The Start of Something New

In just a couple of days, I’ll be starting one of the most transformative years of my life. It’s a year that I’ve been treating as the distant future for a long time now, because it just always seemed so far away. It’s a year that I had been looking forward to with both pure excitement and guarded apprehension.

2019 is the year that I will finally graduate from medical school and become an Ophthalmologist!” I would tell myself back in high school, as if I had already mapped out my perfect life plan and knew it inside and out.

2019 is the year that I will begin my residency program and won’t have a life at all, because I’ll be busy getting worked to death…and I won’t be making much money…but at least I’ll be that much closer to becoming an eye surgeon!” I would tell myself back in college as I started to absorb what other people were telling me the medical journey would look like up until I was finally a board-certified physician.

I really wonder what my life is going to look like after I graduate in 2019…will I really be ready to begin my residency training by then? Will I actually be able to retain all of these crazy amounts of material that I’m being tested on? Will I be confident enough to treat patients on my own? Will my positive and resilient mindset truly get me through both medical school and residency? Will I really have no life when residency begins, or is that just something people say? How will my Step scores influence my residency choices? I know I’m good enough to be a doctor…but what if I find out that I’m actually not? Where will I live in 2019 after I graduate? Will I still be in Winston-Salem? North Carolina? Somewhere completely different? How the hell am I going to even begin paying back these massive loans??? ” I would ask myself over and over again back in the early months of my first-year of medical school.

Oh wow, 2019 is getting preeee-tty close 😅” is what I’ve been telling myself these past few months as January 1st, 2019 has crept closer and closer with each passing day.

Looking back on my past 3 1/2 years as a medical student, I can comfortably say that I’m going to be ready to start residency come July 1st, 2019, or whenever my future institution decides to begin our training. I’ve come to understand that being ready to start residency does not necessarily mean that I’ll already know how to be the perfect doctor once I start.

NEWSFLASH!!! I won’t.

As much as I’ve learned these past few years, there will be many things that I won’t know once I begin residency. But remember, that’s what residency training is for; it is designed to teach us what we need to learn in order to become an effective board-certified physician. All I need to arrive with on my first day is my basic knowledge set of medicine that I’ve been continously crafting, my personality along with my other character traits that helped me secure a residency spot in the first place, the confidence that I can conquer just about any challenge thrown my way, and the sheer will to work in order to improve the lives of my patients. Just with those alone, I know that I’ll be good to go. It’ll definitely be a tough transition, but I’ve been through tough times before and others have gone through this transition and succeeded. Plus, it’s not like I’ll be going through this alone; I’ll have my co-residents, mentors, advisors, faculty, family, friends, my significant other, plus others who will be there for me throughout this time.

As of late, when I’ve been asked if I’m ready for graduation and residency, I’ve been telling people that I feel like it’s all going to be an exciting and nervewracking experience. I still think so, but I’m now leaning more towards exciting and away from nervewracking. Why, you may ask? Simply because, I’M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR. There are a TON of people who aren’t able to say that and countless others who wish and dream of being able to say that. It’s an honor to be able to enter such a noble and highly-regarded profession. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and so many people have supported me along my journey and prayed for me to get here. So why wouldn’t I be thrilled about the fact that I’ve made it this far? By allowing myself to enjoy the journey towards being a doctor, I have really been able to appreciate so much along the way and because of this, I feel energized as I approach my final semester of medical school and graduation. The journey is so much more important than the destination y’all, because how you develop during your journey directly correlates to how you will function once you reach your destination.

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2018 has been an amazing year of growth for me overall. I literally started the year off at the midway point of my third-year Neurology rotation and now eight rotations (including my two away rotations), two Step exams, and ten residency interviews later, I’m ending the year as a much more confident and resilient fourth-year student who is ready to power through three more rotations before enjoying another flex block and graduating with a medical degree. And through all of this, I’ve been able to expand my blog even further, begin fundraising for The Desire To Inspire Scholarship, become a member of the SNMA Board of Directors, visit San Francisco and other major cities across the East Coast, forge important connections with all kinds of people across the nation, confirm my career choice as a Pediatrician who is on an even bigger mission, get nominated for various scholarships and even awarded some of them, and much more! I’m really looking forward to what 2019 is going to bring and how much growth I will continue to enjoy as a result of the events that will occur throughout the year. With it being a year of major transitions, I’m sure that there will be plenty of personal growth and development to appreciate!

I hope that you had as wonderful of a Christmas and overall holiday season as I had! Being able to spend quality time with family and friends is always a blessing that I try not to take for granted.

I also hope that you’re as excited as I am about all of the potential opportunities in store for us as we enter 2019! 😄

Here’s to a fantastic and prosperous New Year!

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“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I’ve been blogging for so long that I recently realized that I was able to read what I typed in my end-of-the-year/New Year posts for 2015, 2016, and 2017. If you’re curious like I was, feel free to check them out for a trip down memory lane!

Kickin’ Back

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is really two days away! It’s even harder to believe that I’ve already blown through my first week of my winter break!

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It feels like I just got to Atlanta a couple of days ago. While I’ve been here, I’ve mainly been relaxing and lounging around while also catching up on some books that I’ve been wanting to read for months (I FINALLY read The Alchemist), watching some movies with my girlfriend and catching up on some of our favorite shows. (We started Grey’s Anatomy this past summer and are only midway through Season 3…I’ve already accepted that this will be a LOOONG-term endeavor 😅) Outside of all that, I’ve been able to catch up with some other college friends over brunch, meet a ton of my girl’s high school friends at her school’s five-year reunion, crack down on some work for the SNMA, begin seriously thinking about and comparing the pediatric residency programs I’ve interviewed at to each other, eat a ton of great food and SLEEP. I haven’t slept in this much in forever…I had forgotten what it was like to sleep in past 9 AM 😂. I also finally got my grade back from my CHOP away rotation and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well my evaluation turned out! Long story short, my evaluators thought highly of my performance while I was there, witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in me and feel that I’ll grow into an excellent physician as long as I continue to work on some key things. It’s incredible what getting a grade of Honors can do to your self-confidence, especially when you get them back-to-back in rotations of the specialty you’re going into.

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I really don’t have much else to say other than that I got an email with details about my upcoming Anesthesiolgy Acting/Sub-Internship in January. Based off the email, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of studying due to the fact that I have a midterm and a final exam during the rotation. Sheeeeesh. I’m also going to have to be on long call from 6 AM – 10 PM once per week and I’ll be busy doing procedures and simulations for the most part throughout my rotation. I don’t think it’ll be that bad though…as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to participating in all kinds of procedures and observing various surgeries in the operating room. It’ll also be nice to be back at Wake after living out of my suitcase for the past 3+ months, though I’ll be completing a couple more trips in January (UVA interview and SNMA National Leadership Institute in Nashville, TN). While it has been fun being on the road meeting so many new people and catching up with old friends, I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed again and to use the space and utilities in my apartment that I’m still paying for.

Keeping it short today because we’re all busy getting ready with the holidays with our families and there’s probably a number of you getting your last minute Christmas shopping in. Plus like I stated earlier, I don’t have much else to say.

So on that note, I hope that those of you who celebrate Christmas have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! 🎄🎅🏿❄️

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his (her) dream.” – Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Coming Full Circle

Bruh, I was thiiiiis close to being able to say that I finally completed the interview trail.

THIIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE!

(I’m putting my index finger and thumb extremely close to each other over here for emphasis, you just can’t see it….so here’s an emoji 👌🏿)

But thanks to the freakin’ snowstorm last week, a.k.a. Winter Storm Diego (really though, where do they get these storm names from? Does someone decide on random names and put them in a database or something? Alas, I digress…), my UVA interview that was scheduled for last Tuesday had to be moved to a date in January. So I have one more interview to look forward to before I can truly say that I’ve finished the interview season. This also means that I now have to miss a day of my Anesthesiology Sub-Internship to drive up to Charlottesville and back down to Winston-Salem. Thanks a lot Diego. While it is now going to be a bit of an inconvenience to have to interview in January, I’m really glad that UVA was flexible enough to allow me to do so. I’m still looking forward to interviewing there, seeing what the program has to offer, meeting the residents, faculty and staff, and finally finishing out all of my interviews once and for all! 🙌🏿

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While I missed out on my previously scheduled UVA interview, I did get to go to my other interview I had scheduled for last week, which was at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. As you may or may not already know, I grew up around this area of Virginia, so it was pretty much a homecoming for me. It was surreal being able to walk around the hospital that I grew up hearing so much about as a kid in my community. Also when people asked where I was from during my interview day, I no longer had to say “I’m from the Virginia Beach area of Virginia”, knowing that most people would have no clue where Norfolk or Chesapeake were. I could just proudly say,

“I’m from this area! I actually grew up in both Norfolk and Chesapeake!”

Okay I didn’t really exclaim it all overly excited like a cornball, but you get the idea. The hospital itself was a beautiful one, and I learned that it was the only free-standing hospital in the state of Virginia. I also had pleasant conversations during my actual interviews after being served breakfast in an elegant fashion. And to top it all off, I was placed in the comfiest apartment that I’ve been in since the interview season started, at no cost to me.

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After the interview day, I was even able to drive on home to spend time with my family for a couple of days before flying out to Atlanta, where I’ll be staying up until Christmas Eve. Overall, it was a great interview day and would have been a perfect way to cap off my interview season but you know, Diego.

Before I left to come to Atlanta, I made a quick stop at my former high school to talk to some of my former orchestra teacher’s students at his request. Again, it was very surreal to walk in the halls of my high school once again after graduating from there over seven years ago. Everything looked the same for the most part, but the students walking around literally looked like children to me. It made me think about just how young I was in high school, although I really believed in all my heart and soul that I was grown back then 😂. It was also funny listening to the bells once again, which signaled that it was time to switch classes. (Wow, that bell really used to run my school life lol.)

When I got to the orchestra room, I was again hit with a sentimental wave. I met the students that were there and after introducing myself to them, I began talking about my experiences as a student voyaging from high school to college to medical school. I then turned it into a Q&A session and was instantly hit with a barrage of questions that I was more than happy to answer. I repeated this whole event with his next class as well, who had just as many questions to ask me about my experiences. Overall, there were probably about 70-80 students listening to what I had to say. By listening to what types of questions they asked, I was reminded of how much information I had taken for granted over the years. Some of the things that have become basic facts to me were unknown mysteries to them. This made me even more thankful that I was there to give them some helpful information that even I did not have when I was in their shoes, while also helping them relieve some of the anxiety that a number of them were feeling about college and medical school. Speaking of, the vast majority of them had plans on going to college and a good amount also had aspirations of working in the field of healthcare. Not to mention that they ALL played an instrument. They were an impressive group of students y’all. I had an awesome time spending a couple of hours with them and am grateful for the opportunity that one of my favorite teachers of all time afforded me!

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Those are all the updates I have for you today! Now that I am officially on winter break, I plan on living it up to the fullest, starting with my week here in ATL with my girlfriend, her family and some of our friends! Plus I just upgraded to the iPhone XS, so I’m about to be actin’ a whoooole fool 😏😜😂.

I hope that your week ends up being a spectacular one! And be sure to cherish the time you have with your loved ones this holiday season!

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I would begin saying something about the political climate and the current state of the country, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Y’all already know the insanity going on around us. So I’m going to keep it positive and encourage each of us to do what we can to make the lives of others around us better, no matter how small or big the act of kindness is. Let’s just all continue to support the people who are actively fighting to make this country a better place to live in!

Riding It Out

Just to let you know, this is probably going to end up being a short post because I don’t really have that much to say. Plus I’m currently snowed in and have been in and out of power throughout the day and I don’t want to use up a lot of my laptop battery typing this up. In all my years of experiencing snow days, I’ve literally never lost power because of the snow…so this predicament is pretty new to me lol. I had to go layer up on my clothing because without the heater keeping us warm, it’s already starting to get a little chilly in the apartment.

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Literally woke up to this.

Smh.

But enough about my current issues; let’s move on to other things I want to talk to you about.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in one state this past week as opposed to having to drive across multiple states for interviews like I did a couple weeks ago. Saved me a good amount of gas and time, I must say. 😄 During the duration of the week I interviewed at UNC and Duke, both of which I had wonderful experiences at! It was really convenient that they were close to each other, which made my life a whole lot easier. As you can see, I’m very thankful that I was able to schedule those interviews next to each other seamlessly lol. Like just about every other place I’ve interviewed at so far, the people at both of these residency programs were very kind and relatable. In addition, both of these programs are strong ones and they each have their own unique features that will come in handy when I finally sit down and figure out how I’m going to rank the programs I’ve interviewed at.

Speaking of which, that is definitely going to be a tough decision. Having to decide where I’m going to spend the next three years of my life is a huge responsibility to undertake, especially since I’m going to have to factor in things that I didn’t have to factor in back when I was applying to colleges and even medical schools. While I’m looking forward to coming to a decision on how my rank list will look, I’m also beginning to dread the thought of having to comb through and compare what each program has to offer in order to come to my decision. It’ll be a long process, but I do understand that if I really want to be serious about thinking through which program I’ll be happiest at, it will be absolutely necessary to take some extra time to do so.

One thing that I do want to mention before I close out this post is the frequency in which I’ve been able to talk about this blog in my one-on-one residency interviews. I’ve found it fascinating how many times the topic of my blog has come up throughout my interview season. Some interviewers had been so intrigued about my blog that they visited it before meeting me, and there have even been a few interviews where it took up the majority of the conversation!

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When I first started this blog in the summer before my first year of medical school, I would have never imagined that it would become a solid talking point during my residency interviews. To tell the truth, I didn’t even know that it would have expanded as much as it did these past few years. All I had in mind back then was to type up and share weekly updates about my experiences as a medical student. The fact that this simple idea transformed into the full-force entity that “Black Man, M.D.” is today continues to astound me on a daily basis. Who would have thought I had it in me to create something like this? Better yet, who would’ve thought that I would be able to carve out the time these past few years to continue creating content for the blog, regardless of the challenges that medical school brought and continues to throw my way? Through this platform, I have been able to create and maintain relationships with so many people that I would have never had otherwise connected with, while at the same time helping myself reflect on my own experiences and helping motivate other people in various capacities. It’s so easy to talk about my work with this blog that it almost feels like a cheat code whenever I’m asked to describe what it is during my interviews. I could literally talk about it for days lol. As a matter of fact, I’ve already talked more about it just now than I had planned to, so I’m gonna go ahead and stop talking about it now. 😅

Remember when I said this was probably going to be a short post? Hahaha yeah, me too. Well the post ended up being kind of short, I think. Well relative to some of the other posts I’ve typed in the past, it definitely is. Okay, now I’m rambling. I have two more interviews scheduled for this week at the University of Virginia and Eastern Virginia Medical School, but the way this weather is looking, I have no idea if I’ll be able to make it to UVA for my interview on Tuesday. Hopefully things begin clearing up sooner rather than later so that I can drive up there safely! 🤞🏿

I hope that you all have a stupendous week! For those of you affected by the inclement weather, be sure to stay safe!

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I almost forgot to mention that I got the opportunity to be Santa again at my SNMA chapter’s annual Christmas Party for kids with sickle cell that took place yesterday! I had just as much fun as I had when I was Santa a couple of years ago! The kids loved the event, though some of them weren’t fooled by my Santa outfit 😂

Blazing The Trail

First things first. I got my car back! 😄😄😄

If you happened to check out my last post, you probably remember me talking about how I had to leave my car back in Virginia to get some issues fixed while I drove around in a rental car. To be honest, my rental car was cool and all…..but its MPG was TRASH. Had me spending so much bread last week as I drove all across Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Smh. On the bright side though, I’ve been racking up a good amount of credit card points due to all the gas I had to buy throughout the week! Okay not a whole lot, but it’s better than not getting anything at all by using a debit card. I went back home yesterday, finally returned the rental car, picked up my car (whose MPG I’ve missed sooo much) and drove back to NC today where I’ll be prepping for my UNC and Duke interviews taking place this week. It’ll be nice to sit still in one place for a while after all of the ridiculous amount of driving I’ve been doing for the past two weeks.

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As I just said, I spent the week traveling across four different states in order to complete my interviews at Emory (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) and Atrium Health (Levine Children’s Hospital) in Charlotte. I had a great time learning about each of those residency programs while also getting to know some of the residents and faculty members at both of those institutions. And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the free meals that were graciously given to us lol. As I was completing these past couple of interviews, I came to realize that I have gotten pretty comfortable with the overall flow of the interview process. From my interactions with other applicants, residents and faculty to the answers that I gave during the actual interviews themselves, it felt almost as if things were coming second-nature to me. I guess that’s bound to happen after being on the interview trail for almost two months. 🙃

Also, having two interviews in the same week wasn’t really as exhausting as I had initially thought it was going to be. Sure the drives were annoying (Shoutout to Michelle Obama’s audiobook for making the time fly by), but the actual interview days themselves haven’t really been draining at all. That’s a huge plus in interviewing at Peds programs; people are amazingly kind and, for the most part, the interviews are very conversational. Only thing that’s really been draining as of late is the money from my bank account…but let’s not talk about that because I’m in a good mood right now. With seven interviews now complete, I’m fully prepared to take on the next two I have scheduled this week and to finish off my interview season by knocking out my last two interviews next week! 😄 (I previously had two more scheduled in January, but I’m canceling them because I feel comfortable with the number of interviews I currently have and I really like the places I’ve interviewed at so far. Plus, traveling to those institutions wouldn’t be friendly to my bank account 😅)

One other thing I did in between my two interviews this past week was to actually serve as an interviewer for Wake medical school applicants. Yeah, pretty crazy ain’t it? I literally went from interviewee to interviewer back to interviewee in the span of four days.

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As I sat in the room waiting for my first interviewee to enter on Wednesday morning, I couldn’t help but feel amazed at the fact that things had really come full circle for me. I recalled the pleasant interview experience I had with a fourth-year medical student back when I was interviewing for a spot at Wake’s medical school and remember feeling like it would take forever to get to where he was at in his medical journey. I also remember thinking how awesome it was that a medical student was getting the opportunity to participate in the admissions process and how cool it would be if I was given the opportunity to do the same for applicants in the future. Sitting alone in that room, I quickly came to the realization that now was that “future” I had been thinking about. I was getting the golden opportunity to interview pre-medical students who were hoping to gain access to the medical education that they had been working so tirelessly for. Granted, this MMI format that I was participating in was very different from the traditional 20-minute interviews I was engaged in when I interviewed at Wake, but the overall premise was the same: I get to have one-on-one conversations with medical school applicants and my evaluations of those conversations have a direct influence on whether the applicants receive an acceptance or not. It sure is an empowering feeling, to say the least. It is an absolute honor and privilege to be able to participate in the admissions process this year and I’m looking forward to interviewing more prospective medical students next semester, a.k.a my final semester of medical school!!

That’s all I have for you today! I hope that you have a blessed week!

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama

– Black Man, M.D.