Critical Opportunities

In the time between my last post and now, I've worked four night shifts and five day shifts in the PICU, worked a few continuity clinic shifts, helped launch a noon conference series focused on ending medical bias and racism by advocating for change and equity (E.M.B.R.A.C.E.), launched a voter registration drive in my continuity clinic, continued to critically reflect on what I want my career to look like, was accepted into the Residents as Teachers program hosted by the Academy of Educators at my institution, was selected to become a leader for the advocacy curriculum enhancement community (CEC) at my institution for the 2020-2021 academic year, was announced to be featured on the premiere episode of a new program hosted by the Office of Academic Excellence at my alma mater called “The Next Step“, and took a few days off from work to decompress at the beach with my fiancee as I celebrated my birthday weekend. To be honest, I didn't actually realize the amount of things that I had going on in my life these past couple of weeks until just now as I typed these activities out. 😅

While I've been busy these past couple of weeks (ESPECIALLY DURING MY PICU SHIFTS 😩), a lot of the work that I've been committing myself to has been both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding. Working with other residents and faculty to educate parents in the community about voter registration and early voting has been meaningful and it really does feel like we're making some sort of difference, even though it's on a smaller level. Launching the E.M.B.R.A.C.E. noon conference series with other residents and faculty members has also proved to be a worthwhile endeavor and makes it feel like we are taking some practical steps in the painfully slow yet gradual crawl towards ending racism and achieving health equity. My hope is that the action steps we're taking and recommending to the people we're presenting to really do make some sort of impact in creating more substantial change in medicine and in each of their lives as they face instances of racism in their everyday lives.

In the midst of my busy schedule, I thoroughly enjoyed my time off at the beach and it wasn't until I was relaxing on my beach chair shielded by an umbrella from the blistering heat of the sun while listening to the symphony of the waves crashing and the birds chirping that I realized how much I needed that mini-vacation. I'm really glad that we decided to go to the beach for my birthday weekend to allow ourselves to unwind!

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I’ve never really been one to expect much on my birthday. Growing up, I would get a cake, a card from my family and get the “Happy Birthday” song sung to me. Maybe a small gift every now and then and/or some money, though I’ll never forget working my first day at Taco Bell on my 17th birthday and coming home from that crazy day at work to my dad telling me that getting to work a job for the first time was a great birthday present 😂 • While I started actively celebrating my birthday more after going to college, my fiancée has turned the day into a bigger celebration over the past several years with surprise parties, amusement part trips, beach trips, and a lot of gift-giving, which has all been heart-warming and very much appreciated. All the well wishes I get every year from friends and family have been wonderful as well. ❤️ • As our heads and hearts continue to ache throughout this tumultuous year, it only felt right to find ways to give back to others on my birthday. If you could donate any amount of money to any of the causes listed below, that would mean so much to me! You can find links to their donation pages in my bio! • If you would like to donate to any other cause that means a lot to you, please feel free to do so! Thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes, all of the love, and I pray that I get the opportunity to enjoy many more birthdays in the future! 🙏🏿 • The 2021 Desire To Inspire Scholarship Fund to support inspirational young students of color interested in the field of healthcare • WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Fund to support WHO’s efforts in fighting COVID-19 #COVID19 • Black Lives Matter to support racial justice and equity as well as the eradication of racism #BlackLivesMatter • The Salvation Army to help support victims of Hurricane Laura • You Can Vote NC to help support efforts to increase access voter registration and important election information in North Carolina • Rock The Vote to help support efforts to increase access voter registration and important election information nationwide #RockTheVote • • • #LateTwenties 🥴 #BirthdayBoy #HappyBirthday #BlackManMD #DrDub #TheDubWay #GivingBack #HealTheWorld #Blessed #OlderAndWiser

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Upon my return from my mini-vacation however, I was greeted with a full and relatively busy day of continuity clinic before starting a five-day stretch of day shifts in the PICU the very next day. My first day back in the PICU was by far one of the busiest shifts I've had a resident so far. It didn't help that the patients I assumed care of were incredibly complex and that we had 5-6 (to be honest, I lost count) new admissions during my shift. Man, I was working nonstop until it was time to sign out that night, and I didn't even get to leave the hospital until almost two hours after my shift officially ended. Then I had to go home and finish up my notes for the day, scarf down a dinner and flop on my bed, only to wake up well before dawn to do it all over again.

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The next four days were pretty tough as well, though they weren't as bad as that first day back since I was now actually familiar with the patients that I was taking care of. That being said, some of the patients I saw and cared for were going through some unbelievably critical and complex medical situations that I had personally never seen before and it was emotionally challenging to navigate describing what was going on to their parents in a way that they could better understand. There were other kids who were relatively stable, though still incredibly sick in their own ways and required close attention as well. My time here these past few days were overall a stark contrast to what my experience was like before I went on my mini-vacation. Before, there weren't as many kids who required critical care and I actually had some downtime to think through things and was even able to do short and long days with my co-resident. My night shifts weren't that crazy either, outside of one night where I was running around most of my shift. Nowadays though, our unit is pretty much at capacity every day and both myself and my co-resident are staying the whole day and even past our signout times on a consistent basis to finish out our duties for the day. It's wild just how fast things can change in such a short amount of time. Ultimately, if there's anything that my time in the PICU has done for me, it's increasing my threshold for what to be critically concerned about in a child who requires medical attention, showing me the unrelenting power of love, and reminding me just how precious and fragile life is.

I have a little over a week left on my PICU rotation (time REALLY flew by) before I go right into my second NICU rotation, which at this moment sounds like it's promising to be a bustling experience (the NICU is also currently at capacity 🥴). Ima stay strong though! While these experiences are hard and tiring, I also know that they are very necessary in my training and will prove to be fruitful to me in my career. I am also looking forward to experiencing what it means to be a leader for the advocacy CEC, engaging in a new mentorship program that I was recently selected to participate in, participating in the Residents as Teachers program, continuing to engage in voter registration efforts and in advancing the E.M.B.R.A.C.E. series, and talking with college students at my alma mater next week!

That's all I have for today, so go on and have a wonderful rest of the week! As always, thanks for reading!

And if you still haven't registered to vote or haven't checked your voter registration status in a while, please do so TODAY!

For information on early voting, click here!

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” – John C. Maxwell

P.S. – RIP to Chadwick Boseman, a real-life hero and an incredible human being. This one hit hard.

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