Revvin’ Up The Momentum

And just like that, my Surgery rotation has come to an end! This marks the completion of my sixth rotation of third year, giving me only two more four-week rotations to engage in before I start my fourth year!

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I’m definitely starting to feel the end-of-the-year momentum! Also, with Match Day having occurred just this past Friday (shoutout to all the soon-to-be doctors across the nation!!), it’s starting to really hit me that at this point next year, I’m going to find out where I’ll be spending the next few years of my life! Having now attended the Match Day ceremony here three different times, I’m really looking forward to finally having my moment of truth on Match Day 2019. It’s so wild and so exciting at the same time!

Now to quickly recap on my last week of Surgery. I spent the majority of the week in the O.R. with various Anesthesia residents and attendings. While with them, I was afforded the opportunity to assist the staff in Neurosurgery, Interventional Radiology and Cardiothoracic operations. I also learned a lot of good information from them while we monitored the operations and saw some incredible procedures that I would have otherwise never been able to witness in person. When I wasn’t in the O.R. working with the Anesthesiologists, you could find me actively preparing for the Shelf exam while trying to get my life together. The exam itself started off tougher than I had expected, but then after about 20 questions or so I found myself finally getting into the groove of the exam and it became easier to answer the barrage of questions that were thrown at me. I hate it when the first questions end up being some of the hardest ones…it can really throw off your confidence and slow you down drastically. Thankfully, I ended up being able to power through it with adequate time left at the end to review my unsure answers! Overall, I think the exam went okay and I don’t have any regrets about my preparation for it, even though there were some questions on the test (WHAT A SURPRISE) that I would not have been ready for no matter how much I had studied…but I digress.

As always, I’m looking forward to being able to start off a new rotation! This rotation will be Family Medicine, which is going to be primarily an outpatient experience, meaning that I’ll miraculously won’t be in the hospital for a month. That’s pretty wild to me, considering the fact that I practically live there lol. I’ve heard so many great things about this rotation, which has only amplified my excitement about finally starting my experience! Another thing that I’m really hyped about is next week’s trip to San Fran for the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference! I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I was told where this year’s conference would be taking place, which was almost a whole year ago. There are so many sessions that I want to attend, so many people I want to either meet or reconnect with, several activities that I want to lend a helping hand to, and if I have the time (probably won’t, let’s be honest), so many places that I want to visit in the city! With the hotel rooms having sold out over a month ago, I already know that it’s going to be a ton of fun! Plus, the networking opportunities will be unreal! Stay tuned for that post; it’s probably gonna be extra lol.

That’s it from me today. Be sure to have a fantastic week! And R.I.P. to all of our brackets. March Madness this year has truly been maddening. By far the worst I’ve ever done with my brackets. But I can’t even be mad because the games have been thrilling, to say the absolute least!

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Black Man, M.D.

High Noon

Okay, crunch time is officially here.

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I have 11 days until my Surgery shelf exam, and I’m going to be losing an hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time next Sunday. Believe it or not, 11 days is not a lot of time to review all the material that I still need to get through in order to be comfortable enough to take that shelf exam. Although I’ve already completed a large portion of the questions that I need to get through, I still need to study the answers to them and further review the concepts that I don’t totally understand yet. In addition, I have to begin preparing for my cross-country trip to the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference at the end of this month, where I’ll be playing a much larger role (thanks to my status as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows and as one of the members of the National Community Service Committee) than I did when I went for the first time last year. The conference will be taking place in San Francisco this year, which I’m very excited for because I have never been to Cali before!

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There are also emails that I need to send out and respond to (I’ve accepted the fact that this is going to be a never-ending problem), projects that I need to continue to coordinate, assignments that I need to complete and things I need to figure out as I continue to prepare for applying to residency programs and for my final year of medical school. There just always seems to be a cascade of things to do at any given moment and because of this, my mind has developed this habit of racing through tasks while at the same time calculating my next moves. Even as I type this post, I’m thinking about the many things that I need to get done before I go to sleep tonight while at the same time plotting out my plan of attack in preparing for my upcoming exam. It’s honestly remarkable how on most nights, I’m able to calm my mind down enough to go to sleep.

Speaking of, starting tonight, I’m going to have to go back to going to sleep real early because I have to be at the hospital by 6 AM tomorrow morning to begin the Anesthesiology portion of my Surgery rotation. I knew that these early mornings were coming back to rear their ugly heads, so I’ve been mentally preparing myself for it for weeks lol. But in any case, this service is going to be an interesting one and I’m certain that I’ll learn a lot of good information during these next two weeks as I rotate through this specialty. I’m apparently going to be in different places on different days in order to rotate through as many of the sub-specialty areas of Anesthesiology as I possibly can, so I gotta make sure that I have my schedule straight at all times. I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time on several occasions, and it’s certainly NOT a fun thing to have to go through. I’m also ready to start on this service because I have yet to meet an Anesthesiologist here at Wake who isn’t a chill person! The atmosphere that I’ve sensed from the physicians in this department so far gives me reason to look forward to working on this service for the next couple of weeks.

With the start of my last service on my Surgery rotation comes the end of my fascinating experience in the Ophthalmology department. During my last week on this service, I had the opportunity to work with Ophthalmologists who specialized in the cornea, the retina and the pediatric population. In addition, I was able to work with a resident who answered consults throughout the hospital, allowing me the opportunity to observe all kinds of patients who had some unique findings in their eyes that I had never seen before. I appreciated the things that I was able to see and do during this week, but something specific that I took note of was how the Pediatric Ophthalmologist interacted with his patients. He had the challenging task of examining and diagnosing children with ocular disorders, which meant that he had to ensure that these kids stayed patient enough to follow the specific directions that he gave them while he assessed them. It was incredible to watch how he used the tricks that he had up his sleeves to retrieve important information from his patients, and to realize just how knowledgeable he was about ophthalmology. I’m definitely going to have to borrow some of his clever tricks and use them with my own patients in the future!

All in all, even though the patient presentation that I was supposed to give during Grand Rounds last week got pushed to this week, I had a great and intellectually stimulating experience while on this service. There were times where I was tempted to reconsider pursuing this specialty again, but at this point I’m comfortable enough to say that I’m committed to a career in Pediatrics. Where this road will take me, I have absolutely no idea. But I do know that I’ve developed a very real passion about this specialty that I can’t shake off, and the opportunities that a career in Pediatrics presents truly excite me to no end. Who knew that it would have ever come to this? Apparently just about everyone but me 😅. They weren’t lying when they said that crazy things can happen during your clinical rotations!

Alright, gotta go now. Be sure to start your month off on a positive note! And remember to get yourself ready for the insanity that is March Madness…

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“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” – Pat Riley

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The two presentations that I gave last week went well for the most part! Well, one of them went sort-of-well in my opinion, and I ended up doing a much better job with my other one!

Life After Step

It’s OVER!! I made it to the light!

I’ve finally completed the USMLE Step 1 Exam!!!


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It’s been almost a week since I took the exam, so I’ve had some time to process the surreal feeling that came with finally finishing it. After I wrote last week’s post, I got some snacks for the big day and relaxed the rest of the afternoon, as I said I would. I ended up watching Neighbors 2, which was ridiculously hilarious. I slept okay that night, although it wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had due to the fact that I was so hyped up and ready to take Step. As soon as my alarm went off the next morning, I immediately jolted out of my bed and began getting ready to leave. I got to the testing center and because I had visited the center a couple of days prior, I was familiar with the whole layout. After checking in and going through all the required procedures, I began my 7-block exam. I won’t lie, I felt my nerves creeping up on me for the first few minutes of the test…but then I eventually got into my zone and was able to answer the questions just like I had been answering them during my whole study period. However, that test was pretty long. Time was actually flying by but I definitely felt myself getting fatigued, especially during the last block of questions. Taking any kind of test for eight hours can really mess with your head, no matter how many practice questions you complete or how often you simulate exam day. We were granted an hour-long break that could be used in whatever way we wanted to use it throughout the day, so I actually spent seven hours answering questions. Oh and my computer decided to turn off on me during my fifth block 😳. Isn’t that lovely? Thank God I didn’t lose anything and that I could continue exactly where I left off after about five minutes of waiting for the IT crew to fix the issue.

When I finally finished the exam, I walked out of the testing center not really knowing how to feel. To tell the truth, it was a pretty weird feeling. I had just taken the test that I’ve been preparing for in one way or another ever since entering medical school. I felt that I answered a good number of the questions correctly, but there were also a solid number of questions that I had to go with my gut for, especially in the final block of questions (which ended up being the hardest block of the test and contained the longest question stems). Those questions were the reason as to why I didn’t feel too certain about my performance because ideally, I would have liked to have been sure about all of my answer choices. But this is the USMLE Step 1 exam we’re talking about, so of course that wasn’t about to happen. I also realized that although I worked extremely hard to prepare for this exam, there was no way that I could have been FULLY prepared for the test I took. Some of the questions were just straight-up bizarre. So with that said, I was glad that I took it when I did because I don’t think that waiting a few extra days would have done me any good overall. The test was going to be hard as hell regardless. All in all, I know that I put an intense amount of energy into preparing for Step and I genuinely felt that I did the best that I could do on that test. So as long as that holds true, I’ll accept the score that is given to me because it simply is the score that I was meant to have. But until I get my score back, I won’t even entertain thoughts about my performance anymore unless I’m asked about it. I’m just going to continue celebrating the fact that I’ve finally completed this phase of my medical education!

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In regards to how I’ve been celebrating life after Step, I’ve done so this past week by chillin’ for a couple of days and then attending the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC), which took place in Atlanta this year! I actually just got back from that and I’m extremely glad that I was afforded the opportunity to attend. There is SOOOO much that I could say about my time at the conference, but I also don’t want this post to turn into a dissertation. So with that said, I’m going to try and give you a captivating synopsis of my experience at AMEC!

I got to the conference with friends from Wake on Thursday morning and we literally hit the ground running. We checked into both the hotel and the conference before splitting up to go to the various sessions that were made available to us. I ended up going to the Professional Exhibitor’s Fair, where many institutions were advertising their respective residency programs. I also went to an interesting talk where a neurosurgeon shared his incredible life story that contained various elements of adversity, a House of Delegates meeting where representatives of all the ten regions of the SNMA get together in order to vote on a number of official things, and a presentation skills workshop where we were given tips on how to give effective and memorable presentations. After that, I attended a Regional Meeting before heading out to enjoy Atlanta’s nightlife.

I woke up early Friday morning with a good amount of sleep still in my eyes, but determined to make it through the day! The first session I attended was a discussion facilitated by Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, who just so happens to be one of Diana Ross’ siblings and an aunt of Tracee Ellis Ross! She hit on great points in the discussion, including the importance of understanding that studying medicine is a lifestyle, realizing that communication is fully based on how the person you’re communicating with interprets what you’re saying, appreciating the fact that every patient encounter is a cultural encounter, and taking notice of how majority populations are usually judged by their strengths while minority populations tend to be judged by their weaknesses. I then attended a talk that was focused on historical and future perspectives of Blacks in Medicine and on the necessity of learning this very important history. Soon after that, I attended a panel discussion that was focused on Minority Men in Medicine. A couple of things we touched on in this session included realizing that you could potentially “pigeonhole” yourself by trying to solely find mentors who look like you, understanding the greatness of organic relationships, and understanding that the government will very likely not be willing to look out for our best interests as minority men, so we must be comfortable taking care of ourselves.

After that session came the President’s Luncheon, where guest speaker Dr. Camara Jones spoke to us about how racism plays into health disparities and how these disparities can disappear if health equity was achieved. She especially emphasized the power that social constructs have on health conditions, using herself as an example by stating how she could go to different countries and be classified as a different race in each country, which would eventually affect her health outcomes in the long run if she were to stay in one of those countries long enough. After the luncheon, I attended another panel discussion that was focused on nontraditional career paths in medicine. The people on this panel had some very interesting things to say and some useful pieces of advice to give, which included having a “Board of Directors” of your life, getting “off the tracks” of the traditional path for a bit in order to learn about how other people in different professional fields think about certain things, taking leaps of faith, understanding the incredible power of self-confidence in every aspect of life, and thinking in a big and disruptive fashion with a very open mind. This session was actually one of my favorite ones of the whole conference!

After leaving that one, I attended the second Regional Meeting of the conference, where I actually ran for the Regional Community Service Liaison position for Region IV of SNMA! Unfortunately, I completely bombed my speech in an embarrassing fashion and although I had some great ideas to share, my speech delivery was one of the worst ones I’ve ever given. Maaannnnn it was quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Crazy thing is, I wasn’t even that nervous on the podium. It was just that the words that I was looking for weren’t coming to me. It was so unlike me. In all honesty, it may not have been as terrible of a speech as I’m making it seem but because I know what I’m capable of, I sincerely feel that it was one of the worst speeches I’ve given. But nevertheless, I finished my speech with a smile without falling apart or anything and returned to my seat in confusion as to why that had just happened to me. Needless to say, I believe that my speech helped me lose votes to my competitor, who had a great delivery and even gave out snacks to the audience, which is always a plus lol. Thing is, losing to my competitor didn’t even bother me. What really annoyed me was the fact that I performed so poorly in doing something that I believed I had prepared myself for and that I’ve done on numerous occasions. Giving a speech wasn’t supposed to be a hard thing for me to do. But I dropped the ball. So now the best thing for me to do is to use this experience to my advantage and to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, which I’ll do by further honing my skills as a public speaker. My ideas didn’t go unnoticed though, for one of the chairs of the National Community Service Committee approached me later on and expressed interest in working with me because she liked the ideas that I shared. Plus, the Regional Director of Region IV told me that she would still love to work with me in some kind of way. So I actually did end up gaining something positive out of this painful, yet humbling experience. As one of my good friends loves to say, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. 

The final sessions I attended on Friday were a couple of mixers hosted by residency programs from various institutions. At the mixers I attended, I got the opportunity to meet with a number of residents who talked about what their programs were like and how they’ve been able to flourish in their respective programs. I then proceeded to take a nap before venturing out into Atlanta’s booming nightlife once more 😎. Saturday morning was pretty rough…but just like Friday morning, I was determined to learn as much as I could from the sessions made available to us! So I attended four sessions in a row, which included useful tips on how to succeed in your clerkship years, tips on how to choose a medical specialty, how to effectively manage your social media presence, and how to implement strategies to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities in the faculty population of academic medical institutions. After this marathon of sessions, I caved in and took a pretty long nap before working to get a few things done and going to the closing banquet. I then enjoyed Atlanta’s nightlife for the third night in a row 😅!

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LMAO. Throwback to when I said I was going to give a synopsis of my AMEC experience. I wrote a damn essay without even meaning to. Lol, I promise I was trying to keep it short. But it was such an exciting and memorable experience and I just had so much to say about it! I ran into so many people that I hadn’t seen in a really long time and I met an even greater number of awesome people! The networking opportunities were absolutely mind-boggling. I even unexpectedly met the author of the Overcoming The Odds book that I had finished reading a few months ago, Dr. Antonio Webb! Like I said before, I’m extremely glad that I was afforded the opportunity to attend this conference and I really hope that I’ll be able to go to next year’s conference, which will be taking place in San Francisco! I’ve never been to Cali, so I REALLY hope that I’m able to go!

If you’ve made it this far into this post, I sincerely commend you. I owe you a high-five next time we meet!

I hope that you had a marvelous Easter weekend and that you have a stupendous week! And much thanks once again to all of you who prayed for me as I worked to overcome the challenge of Step 1!

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield

– Black Man, M.D.