Final Quarter

Last Friday, I delivered my presentation on “The Pediatric Airway” and took my Anesthesia final exam (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL), thus officially ending my Anesthesia rotation. Now that I’ve powered through that experience, I’m about 3/4 of the way done with my fourth year!!

lets go dance GIF by NBA

Good God, time flies by so freakin’ fast. I now have only three more month-long rotations before I’m officially done with my final year of medical school and graduate with my medical degree from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

academy awards hand rub GIF

With my last three blocks being an Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, a Radiology elective and another “Flex Block”, this final stretch of the year should be somewhat of a breeze. However, there are quite a few important things to take care of throughout this time outside of my rotations. I need to complete and submit my rank list by February 20th in order to be eligible for the Match. Then there’s Match Day, the one day in the year where all the fourth-years across the nation find out what residency programs they have matched into. Then there’s the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference, which is taking place in Philly this year. Then I have to attend “Intern Boot Camp”, a two-week orientation session organized by my school for all the graduating fourth-year students. And of course, there’s the whole process of preparing for graduation and the transition into the next phase of my life.

super bowl reactions GIF by NBC

While these next few months will be more chill than the vast majority of my medical school experience was, it will still be a very busy time for me nonetheless. I didn’t even mention that I still have to carry out my obligations for the SNMA as well as put some dedicated time aside for blogwork. Since I’ll have more free time than usual, I definitely want to invest some of that time and energy into further enhancing this blog and figuring out how I’m going to move forward with it in residency. When I initially started this blog, my sole intention was to record my experiences throughout my time in medical school. Now that it has become so much bigger than I could have imagined, I have absolutely no intention on stopping the momentum that has propelled this platform into the lives of so many people. Aside from taking some time for both the SNMA and the blog, I definitely want to spend some time traveling to a few places for fun and also spend quality time with friends, family and my girlfriend. I’m real excited for what these next few months will bring, and am looking forward to the fantastic fourth-year life that has been promised to me for soooooo long!!

vacation weeks GIF

I don’t want to take up too much of your time today, so I’ll breeze past some quick updates. The Anesthesia exam that I spent TOO MUCH time studying for was annoyingly specific and difficult. Who knows how that test went…I’m just mad that I actually read through ten chapters in two weeks, only to be asked questions that I would have never known the answer to, no matter how much I studied those chapters. I prepared a great presentation though, and it was on a topic that will be beneficial to me in the long run, so there’s that.

I had a meeting with Financial Aid last Wednesday about my loans and we discussed the options that I had to repay them. Looorrrrd, I’m going to need the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to come in clutch, because otherwise it’s very likely that I’ll be paying these loans off for the vast majority of my life moving forward. ๐Ÿ˜…ย That is, if I don’t end up doing any of the other forgiveness programs where I would practice primary care for a few years in specific locations after residency, which is a viable option as well. But with the PSLF, I will have the most flexibility with what I can do. Or I could just start up a wildly successful app and profit from that. Or invest in stocks early on in my residency that end up being wildly profitable later on in my career. Or win the lottery. Or find a sugar mama. My girlfriend wouldn’t be too fond of that idea though.

Lastly, I got to help out with Wake Forest SNMA’s 12th Annual Pre-Medical Conference yesterday morning, where I served as a greeter and welcomed various pre-medical students from across the region to the conference. Having volunteered at this event in various capacites in the past, it was a pleasure to be able to communicate with these students about my experiences as well as their own experiences thus far. Also, it was very heartwarming to hear that there were 200+ students that registered to this conference, making it the most attended pre-med conference out of the twelve that the school has hosted in the past! Shoutout to the Wake Forest chapter of the SNMA for organizing such a successful conference!

img-0725

That’s it from me today! I finally got my schedule for the first week of this new Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, and it’s not looking bad at all! I’ll let you know how this week ends up going in my next post!

Go on and make your week a glorious one! ๐Ÿ˜„

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” – Neil Strauss

– Black Man, M.D.

The Influence of Racism

First off, I want to give a shoutout to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as we celebrate his legacy as well as all the sacrifices that so many people in both the past and the present have made in order to guarantee everyone access to the civil rights that they deserve. While he wouldn’t be much too pleased about the current state of our country, he would be actively encouraging us all to fight for justice and to combat the racist & divisive rhetoric that is being spewed to us on a frighteningly regular basis. With that said, let’s continue to do our best to live up to the ideals that he believed in and work to make this country, as well as this world, a better place to live in!

martin luther king kindness GIF by Gilbert, Arizona

I spent the entirety of my weekend in Nashville, TN, at the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where members of the Board of Directors as well as pre-med and medical students in local chapters convened for a weekend of leadership sessions, networking, research presentations, and business meetings. Because it was my third one as a member of the Board of Directors, I already knew what the flow of the weekend was going to be like.

And sure enough, it was ridiculously busy.

Although I spent the vast majority of the weekend in board meetings discussing various matters pertinent to the organization, I did get the opportunity to sit in on a few sessions where physician-leaders of various disciplines spoke with us on topics such as what leadership in the SNMA looks like, leadership behaviors, addressing health disparities and racism as an executive, community organizing and using leadership for social justice. One common theme that kept resurfacing throughout the sessions of the conference was the powerful and negative impact that racism can have on one’s mindset. It’s almost mind-numbing to consider how something as arbitrary as race was turned into this whole social construct that was ultimately weaponized against specific populations for such an extensive duration of time that these minority populations ultimately came to believe and internalize the false and damaging stereotypes that were associated with their respective race.

I personally spent so much of my formative years internally struggling with this ordeal. Due to the media, my surroundings, the “Black” & “African” jokes and stereotypes I routinely heard throughout my adolescent years, I truly believed that Black people just simply weren’t “good enough” and that as a Black Man in America, I was supposed to be either an athlete, a rapper, an entertainer or something else along those lines in order to truly be successful. Even though I was fortunate enough to have an amazing support network and incredible parents who invested so much in me throughout my life, I still saw the intelligence I was gifted with as unusual, even embarrassing at times. I found myself desperately tryingย to fit in with what was considered to be “Black” as I went about my high school days and ended up suffering through an identity crisis. It didn’t help that I had a completely separate lifestyle back at home as a first-generation American.

It really wasn’t until I got to college that I began to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. My mindset about being Black also shifted dramatically during my undergraduate years and I ended up meeting many people who were just like me, including those who were raised by immigrant parents from various countries in the continent of Africa. I found strength in being Black and for the first time in my life, I was 100% proud of my heritage and of being a Black Man in America. I began to actively fight against the stereotypes that I had unconsciously internalized up to that point, instead finding traits such as resilience, wisdom, perseverance, courage and strength commonplace across the Black diaspora. I realized how troublesome it was to believe that being an intelligent Black Man could be seen as unusual and decided to not only be proud of who I was, but to also begin motivating and inspiring others like me to disregard the false stereotypes being placed upon us and to instead internalize the positive traits that we all have the ability to possess.

Even to this day, there are moments where I find myself having to mentally combat a stereotype I was conditioned to believe throughout my life. What’s so crazy about all of this is that even with the relatively comfortable upbringing that I had, I STILL went through all of this. I can’t even begin to imagine all of those young Black kids who don’t have the same resources I had growing up who have been conditioned to believe that they are inferior to others and that they don’t have the ability or potential to be just as great as, if not greater than, what they perceive to be as successful.

Yeah I know, I went off on a MAJOR tangent….but I felt that it was necessary to put all that out there. It was especially fitting, considering that it’s MLK Day.

Overall, the SNMA conference was pretty productive and I was able to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in months. However, I wasn’t really able to do much of any sightseeing of the city because I was so busyย ๐Ÿ˜”.ย Now that this leadership conference is over, it’s time to gear up for the national conference that everyone knows and loves; the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference! It’s taking place in Philly this year and I’m really looking forward to it, especially since it will be my final year participating as a medical student ๐Ÿ˜ญ. The past two AMECs that I’ve been to were phenomenal experiences and I have no doubt that this one will be just as awesome!

Briefly recapping my past week, I spent it experiencing various fields of Anesthesia while working on completing some of my required assignments. I spent one day working in Pediatric Anesthesia, another day observing what life performing procedures in a pain clinic looks like, and yet another day helping manage the airway of psychiatric patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. I even got the opportunity to push some necessary medications into them, which was a neat experience. In regards to the midterm I took on Monday morning…..it was pretty tough, but not as terrible as I was expecting. I got my score back a few days later and it definitely wasn’t the best I’ve ever performed, but more than enough to keep my chances of comfortably passing the rotation alive. I scored about what I was expecting to score, so I wasn’t really fazed by my result at all. I just want to now get through these required readings, deliver my PowerPoint presentation that I still have to finish working on, take the final this Friday and FINALLY be done with all these assignments that I REALLY DON’T want to do anymore.

kerry washington eye roll GIF by The Paley Center for Media

Speaking of, I’m going to go ahead and sign off so that I can start working on finishing this presentation as well as get through a chapter or two of my anesthesia textbook. *Sigh* C’est la vie.

I hope that your week is a delightful one!

“Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

So I got this Anesthesia midterm exam tomorrow and I have no idea how it’s going to go down. All I’ve heard about the exams on this rotation is that they were ridiculously hard (apparently it’s all resident/fellow level material ๐Ÿ˜) and that the questions on these exams were very nitpicky. After having read ten dense chapters of this “Basics of Anesthesia” book I’ve been lugging around these past couple of weeks, I can see why this midterm has the potential to be so difficult. I have no clue what questions I’m going to get, and there’s no way that I’m going to know everything that I’ll probably need to know for this test. There’s just way too much information to absorb. It also doesn’t help that I’m not that motivated to study day and night for it, not only because it feels pointless to do so (I’ve had so many people tell me how notoriously difficult it is, including Anesthesia residents), but also because I have no interest in going into this specialty and won’t be using the majority of what I’ve been learning after this rotation is over.

However, I’ve been mindful enough to seriously work on skills like establishing IV access, bag-mask-ventilation and intubation, because I will absolutely need them in my future career as a Pediatrician. I’ve also picked the topic of “Pediatric Airway Management” as my presentation topic (I’m required to present a topic to my classmates and an attending physician, in case you missed that on my last post) because again, I’m going to tailor my experience in this rotation as much as I can to my career path. And by picking that topic, I’ll be more engaged in creating my presentation because I’ll be learning very useful things that I’ll more than likely be implementing in residency.

Speaking of, I finally finished my interview season last Tuesday at UVA! The interview day was a great one, and I had a wonderful experience overall while at Charlottesville. I had actually never been there before, so it was cool to be able to briefly check the town out. I’ll admit, it’s a neat little town; I could see why some people would be happy settling down there for some time. And because it’s a college town, the presence of UVA is very palpable throughout the area. The people in the pediatric department at UVA were all very kind and welcoming, which I really appreciated. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to make the drive up there to complete that interview, even though I had to reschedule it from last month and I ended up missing a day of my current rotation because of it.

I must say though, the scenery up to Charlottesville from Winston-Salem and back was quite dreary. ๐Ÿ˜…ย Although I spent the majority of my childhood in Virginia, I had never been in those parts of the state before. Some of the towns I drove through looked pretty rundown and because of the season, the trees were all bare. Plus, I saw a massive Confederate flag waving in the wind at some point during my drive back. It was such a stark reminder that I was in the South and in a very different area of the state that I called home for so long. I sure wasn’t trying to get stuck around any of those parts, especially at night. So you already know that I was zipping across that state highway as fast as I legally could lol.

In addition to finishing the interview trail this past week, I got the chance to sit in on a Grand Rounds talk about caring for patients who are transgender and I also participated in my first Anesthesia long call shift. The Grand Rounds talk was an interesting one, where a speech pathologist talked about the importance of recognizing the culture of this population of people and how to help them feel welcome when they come to establish care with physicians. I learned a lot about what it’s like to live in this world as a person who identifies as transgender, and I realized just how much I didn’t know about this population. I can’t even begin to imagine the lack of knowledge that some people, especially those who aren’t accepting of other cultures in the first place, have for this community of people. Listening to the presentation also forced me to think about how my beliefs of transgender people have changed over the years as I’ve matured and how societies around the world severely marginalize this population on a daily basis. I’m glad to have been able to attend this presentation and while I’m sure that there were some people in the audience who would have rather not have been there or didn’t necessarily agree with what the speaker was saying, being exposed to this information is very important because it can very much impact the care of a patient who they may end up caring for in the future.

In regards to my 15-hour long call shift, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I actually was able to get some of my rotation assignments done during my shift and I also witnessed some very memorable events as I followed the on-call Anesthesia resident around the hospital. Some of these events included watching the resident perform an awake intubation on a patient using a fiberscope and participating in a Level I trauma in the ED, where I watched a code take place and unfortunately witnessed the life of a patient end. I have another long call shift tomorrow, and there’s no telling what experiences are going to come out of that. All I can do is gear up and prepare for anything!

That’s all I got today. I have another couple weeks of Anesthesia ahead of me before I move on to my next rotation, which is one focused on Immigrant Health & Public Health. While I’m excited about that rotation, I still don’t really know what it is going to look like…hopefully I get that figured out sooner rather than later lol. I also will be heading to Nashville this upcoming weekend for the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where I’ll be participating in educational sessions, catching up with friends from across the country, and engaging talks with the Board of Directors about what the Annual Medical Education Conference in April is going to look like. I’ve never been to Nashville, so I’ll also do a little sightseeing if I have time! Should be a great experience! ๐Ÿ˜„

I hope that you have a phenomenal week! Wish me luck on this test tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜…

“Be the kind of person that you want people to think you are.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

Fresh Start

It looks like the New Year is starting off on a strong note for me!

Well, nothing major has actually really happened this past week…but it’s been a great week nonetheless. I spent the rest of my winter break at home in VA with my family, neighbors and girlfriend, where I was able to bring the New Year in! After the whole celebration that came with New Year’s Day, I had to drive right on back to Winston that same day in order to start my Anesthesia Sub-Internship the very next day. Yeah I know, it kinda sucks to have to start back up the day after New Year’s, but I can’t really complain after having had no clinical responsibilities since my last day of my Sub-Internship at CHOP back before Thanksgiving break. I’ve literally spent the last 6 1/2 weeks doing a whole lot of traveling, interviewing and sleeping with nothing much going on in between. Okay I’m lying, I definitely had plenty of SNMA administrative work to take care of, especially making sure that we kept our social media presence strong this past month. Also, I’ve been actively trying to decide where I want to spend the next three years of my life, which honestly isn’t the worst problem to have….but still, it’s a tough decision to make. I would rather be in this scenario than be in the scenario I was in when I was applying to medical schools, essentially begging for a school to give me a chance at earning a medical degree and to put me in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt along the way.

frustrated whats wrong with you GIF by Steve Harvey TV

The whole point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had a great time using my time the way that I’ve wanted to use it this past month and a half. Having to go back to a clinical schedule wasn’t that smooth of a transition, but the nature of my current rotation has made it relatively painless. I started it this past Wednesday with a brief orientation, where I swiftly learned that I was going to have to take a midterm exam, a final exam, and a mock OR simulation exam.

sad futbol GIF by The Coca-Cola Company

I went into the rotation knowing that I would have to unfortunately take a final exam, but A MIDTERM AND A SIMULATION EXAM?? THREE WHOLE EXAMS??? IN ONE MONTH??? JEEEESUS *in my most authentic Cameroonian accent*

I almost forgot to mention that I have assigned readings from a giant textbook each night, which is where the material I will be tested on will be coming from. Oh, and I’ve repeatedly heard that the tests were incredibly difficult.

shocked oh my god GIF

And to top it all off, I’m going to have to present a topic of my choice to my peers and an attending at some point in the next couple of weeks.

bored unbreakable kimmy schmidt GIF

So yeah, the requirements are ass, but it’s all relatively offset by the fact that everyone in the department seems to be really chill. Plus I get to pretty much design my own schedule when I’m in the OR, meaning that I can pick whatever cases I want to go to, with breaks included in my schedule. And while I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 AM, my workday is pretty much over by 3:00 PM, unless I decide to stick around for another hour for the residents’ lecture. So yeah, no complaints there. My first few days haveย  been great, and I feel that my day-to-day experience throughout the rotation will be engaging, informative and fulfilling. I did forget to mention that each medical student on the rotation has to do one long call shift each week (6AM – 10 PM), so I got that delightful experience to look forward to. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Outside of the hospital, I got the opportunity to interview some more medical school applicants, which was pretty cool. Because I had already gone through this experience once before, I was privy to what was expected of me and the applicants as I interviewed each of them. It’s very interesting to watch how one standard prompt can be processed in so many different ways. You would be amazed at what the applicants come up with. All I’m going to say is that if thinking on your feet is a requirement to get into med school, the competition is only getting tougher and tougher. The morning also seemed to fly by faster because I was fully aware of how things flowed. I have a couple more interview days that I will be helping out on, and I’m looking forward to serving as an interviewer on those days!

That’s really all I have to say today. I have my FINAL residency interview this Tuesday at UVA, which is the one that I may or may not have mentioned in an earlier post that I couldn’t attend because of a snowstorm last month and thus had to reschedule. I honestly wish that I didn’t have to do any more interviews now that I’m back in school and all, but it’s for the best. After this one, I’m all done with interviews and I can officially begin working on my rank list! ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ™ˆ

I hope that your New Year has been off to a spectacular start! Let’s make this week a fantastic one! ๐Ÿ˜

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you…..If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.” – Timothy Ferriss

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Now that the House of Representatives has offically switched power as of last week, I really am starting to feel those invgorating jolts of hope that were shattered soon after the shocking and disastrous 2016 elections. It’s a feeling that I’ve sorely missed these past couple of years. Shoutout to the new, diverse wave of Democrats in the House!!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

happy party GIF