The Delights Of Spring

Hey bighead ๐Ÿ™ƒ

It's been a minute since my last post in early Februaryโ€ฆso many things in my life have happened since then. I really don't even know where to start. As much as I want to update you on every little thing that has happened since Super Bowl weekend (that Chiefs-Eagles game was the most interesting Super Bowl game I've ever seen!), I'm going to try to show some restraint and not do that. Not only do I want to avoid having you spend 30+ minutes of your day reading an excessively long blog post, I want to also avoid having to spend a ridiculous amount of time unnecessarily typing out an excessively long blog post. If you've been rockin' with me for a while though, you already know my infamous tendency of getting long-winded at timesโ€ฆima just leave it at that. Let's ride and see where this post takes us ๐Ÿ˜‰

I first have to start off by saying that The 2023 Desire To Inspire Scholarship successfully launched several weeks ago! It is super exciting to provide this scholarship to inspiring high school students for the fifth year in a row! I can hardly wait to see how awesome this year's applicants are! I also feel like we get more and more exposure with each passing year, with the scholarship being listed on more websites than it was on the previous year. Even my younger sister inadvertently found the scholarship on her school zone's password-protected scholarship engine website! She unfortunately doesn't qualify since she's a graduating senior (and she's my sister #nepotism) but it was cool to see just how far-reaching the scholarship has become over the years! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Speaking of scholarships, it was recently announced that I was awarded one of six spots in the American Society of Nephrology's 2023 Loan Mitigation Pilot Program, a new program designed to reduce the student loan burden of future nephrology leaders! They are giving me a significant amount of money to help me pay down my student loans, which I am super appreciative for! I love that I'm going into a specialty that puts their money where their mouth is and is actively coming up with creative ways to help support its workforce!

The fact that I'm going to be a pediatric nephrology fellow at a completely new institution in a completely new city in a completely new state in less than three months is simply wild to me. It has taken a while for that realization to hit me, and to be honest I still haven't fully processed it yet (even with the ridiculous amount of paperwork and onboarding I've been hit with nonstop for the past few months ๐Ÿ˜). However, this new reality certainly felt more real a couple of weeks ago after my wife and I officially signed a lease on the house that we'll be renting in Atlanta for the next couple of years!

In addition to signing the lease, we got a chance to have dinner with my soon-to-be co-fellow and her husband, as well as with a couple of the other fellows in our program. Meeting them all in person and chatting over dinner gave me the sense that I'll be surrounded with some great people at a caring program that will provide excellent (and often times stressful ๐Ÿ˜…) training, thanks to its affiliation with one of the biggest children's healthcare systems in the nation.

Why was I in Atlanta you ask? Well other than looking for a place to live, (and attending a wedding for one of my wife's best friends), I was actually there last month for the annual Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD) conference. This is the same conference I went to for the first time last year as I was officially transitioning into my chief role. At that time, everything pertaining to being a chief resident was new and exciting to me. I remember going to session after session and earnestly jotting down as many ideas as I could so that my co-chiefs and I could try to implement them at our program. It was also really cool to meet so many leaders at so many institutions across the country.

This time around, I came to the conference with the perspective of a graduating chief resident. It was almost hilarious just how different my experience was. While the rising chief sessions last year were geared towards preparing for the year ahead, the graduating chief sessions were geared towards debriefing how the year went with other chiefs across the nation. That debrief session was the highlight of this year's conference ๐Ÿ˜‚. Last year, I had the mentality of go, go, go but this year I was much more laid-back and my mentality was more like ehh, sure, whatevs. It was wonderful to see and spend quality time with some old friends that I hadn't seen in person since last year. It was also a ton of fun to hang out with the rest of the leadership team (including the new rising chiefs) in a more relaxed environment outside of the workplace, and to feel the fresh, innovative energy building in the rising chiefs as they discovered new and exciting ideas while listening and talking with others at the conference. Although my time as a chief is ending soon, I have every intention of coming back to the conference in the future as a leader in the field of pediatrics!

Prior to attending the APPD conference in Atlanta, I was busy enjoying life on vacation in southern California and in Los Cabos! Man I had such a blast, especially after having just worked a loooong stretch of clinical shifts over the past several weeks (more on that later). I started my vacation by flying out to San Diego (I told you I would find myself back in San Diego ๐Ÿ˜) right after Match Day and spent a few chill days with one of my cousins and his friends. I had some of the best ramen in my life while I was there, almost died while working out with my insanely fit cousin, chilled on the beach, had a good time at a day party, and had more than my fair share of mimosas. After spending a few days there, I headed up to Los Angeles via a rental car and blasted a lot of Nipsey Hussle and other West Coast vibes throughout the two-hour drive. After linking up with my wife in L.A., we spent the next couple days dining out at a couple of fancy restaurants (Matลซhad literally the best steak of my life here & Tao LAhad some really good food and one of the most interesting ambiences I've ever seen in a restaurant), and also made an impromptu trip to Disneyland where we managed to have fun in the midst of the intermittent monsoons we were hit with.

One thing we quickly realized about L.A. during our couple of days there was that it was expensive AF to get around the city, and everything cost so much money ๐Ÿ˜’. We had fun splurging, but ultimately came to the conclusion that we would go broke living here and that we needed to get to the next leg of our vacation before we inadvertently ran through our vacation budget ๐Ÿ˜…. So with that said, we bid adieu to L.A. and headed on our flight to the dry and sunny destination of Los Cabos, Mexico!

Our time in Cabo was amazing! After getting through the aggressive scammers in the airport trying to sell us things we didn't need, we got on a bus and headed to the beautiful all-inclusive resort that we spent most of our time at. It was such a relaxing atmosphere, even with all the kids running around (that's what happens when you book at a kid-friendly resort). There was an adults-only section of the resort that we spent a good amount of time at, and we even met some vacation buddies while swimming in the pool in that section. The food at the resort was the best all-inclusive resort food I've ever had (I know I keep saying I had the best everything during this trip but I don't know how else to describe what I experienced! We had some really good food ๐Ÿ˜‚); a lot of it was certainly restaurant quality food. There was even a beach wedding on the resort that we got to witness while eating at one of the outdoor restaurants! We also took some time to explore the area off the resort and found ourselves rummaging through a huge outdoor marketplace, checking out other resorts, and eating at a couple of restaurants off the resort. There was one restaurant we had brunch at that gave us everything on the brunch menu for a set price! It was soooo much food, all I wanted to do was nap after the meal lol. All in all, the Cabo trip was such a fantastic and relaxing experience, and one that I would most certainly do again in the future!

It would be very remiss of me not to mention the INSANE NCAA March Madness tournaments that we were trying to keep up with during our vacation! The upsets were unreal this year, and both the UMiami Men's and Women's teams made it the furthest that they've ever been (Final Four & Elite Eight, respectively)! It was incredibly exciting to see them power through teams that they were predicted to lose against and to see them make history in such a sensational way! I actually had one dream bracket where I had Miami winning the whole thing, which hilariously ended up being my best bracket this year! Just about all my other brackets were wildly busted by the end of the first weekend of the tournament, although at this point busted brackets shouldn't really come as a surprise to me. The amount of upsets we witnessed in this tournament was still more ridiculous than usual…but I should have known that it would be a totally unpredictable tournament once they released the #1 seeds this year, which all seemed quite random outside of Kansas. But anyways, I digress. Congrats to UConn (Men's) and LSU (Women's) for their respectable performances in the NCAA Tournaments and taking their respective trophies to their home institutions! ๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ€

I've already typed so many words and haven't even begun to talk about work updates yet…..

In order to get to the fun times of vacation and the APPD conference, I first had to go through what seemed like an endless amount of weeks of office work and clinical shifts, including my second (and final) week of inpatient service as an attending on one of our general pediatrics teams. My three-week stretch of clinical shifts leading up to the week I left for Cali almost felt like a potpourri of a rotation in residency. As tiring as the stretch of work was, there were a lot of good things that came out of this time period!

First of all, my week as an attending on the general pediatrics service was a busy one but a positive one overall, just as my first week on service was back in July of last year! Because this was my second time around, coupled with the fact that I had already been working as an attending for most of the academic year, I was much more comfortable in my role this time around. It also helped that I started my week off with a strong resident team that was starting to transition off the rotation, so they all knew the patients really well, some of whom were quite complex and interesting. I will say that the first day was a bit of a doozy since that was the day we decided to have an event called Springapalooza on, where we gave every single pediatric resident that afternoon and evening off from clinical duties. This meant that willing attendings, fellows, and nurse practitioners would have to cover these services while the residents all had a grand ol' time together doing whatever they decided to do on their surprise time off. We gratefully got a TON of help from faculty and fellows who helped cover multiple services across the three hospital systems that the residents work at. This took months of planning, but it all ended up being a smashing success! The residents were totally blindsided by this and were super appreciative for having the time off together ๐Ÿ˜Š. However, this meant that I was the lone physician carrying all the pagers and caring for a bunch of kids on my first day of service on a Friday afternoon in the hospital, which was about as busy as you would expect it to be ๐Ÿ™ƒ.

Chiefs helping holding down the hospital during Springapalooza!

Halfway through my week on service, the resident team switched and we also had a couple of brand new third-year medical students who joined our team (I was their first attending ever on a clinical service!), so there was a lot of orienting that occurred in the latter half of my week on service. It was a great opportunity to set expectations with a new team and to serve as the clinician providing continuity of care from one clinical team to another. They all had a great attitude and seemed to be adjusting okay by the time my week was over. As the attending, I had to also ensure that coordination of care was being adequately performed and that patients were being discharged safely, because my name was on all of the discharge orders and discharge summaries of all the patients discharged during my service week. One bonus of the week was that there were a few nephrology patients on my service that we had to consult the pediatric nephrologists for, which gave me some insight as to what being a fellow would look like. Another bonus was that there were thankfully no rapid responses called on the patients on my service while I was there ๐Ÿ˜ช.

In the time before and after my week on service, I had a good amount of precepting shifts as the attending in our residency program's primary care continuity clinic and also spent several days with my own panel of patients in the pediatric nephrology clinic. I also spent a couple of super chill days serving as the attending physician in the newborn nursery (Daylight Savings did mess with my sleep a bit though ๐Ÿ˜…), and I was scheduled for backup a few days but was thankfully not called in to work additional clinical shifts, so I used that time to work on other things I needed to get done. It has been really cool to see how the residents (especially the interns) have progressed in their clinical acumen over the course of the academic year in continuity clinic, and I've also become a lot more comfortable in my role as an attending in the outpatient setting, though I have to catch myself at times and thoroughly triple-check things for patients just like I was doing when I first started working as a new attending in the outpatient setting last summer since I'm the last line of defense before a patient goes back out into the world after the end of their clinic visit.

As for my role as a “fellow” in the pediatric nephrology clinic, I've also gotten more comfortable working in this setting and caring for patients with basic nephrology concerns. However, the more time I've spent in nephrology clinic over the course of the year, the more I've been reminded just how little I know about this sub-specialty and that I have SO MUCH to learn in fellowship and beyond, even with kidney-related concepts that seasoned nephrologists consider basic. To help reinforce some concepts before starting my fellowship training, a mentor advised me to make a couple of presentations focused on common topics in pediatric nephrology to not only get a head start on boosting my knowledge of them, but to also get a head start on creating a repository of presentations that I can use to teach other learners during fellowship. It was excellent advice that I plan to act upon prior to starting my fellowship training!

When I wasn't busy taking care of patients or precepting residents in the clinical setting, you could typically find me in the office working on a variety of things related to the residency program. One major thing that my co-chiefs and I were spending a lot of time on was helping orient the rising chief residents during their first Chief month. That's right, this is the same chief month that I went through a little over a year ago where I learned the inner workings of what being a chief resident was all about. I distinctly remember how I felt during that month and just how excited I was to finish my residency training and to begin my chief year. As we peeled back the curtains to show the rising chiefs the inner workings of what their immediate future was going to look like, their nervous chuckles reminded me of just how nervous I had been a year ago about certain aspects of the position. We did our best to adequately orient them throughout their month in the office but it was admittedly difficult to do so due to all of our wild clinical schedules over the course of that month. My co-chiefs and I (and even our program director) all had a week of inpatient service on the wards throughout their chief month, and my co-chiefs and I also had a LOT of clinic time that took us away from the rising chiefs. With all of that said, they managed to get a lot of orientation work done and also brainstormed several cool ideas that they are hoping to implement in the program once they take over the reins in about a month! ๐Ÿ˜„

The rising chiefs also joined us in celebrating Match Day, where myself and the rest of the pediatric education leadership team congregated to celebrate the culmination of ALL the hard work we put into this residency application and interview cycle! When we saw the class of incoming interns that we successfully recruited, we were impressed with the diversity of experiences the folks in the class were coming into residency with and were impressed with how well just about everyone in the class had presented themselves on interview day. They each have the potential to be outstanding residents and we are hoping that the dynamic of the class overall is a very positive and collegial one! It really was intriguing to be on the other side of the match process and to see how everyone we interviewed ended up matching. I feel fortunate to have been able to experience both sides of the match process and to gain a better understanding of how this process works, especially since it seemed like such a black box when I was a medical student going through it. Can't wait to hear all about what the new interns are like next year!

Ever since coming back from Atlanta, I've been back on the grind in all aspects of my life. Outside of working on all the fellowship onboarding stuff I need to get done by the end of the month, I helped start the process of making schedules for the residents in the new academic year, worked a relatively busy night shift the same day I worked a sick doc morning shift in the primary care clinic (accidentally did this to myself ๐Ÿ™„), spent some time working in nephrology clinic and precepting in primary care continuity clinic, and spent a considerable amount of time serving as chief on call. I also helped plan for and execute our annual KMT Step Up To Three Day, a leadership retreat for the current second-year residents that essentially prepares them for life as a third-year resident. And finally, I facilitated our last Project EMBRACE (Ending Medical Bias and Racism by Advocating for Change and Equity) session of the year, wrapping up the third year of its existence in our program! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

From a physical health standpoint, I've been trying to get myself back in the gym on a more consistent basis (I've unfortunately fallen off on my Orange Theory attendance over the past couple months ๐Ÿ˜…) but haven't been as successful as I would like to be. I'm going to make a serious effort this week to get back on track and am looking for ways to really incorporate active stretching into my workout routines. I tweaked my lower back a couple weeks ago, which sucks because I had already been dealing with lower back issues for about half my life now, thanks to poor deadlifting form in my high school days ๐Ÿ˜ญ. I'll probably end up doing some physical therapy to adequately strengthen and stretch out my lower back (I really am trying to avoid this being a serious issue as I get older) , but if y'all have any other great ideas on how to increase flexibility and to improve lower back strength in someone with chronic lower back pain, holla at me!

Before I bring this colossal post to an end, I just want to touch on a few last things that I didn't want to forget to add because why not?

First off, I helped host Manuary back in early February, which is an annual beard auction hosted by the Med-Peds residency program and we managed to raise over $1500 for the North Carolina Autism Society just by getting beards shaved! I was asked multiple times if I was going to get my beard shaved and I just couldn't bring myself to do it because ingrown hairs are a beast to deal with. So my compromise was hosting the beard auction lol.

Secondly, I participated in a Civic Health Fellowship reunion call in late February, where I virtually met up with past and present fellows of the fellowship, as well as members of the Vot-ER team that I've befriended over the past couple of years. It was great to catch up with these awesome people and my desire to incorporate voter registration processes in the healthcare setting was reinvigorated, especially in the setting of the current state of affairs in our country (don't get me started)!

Thirdly, our residency program got the chance to welcome Dr. Leslie Walker-Harding for Grand Rounds and a resident meet-and-greet in late February! She not only spent a lot of time with the residents and us chiefs while she was here, she also gave some great insight into how she end up securing the leadership roles she currently holds at Seattle Children's and presented to us ways that we can help manage the mental health of our adolescent population.

And last but most certainly not least, I was invited to participate in a suture lab at NC State University hosted by their MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students) chapter and subsequently participated in a Q&A session alongside several members of the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine. It was heart-warming to meet all of the eager Black and Brown pre-medical students and to answer the many questions they had about medical school and beyond. It really took me back to my pre-med days and how much I yearned to get into medical school to become a physician. It was a ton of fun and I hope to be able to continue participating in experiences like this! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Alright, I'm finally done! So much for showing restraint.

I hope you at least enjoyed reading what I had to share with you in this excessively long post! ๐Ÿ˜…

I hope you have an incredible week! Catch you next time! โœŒ๐Ÿฟ

โ€œSuccess is hastened or delayed by oneโ€™s habits. It is not your passing inspirations or brilliant ideas so much as your everyday mental habits that control your life.โ€ – Paramahansa Yogananda

– Black Man, M.D.

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