Marching Into Opportunity

I don’t know about you, but I was a bit shocked when I woke up this morning and realized that today was the last day in March. Like, WHAT?!?

Los Angeles Rams Wow GIF by Gatorade

It feels like JUST yesterday that I woke up and blasted Future’s “March Madness” on my speakers on the morning of March 1st! (Yeah I’m lame, so what? Fight me 😀)

While the month has flown by quite fast, I have been intentional in taking the time to appreciate the easygoing and exciting vibes all around me throughout the month. From rotating through my informative, yet chill Radiology clerkship to experiencing Match Week and transitioning into my second flex block, I haven’t really had much reason to stress about academics as of late. Also with March Madness going on, I’ve had such a great time watching the games and either celebrating the survival of some of my brackets or bemoaning one of my bad picks. (UNC’s recent loss definitely screwed up a few of my brackets πŸ˜…)

Honestly, I would be chillin’ even more if I wasn’t working in the position of Interim Regional Director for my region of the SNMA. I’m not going to lie, the constant work that I’ve had to perform in this position has taken up quite a chunk of my free time and has kept me busier than I had envisioned being during this time in my fourth year, especially since the Annual Medical Education Conference is coming up in a few weeks. And let’s not forget that I still have to fulfill my duties as one of the External Affairs National Committee Co-Chairs, so that has been keeping me busy too. πŸ˜…Β Even though I’ve only served as Regional Director for a little over a month now and didn’t really have much onboarding at all when I took on the position, I think that my team and I have done some good work so far in pulling the chapters in the region together, effectively communicating with them so that everyone was on the same page, and getting them prepared for the conference. I really have to emphasize how crucial the people helping me have been in making my life easier as Regional Director. Shoutout to all of them, because your boy would currently be incredibly lost in this role without each of them! Can’t wait to see them all at the conference so I can thank them in person!

This past week, I spent a good amount of time taking advantage of some opportunities that had been afforded to me. I attended a community town hall meeting hosted by the Office of Cancer Health Equity, where we had a discussion about the findings of a community assessment that was done in East Winston concerning cancer care for African-Americans. While I was there, I got the chance to listen to what the East Winston community thought about the healthcare systems present in the city and to help brainstorm solutions to the issues that people in that community are facing. It was enlightening to be able to communicate directly with the community and it reminded me of all the community work I participated in during my Immigrant Health/Public Health rotation. Engaging in these community experiences has provided me a framework that I can use in the future as I attempt to impact my future community as a physician in effective and meaningful ways.

In addition to attending the East Winston community town hall meeting, I got the chance to listen to Dr. Bonnie Mason, the founder of Nth Dimensions, speak at a noon conference that revolved around mentorship for underrepresented minority residents at Wake Forest. She gave an engaging and memorable talk on mentorship and shared with us some very practical advice that we can use during our residency years and throughout life in general. I then got the chance to talk with her as well as with some other minority physicians in the community at a dinner later on that evening, where two prominent physicians in the city (Dr. Lawrence Hopkins & Dr. Charlie Kennedy) were honored. The URM resident mentorship program at Wake Forest was offically named after them at the dinner, and they also had the day of March 27th named in their honor by the mayor of the city of Winston-Salem! It was a wonderful dinner that showed me the incredible impact that physicians can have in their respective communities. I hope to have a similar level of impact in the communities that I serve in the future!

On that positive note, I’ll go ahead and wrap up this post!

I hope that your week is an excellent one! 😁

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” – Golda Meir

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I watched “Us” last Sunday and it was such a great movie! Had my mind all messed up for the next day or two though…I definitely recommend watching it if you haven’t already!!

Life After Match Day

I find it so funny how much everything changes after Match Day is over. As you know, my whole fourth year literally revolved around one thing and one thing only:

Where was I going to match?

With the help and guidance of others, I spent the vast majority of the year working tirelessly to figure out the answer to that question. I powered through both parts of Step 2, met with multiple advisors and mentors to talk about my future, knocked out my rotations one-by-one, carefully selected which residency programs I wanted to apply to, completed and submitted my ERAS application, went on eleven interviews, created and submitted my rank list, learned that I matched into a program on the Monday of Match Week and FINALLY received the answer to that burning question on Match Day!Β πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™πŸΏ

Now that I know where I’m going to be spending my first few years as an M.D., there’s not really much more for me to do as a fourth-year medical student. This is further solidified by the fact that I just completed the last day of my final clinical rotation this past Friday! (TURN UHHHH!!!) My time is now being primarily spent on getting through the necessary paperwork for residency (You should have seen all the paperwork I was sent just this past week; UNC ain’t messing around πŸ˜…), looking for a place to live within the Research Triangle, getting my finances together, preparing for graduation, getting ready for the trips that I’ll be taking in the next few weeks, taking care of SNMA business, doing some blogwork, and making sure that I take the time to chill out, relax and enjoy this low-stress period of time that I had been looking forward to for a very long time. As you can see, life after Match Day so far has been busy, yet splendid. πŸ˜„

Some of y’all may be thinking, “Wait what? Last day of his final clinical rotation? It’s only March! What the heck is he going to be doing until graduation??” Well, like I’ve said in previous posts, I set my schedule up in a way that would allow me to have a month of free time at the end of the year. In other words, I strategically put my second flex block at the end of the year lol. Sooooo yeaaahhh, I’m going to be coastin’ for the next few weeks up until Intern Boot Camp, a two-week pre-orientation program that the school organizes for the graduating fourth-years that has a variety of sessions designed to help prepare us for the first few days of residency. Life is going to be great during this free block, you’ll see πŸ˜‰.

One more thing before I end this relatively short post. I spent yesterday morning competing in the 6th Annual MACHE Bowl, where my interdisciplinary team and I competed against two other interdisciplinary teams in working to solve a case that was tied into the opioid epidemic and health disparities. We competed in two separate rounds in front of a live audience and judges. While my team didn’t get first place, we were able to appreciate the unique experience that was afforded to us by this competition and we learned a lot from one another in the weeks leading up to the event. Plus, we still got paid and were given some extra goodies just for participating. 😏

Alright that’s it for today! Now go on and make this week an exceptional one!

And keep having fun watching the insanity of March Madness!! πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€

“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

MATCH MADNESS: The Outcome

WOW.

WHAT. A. WEEK.

I don’t even really know where to start. This whirlwind of a week has been such a memorable one. Well, really Monday and this past weekend to be specific. The time between when I officially matched on Monday (PRAISE THE LORD πŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏ) and where I found out where exactly I matched at on Friday was spent doing various things like watching Captain Marvel, watching Netflix, attending a financial aid talk about investing in residency, doing SNMA work and spending quality time with my girlfriend and friends so that I could keep my mind off of Match Day. Nevertheless, I would find my mind drifting off and fixating on what Match Day would be like. I even dreamed about it once or twice during the week!Β πŸ˜‚Β (My girlfriend told me she had a Match Day dream too lol. God bless her, she has been going through the struggle right by my sideΒ day in and day out.) I knew that Match Day was going to be a day full of emotion, excitement, support and love, especially since I had witnessed all of that when I went to the past few Match Days at my school. And just as I expected, the day was full of all of that plus more!

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I woke up on Friday morning with an energized spirit and an aura of tranquility. As I said in my last post, I had full faith that I would end up matching at the place I was destined to train at, even if I had no idea where that location would be. It also helped that I had purposefully designed my rank list so that my top five picks (with heavy emphasis on my top three) were places that I could envision myself beingΒ particularlyΒ happy training at, although I would have honestly even been okay with my last choice on the list. Pediatrics is just that great of a specialty. 😊 So with all of that said, I didn’t share the same gut-wrenching anxiety that a lot of my classmates may have experienced in the days leading up to Match Day. Hell, even my girlfriend was much more anxious about it than I was. I feel that my firm belief in the fact that I would make the most out of any residency program I ended up training at also helped keep me calm. Regardless of where I trained, I knew that any one of the programs I interviewed at would transform me into a strong and capable Pediatrician. 😁

Okay, back to Friday.

I spent most of the morning getting ready for all the festivities of the day. I was really excited that I was about to finally find out where I would be spending the next three years of my life. After my mother and my two younger sisters arrived to Winston, we all headed over to the school to meet up with the rest of my classmates. As soon as we arrived at the school, I was instantly struck with an intense energy that had already enveloped the atrium full of future doctors and their respective friends and family. The energy was mainly a medley of excitement, nervousness, awe, pride and love. It was wonderful to see this outpouring of happiness, love and support all across the atrium. We all took a ton of pictures, talked with one another in pure excitement, met each other’s loved ones, and waited in anticipation as noon drew closer and closer. We all eventually made our way up to the fifth floor of the school, to the room where we would all be learning what our respective fates for the immediate future were.

awkward nervous GIF by DeRay Davis

Once we all made it to the room, the already intense energy I had felt in the atrium grew even stronger. Because the room we were now in was smaller than the spacious atrium we had just left, it now felt like this place that was packed with people was about to explode with this buzzing energy. By this point, I had been entirely consumed by this same energy, was bristling with it, and I was more than ready to snatch my envelope off the table at the front of the room, tear it off my match letter and read where my next destination in life would be.

happy kid GIF by AT&T

Forty seconds after hitting 11:59 AM, we began to countdown to noon. As we approached the last second before noon, our voices all got louder and louder. All my classmates and I braced ourselves more and more.

The energy in the room was incredible.

Man I’m telling you, WE WERE SOOO READY.

FIVE!

FOUR!!

THREE!!!

TWO!!!!

ONE!!!!!

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I wish I could have seen what the scene looked like from a bird’s-eye view of the room as we all madly dashed to the tables to retrieve our stylish envelopes, all of which had our names elegantly enscribed on them in cursive. Luckily, I had gotten myself to the front of the crowd before the countdown, so all I had to do was take a few quick strides to get to my envelope. I snatched it from the table, snaked my way back through the crowd to get to my loved ones, gathered them all together once I finally reached them, and:

 

WOW!!

I was taking my talents to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill!!

jumping college basketball GIF by UNC Tar Heels

I felt a wave of relief, surprise, and excitement all at the same time after reading aloud the location that would be responsible for molding me into an independent, inspiring, and extremely effective Pediatrician. It was both humbling and lifting to have been granted the opportunity to train at one of my top choices for residency! Not only will I recieve superb training at that institution with some awesome people, but I will also be working on the same campus as my girlfriend for the first time in four years!! Getting the chance to be in such close proximity to her for the next three years of my life is simply incredible and honestly almost feels unreal. It feels so right, almost like this was what was always meant to happen. πŸ˜‰

 

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Everything that happened next is such a blur to me now. I remember high-fiving multiple people, giving and getting a ton of hugs, well wishes and congratulations, taking MANY pictures and a few videos, learning where other people ended up matching at, witnessing a spectrum of emotions as I periodically scanned the room, going downstairs to take a class photo of all of us in our white coats, and traveling a few blocks downtown in the rain to get to the location where our Match Day luncheon would be taking place. The luncheon was wonderful, elegant and emotional as most of my classmates walked up to the stage one-by-one (two-by-two for all the couples who matched together) to announce to everyone where they matched. My experience at the luncheon got even better when I received a congratulatory call from my soon-to-be Chief Resident. It made the whole experience feel that much more concrete.

I’ve really matched.

I was really going to be a resident.

WOW. I WAS REALLY GOING TO BE SOMEONE’S DOCTOR.

The rest of the luncheon went very well, after which my girlfriend, my mom and my two sisters went back to my apartment to chill for a bit. That’s when I finally had some time to reflect on everything that had just happened. Shortly after my reflection time, posting the incredible moment on my social media, and talking with my mom, her and my two sisters got ready to hit the road to drive back home. I saw them off, and then proceeded to get dinner with my girl before heading off to the evening festivities planned for my class to celebrate our collective achievements.

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All in all, Match Day was an awesome day. The excitement of the day spilled over into the weekend as I celebrated on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday in Charlotte in conjunction with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl that takes place in the city each year. (Perfect timing, if I do say so myself.) I also spent all of yesterday in the same city with friends, where we hopped around various areas of the city to entertain ourselves. Now that the weekend is over, I can really begin to think about my immediate future and make concrete plans as I begin to transition into the next phase of my life. I can also start working on some of the things that I had pushed to the side all weekend as I was celebrating. πŸ˜…

Man, that was a whirlwind of a post! I’m glad I finally had some time to sit and share all of this with you. I’ve been getting so much love from so many people this past week, all of which I very much appreciate!! I’m still working on answering everyone on my social media, which is a task that will take quite some time lol.

Congratulations to all the fourth-year medical students across the nation!! Whether you matched or not, we all have hit a very important milestone in our medical careers and have reached a point that very few people (relatively speaking) ever reach! We all have great things destined for us; all we have to do is believe it, have full faith in that truth, and work to achieve what lays in store for us in the future!!! πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ’ͺ🏿✊🏿

I hope that you all have a phenomenal week!!!

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than your comfort zone.” – Billy Cox

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Y’all better get your brackets reaaadddyyyy!!! It’s that time of the year again!!! 😈#MARCHMADNESS

MATCH MADNESS: The Anticipation

IT’S HERE.

The week that I’ve been waiting almost four years for has FINALLY arrived.

Yes, I’m talking about MATCH WEEK!!!

lebron james yes GIF by NBA

Three years ago, as a first-year student, I experienced the magic of Match Day for the first time in my life. (You can read the post I wrote about the experience by clicking this link!) I remember being blown away by the incredible array of emotions that were being displayed by all the people in the room at the same time. I remember feeling so proud of my friends who had just matched into the specialties that they had worked so hard to earn the opportunity to train in, and also a bit sad that I wouldn’t be seeing some of them again for a while since they would be leaving to train at residency programs at other institutions in the country.

I remember feeling inspired about the fact that I would one day be a fourth-year medical student who would be actively participating in the Match Day festivities by geting the golden chance to open my envelope, read where I would be spending my residency years at, and hopefully be celebrating my accomplishment with my friends and family. I also remember feeling like I had such a long way to go before I even reached that point in my life; I was deep into my first-year curriculum, was primarily looking forward to my summer vacation, and my biggest concern at the time was facing the Step 1 exam. At the time, I sincerely believed that I would be going into Ophthalmology….so I would have been absolutely astounded if you had told me that I would actually be in the position that I’m currently in; an excited and motivated fourth-year student hoping to match into a Pediatrics residency in order to take the vision I have of my career and transform it into reality.

Three years later, here I am, about to begin the monumental week that will culminate on Friday with an event that will provide me the clarity that I’ve been searching all year for. It is going to be exhilarating to finally find out where my journey in medicine will lead me to next, not only because I will finally learn where I’ll spend the next few years of my life as a newly-minted physician, but also because I will FINALLY be able to start actively preparing for the immediate future. Right now, I feel like a sitting duck who can’t make really make any necessary preparations because I have no certainties of where I’m going to end up training at. But all of that will change on Friday when I, at long last, will be granted the answer that I’ve spent SO MUCH TIME searching for.

its about time drama GIF by BBC

While playing this whole waiting game can get quite nervewracking and anxiety producing, I’ve been relatively calmed by the fact that I will end up matching at the place that I was meant to train at. I strategically picked my top five places (top three especially) to be programs where I absolutely wouldn’t mind training at, so chances are that I’ll end up at one of those five places, which I would be totally fine with. Plus, the decision is all out of my control now since I already submitted my rank list a couple weeks ago and can no longer make any changes to the list I sent out. The residency programs across the nation have already submitted their lists as well, so it’s really up to the match process to determine who will be going where……maaannn let’s just pray for the best! πŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏ

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I’ll be sure to let you know where I ended up matching at in my next post! However, I’ve talked about the anticipation of Match Day long enough, so allow me to switch gears and give you some updates about my life that doesn’t concern the one day that I can’t stop thinking about. πŸ˜…

I spent the past week engaging in a variety of activities, mainly outside of my Radiology elective (which has been just as chill as it was my first week of the rotation). I got the chance to have dinner with the majority of the Clinical Skills group that I spent the first two years of medical school learning applicable clinical skills with and our two Clinical Skills coaches. It was nice to be able to catch up with all of them and to talk about how far we’ve come from being wide-eyed first-year students who were all too eager to put on a white coat and talk to patients on the wards, only to realize that we were quite awkward with our initial patient encounters. Okay I won’t speak for them, I certainly was one of those students who awkwardly fumbled through the first few patient encounters at the beginning of the year. Boooooyyy have I come such a long way since then…I sometimes cringe at how pitiful I once was at gathering an HPI. πŸ˜‚

On the annual Global Health night (a dinner session designed for rising fourth-year students interested in rotating through a global health elective), some of my classmates and I were given the opportunity to share our experiences from our respective global health rotations with the soon-to-be fourth-years. No, I didn’t travel anywhere for my global health rotation, in case you were starting to get confused. My most recent rotation (Immigrant Health/Public Health) qualifies as a global health elective even though it was stationed in Winston-Salem, so my friend and I shared the wonderful experiences we had during that rotation. You can read more about those experiences by visiting some of my prior posts! 😊

Later on in the week, I met up with my MACHE Bowl teammates to discuss how we were going to go about answering the questions that were assigned to us by the MACHE Bowl Committee. Lol, I can almost hear you asking yourself what the heck the MACHE Bowl is and why I mentioned it like I’ve already talked about it before or something. Well to put it simply, the MACHE Bowl is a competition designed to bring students from various disciplines together to work on solving a complex health disparity case in front of a live audience. It is meant to be a unique, interdisclipinary experience where we are supposed to experience the strengths of working in a collaborative team. The event is taking place on Saturday, March 23rd, which gives us a little under two weeks to finalize the presentation of our answers to the first round of questions provided to us. We’ll get a second round of questions on the day of the event, which will be interesting, to say the least. After meeting up with my team and having some great conversations about how we can go about tackling this case, I have faith that we will end up performing pretty well on the day of the event!

I spent the end of the week attending the #WakeUpWinston2019 Open Mic and Poetry Slam event, where I watched numerous performers from the community express their experiences and feelings through a variety of artistic expressions such as spoken word, various forms of music and storytelling. The event was designed to serve as a safe space for a celebration of diversity, inclusion and equity in the community, while at the same time empowering and uniting advocates and allies to engage in constructive dialogue and in providing awareness to others of the injustices and inequities present both in medicine and in the world around us so that we could all rise above those painful experiences together. I had missed it last year, so I was really happy to be able to experience it this time around.

And lastly, I spent part of the weekend at Chapel Hill to watch the UNC-Duke basketball game at an exciting watch party. As we all know, UNC ended up winning, which meant that my friends and I ended up rushing Franklin Street for the first (and potentially only) time in my life lol. It was a pretty wild experience, but not as insane as I had pictured it being. However, the whole experience got me even more hyped up for March Madness, which is going to be officially starting next week!!! πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

excited college basketball GIF by UNC Tar Heels

Sheeeeeesh, that was a lot I just unloaded on you. Once I started typing, I simply couldn’t stop πŸ˜…. My head is a bit clearer now that I typed this whole post up, so thanks for bearing with me! I’m excited about this upcoming week, especially since my class is hosting events every night in anticipation of Match Day! Also, my mom and my two little sisters are coming into town to celebrate the day with my girlfriend and I, which I’m also looking forward to! And then after Match Day, I’ll be in Charlotte for an extended Match Day/St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so I also have that to look forward to as well! It’s going to be a dope week, I can already feel it!! πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

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I hope that you all have a sensational week! And shoutout to all the fourth-years across the country hoping to match into your desired specialties!! BEST OF LUCK TO US!!!

– Black Man, M.D.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

P.S. – I knew that today was going to be Daylight Savings, but I still wasn’t totally prepared to lose an hour of sleep last night lol. That being said, I’m loving the fact that the days are about to last longer, which means that the weather is about to get warmer, which means that SPRING IS COMING!!! πŸ˜πŸ˜„πŸ˜πŸ˜œπŸ™ƒ

Scanning The Future

I’m one week into my Radiology elective and I must say, I’m certainly glad that I not only decided to select this rotation, but also that I ended up placing it at the tailend of my fourth year. 😊

It has been a real chill week, yet I’ve learned a lot of useful information about chest x-rays, CT scans, joint x-rays and MRI scans of the musculoskeletal system while working with the radiology residents and fellows. It’s amazing to watch how they are able to describe their findings in such detail as well as how they navigate through the various imaging modalities in order to accurately interpret an image. I was also able to appreciate what actually happens when an image study is sent to the Radiology department for interpretation and I ended up receiving helpful tips from the residents, fellows and attendings regarding the appropriate indications of sending in image studies for interpretation. Getting the opportunity to learn more about their perspective of healthcare delivery will definitely encourage me to think more about what imaging studies I order for my patients in the future and also think critically about why I decide to order them.

Although I was blindsided by the fact that there would be more work on this rotation than I expected (we have to write about an interesting case every day, deliver two separate five-minute presentations about interesting patients at some point during the rotation and take a final exam at the end of the rotation that’s based on the lectures that residents give us daily πŸ™„), I’ve still been having a great time so far and I’ve had more than enough time to get work done not only for this rotation, but for my other responsibilities as well (I have no idea why my list of responsibilities continues to grow when I’m just tryna chill 😩). However, I’ve been also taking some time to relax and thoroughly enjoy the free time I have; I’m definitely not about to take this hard-earned free time for granted.

Outside of reading diagnostic images and attending lectures, I spent some time last week providing input at a focus group dedicated to boosting the recruitment side of future admissions efforts at my school. I also spent some time interviewing prospective medical students for the fourth (and final) time this school year, getting my SNMA Region organized so that we are fully prepared for the Annual Medical Education Conference in April, and making preparations for both Match Day and Graduation Weekend. The more I think about this transition to the next phase of my life, the more unreal it seems. Like, I’ll have confirmation of my next destination in less than two weeks and I’ll be a full-fledged physician in less than three months! And from there, I have the potential to do whatever I want with my budding career!

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It’s both thrilling and nervewracking at the same time, but I’m honestly much more excited about it all than I am nervous. So much work, time and sacrifice has been put into this mission, so I deserve to be excited about this next phase in my journey! I’ve come a long way from fighting vigorously for my hard-earned spot in medical school a few years ago and an even longer way from my teenage years, where the concept of becoming a physician was an idea that I believed in and was starting to work towards, but at the same time was one that almost felt unreal to me simply because it had seemed like it would take FOREVER to achieve the goal of becoming a doctor. All these years later, it’s incredible that I’m going to be obtaining my medical degree and am going to FINALLY turn this long-standing idea into a reality! πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

Figured I would go ahead and end the post here on a high note! I hope that your week ends up being a marvelous one! πŸ˜„

β€œI had to make my own living and my ownΒ opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” – Madam C.J. Walker

– Black Man, M.D.