The Little Things In Life

Ayyyeeeee ya boy is turning 25 this week!!

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The big 2-5. Lol, some of you reading this may chuckle at the fact that this is such a big deal to me. You’re probably reading this like:

“Boy, 25 ain’t nothing. You ain’t grown at all, you still a youngin!” 

Others of you may gasp after reading this and be like:

“Daaannng, you 25?? Bro, you old as hell!”

Yet, others of you reading this probably don’t really care at all and are like:

“Okkkaayyy? And? The sky is still blue, the grass is still green and Kanye’s still crazy. You got older, whoooop-tee-doo.”

Whatever the case, just know that as I sit here and type this, I’m seriously thinking about just how much life I’ve already lived and how much more (Lord willing) lies ahead of me. I don’t care what you all say, turing 25 is a big deal to me lol. I’m pretty much in my mid-20s. Mid-20s!! I can clearly remember entering my 20s and feeling like I was all grown. And you couldn’t tell me NOTHING when I finally turned 21. But man, I’m about to turn 25 and I’m in awe. This year is going to be life-changing for sure. Like, I’m going to be recieving my medical degree and starting residency at this age! I also get the feeling that within this next year, I’m going to be enjoying some of the greatest life experiences that I’ll ever have.

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Man, I’m ready for 25 and am excited to celebrate my birthday this upcoming Labor Day weekend with my girl! Not only will I be going to Carowinds for the first time and enjoying some of the other things that Charlotte has to offer, but I’ll also be cheering on my ‘Canes when they play their first game of the season against LSU on Sunday! That’s right, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY!!!

college football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

I’m really hoping that we can capitalize off of our success from last season and really shake things up this year!

Okay, let me actually start talking about stuff that you care about. 😂

My first week on the Peds Heme/Onc service was a fantastic one! Although there was an abnormally low number of patients on the service this week, I was able to maximize my learning opportunities with the patients I was caring for by studying their charts, ferociously googling and reviewing chemotherapies like a madman, asking endless questions to the members of my team, and engaging in the attending’s educational discussions throughout the week. Because we had such a low number of patients for our abnormally huge team, I had ample time to get adequately acclimated to the service. The fact that the team was so chill and easy to work with made the week that much better. In addition, I had the opportunity to spend extra time with some of the patients on the service in order to form memorable relationships with them that I hope impacted their lives as much as they impacted mine. It was awesome to be able to sit and have a lengthy conversation with one of the teens on the service about regular teenager stuff. He helped me realize just how out-of-touch I was with current trends 😭. I also had a ton of fun getting crushed repeatedly in thumb-wrestling matches and staring contests by one of my younger patients throughout the week. She would make it a point to remind me to come back in the afternoon to play with her and she would ask people where I was if I hadn’t come to visit her yet during the day. She really liked to talk with me and beat me in her lil’ games 😂. I loved going to visit her in the afternoons; she was so precious!

I’m definitely looking forward to another week on this service and I’ll be more than ready to carry more patients in the event that things get busier. I’ve already learned a lot about managing patients with various blood disorders and types of cancer, and I’m sure that I’ll have the opportunity to learn much more as I spend more time on this service in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, I’ve already encountered patients with some really tough diagnoses and I anticipate that I’ll be encountering more soon enough. Cancer is such an evil disease man. If there’s anything that I’ve taken away so far though, it’s that these kids and their families have an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I’m absolutely honored to be able to serve as a health provider for them.

I spent the weekend at Chapel Hill in order to attend UNC’s First Look, a free program designed to give medical students the opportunity to check out some of the residency programs that the institution has to offer. There was a fun reception on Friday night, where I got the chance to meet students from various institutions as well as faculty at UNC. I also unexpectedly ran into some old friends and got the chance to catch up with them, which was an awesome surprise. The program continued on Saturday, where we listened to resident and faculty panels who answered the many questions that the audience posed and shared some of the experiences that they’ve had at UNC. We were then split into groups based on our specialty interest and had lunch with residents and faculty members who worked in the specialty we were interested in. After that, we listened to the keynote speaker, who happened to be the Chair of the Family Medicine Department at UNC and then I went on a tour of the facility with the Pediatrics residency program director and some other medical students interested in Pediatrics. After the tour, we came back to the main room and the program officially came to a close. That’s the quick synopsis you’re getting, because I’m getting tired of typing lol. Overall, I’m really glad I decided to attend because I felt like I got an even better idea of what resident life at UNC would be like and I learned some useful information about both the application cycle and residency in general. Plus, it’s always great to meet new people and to catch up with old friends! And I can’t forget about all the free “UNC swag” that I got just by being there 😎. (Shoutout to the new UNC coffee tumbler gifted to me! I was supposed to have bought one a week ago, but I kept putting it off. This is one of those rare times in my life that procrastination actually worked in my favor 😄)

Okay, I’m all done for today! I hope that you have a spectacular week! I definitely plan on having one! 😜

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

– Black Man, M.D.

Golden Opportunities

With my time in the NICU having now come to an end, I am now one less block away from finally receiving my M.D. in May!

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My next rotation will be on the Hematology/Oncology service, where I’ll be completing my first Acting Internship (AI). For those of you not familiar with the concept of an AI, it’s a rotation where you literally act like you’re an intern (first-year resident) on the service. You have additional responsibilites that aren’t typically expected of medical students and it’s supposed to be one of your tougher rotations as a fourth-year student because of the fact that there is more expected out of you. At my institution, we’re required to do two of these AIs as well as an ICU month. After selecting those required rotations, you are free to fill the rest of your schedule with any electives you want. In addition, we can’t select two AIs in the same specialty here…so my other AI in January is currently in Anesthesiology. I also unexpectedly got hit with another AI rotation for my away rotation in Philly, bringing me to a total of three AIs for the year. I had initially selected an elective for that away rotation, but there weren’t any other spots left in the preferences I selected…so I’m just gonna have to go and perform my best in my AI up there!

But yeah, back to the Heme/Onc service I’m starting tomorrow.

I’m actually really excited about starting this rotation, because I had heard such great things about the learning opportunities present as well as about the faculty on this service. To be honest, I actually don’t think I’ve heard one person say that they had an unpleasant experience on this rotation. This is one of the sub-specialties that I’ve developed a bit of an interest in, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s all about. However, I am also very aware of how emotionally draining this experience could potentially be. There will likely be many ups and downs throughout this month, so it’ll be important to remain emotionally healthy as I do my best to provide adequate care to these patients.

My last week in the NICU was a great one, just like the other weeks have been. I got some sort of closure for one of my patients that I had been following the entire month that I had been on service and I also got to do more things than I had done in past weeks, such as watching the birth of twins via C-Section. That was a beauty that I hadn’t seen since my Ob/Gyn rotation last summer. (Fun fact: the last time I saw a birth of twins was on my 24th birthday 😄) In the delivery room, my team and I were responsible for APGAR scoring the twins (I quickly learned how stressful resuscitating an infant can be 😰) and transporting them to the NICU for further evaluation. Because the father wasn’t in the room at the time, I was given the opportunity to cut the cord of one of the twins and I must admit, I had a bit of a moment. 😂

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In addition to participating in the birth of twins, I also got the chance to place an umbilical vein catheter (UVC) into an infant! This catheter literally goes into the umbilical vein of the baby in order to allow for access to the central venous system so that we can administer IV fluids, nutrition, antibiotics, etc. It was a pretty simple task, but because the fellow and I had to get all gowned up and sterile, it felt like a huge deal lol. I ended up placing it EXACTLY where it needed to be and got some praise from both the fellow and attending on service 😄. And lastly, I gave an informative presentation on Epidermolysis Bullosa to my team, which was well-received. If you aren’t aware of this rare condition, just know that it’s a terrible disease to live with. I added a download link to my PowerPoint if you care to learn more about it! You could also just Google it too. Or just keep reading the rest of my post.

Man I can’t believe we’re already coming up on the end of August…I don’t want summer to end!! Once my birthday comes up on the 29th, summer is pretty much over and the weather will begin to cool off again. Well actually, with this North Carolina weather, that definitely isn’t a given. It may stay hot until we get slapped in the face with a random 40 degree wind chill in October. I’ll make sure to enjoy the rest of the summer as much as I can though. Also with the end of August comes the submission of my residency application and the nearing of my first away rotation in D.C.

Yikes.

Things suddenly seem to be moving faster than I anticipated. 😅

I’m done for now. Make sure to have a blessed week! And just as a heads up, the SNMA is partnering with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in getting people to pledge to vote in the midterm elections! Visit the #MedOutTheVote website to learn more about this movement!

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” – Benjamin Franklin

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Ready Or Not

Y’all, I have about a month until my residency application is due. A month. That’s like no time at all, especially if you live in my world where time insists on zipping by like a shooting star. I remember first learning about the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service)  and the whole timeline of fourth-year like it was yesterday. I also remember feeling like I had so much time left during that fourth-year information session back in the late fall of last year. Back then, I was more concerned about powering on through my Psychiatry and Neurology rotations so that I could get to winter break. Fourth year seemed like a mile away…..but here I am now, about to start the last week of my third rotation of my final year of medical school, only about a month out until the application is due.

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Luckily for me, my school ensures that we are prepared to submit our application well in advance by not only making us go to information sessions throughout the year, but also allowing us to pair with residency advisors during the summer in order to review the various elements of our application. Because I had to have drafts of my personal statement, CV and MSPE characteristics completed before my advisor meeting, I’ve already done all the hard work. I’ve even gotten a few people to review my personal statement already. All I need to do now to complete my application is to finish revising my personal statement, ensure that the people I’ve asked to write a letter of recommendation for me do so before the deadline, and complete the other fill-in-the-blank sections of my application. Then I’ll be pretty much set to submit! Oh wait, I also have to come to a final decision on which programs I’m actually going to apply to. 😅 Whittling my list down to about twenty-or-so programs is still a work in progress and is actually harder than I had anticipated, especially when there are so many fantastic pediatric programs across the East Coast. But I assure you, it’s getting done!

This past week was another one that went by in a blur. I woke up on Monday morning ready to start my week and before I knew it, I was leaving the hospital on Thursday afternoon wondering how the heck I was already approaching Friday. Carrying up to four patients at a time most of the week kept me pretty busy, which at the same time also helped make time fly by. By being responsible for this many patients, I felt like I was getting a taste of what being an intern was going to be like. I was writing notes for my patients, presenting them on rounds, assisting in coming up with plans of care for them, assisting in procedures (I helped perform a couple more of those 15-minute head taps that I wrote about last week lol) and even helping write orders for them. I really was feeling like the doctor that I’m going to become in less than a year!

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Overall, this past week in the NICU was another solid one. I even had a baby smile at me multiple times as I played with him! 😄 That about made my week, especially because of the straight-up sad nature of the NICU. These babies are literally the sickest infants that I’ve ever seen. Some of them fortunately end up getting better and going home, but many of them have been there for an extended period of time, with some of them having spent their entire lives in the hospital. It’s pretty depressing man. As a healthcare provider for these infants though, it’s extremely important that you don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment, no matter how sad and unfortunate the patients’ circumstances are. Of course you need to be able to emphasize with these patients and their families, but you also have to ensure that you’re not letting their circumstances affect your life in a negative and destructive way. It’s a much harder rule of thumb to follow than you may expect. Or maybe you actually do expect it to be a hard thing to do because, well you know, sick babies are naturally a sad sight to see.

While I feel like I’ve been able to emphasize with the patients and their families in an appropriate manner, I’ve found my mind frequently drifting off to what this experience in the NICU must be like for the families that come to visit their loved ones. Whereas each day in the NICU is just another day of school to me, it’s surely an emotional and unforgettable experience for each of the parents whose children are recieving care there. During these times of reflection, I tend to be brought back to the times I volunteered in the Ronald McDonald House’s Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital (located on the same floor as the PICU and the NICU), which is a place where families of the hospital’s pediatric patients can get together in a comfortable place close to their loved ones and rest while having access to free food and coffee. I remember witnessing how distressed and hopeful these families were about their loved ones, and being reminded that there was another world outside of the hospital that was full of the worried relatives and friends of each patient. It’s pretty terrifying how easy it is to go about your daily routine in the NICU without even taking a moment to seriously consider the perspective of the families who are scared to death about their loved ones. I hope to continue this habit of making time to consider the perspectives of others so that I can be that much more of an empathetic, caring and effective physician.

Well that’s it for today! Go on and live your best life this week!

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

– Black Man, M.D.

Lessons In The NICU

This week flew by so fast man.

And I’m already at the halfway point of my NICU rotation.

Like, how??

kevin hart jokes GIF by Kevin Hart: What Now?

Between the long hours at the hospital each day and the great learning experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy, I guess it’s easy to see why time has seemed to pass by so quickly. My mornings are primarily spent pre-rounding, pre-charting, rounding with Radiology, rounding on patients with my regular team, and finishing my notes. I’ve learned so much about routine care in the NICU just by paying attention to other providers during rounds and keeping up-to-date with my assigned patients. Although I had an idea of what day-to-day patient care looked like, it amazed me just how many calculations need to be done on a daily basis in order to adequately maintain the status of these infants.

After eating whatever I manage to come across for lunch, I typically spend my afternoons checking on my patients, finishing up whatever notes I have left, attending various learning sessions, and/or observing/participating in various procedures. As a matter of fact, my colleague and I actually performed a ventricular tap on an infant who was suffering from brain swelling and increased cranial pressure due to her overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid. The Nurse Practitioner supervising us walked us through the procedure, but we were literally the ones doing it. Can you believe that I actually stuck a needle into the baby’s fontanelle (“soft spot”) so that my partner could draw fluid from her brain? Wild man, just wild. Can’t lie though, it was pretty cool…..until I realized that I had to be immobile with the needle for about 15 minutes as my partner SLOWLY drew the fluid out of the baby’s head at a rate of about 1 mL a minute. We had to draw out 15 mL.

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The little kid took it like a champ though! What a soldier.

I spent part of another afternoon with a Neurologist and a group of third-year med students who were learning how to perform an effective neurological exam on a newborn at the bedside. That ended up being a really good review, and I also learned about the 5 S’s for the first time. Best believe I took notes on that. And speaking of third-years, I got the chance to orient another group of them to their Pediatrics rotation earlier on in the week. Like, I was one of the people giving them tours and tips during their rotation orientation! Talk about having things come full circle!

There were other various afternoon learning sessions that I attended during the week such as lectures on antibiotics and ventilators, interdisciplinary meetings about the next steps for our patients’ care, and my partner’s talk about abdominal wall defects. I even gave my own presentation about the development and usage of the HeRO score in a clinical setting! (The link lets you download my powerpoint, in case you were interested in the topic for whatever reason. It’s pretty interesting, but then again I’m biased. 🤷🏿‍♂️) However, the two sessions that I’ll probably take the most away from were the Medical Improv session and the Brenner Schwartz rounds. The Medical Improv session was actually a fun group activity that took the idea of improvisation and applied it to clinical settings. All the various healthcare providers in the room practiced using affirmative phrases such as “I appreciate you said that” & “yes, and” on each other in order to get an idea of how much more effective conversations can be. We also used negative statements such as “yes, but” and “no” to capture the feelings that patients can get when providers use them without thinking twice about it. We all had a good amount of laughs from the activity, and it made us more aware of the different ways that we can build rapport with patients as well as with our colleagues and other people in general.

The Brenner Schwartz rounds was a multidisciplinary forum that focused on discussing the experiences that various healthcare providers have gone through. There was a panel made up of two nurses and a Neonatologist, all of whom talked about various “best days of their lives” in their careers. It was neat to hear each of their stories and how much of an impact some of their patients have had on their lives and careers. Listening to their stories also motivated me to begin documenting my best experiences with patients so that I can look back on them whenever I’m having a tough day in the future. But then I quickly reminded myself that I have a whole blog to look back on whenever I’m having a tough day lol. But still, having a place where I have my patient encounters documented wouldn’t hurt. There are a good number of experiences that I just haven’t written about, simply because I don’t have the time to write them all out in the manner that I would like to write them out in. But even with that said, I’ve been able to touch on many of my experiences at one point or another in prior posts. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up creating a separate section on the blog dedicated to patient encounters at some point in the future…

That’s all I got for this post! Even though I don’t have to spend my time studying for a Shelf exam, I still managed to find a way to keep myself busier than I would’ve liked to be…so with that said, I’m gonna go and get some work done.

You all be sure to have a spectacular week!

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

– Black Man, M.D.