The Power of Adaptability

This week is my last week in D.C. and I’m not ready to leave just yet 😭😭😭.

I’ve really settled into the flow of things in my rotation and have quickly gotten used to the diverse nature of this city. I’ll probably never get used to the traffic in this city, but I’ve managed to get around without losing my mind, which is an accomplishment if you ask me. 😊 I kept telling myself that I would eventually start using the metro to avoid the congestion, but I would always end up leaving for clinic each morning in my car. It’s just easier and more convenient to me, even though I spend a good amount of time on the road as well as a good amount on gas money.

Angry Simon Cowell GIF

After this upcoming week, I’ll be heading up to Philly to start another Pediatric inpatient rotation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I’ll be on a general pediatric team that also treats kids with allergic, immunologic, rheumatologic and hematologic conditions. Yeah I know, that’s a lot of different types of conditions. I just recently got my schedule for the rotation and boooyyy am I going to be busy 😅. I’m really going to be living like an intern…six day work-weeks with only one day off each week, one week of nights, case conferences, teaching sessions, performing patient responsibilites on an intern level — yeahhh I’m gonna be working for real. I probably won’t see much outside of the hospital to be honest…but that’s okay, there’ll be plenty to see in the hospital. Plus, being in the north and all, I’m sure that it’s going to get cold real soon so staying indoors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Shoutout to the power of positive thinking 🙌🏿😂.

With all the time I’m going to be spending in the hospital, I’m definitely going to be able to see a wide variety of illnesses and there’s a good chance that I’ll be participating in very unique and interesting cases. Also, as you may already know if you’ve been following my posts these past couple of months, I just so happen to have some experience in hematology, allergy and immunology….so I’m fortunate in that I’ll be able to continue building upon the knowledge that I’ve accumulated in those sub-specialties so far. 😄 In addition, I’ll get to network with a variety of people and will be paired with mentors who will undoubtedly be instrumental in helping me lay the foundation for my future career. Until I get to my experience at CHOP however, I need to get through a mountain of modules that need to be completed prior to rotating there.

Confused Steve Harvey GIF

Now about my most recent week in the Capital.

I had a pretty full schedule of events last week, those of which included a couple of food allergy clinic days, an inner-city asthma clinic day, a mock interview session, my first residency interview at Wake Forest, a couple of one-on-one meetings with faculty here at Children’s National, an allergy & immunology department-wide morning conference, a meeting with one of Senator Cory Booker’s legislative assistants on Capitol Hill, and a great weekend with my girlfriend and other friends who are here in D.C. Yeah I know, I told you it was going to be a lot lol. I did my best to take things one day at a time though and that helped me get through everything that I experienced throughout the week.

The food allergy clinic days were the usual, where I helped consent patients and their families to oral food challenges, took histories, performed physical exams, and presented the diverse array of patients that I interacted with to my attendings. The inner-city asthma clinic was unique in that it was designed specifically to comprehensively address issues regarding asthma in children, which meant that there was an extensive amount of time dedicated to this mission. The patient and their family would meet with an asthma educator and the physician, with some visits taking as long as 90 minutes if necessary! 😯 I’m glad that I got the chance to participate in that experience, because I also ended up learning some very useful information about asthma and all the various substances in the environment that can trigger it.

As a participant of the Minority Senior Scholarship Program (MSSP), I got the opportunity to engage in a mock interview session as well as to go to Capitol Hill to talk with a legislative assistant about her role in health policy while also asking her questions regarding health policy and how we as future physicians can help influence it for the sake of our patients. The mock interview session was very helpful because not only was I able to practice my interview skills a couple days before my first residency interview, but I was also able to gain some valuable advice that will really help me out on the interview trail. The session at Capitol Hill was primarily a conversation between the students in the MSSP and a legislative assistant, who explained how she helps advise Senator Cory Booker and answered the barrage of questions that we had for her. She encouraged us to keep our passion for advocacy as we grow into physicians and shared with us how much she admired the work that Pediatricians do when it comes to advocating for their patients. It was a really cool experience overall, even though we didn’t end up going inside the Capitol building like I initially thought we would lol. I’m not gonna lie, I was getting hype as we drove up to the Capitol building in our Uber, but we then took a sharp turn left and ended up at another building a couple of blocks away. But then again, it’s not every day that you get to walk into the office of a Senator!

As for my interview at Wake, it ended up going pretty well overall! I definitely felt welcomed, many aspects of both the pediatric residency program and life in Winston-Salem were reinforced to me, and I had some great conversations with my two interviewers. That particular interview day was a day specifically for interviewees who had some sort of tie to Wake Forest, so I was able to connect with the majority of my classmates who are also going into Pediatrics, which was nice. Honestly, the only stressful part about the whole day was the fact that I had to fly from D.C. to Raleigh Tuesday night, pick up a rental car from the airport, drive to Chapel Hill to stay the night at my girlfriend’s place, and drive in a rental car from Chapel Hill to Winston early Wednesday morning through the rain in order to make it to the interview group with only a couple of minutes to spare. And then after the day was over, I had to drive back to Chapel Hill to pick my stuff up, drive to Raleigh, return the rental car and fly back to D.C. that night in order to go to clinic the next morning.

oh my god what GIF

It was definitely A LOT, but it was also worth it. With my first interview complete, I feel that much more comfortable attending interviews at other institutions. Plus, I felt like I got a solid feel of what residency at Wake would be like. With that said, I feel adequately prepared for my interview here at Children’s National this Friday! 😁

michelle rodriguez letty ortiz GIF

My busy week was topped off with a fun weekend with my girlfriend and other good friends of mine. Between eating at a “bottomless” brunch, eating some of D.C.’s deep-dish pizza, visiting various monuments, viewing portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, watching a movie (The Oath) before it’s nationwide release date, and (painfully) watching the UM vs. UVA game at a bar/restaurant/arcade, I had an awesome time! The Canes may have lost (in a ridiculous fashion, to say the least), but it’s the time spent with the people I care about that matters!

I’ve been typing for a good amount of time now, so I think that it’s about time that I end this post and start putting in some more work on these modules that I really need to finish up. 😅

I hope that your week turns out to be an excellent one!

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” – Denis Waitley

– Black Man, M.D.

Gaining Ground

Well, I’m still studying for Step 2 CK. Nothing much has changed regarding that aspect of my life. My question block scores have been pretty stable this past week, with many more highs than lows. I also took a diagnostic test on Thursday and according to my results, I’m at a much better level of preparation than I had anticipated! I wasn’t feeling too confident while I was answering those questions, but after I got my score back I felt like I could just go on ahead and take Step 2 the next day just to get it over with lol. I have a little less than two weeks to finish preparing for this exam, which is both good and annoying. It’s good because I can only get better from where I’m at, and I have the potential to have a high peak performance on test day. On the other hand, it’s annoying because I’m starting to lose patience with these study days and this endless cycle of answering questions and reviewing them is actively draining my desire to study. Plus, I don’t want to end up performing at my peak before test day. That would really, really, reeeally suck. But alas, the grind must never stop. I’ll continue to chug along with this study process and ensure that all this hard work brings about a fruitful result.

In other news, I took some time off last Wednesday to participate in patient advocacy at the state capital! The event, White Coat Wednesday, is an annual event hosted by the North Carolina Pediatric Society that is focused on meeting with state legislators in order to discuss pertinent issues relating to the health of children and families in NC. My whole morning was spent having important discussions with various legistators alongside Wake Forest faculty members, residents and fellow classmates who are also interested in a career in Pediatrics. It was a pretty neat experience, because it allowed me to witness firsthand what engaging in patient advocacy on a legislative level was like. It’s really not as intimidating as you would think it is. Before meeting with the legislator, you come up with a few talking points that you want to emphasize during your conversation. Ideally, they would be topics that you believe would be most likely for both you and the legislator to agree upon, because you want to ensure that the meeting will be a productive one. Once you have those set talking points, you literally walk up to your legislator’s office and attempt to talk with him/her for a few minutes. Of course this part is easier if you have already scheduled a meeting with them beforehand. You hit on your talking points during the conversation and hope to inspire the legislator to act upon at least one of your suggestions. Then the meeting is over and you both go your separate ways as you work to locate the next lawmaker that you want to influence.

It’s actually a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it. But then again, the lead Pediatrician we were with has been doing this type of work for a while now, so I’m sure that this is all second-nature to her. She really made the whole process look so easy! As a future Pediatrician, I know that I’ll certainly be drawn to advocate for my patients on many levels, especially the legislative level. With that said, I really am glad that I decided to participate in this event because not only did it make the whole process less intimidating than it initially seemed, but it also proved to me that I could really help make a difference in the lives of others on a larger scale just by talking to the very people who help create the laws we live by.

All done here! Now go on and have a sensational first week of June!

“Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.” – Anne Frank

– Black Man, M.D.

The Spirit of Ambition

Throughout my third-year, my classmates and friends had been telling me how great and wonderful the Family Medicine rotation was. After having heard all of these glorious praises on a continuous basis, I found myself itching to begin this rotation to see why everyone had loved it so much. Now that I’ve been in Family Medicine for a week, I can absolutely confirm how awesome this rotation is! The residents and attendings are incredibly kind, they get along extraordinarily well with the other members of the healthcare team (who have also been very friendly towards me), the work hours are very med student-friendly (thanks to the outpatient nature of the specialty), there is built-in study time in our schedule (LOOK AT GOD), all of the noon conferences have quality lunches, the student lectures have been interesting & informative, we’ve been able to receive faculty feedback from non-graded patient encounters, and there is unlimited free coffee in the lounge for us to drink! And those are just the things that I could think of off the top of my head!

lit basketball wives GIF by VH1

In addition, I’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunities I have to further improve my focused history-taking and physical exam skills as well as my assessment and plan-making abilities. I’ve received great feedback so far that has allowed me to understand what I’ve been doing really well and what I could continue to improve upon. (I apparently have the habit of filling mid-conversational silence with random words like “Great, great….awesome…” or “Okay, okay…nice…” while I’m talking to patients. Lol, I’ve never thought about that…) I welcome all the high-quality feedback that I can get because as you know, I’m actively working to become the best physician that I can be. I want to be beyond good at what I do; I want to be excellent at my craft. Far-reaching goals such as this have forced me to push myself harder than I would necessarily need to otherwise, and I’m, in most ways, proud of that.

However, I’ve also come to realize that because of my ambitious nature, I can be overly (and probably unnecessarily) critical of myself at times. Even though I know that I’m doing alright in the whole process of gathering data from a patient, coming up with an assessment, differential diagnosis and plan, and presenting the information to someone else in oral and written format, I just feel like I could be doing so much better. I know my skills will continue to improve with practice and time and all, but I guess I just want to already have the skillset and knowledge that the attendings around me have. I have to keep reminding myself that they were once in my shoes and that it took them a long time to get to where they’re at currently. Hell, they probably had the same thoughts that I’m having about badly wanting to better themselves and wanting to be as knowledgeable as their own attendings and upper-levels. With that said, I’m just gonna have to keep grinding and improving while making sure that I don’t criticize myself to the point where I become demoralized. I didn’t make it all the way to this point just to kick myself down…the fact that I’m a medical student continues to be an achievement in itself, and I must never forget that.

Kid President Encouragement GIF by SoulPancake

Overall, it’s been a real chill week in the clinic and I love the positive vibes that I’ve been feeling in the air! Like, I was assigned an evening clinic shift and a Saturday morning clinic shift this past week and not only did I enjoy the time I spent with the residents, attending and patients there, but I actually found that I had stayed a little later than I needed to both times! I swear man, the people you work with can seriously make or break your experiences in any given rotation.

I have a few more things to say before I end this post but I also don’t want to spend the next hour typing when I could be studying for this notoriously difficult shelf exam (I feel like I’ve been saying that about every shelf exam I’ve ever taken) that’s coming up in less than three weeks. So in order to compromise both of my desires, I’m just going to quickly word vomit what I wanna say.

I attended a global health session where current fourth-year students talked about their experiences in various global health electives. I had gone to the session because I’m interested in taking a newly-formed immigrant health elective next year and the student who was in the trial run of the elective this year was going to speak about her experience in it. However, after listening to the experiences of the other students who went to countries such as Japan, Costa Rica, South Africa and Spain in order to complete a rotation in a specialty of their choice, I’m now more amenable to pursuing an elective in another country at some point next year! But then again, I may not. Who knows?

There was another session where the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine came to talk to us medical students on this rotation about health policy and advocacy. In our discussion, he talked about the incredible importance of being involved in legislature as healthcare providers due to the fact that there is very little representation of us in the government. He also touched on being an advocate for primary care and we discussed reasons as to why medical students may or may not choose to go into primary care. It was a thought-provoking conversation and made me more aware of the influence that we as medical students and future physicians can potentially have on decisions made in the government.

Okay, I’m pretty much done now. I’m excited to start another week of Family Medicine and to FINALLY fly over to California on Wednesday to attend AMEC!! I’ll be finishing up my remaining responsibilities as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows and will be assuming my position as a Co-Chair of the External Affairs Committee of the SNMA, a position that I was appointed to just last Monday! It’s LIT!! 😄😎🔥

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what (s)he has already achieved, but at what (s)he aspires to do.” – Kahlil Gibran

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I got my Surgery shelf exam score back and although it wasn’t a bad score, it wasn’t as great of a performance as I would have liked, considering the fact that I poured a TON of energy into preparing for it. Sigh. C’est la vie.