’s desire, I can spend my “study time” reading up on as many patients as I want, I can fully engage with my patients without having to worry about setting time aside to study questions and when I get home I don’t have to spend most of my waking hours studying for Shelf exams! It’s going to be wonderful, I already know it lol. These, plus more, are the reasons as to why I am itching to finish up this Emergency Medicine rotation and to start off my last year of medical school. I’m really glad that this rotation is designed the way it is though, because having great people to work with in such a collegiate environment has made it easier for me to engage myself and learn, no matter how much I would like to fast forward time. However, I did enjoy the two Peds ED shifts that I’ve worked in, so Peds Emergency Medicine is definitely a possible career path for me in the future!

This past week was straight. I don’t really feel like typing anymore, especially since I have a lot of other stuff to do…so I’ll keep it brief. I worked three ED shifts throughout the week, participated in an Airway Lab where my classmates and I got hands-on learning about managing airways in patients, and attended the annual Scholar’s Brunch yesterday morning where I met one of the people that one of my scholarships was named after. It turns out that she was one of the previous Deans for Student Inclusion and Diversity at the medical school! We had some great conversation over some delicious food and I was able to take in the moment to appreciate the fact that I was in a room full of freakin’ millionaires. Like, I was meeting people whose family members had buildings around the medical center named after them! Wild bruh. Just wild. I was also featured in a video that was shown during the brunch (Here’s the link to it), so maybe some of those donors will remember my face and decide to help me pay off some more of my six-digit debt! 😅🙏🏿

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Aight, I’m done typing. Y’all be sure to have a fantastic week! 😄

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.