Second Time’s The Charm

After my scarring camping experience as a Boy Scout in 5th grade (I quit Boy Scouts shortly after this escapade), I swore to myself that I would never go to a camp again. And ever since then, I haven’t stepped foot on a campsite.

Until now.

cardi b hd GIF by 2017 MTV Video Music Awards

After almost 15 years of avoiding campsites, here I am typing this post at, you guessed it, a campsite. However, if you’ve been reading my posts, then this isn’t coming as a surprise to you. We’ve known for a while that my next rotation would consist of me attending a summer camp specifically designed to cater to kids with various chronic illnesses. And because I willingly picked this as one of my fourth-year electives, it’s obvious that the chances of me hating this camping experience are very minimal, if existent at all. You see, unlike my Boy Scouts trip where I had to face the wilderness with my troop as a ten-year-old child, this camp is moreso an oasis located out on the countryside where I’ll be alongside many counselors and medical volunteers helping kids have fun!

Kids from all over the country come to Victory Junction because of the ubiquitous fun-loving and benevolent atmosphere found here. This atmosphere is fortified by all the various exciting activites there are to do here as well as the engaged nature of the counselors and summer staff. I’ll be spending the next four weeks here, where I’ll be spending half my time working as a camp counselor and the other half working as a medical volunteer. It’s going to be a busy month, but I also get the feeling that it’s going to be very entertaining as well! However while I’m here, I won’t be able to use my laptop and phone as much because being engaged with the kids is a priority at camp. This means that my weekly posts will most likely come at different times that you and me both aren’t used to. My next few posts will probably come on Saturdays as opposed to Sundays, just as a heads-up. I get time off from Thursday afternoons-Saturday afternoons where I’m able to go back home and recuperate, which is why it’ll be easier for me to just post during that time as opposed to Sunday when I’m already back at camp checking in a new set of kids for the week. But it’s all good though, it’s not every day that I get to rotate through a summer camp!

The vibe that I’ve gotten from the people I’ve met so far during orientation has been an energetic and genuine one, which makes me even more excited to start working as a camp counselor this week! Most of the people I’ve met are either still in college or have just graduated, making me one of the older counselors here. That’s something that I’m not used to, for I’m usually the baby of whatever group I end up being in. It’s cool to be one of the older people for once. 😎 People like to think that because you have a few years on them, you must be way more mature and wiser. This is probably not so true in my case. But regardless, I’m not about to call my own bluff lol.

Outside of finally coming to camp, I’ve had a pretty uneventful week. Okay that’s partially a lie; I was on Hilton Head Island from last Saturday up until Tuesday and I had such a relaxing time while I was there! Some of the things that we did included going to the beach multiple times, eating some tasty seafood at various restaurants on the island, and hitting up a couple of bars.

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I honestly wasn’t ready to leave so soon, but my girlfriend had another trip to go on in a couple of days. Plus, I needed to spend the next couple of days getting my life together before coming to camp. I ended up getting a lot of work done that I had been pushing off and although I still have quite a bit more to get through, I’m confident that I’ll be able to do so during my weekends off this next month. I was also able to catch a few exciting games of the World Cup! I’ve found myself cheering hard for Mexico and Nigeria since my usuals didn’t make the tournament this time around. Both of these teams have been doing pretty well so far. Hopefully they continue their winning streak!

Alright, I gotta go to bed and rest up for what’s looking to be a full day tomorrow. I hope that your week is an eventful one!

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

– Black Man, M.D.

Life After Step II

After a solid month or so of strenuous preparation for my nine-hour long Step 2 CK board exam, I can finally say that I’m OFFICIALLY DONE with that test!!

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As you may or may not have read last week, I had started to get sick of constantly answering and reviewing questions. My motivation to study was rapidly declining, I was achieving scores in a range that I was comfortable with, and I felt like there were some things that I was starting to forget simply because I had last reviewed those details weeks ago. Although I was very comfortable staying with my girlfriend (who had been making the study block a MUCH more tolerable experience), having to use the majority of my day to complete study questions and review concepts was getting really annoying. I was so ready to take the test and move on with my life, which I finally did last Friday.

Thank God Singing GIF by WE tv

In the days leading up to the test, I actually toned down my studying quite a bit. As a matter of fact, the last question blocks I completed and reviewed were on Tuesday. I did a light, final review on Wednesday and by mid-afternoon, I was completely done with my preparation. A part of me wanted to go back and look at some more stuff later on that evening as well as on Thursday, but I wouldn’t let myself. Okay, I cheated for a few minutes on Thursday morning and let myself look at a few things that I thought I was a little shaky on before realizing that doing so was a waste of time. Plus, I didn’t want to throw myself into a panicked frenzy the day before the exam. That’s just ridiculous. Deep down, I knew that I had already looked at everything worth looking at and I knew that I was ready to go in and take the exam. But even so, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that I may have either missed some small details or failed to study a concept all the way through. That feeling will probably never go away, which is why it’s important to just simply trust that you prepared yourself adequately and that you know the necessary information to perform well on the test, even if you have to end up working through questions that you’re unsure about.

I spent my Thursday getting snacks for the day-long exam, sending out emails, getting some other parts of my life together and watching Netflix. It was a pretty relaxing day, to say the least. By the time I had to go to sleep, I was pretty worn out. Just to be safe, I took a little ZzzQuil because trying to sleep before huge exams has historically been a very irritating issue for me. But even with that added help, I had some trouble falling asleep for about an hour or so. Thankfully, I eventually fell asleep after some tossing & turning and ended up feeling pretty well rested the next morning. 😊

The routine on test day was pretty similar to when I took Step 1 last year. I got to the testing center, packed my stuff up into a small locker, verified my identity and proceeded to begin the exam. I must admit, my heart started racing a bit as I answered the first few questions of my first block. However, after answering some more questions, I quickly fell into the routine that I had been following for the past month. Each of the eight blocks ended up flying by pretty quickly and I found that although I was beginning to become mentally fatigued in the later blocks, I was faring better than I had been when I hit the last couple of blocks during my Step 1 exam. It was great to see how much more endurance I had this time around. I also noticed that I felt relatively calmer overall throughout this test, mainly because I had been taking Shelf exams all year long and I also already knew what taking a day-long test felt like. And unlike last year, my computer didn’t turn off in the middle of a question block, which is always a plus!

If you were to ask me how I felt the test went, I would say that “I think I did okay overall, but then again you never really know with these kinds of tests.” There were a good amount of questions that I felt sure that I got right, but there were also quite a few that I wasn’t entirely sure about even though I could whittle down the answer choices to increase my chances of picking the right one. And of course, there were a couple of dumb questions that I had to straight-up guess on because I literally did not know where to begin picking the right answer. I felt relatively comfortable with my performance on almost all of the question blocks. I say almost all because there was one block specifically that threw me for a hell of a loop. I pray that that block was full of questions that are going to be thrown out because I was unsure of about half of the answers that I picked in that section. But like I said, you just never know how things will end up going until you finally get your score back, which won’t be for another month or so. 😅

Now that Step 2 CK is behind me, I have a week to relax and get my life together before heading into my second rotation of fourth year, which will require me to work as a medical volunteer/camp counselor at a summer camp for kids with chronic illnesses. I’m really looking forward to this experience and am pumped to meet the team at the camp as well as all the kids that I’ll end up interacting with! Until then, I’m gonna just chill and give my mind a break. I’m over at Hilton Head Island right now and will be here until Tuesday. It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to relax on a beach…so excuse me as I finish up this post and continue to bathe in this radiating sun while taking the time to appreciate the warm sand and ocean ripples around me. 😎

Make sure to have an incredible week! Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you amazing fathers out there! And Incredibles 2 was a much better movie than I expected it to be! Go check it out when you have time to!

“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping To The Finish Line

Boooyyy am I glad to be on my last week of my Step Study Block.

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My motivation to study is reaching all-time lows. I’ve been having to force myself to stay focused during question blocks as of late, and I’m sick of having to review the answer explanations to the questions. The only reason I’ve still been able to miraculously wake up around 7:30 AM each morning is because it has become a routine drilled into me these past few weeks. My circadian rhythm is very stubborn, to say the least.

Although my motivation to study has been declining recently, I’ve been able to maintain my performance on my question blocks. My scores have even improved a bit from the week before, and I’ve been consistently scoring within a specific score range that I’m comfortable with. Of course I’ve been trying to improve even more because the sky’s the limit and all, but at this point I’m just so ready to get this test over with so I can move on with my life. I feel like I definitely got pretty much all of the major concepts down and the questions that I’ve been getting wrong mostly have to do with minute details that I have either never heard of or had already forgotten because I had reviewed it briefly eariler on in my study block. Reviewing these details is only going to help me as I prepare for Friday’s exam, so I’m glad that I’m encountering them now as opposed to on test day. At the same time though, I know I’ve been studying too long when I start to forget things that I know that I reviewed weeks ago. So I just gotta go on and take this test, especially because I’m SO ready to start my vacation week that I had moved from the end of third year to the end of my study block. Don’t worry though, best believe I’m still gonna keep my head straight and blaze through this final week of preparation, regardless of how much I don’t feel like studying anymore.

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In other unrelated news, I found out recently that I’ve been accepted to two scholarship away rotations at Children’s National Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia! I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to rotate at these hospitals and I’m looking forward to my experiences in these month-long rotations, which I’ll be completing this fall. It’ll be awesome to meet the physicians at those institutions and to learn about how things operate at hospitals outside of the one that I regularly train at. It’ll also be wonderful to learn how to go about treating patient populations that are different from the populations that I’ve grown accustomed to treating at Wake. These experiences will definitely diversify my medical training, which will in turn make me an even stronger medical student who will be able to carry the important lessons learned in my experiences into residency and beyond.

Speaking of residency, I recently attended a group session hosted by the Pediatrics Department at Wake that brought together those in my class who are interesed in this field of medicine. We talked primarily about ways to go about applying to programs, getting letters of recommendation, drafting our personal statements, and other related topics regarding our not-too-distant futures. I can’t believe that the time to begin applying to residency programs is finally here. For the longest time, applying to residency programs was something that I knew was coming but could also brush off as something that I’ll complete later in the future. Well, now that “later” is now. I’m going to be working on my application for the next phase in my life, just like I was working on my application to medical school around this time four years ago. Lol now that I think about it, I was actually studying for my MCAT at that time. My, my, how much things have changed. (Not gonna lie, I still got some ill will towards that test…I bet it still sucks just like it did all those years ago.) I’ve heard that applying to residency programs is an overall better experience than applying to medical school, which is really good news to me. It’s definitely going to be a busy summer though and an even busier fall semester, but I’m sure that the end result is going to be worth all the hustle. Till then, I’m just going to enjoy the process that I’ve grown to trust.

Make sure to have a fantastic week! Too bad the NBA season has come to an anticlimatic end…good thing we have the World Cup to tide us over! Even though neither America nor Cameroon made it. Jeez.

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Ingrid Bergman

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S.Grandma, it’s been exactly a year since you left this Earth to be with our Father. We miss you, and I hope that you’re resting peacefully in Paradise! 🙏🏿

Gaining Ground

Well, I’m still studying for Step 2 CK. Nothing much has changed regarding that aspect of my life. My question block scores have been pretty stable this past week, with many more highs than lows. I also took a diagnostic test on Thursday and according to my results, I’m at a much better level of preparation than I had anticipated! I wasn’t feeling too confident while I was answering those questions, but after I got my score back I felt like I could just go on ahead and take Step 2 the next day just to get it over with lol. I have a little less than two weeks to finish preparing for this exam, which is both good and annoying. It’s good because I can only get better from where I’m at, and I have the potential to have a high peak performance on test day. On the other hand, it’s annoying because I’m starting to lose patience with these study days and this endless cycle of answering questions and reviewing them is actively draining my desire to study. Plus, I don’t want to end up performing at my peak before test day. That would really, really, reeeally suck. But alas, the grind must never stop. I’ll continue to chug along with this study process and ensure that all this hard work brings about a fruitful result.

In other news, I took some time off last Wednesday to participate in patient advocacy at the state capital! The event, White Coat Wednesday, is an annual event hosted by the North Carolina Pediatric Society that is focused on meeting with state legislators in order to discuss pertinent issues relating to the health of children and families in NC. My whole morning was spent having important discussions with various legistators alongside Wake Forest faculty members, residents and fellow classmates who are also interested in a career in Pediatrics. It was a pretty neat experience, because it allowed me to witness firsthand what engaging in patient advocacy on a legislative level was like. It’s really not as intimidating as you would think it is. Before meeting with the legislator, you come up with a few talking points that you want to emphasize during your conversation. Ideally, they would be topics that you believe would be most likely for both you and the legislator to agree upon, because you want to ensure that the meeting will be a productive one. Once you have those set talking points, you literally walk up to your legislator’s office and attempt to talk with him/her for a few minutes. Of course this part is easier if you have already scheduled a meeting with them beforehand. You hit on your talking points during the conversation and hope to inspire the legislator to act upon at least one of your suggestions. Then the meeting is over and you both go your separate ways as you work to locate the next lawmaker that you want to influence.

It’s actually a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it. But then again, the lead Pediatrician we were with has been doing this type of work for a while now, so I’m sure that this is all second-nature to her. She really made the whole process look so easy! As a future Pediatrician, I know that I’ll certainly be drawn to advocate for my patients on many levels, especially the legislative level. With that said, I really am glad that I decided to participate in this event because not only did it make the whole process less intimidating than it initially seemed, but it also proved to me that I could really help make a difference in the lives of others on a larger scale just by talking to the very people who help create the laws we live by.

All done here! Now go on and have a sensational first week of June!

“Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.” – Anne Frank

– Black Man, M.D.