The Fire Within

Years ago at some point during my junior year of college, I posted a status on Facebook that went something like this:

Ever feel like you’re giving it your all in doing all you can and then you look around you and still feel like you’re not doing enough to get where you want to be?

Funny enough, even after all of these years full of achievements, lessons, setbacks and blessings, this feeling is one that still sits deep within me and consumes me on a daily basis. It’s like I have this inextinguishable fire within my soul that will not allow me to just sit back, kick my feet up, and not take advantage of the variety of opportunities around me that may give me the ability to make my life and the lives of the people I love better than they already are. This fire allows me to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to, regardless of how crazy my ideas and goals may sound.

Throughout my life, this undying fire has pushed me to accomplish daring feats that I never even expected to pursue in the first place, has gotten me through some pretty tough situations, has refused to allow me to quit my endeavors regardless of how hard and trying they may be, has inspired me to make the most out of every situation I’m in so that I could maximize the chances of serendipity occurring, has continued to aid my constant evolution, has given me the confidence to lead my life in the way that I desire, and has made it possible for me to have a platform where I can inspire others and help try to make this world a better place.

Because of this constantly blazing fire, my mind never stops working, even when I’m relaxing, hanging out with people, or just simply driving places. There’s never really an off switch to it. I’m always envisioning possibilities and planning my next move. Though it can get a bit annoying at times, I absolutely love my ambitious drive and I am grateful that I was blessed with it because it has motivated me to do things that I never thought I would have the courage to do, has challenged me to stay out of my comfort zone, and has gotten me to places that I never anticipated reaching this early on in my life. Plus, I’ve found over the years that this ambitious drive really isn’t a common trait. There aren’t many people out there who understand why I do all that I do and may not be able to comprehend this feeling I’m talking about. It’s hard to explain it without sounding a little manic. Hell, maybe I am a little manic. Who knows. All I know is that it helps give my life meaning and pushes me to continuously strive to be the best version of myself that I can be. I’ve been repeatedly reminded how fragile life can be and with the understanding that tomorrow is never guaranteed, I’m more determined than ever to achieve my goals.

Now WHY did I start off my post with this surprise monologue? Mainly because as of late, I’ve been trying to figure out how in the hell I’ve managed to insert myself in a variety of projects, a committee and an organization in the middle of grinding through my intern year. All of this on top of running a blog, sustaining a scholarship, and keeping up-to-date with my loved ones. And can’t forget the fact that I’m actively studying for Step 3, that of which I’m going to be taking in a couple of weeks (Pray for me y’all). I’m over here acting like I have 30 hours a day, 10 days a week. I’ve managed to keep myself busier than a typical resident, which doesn’t even sound possible. But because the projects I’m working on are all things that I genuinely want to do, the work doesn’t really feel like a chore. As a matter of fact, it’s more fulfilling than it is draining. These projects allow me to make an impact on my community outside of my daily clinical work in the hospital and the clinic. They also help nourish the fire that I was talking about earlier in the post. I’ll probably talk about these advocacy projects in more detail in future posts though because I still gotta use the rest of the post to update you about my life as of late. 🥴

First off, I can’t believe that I let a whole month pass by since my last post. Like, where did the time go?? Between night shifts and transitioning to a new rotation that has proven to be one of the busiest rotations I’ve ever had, I really have been pressed for time as of late. I’ve spent most of my waking hours in the hospital these past few weeks (as you would obviously expect from a resident), and have done my best to make the most out of the little free time I’ve been afforded. During my time in the hospital and clinic setting though, I’ve been granted a number of opportunities to further my growth as a clinician. I’ve been able to sharpen my clinical decision skills while caring for the 100+ patients I’ve seen since drafting my last post, I’ve become much more knowledgeable and proficient at managing common illnesses like RSV bronchiolitis, influenza and viral gastroenteritis as well as more uncommon conditions like septic arthritis, diabetic ketoacidosis, and sickle cell crisis, I’ve become more efficient in presenting, synthesizing and recording information (especially at this crazy busy hospital in Raleigh), I’ve been given an incredible amount of autonomy on my night shifts in Greensboro, and I (sort-of) successfully performed a lumbar puncture on a newborn baby! It wasn’t the clearest sample of cerebrospinal fluid, but the sample was good enough to get the job done!

yell stephen curry GIF by NBA

Unlike last month where I was mainly in clinic in Greensboro and did a week of night shifts at the community hospital there, I’m working primarily inpatient at a huge tertiary care hospital system in Raleigh and boooyyy is it busy. I’m usually caring for 10 patients at a time on a daily basis (our patient cap as interns is ten patients LOL) and I typically discharge about 5-7 of my patients by the end of each day, only to fill back up to ten patients the very next morning.

viola davis crying GIF by HULU

It’s a never-ending cycle of sick children, which means a never-ending stream of learning opportunities and honing my clinical skills. It also means that I’m constantly writing notes, notes that I’m getting quicker at typing up because I hate using up my day to get those done. On this rotation, the interns alternate between short and long days, meaning that one intern stays until 4 or 5 PM and the other intern stays until 7 PM to help with late afternoon/early evening admissions. So as you can imagine, there are days where I leave at a decent enough time only to sit in eye-gouging traffic before finally getting home, and there are other days where I crawl out of the hospital and seamlessly drive home, only to have enough time to shower, eat dinner, answer a couple of emails and maybe do some Step 3 studying if I feel up to it before having to go to bed and starting the process all over again the next day. Due to the busy nature of the days, they tend to go by pretty quick, although the occasional lack of sleep quickly catches up to me at times. (I truly don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for coffee.) I have a couple more day shifts this upcoming week before transitioning to two weeks peppered with night shifts at this same hospital, where I expect to be slammed with anywhere from 10-20 admissions per night. 🙃🙃🙃

Speaking of Step, I CAN NOT wait until I am FINALLY done with having to study for these exams. I take both parts of Step 3 in the first week of March and it’s probably one of the most annoying tests that I’ve had to study for, mainly because my performance on it literally doesn’t matter for my future in Pediatrics. All I have to do is pass it so that I can move on with my life. I’m not stressing over it anywhere near as much as I was stressing about Step 1, but I also am not trying to blow it off because I definitely don’t want to make failing it a potential possibility. Based on the questions I’ve been using to study for the test, it’s surely not going to be an easy one, especially since 85% of the questions are based on adult medicine and I’ll never have to know the vast majority of that information for my career. I really don’t understand why I had to spend almost $1000 on a test that won’t really do anything for me except handicap me if I were to fail it. It’s such a scam man, I tell ya. Almost as bad as taking Step 2 CS. But whatever, I’ll take it and finally be done with these Step exams.

Oh and I’m sure if you’re pursuing a career in medicine, you’ve most likely already heard about Step 1 becoming pass/fail in a couple of years. That’s some of the wildest news I’ve heard all year, and I’ve heard some pretty WILD news already in 2020 so far. It would’ve been so dope to not have had to worry about scoring as high of a score as I could and hopefully because of this, more people will be considered for competitive specialties without being immediately screened out. But alas, I’m sure that residency programs will find another item to focus on in order to screen applicants, which will end up being blown out of proportion just like Step 1 scores were over the years.

Fun fact: Step 1 was never meant to be used as a screening tool to select residency applicants. It was simply a test that you had to pass to show that you retained enough knowledge during your first two years of medical school before moving on to your clinical years. Over the years though, it became a convenient screening tool for residency programs to use, which in turn obviously caused medical students to focus solely on getting as high of a score as they could in order to maximize their chances in matching into a specialty of their choice. Here’s the catch:

STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES HAVE NO CORRELATION TO HOW GREAT OF A DOCTOR YOU HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE. 

From the SAT, ACT and the MCAT all the way to the Step exams, institutions have pretty much forced us to focus on perfecting test-taking strategies in order to perform well on flawed standardized tests. The mental health of many students has been affected because of this unhealthy focus on test scores. A countless amount of bright people who would have otherwise developed into excellent physicians have been disillusioned from pursuing careers in medicine because of test scores. As you can see, I’m not a fan of standardized testing. Sure, they can give you an “objective” sense of how to rank someone’s intelligence. But if you think about it, are these tests really that objective? I would argue that they don’t really reflect someone’s overall intelligence and that tying your intelligence to a number is foolish. There are many other types of intelligence that people possess that aren’t accurately tested on standardized tests. Also, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind cramming your head with almost useless pieces of impractical knowledge about rare diseases to score high on these medical tests, only to forget 95% of what you studied because you don’t ever use that knowledge in everyday practice. Step 2 and Step 3 are better in testing the application of more practical knowledge, but those tests are also still far from perfect. I’m not going to sit here and claim that I have a better idea to solve this issue of standardized testing, but I’m also not going to sit here and not call out the issues inherent to the notion of standardized testing.

Whoa, I didn’t mean to get into such a long-winded rant. I just kept typing and before I knew it, I had typed up another monologue. It’s time for me to shut up and bring this post to an end. 😅

I hope that the rest of your weekend is full of relaxation and that you have a strong start to an extraordinary week!

“You have to dance beautifully in the box that you’re comfortable dancing in. My box was to be extremely ambitious within the sport of basketball. Your box is different than mine. Everybody has their own. It’s your job to try to perfect it and make it as beautiful of a canvas as you can make it. And if you have done that, then you have lived a successful life. You have lived with Mamba Mentality.” – Kobe Bryant

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Rest in peace to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the other seven people who were killed in the helicopter accident. The tragedy is still so unbelievably sad. It’s honestly still unbelievable to me. This was another haunting reminder to me of how fragile life could be and how it can all unexpectedly end in a matter of seconds. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed y’all. Live your best life while you still can, and do your part in helping to make the lives of those around you even better than they already are. Let’s keep working to make this world a better place. #MambaMentality

Thoughts on the Post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s