This is it y'all. My chief year is officially coming to an end.
Cleaning out my desk last week to make space for the new chief residents of the program made this fact feel all the more real. They officially took over chief duties this past Tuesday, leaving my co-chiefs and I in this ambiguous state of limbo where we're around but sort-of/kind of/not really present. We have taken on more of a consultant role, where we are available to answer whatever questions the new chiefs have as they adjust to their new positions in program leadership. We'll formally be in this role until our official duties to the program end on June 23. That being said, we'll of course always be happy and ready to help them out as they power through their chief year!
As for how I feel about this year coming to an end, I can best describe it as a swirl of emotions. As challenging as the year had been at times, I had such an amazing time working with my team in the pediatrics education leadership office and serving as a pillar of support for the residents. I'll be glad to never be chief-on-call again, but I'll certainly miss being there for the residents in their times of need. I would certainly set fire to our chief email inbox if I could, but I'll miss aspects of being seen as one of the trusted people that anyone in the department could go to for help. I was more than happy to toss the responsibility of scheduling over to the new chiefs, but I'll miss having an influential voice in shaping the curriculum of the pediatricians that will be graduating from the same residency program that I graduated from. As you can see, there are certain things that I'm happy to let go of from my chief year, but there are many more things that I enjoyed doing as one of the leaders of the program that I'm not as eager to let go of. My feelings about chief year could honestly be a whole post in itself. I'm still actively working through them. I guess this is why they call all past chiefs “recovering chiefs” 😅
I'm definitely excited to move on to fellowship training and to explore what it is like to work in a healthcare system in a different state than the one I've spent my whole medical training in thus far. Working in a healthcare system as huge as Children's Healthcare of Atlanta will certainly be a wildly different and interesting experience that I'm looking forward to encounter. Also, it will be super cool moving to Atlanta given the rich culture the city has, the incredible diversity inherent in the city, its well-known reputation being the Black Mecca of the South, and the fact that both my wife and I already know a ton of people who live down there.
With all of that being said, I do feel a degree of sadness about leaving North Carolina and moving away from the community I've entrenched myself in over the better part of the past decade. I've called this state home ever since graduating from college eight years ago, and I managed to make a name for myself not only at my medical school in Winston-Salem, but also at my institution here in Chapel Hill as I powered through my residency training and my chief year. With low levels of traffic, a relatively safe atmosphere, and an educated population growing in size and diversity, it is pretty easy to live in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. Depending on where you are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, you can enjoy that similar sense of safety and you also do have a high concentration of educated folks who are working to uplift the diverse community around them. The traffic is absolutely going to suck though. I'm already working on a playlist of podcasts and audiobooks that I'll be listening to during my daily commute to and from work. 🙃
All in all, it is going to be a bittersweet transition. It doesn't help that I really hate the process of moving. Having to pack up our whole life, move everything to a new state, and unpack our life into a new household sounds like a horrendous endeavor that is stressful to even start thinking about. It is the furthest thing from fun. Regardless, my wife and I will try to make it somewhat enjoyable but we'll also try to get it all over with as fast as we can. We're definitely going to be getting movers to help us move most of our items, which will be really helpful and will lessen the overall pain that I associate with the moving process. It also doesn't help that the process of obtaining my medical license from the medical board of Georgia has been an atrocious experience that I would wish on nobody. Once this transition process is over though, I'm sure that I'll be feeling even better about my new life in Atlanta, especially as I start working in my new role as a pediatric nephrology fellow! 😄
Okay I'm done waxing poetic about the future for now. Let's catch up on what I've been up to over this past month.
Right after publishing my last post, I attended the annual Pediatric Academics Societies (PAS) Meeting, that of which was held in Washington D.C. this year. The main reason I was asked to go was to help staff the booth that my department had in the exhibitor's hall at this massive conference. However, because I really love going to conferences, I inevitably ended up attending a few learning sessions, hopping in and out of the social receptions of various programs (including Emory's, where I met some of the faculty I'll be working with for the first time in-person), and reconnecting with a ton of people that I hadn't seen in such a long time! I was even able to take some time to hang out with my brother who lives in the DMV area!
Attending the conference was well worth the hellish drive I had to endure to get to D.C. that weekend. Because of the awful weather conditions and the never-ending series of accidents on the interstate, the typical four-hour drive from Chapel Hill to D.C. took me 7+ hours to complete. Time just kept getting added as I was driving, so I was nowhere near prepared for the extended trek. Plus, the only food I had in the car with me were two granola bars, so I was driving on a nearly empty stomach the vast majority of the trip. Needless to say, I was in a very hangry state of mind when I finally reached my destination…..but all was well soon after. Thankfully, the trip back home was 1000% better. 😊
Soon after returning home from the conference, I attended a mixer hosted by the UNC Chapter of the SNMA that allowed students, residents, and faculty to hang out and chat in a social setting outside of the workplace. It was really nice to see how strong the chapter had become in the aftermath of the pandemic and to see just how many first-year medical students were actively involved in their chapter. I had a good time listening to how excited they were to be done with their MS1 year and what things they were looking forward to in their respective futures. It was also fun to share my experiences with them and to impart onto them some of the wisdom I've accumulated as a result of my experiences in medical school and in residency.
In the weeks following the conference and the mixer, I completed the vast majority of the remaining clinical shifts that I had left on my schedule including several precepting shifts in the resident continuity clinic, a four-day stint as the attending in the newborn nursery, a daytime inpatient attending shift that I picked up for moonlighting purposes, and my last night shift of the year as the in-house attending, which also happened to be my last inpatient shift at UNC!
That night shift was such a wonderful and chill one, definitely one of the most calm ones I've ever had during my time at UNC. It was a perfect one to cap off my time here and the residents I worked with that night gave me fond memories that I'll take with me as I move on to the next phase of my career. I have two more precepting outpatient clinic shifts that I need to complete before being totally done with my clinical responsibilities at UNC, both of which I'm sure will fly by. 😬
As we were transitioning our chief responsibilities to the next leaders of the program, my co-chiefs and I were simultaneously planning Herrington Leadership Day, an annual event that interns attend to gain some perspective on what being an upper level resident is all about. We finally executed the event last week, kicking it off with a delicious dinner the night before at the home of one of our associate program directors where the interns got the chance to hang out together alongside various faculty in the department, all of whom represented a wide variety of sub-specialties in pediatrics. On the day of the event, which took place at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, the interns listened to several interactive presentations, including one that my co-chiefs and I gave on “How To Be An Upper Level + Teaching As An Upper Level”. The setting in which we had this leadership day stood in sharp contrast to when I attended it as an intern three years ago, where we were two months into a pandemic that had absolutely no end in sight, coupled with the racial reckoning that the country had just crashed into with the recent murder of George Floyd broadcast on international media outlets. Although the information I received was similar to the information we gave the interns last week, the overall experience felt very different given that it was conducted in a virtual setting and we were all incredibly anxious not only about being upper level residents, but also about what it meant to be a physician in the setting of a once-in-a-century pandemic. I'm glad that we are in somewhat of a better place than we were at this time three years ago now that we have reached the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency and that we were able to give the interns a lot of helpful information that they can take with them as they embark upon their second year of residency. Hopefully we were able to knock out some of the anxiety that I'm sure has been building up in them as they get closer to that transition!
In the midst of preparing for Herrington Leadership Day, we were also helping the leadership team prepare for the department's annual Evening of Scholarship where 50+ residents and fellows presented posters describing the projects (basic science research, clinical research, case reports, medical education, QI, advocacy, etc.) they worked on over the past year. There were a few people selected to give oral presentations, followed by a dinner where the keynote speaker delivered his presentation. I initially had no intention of creating a poster, but was ultimately convinced by a mentor to make one describing the voter registration drive that I organized at our resident continuity clinic. It ended up coming out looking pretty good and I was able to present it during the event!
I'm hopeful that I can continue to help integrate voter registration and education processes into the clinical setting not only here at UNC, but also at Emory and beyond! It is so important to give our patients and their families access to the ballot, especially now that we consider voting to be a social determinant of health!
Man I'm not going to lie, it really does feel weird to not be a chief resident anymore. Although my time as chief has come to an end, my co-chiefs and I still have a few things to finish up this week including an inaugural new chief orientation day created by one of my co-chiefs, a Grand Rounds presentation that we'll be giving to the department that describes the lessons we learned this year and what changes we've been able to successfully make in the program, and the graduation ceremony for the graduating residents! After graduation, we'll be truly done with our responsibilities and will solely be available to the new chiefs for consulting purposes as we actively transition to our new lives. I always knew this time would come, but it still feels a bit more abrupt than I anticipated it being. But alas, we all must move on at one point or another. 😖
That's all I have for you today! I hope your Memorial Day weekend has been a wonderful one and that you've taken a moment to honor those who have bravely served our country and sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to fervently chase the idea of freedom that this country has promised us. May God bless them and their families! 🙏🏿
“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” – Kristin Armstrong
– Black Man, M.D.
P.S. – The application for The 2023 Desire To Inspire Scholarship is closing this Sunday!! Almost 100 applications have already been submitted!! 😮
P.P.S. – It has been incredibly maddening and sickening to witness all of the senseless murders occurring across the nation this year, especially within the past couple of months. This country NEEDS better gun control laws. Otherwise, this cancer of gun violence will continue to spread and devastate innocent families and communities. If you feel lost in the chaotic nightmare that gun violence has brought upon us and want to find a way to advocate for gun control, check out Everytown. They are the largest gun violence prevention organization in America, and are making it a priority to save lives by ending gun violence. They have actionable steps that everyday people can take to help save lives!
P.P.P.S. – I've been hard at work trying to stay consistent with my exercise routine and I've been doing a good job this month with my Orange Theory attendance! Hopefully I can keep it up! Fellowship training may throw a wrench in my workout schedule but until then, I'm going to do what I can 😊