Life After Anatomy

Ayyyyeeee!!!

Guess who blazed thru his Anatomy CUMULATIVE final exam?

Guess who doesn’t have to mindlessly memorize muscle groups and innervations anymore?

Guess who has (slightly) more free time now?

 

THIS GUY!!!


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Ain’t no more Anatomy bihhh!!!

After almost 13 grueling weeks of learning the intricacies and wonders of the human body, I can finally say that I’ve completed my first major milestone of medical school. After taking five demanding anatomy exams, I feel like I’ve finally gained a grasp of what to expect moving forward in my adventure at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It’s a pretty glorious feeling. Knowing that I’ve sucessfully completed a subject that many people fear coming into medical school makes me feel like I’ve achieved something momentous. More importantly, I hope it proves to those that haven’t experienced anatomy yet that passing and getting a decent grade in it is FAR from impossible. In my opinion, if you can make it to medical school then you automatically have a very high chance of passing anatomy. It’s a tough adjustment for sure, but if the admissions team selected you at their medical school in the first place, then they probably had a good feeling that you could handle anatomy, not to mention the demanding nature of medical school as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Life after anatomy. Finishing anatomy feels awesome, but that’s just the beginning of this journey. I now have to tackle Cellular & Subcellular Processes (CSP) for the next three months, which include Biochemistry, Pathology, Molecular Biology/Medical Genetics, Pharmacology, Microbiology & Immunology.

As a matter of fact, they actually thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and start biochemistry the day after the final anatomy exam. They must not know who I am. They cwwwazy if they thought I would go to class only to sit and have my eyes glaze over as they drone on about material I could watch online and learn on my own. Thank God for recorded lectures. (Shoutout to the Tegrity heroes of our class, y’all know who you are 😉).  I had to go ahead and start my Thanksgiving break a week early, y’all already know I needed to leave country-ass Winston-Salem for a little bit. I simply couldn’t take two exams and start a block of new material in a single week…that’s just ridiculous to me. If they won’t give me the breaks I want, I’ll make my own damn breaks. Who gon’ stop me?

I also finally got to talk to my assigned ophthalmologist mentor and he told me now that anatomy is over, I should begin supplementing my studies with Step 1 materials. Not really the words I wanted to hear. Honestly, I didn’t want to have to think about that crucial exam right now seeing that I’m taking it in the spring of 2017. But if it is going to be the one test that pretty much determines my future, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to start investing some time (and money) into it as early as possible. He was so gung-ho about getting a great score on Step 1 though…like I asked him about summer research and volunteer work and he just said, “depends on how you’re feeling with your Step 1 studies.” I hate that one test can single-handedly limit my options as to the type of doctor I would like to be. With the fact that you can only take it once and that there are specific cutoff scores for different specialties at different residency locations, it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a lot more annoying than the MCAT. That’s just great.

You see, this is why I needed to unofficially extend my Thanksgiving break.

I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to come back to Miami for a few days before flying back home in a couple of days. It has been awesome to surprise old friends down here with a visit and to catch up with them on life. I even ran into a number of people that have told me that they actually keep up with this blog and love it! That warmed my heart up. 😄 It’s good to see that pretty much everyone I’ve talked to is doing pretty well and are keeping their eyes on their respective goals. By the way, I want to give a huge shoutout to Tau Rho for bringing in their new line Friday night, y’all hella deep now lol.  Special shoutout to the #12 too, you know who you are 😉. It’s also been nice to look at all the palm trees and to walk around UM’s campus again. I don’t miss the ridiculous traffic here though, or the strangling humidity. I know that people can’t drive down here, but it still surprised me how much bull I’ve seen on the streets so far in the few days I’ve been here. Smh. Anyhow, I’ve really missed it here…but we all gotta grow up and expand our comfort zones right?

Well, I’m going to continue enjoying this break and each of y’all out there should do the same! Happy early Thanksgiving to each of you! And to those of you that don’t necessarily celebrate Thanksgiving, feel free to still stuff your face with food! And to those of you that got money to blow, have fun Black Friday shopping!

– Black Man, M.D.

Being Thankful in a Crazy World

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to take a break from school than I am now.

Sure growing up, I loved Thanksgiving, winter and summer breaks, but this is very different. I feel like I need this break coming up. I’m mentally exhausted and I feel like I need to leave this area for a little bit…I’ve been here since July. I need to see my family and friends again, and I just need to interact with people that aren’t just going to talk about school 24/7. Anatomy has worn me the hell out, and I still got this final CUMULATIVE exam that I have to take on Wednesday. Sheesh. I just took my fourth anatomy exam two days ago and I’m still recovering from that block of material…but they wanna slap us with this BS knowing damn well most of us are gonna be looking at this final like:

I mean come on. Like, I tried to start reviewing stuff that I learned back in August, but then my eyes started glazing over after five minutes and now here I am typing out my latest post. I don’t know how on earth I’m going to even start reviewing all of anatomy in the next two-and-a-half days. I’ll probably just do a good amount of review questions and call it a day. I’m convincing myself I know all the material I need to know for the final, I just have to find it in my head lol. Also, I’m just happy to have gotten thru my fourth test, meaning that there are no more lab dissections (😄) and NO MORE PRACTICALS!!! Speaking of my previous test, I think that I did alright on it, but I don’t know if I topped my third test. A lotta people were telling me that this test, which tested the upper and lower limbs, was going to be easier than the third test (head & neck). Nahhhhh. This was probably just as hard as the third test in my opinion, because there was just SO much information thrown at us at once. Also, it didn’t help that our weeks leading up to this test were packed with extra afternoon sessions, which didn’t give me as much time to study for this test as I had for the third one. But whatever, I did my best on this one like on the other ones and I hope it shows when I get my grade back this week.

You know, I feel annoyed that I’m complaining about this final exam. Almost ashamed. I mean here I am acting like this final is the biggest burden of my life while kids in places like Syria are living in daily fear that either them or one of their loved ones will be permanently silenced by the inferno of an explosion or the deadly penetration of a bullet. Innocent lives are lost everyday for no reason and all I can do is sit here and watch. It reminds me that I’m so privileged and blessed to be where I am, doing what I’m doing and to have such a strong support system in my life. Sometimes I wonder how and why I ended up with the life I currently have and not as a young man of Muslim faith desperately seeking refuge, or a child somewhere in an impoverished region of an African country living on pennies a day. Or as a young farmer born in the isolated North Korea. Or as the son of a wealthy billionaire in California. Or as one of those brutally murdered in the recent, atrocious Paris attacks. Only God knows. The most I can do is accept where I am and help to provide healing and peace to the world, something I still don’t know how to do on a large scale. Crazy things happen in this world every day and I’ve become numb to a lot of it, but this recent massacre in Paris has been weighing on my mind as of late. After hearing about it Friday afternoon, I first thanked God that my family in Paris and in France were safe. Then I actually fell into a mini-depression the rest of the day. I was left wishing there was something I could do to prevent things like that or the Syrian Civil War from happening, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Why can’t some people just see each other as people? Why can’t they recognize that we are all the same in that we are different, and as human beings we are united? Why do we have to discriminate against and negatively stereotype each other in order to make ourselves feel better? Why do some of us insist on turning this magnificent planet into a terrible world? Hell, why can’t we all just get along? It’s highly frustrating to me that a concept as simple as love cannot be universally realized in this world; a world that has already been sprouted from the roots of greed, insecurity and pride. Of course, there is plenty of good happening in the world, but it usually gets overshadowed by the widespread evil coursing through a good portion of the people that inhabit this planet.

But I’m most likely preaching to the choir here. I’m just rambling my current thoughts. There is really no point in adding my two cents to the many issues that we are all presently facing right now. I’m just another guy with another opinion. Opinions by themselves don’t do a damn thing. Actions are what catalyze change. I don’t know if the world will ever be peaceful and equal. Human nature just won’t allow it. But we can continue to work to get as close to that goal as we can. It pains me that the most I can do is pray for the current state of the world, but if that’s all I can currently do, I’ll pray my heart out.

Y’all be blessed and have an incredible week!

– Black Man, M.D.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

Final Push!

TEN MORE DAYS.

That’s what’s separating me from now and freedom. Well, freedom from anatomy. Biochemistry is right around the corner but we won’t talk about that right now. Just ten days. Granted, I gotta take two different tests in this ten-day span but at this point I don’t even care. I’ve finally developed a study groove in anatomy and I plan on finishing strong. Bring on test #4. Bring on that CAS Cumulative Final Exam. Speaking of which, who’s idea was it to have a cumulative final exam on 12 weeks of jam-packed anatomy FOUR DAYS AFTER our fourth exam?? Like, how could someone possibly cram details of the whole body in four days, especially right after taking an exam? I don’t know what kind of games they playing or what they’re smoking. But it’s gotta be done. So this is what I’m going to do. I’ll give it my all once again on my next exam this Friday and then I won’t stress about the final. Sure I’ll study during the four days before it, but I’m not going to kill myself over it. As a matter of fact, I’ll mix some Bernie Mac Show, Netflix movies, college football and FIFA into my studying. That’s the beauty of pass/fail y’all. If I do decent enough on the test before my final, I don’t have to worry about scoring high. Shiii, it may even be possible to score a zero on the final and still pass the class. Granted, I’m not scoring a zero…I literally won’t allow myself to tank a test on purpose lol. But I also won’t spend 18 hours a day trying to digest material that I spent the last 11 weeks learning at an accelerated pace. You see, I’m convinced they’re playing mind tricks y’all. Alongside learning the art of medicine, I’m convinced some of the faculty wanna see us stress and struggle as well as observe how we handle all the stress they put on us. They not gonna stress me tho! No suhhh, NOT ME!! I’m really about to be on that “work smarter, not harder” grind during the four days before the final. They really got me all f-ed up if they think ima be posted in the library studying till 6 AM like it was the USMLE Step 1 exam.

So yeah, ten more days and I’m done with anatomy. It’s come to the point where I’ll be unconsciously naming muscle groups in my head while I’m lifting weights. I even go as far as trying to figure out what arteries and nerves supply the muscles I’m working on. That’s when you know it’s gone too far. Anatomy has taken over my life y’all. 😳 If I had this same study mentality in college, I know for a fact that I would’ve gotten summa cum laude. But I also had a much bigger social life in college, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world lol. Enough about anatomy. In regards to the practical skills that I will actually use as a doctor, I’m finding that I’m starting to feel more confident in patient interviewing. I don’t know what it is about taking a patient’s history, but I was having a good amount of trouble at first trying to keep a conversation flowing while remembering what specific questions to ask and how to specifically ask them. So I ended up getting additional practice with my clinical skills coaches, because although I’ve been told my personality has been helping me with my patients, my patient interviewing skills were pretty sub-par. Which means your boy can only go up from here and shoot for Most Improved! The more I practice patient-interviewing, the more I realize that the whole process is a game, in a way. You see, you gotta go in there hella confident and have the purpose of getting the patient to trust you while you are getting to know the patient. Confidence is key because even if you are only four months into medical school, the patient is going to see you as a doctor of some sort since you have a white coat on. Then as you’re learning from the patient, you gotta hit the key points of the interview:

  • When did your symptoms first start?
  • How long have you been dealing with your pain?
  • Where exactly is the pain located/Where is the pain radiating?
  • How would you describe the pain? (Quality of pain)
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bad is the pain? (Quantity/Severity)
  • What are some activities that alleviate the pain?
  • What are some activities that aggravate the pain?
  • What are some associated symptoms of your condition?
  • How is the pain impacting your quality of life?
  • What were you doing when you first noticed the pain?
  • Have you had any past experiences with your current condition?

And each time questions are answered in the interview, you get points. The more points you get, the better your chances of winning the game when you have to give a patient presentation. Trick is, you have to ask these questions without coming across as cold or disassociated from the patient’s emotions. You have to let the patient have some control over the interview and show them that you care if you want to get as much information as possible. But you see how hard it is to remember all that while trying to hold a regular conversation with the patient?? Okay maybe you don’t, but I found it very challenging. And that’s just the history-taking portion! In real life, I’ll have to do a physical exam, a separate family and social history, a past medical history, a review of systems and a treatment plan.

I think my problem was that I gave the patient way too much time to talk about his/her life and that I couldn’t necessarily redirect the interview to where I needed it to go. Hell, the last two patients I interviewed ended up crying mid-way thru the conversation. That’s where my empathy skills shined bright. It goes to show how human the patients are and how as doctors we have to remember that we are treating more than a disease; we’re treating a human being with a disease that is impacting his/her overall life. I definitely plan on keeping my empathetic skills strong, and I’m glad to say that I’ve been recently doing better gleaning vital information from the patients I’ve been interviewing. As a matter of fact, one of the patients I interviewed made me promise to her that I would keep my bedside manner and active listening skills as I grow into a doctor. So I intend on keeping that promise.

I mentioned patient presentations earlier. That’s when you go to your team and present to them the information you got from the patient. I had to do that for the first time last Thursday and mannn was that a challenge. My clinical skills coach didn’t even give me time to gather my thoughts 😐. There’s actually a certain way you have to present patients and the presentation comes with certain terminology. I was forced to think quick and use the notes I hastily scribbled down during the interview to come up with a presentation. I’m not sure if that’s how patient presentations work though, I could have sworn doctors had more time to organize their notes before presenting…

Oh and I am also currently learning how to do patient write-ups, which is where we write a formal description of the patient that includes the answers to all the questions that we asked them in the history-taking portion of the patient interview. The overall write-up also includes the other parts of the patient encounter such as the physical exam review, the family and social history, the past medical history, the review of systems and the treatment plan for the patient. But we’re taking baby steps right now, so I’ve only done the HPI (history of present illness), family/social history and review of systems portions. I thought it was simple enough to write a description of the patient, but I’ve been ripped both times I’ve submitted a write-up so far lol. I’m not sure if my coach is just being hard on me or if my write-ups actually suck, because I genuinely thought I was doing a good job on those. 😅 Well we all gotta start somewhere right? I’d rather suck and learn valuable advice now than go into my third-year with no prior clinical experience. Shoutout to Wake for having us interact with patients often throughout our first two years of medical school, this experience is really helping me out.

Alright, I’m finished.

Thanksgiving needs to hurry on up and get here.

Have an incredible week everyone! Stay positive and focused on your goals! Be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Shoutout to everyone back in Miami that got tapped into Iron Arrow!! I was very excited to see all of the new members of the tribe! I wish I was there for the tappings and for Homecoming…nevertheless, Welcome to the Tribe! Y’all deserve it!!!

Still Chugging Along

Shoutout to this extra hour we got today!

Because of this extra hour, I was able to get through this past Friday’s lecture, get my laundry done, cook my lasagna, write this post, and STILL have time to continue studying tonight. And the best part is, I woke up at noon! 😏

One thing that always annoyed me about Daylight Savings is the fact that it gets dark so early…but now that I’m always up by 7 AM, it will actually be nice to have the sun halfway out by the time my alarm slaps me out of my dreams. I usually study my afternoons and nights away regardless, so it doesn’t really matter to me anymore that it’s going to get dark early. Plus it’s getting cold outside so you won’t catch me enjoying nature after class or anything. So again, shoutouts to this extra hour!

Also, about that MIRACULOUS final play of the UM vs. Duke game last night…yooooooooo I’m still trippin’ over it. I damn near lost my voice watching it because I was mad that they started lateral passing….I was yelling at my screen because I really thought it was gonna all end on some BS…but then I was like, “this could ACTUALLY work”….and then by the time Elder started sprinting to the endzone to score, I had lost my mind. It didn’t help that I already had a bit of Ciroc in my system (s/o to Diddy). The best part of it all was that I was watching it with a couple Duke fans that were talking hella mess right before the kick return because they were up by one point with eight seconds left. The football team really needed that win, considering the insane week they’ve been having. (R.I.P. Dana Smith). It’ll also give them the confidence they need to smash UVA this weekend at Homecoming. (I’m still hella salty I’m missing Homecoming this year…but there’s always next year. SMH.) But anyways, that whole scenario definitely made my night, even if it was a hella controversial call. If y’all wanna talk controversy, let’s talk about why we don’t have six national titles…

That win made my already great weekend that much better. Between being Trinidad James (LMAO) at the Halloween party that Wake threw and going to WSSU’s (Winston-Salem State University) homecoming party, it ended up being one of the better weekends I’ve had so far in good ol’ Winston-Salem. You would be surprised at how much free time you can make for yourself in your first-year of med school if you schedule your studies and commitments right lol. Too bad I probably won’t have that much fun on a weekend again here until who knows when. *Sigh.*

I’m glad to say that I have 17 days of anatomy left until I’m finally done with it all. It has been a rich experience and I’m happy to say I’ve learned a ton of useful information…..but I’m over it. I like learning in lab and all too, but I’m also over going to mandatory labs to dissect. Shiii, I just need a little break from medical school in general. Thank God for Thanksgiving. I’m so ready to go home and chill for a little while. It’s taking all I have to get through this last section of anatomy. As for the test on the head & neck region that I took a little over a week ago, it ended up being by far my best test as of yet! Turns out those brain lesion artery questions and the nerves on the practical didn’t end up tanking me. 😎 So that makes my personal record 2-for-2 now, I’m keeping the streak alive!! Let’s see if I can top this score on my next test… 😅

Well, that’s all I got today. Gotta get back to studying, it’s gonna be another long week since the faculty wanted to pack our schedules with afternoon classes (again) along with lectures and labs on the arms, and eventually legs. However, I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor I got paired up with at a faculty/student mixer later on this week, so that’ll be nice. Even though I know what my interests are in and what I’ll need to do in order to get where I want to be, it will be nice having an ophthalmologist dedicated to my personal and professional growth in medicine.

Lastly, to everyone going through the application cycle for medical school, STAY STRONG!!! Trust yourself, you’ve already made it this far!

Y’all have an awesome week! Thanks for reading!

– Black Man, M.D.

Gratitude, Health & Stereotypes

First off, shoutout to all of you that actually read these blog entries. People have actually stopped me and told me how much they loved reading my blog, which pleasantly surprises me every time. Some have even told me they look forward to reading what I post every week! It may just seem like a nice compliment, but it actually means A LOT to me to see that my classmates, old friends, and family really enjoy reading these posts. Typing my thoughts out is really helping me organize both my experiences in medical school and my mind in general. I always have a thousand things going on in my head and don’t really know what to do with it all, so this is helping quite a bit. I also hope I’m helping to inspire or motivate somebody out there in some way by pouring my thoughts out here. That’s becoming a bigger goal for me with these posts, because I know how it feels to be inspired…it can completely change your life. So to everyone that is keeping up with this blog and spreading the word about it, I APPRECIATE YOU!!!

Now about this test I took a couple days ago…

It was definitely harder than I thought it was gonna be. I felt that I had adequately prepared for it, but mannnn those brain lesion artery questions got my ass. That was the one thing I kind of skimmed over while studying…and I got like 10 questions about them. 😐 Plus they asked some questions in the weirdest ways and had strange answer choices. And y’all would be hella surprised at how many nerves we got in our heads. Bruh. They tagged SO MANY different nerves on the cadavers in the practical portion. Had me looking at those poor dead faces like:

All I can say is that I did my absolute best on that test. I’m not afraid that I failed or anything (failing isn’t an option, I worked too damn hard to get here), but I also don’t know if I did better than I did on my last test. You see, I’ve been playing this game with myself where I try and see how much higher of a score I can get on a test compared to my previous one. I’ve had a hot streak so far (1-for-1) and I’m not tryna break it lol. But we’ll see. It wasn’t a terrible test, because there was a good amount of info I was sure about…thing is, you tend to just really remember the shit that tripped you up.

Oh well.

At least I’m about to be done with anatomy after this last block! This last section is dealing with the arms and legs, which hopefully will be less intensive than the head & neck region we just got tested on. But because its supposedly less intensive, we got extra clinical skills sessions, case-centered learning sessions and medical ethics discussions packed into these next two weeks as well. The faculty were pretty much like, “Y’all thought y’all was gonna get off that easy?? Nahhh B, lemme serve you some more stress.” I swear they be laughing at us man. Smh. I just can’t wait till I get to see my girl again in a few weeks and to see my family during Thanksgiving. They’re slick getting me thru this last stretch of anatomy.

On another note…

I’ve been reading up on Black Man in a White Coat by Dr. Damon Tweedy, and he’s been saying some pretty interesting stuff regarding his experiences as a medical student in the 90’s at Duke. As a matter of fact, he’s talked about a few things that I can already relate to. One thing that happened to stick with me was when he talked about how “healthy” he was because of the fact that he had been skinny all his life and that he also played basketball on a regular basis for exercise. He admitted to having a “high-salt” diet and to not eating as healthy as he should be eating, but he never thought twice about it because he had a high metabolism and never really gained any weight. So he shouldn’t have anything to worry about right? Turns out sometime during his first year in medical school while he and his classmates were learning how to take a blood pressure reading, a classmate took his and found it to be at a hypertensive level. Not only that, but he learned that he was starting to have symptoms of kidney disease. After learning all that, he became highly distressed and started eating healthier as well as supplementing the exercise he got from playing basketball with running. He eventually got down to a normal blood pressure (120/80) and became much more interested in hypertension and why it was 50% more common in black people than in white people. He found different reasons that ranged from evolutionary scientists theorizing that the African slaves that were best able to retain water during the Atlantic journey to America were able to survive and pass along their genes (in the modern world, retained water can increase blood pressure in blood vessels) to public-health writers that commented on how a good proportion of blacks suffered many inequities in the health care system as well as on their “cultural differences in dietary and physical activity patterns.” The young Dr. Tweedy also started doing research with a faculty member that focused on lifestyle-based approaches on treating hypertension and heart disease.

When he talked about how “healthy” he was based on his weight and appearance, it stuck with me because that’s how I’ve been personally judging my health for years…I figured as long as I went to the gym regularly, avoided trans fats and maintained my weight range, I’d be good to go. But I’m learning that there is much more to good health than feeling healthy. It sounds very simple and intuitive, but here I am assessing my health based on appearance while blinding myself from other vital signs that matter. With an unhealthy diet, you can be as fit as a beach model and have a blood pressure of 150/100. It’s kinda scary ain’t it? Turns out one of the measures of gauging your true healthiness is taking your blood pressure and keeping it at a safe level. Reading what Dr. Tweedy had to say on that has also made me a bit more conscious of what I put in my body because I found that I have a pretty high-salt diet too…and when I practiced blood pressure readings with my classmates earlier this semester, I had a bit of a higher blood pressure reading than normal…😰😰😰. Now I’m finding myself examine in detail the sodium content of every food item I buy and I’m realizing there is a TON of salt in almost everything I like to eat. Great. Now I gotta cut back on homemade quesadillas, ham sandwiches, meatballs, and all the convenient processed foods I’ve been eating for so long. Ima have to be eating a damn apple for lunch and lettuce for dinner.

One more thing that has been randomly on my mind recently is the issue of racial categorization in America and across the world. I honestly don’t get it.  How can you try and categorize a person’s ethnicity based on appearance alone? Who comes up with the rules regarding what a person’s ethnicity and race is? Is a white woman who was born in Ghana and whose parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lived in Ghana not an African woman? Or is she still labeled as Caucasian because of her appearance even if the only culture she associates with is the Ghanaian culture? Or is an Asian-American man who only knows Swedish culture and whose ancestors happened to come from Sweden not Swedish because he has the ”stereotypical features” of an Asian man? How many of y’all automatically assumed I was talking about a Chinese-American man when I said Asian? Isn’t a man from India technically an Asian man? Or can a black woman born and raised in Germany not automatically be assumed as German because of the color of her skin? Does an American-born black woman with Japanese, Egyptian and French blood running thru her veins have to still check the African-American box because simply because she’s black? Is she not 1/3 Japanese, 1/3 Egyptian and 1/3 French? Or is she also “part-American”? Or is being American classified as a culture? Why does she have to be fractioned, can she not be 100% Japanese, 100% Egyptian and 100% French? Again I ask, who the hell controls these categorizations?? Are stereotypes really powerful enough to allow us to judge one another’s characteristics and nature based on appearances alone? Better yet, is the media responsible for reinforcing the stereotypes that control the way we think about one another? Does the media take certain aspects of different cultures, attach them to people of that culture and create the stereotypes that are ingrained in each of our heads?

Hell, maybe I’m crazy. I’m here asking questions that very few people, if any, actually have the true answers to. But it does get you thinking. I mean, I’m just as guilty when it comes to assuming what someone’s personality traits are based on appearances alone because I’m human like everyone else. I’m exposed to the media that everyone else is exposed to on a constant basis. I’ve had countless people tell me numerous things about people of other races and ethnicities throughout my lifetime. But I’ve made it, and continue to make it, a mission to break the habit of assuming what other people are like whenever I can by meeting new people and learning from their experiences and their respective cultures, which in turn helps to hopefully improve their ingrained perceptions about people that look like me. I just believe that there is much more to each human being on this Earth than their appearance. Each person has a story that is made up of a collection of their thoughts, experiences, habits, overall culture, etc. Will every person in the world realize that? Probably not. All I can do is continue to break down negative stereotypes and try to show people that we are all much more than what we look like.

That’s all I gotta say on that, thanks for listening to my rant. 😁

Now I gotta figure out what I’m gonna be for Halloween.

Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

Where Has The Time Gone???

Bruhhhh my little brother turns 19 tomorrow…😳😧😰

Where has the time gone?? I still distinctively remember when I was 19, living out my sophomore year of college without a care in the world. Okayyy I cared a little. Had to keep up my GPA to keep my scholarship…and to make sure I became a doctor…but still, I was having an awesome time. I remember telling myself how grown I was…which means my little brother is pumping himself up on how grown he is. Thing is, he’s actually a man now…that’s crazy to me.

What happened to the good old days man?? Back when my biggest stressor was deciding what starter Pokemon I should pick on my Game Boy Advance? Or what character I should choose to whup my brother’s ass in any given Dragonball Z game on PS2? Or even missing most of my Saturday morning shows because my mom STAYED making us clean the house from top to bottom? Shiii, I wouldn’t mind relieving some of my childhood experiences for a day or two…life was so easy back then. I wasn’t worried about trying to differentiate between the tensor tympani and tensor veli palatini muscles or about trying to figure out the innervation of the 12 cranial nerves and its a-thousand-and-one branches. Only branches I knew back then were the ones I used to climb on…*deep sigh* 😔

Well I’m now 22 and I got my third anatomy test this Friday. Talk about a stressor. However, now that I know that anatomy grades don’t really matter in the long run and aren’t even high-yield for the Step 1 Board Exams, I’m not really trippin’. But anatomy still isn’t something you can just glaze over and BS. You do that and you’ll fail. Quick. So I might as well keep doing the best I can do since it’s been working for me so far. But ima be real…as of right now, I ain’t ready for test at all lol. But I do know that I’ll be good come Thursday night, because when you keep telling yourself failing is never an option, you eventually end up believing it and you tend to find ways to make things go the way you want it to. Sooo I’m not ready, but I simply refuse to fail, so I’ll find a way to not only pass, but do better than I did last test, Lord willing.

I’ve also come to realize that there’s a general pattern to this anatomy BS. We go in the first day of a new block and our lecturers throw hella info at us, expecting us to whine and pull our hairs out about it while they (most likely) smirk in their offices. That whole first week of the block, a majority of us are complaining to each other about how completely lost in the sauce we are. I’m usually asking myself “how the hell am I gonna learn all this??” Then I laugh to myself in a delusional manner and hit the gym. Second week comes around and I’m starting to very slowly piece certain things together while going thru all the lectures and labs getting hurled at us. I’m still pretty lost at the beginning of this week, but I’m lost in a more confident and upbeat way. By the end of the second week, I feel like I have a little more than a basic understanding of the material because I realize that although we continue to get new lectures, there is a lot of repetitive information that ends up getting drilled in my head. Then the third week (exam week) hits and we STILL learning new material, but by this point I’m screaming to myself, “only ___ more days until my free weekend!!” Then Thursday night I have a nice chat with the Father before going to sleep earlier than usual. On Friday morning, I throw another Hail Mary prayer before I click Start on my exam. By Friday afternoon, I feel like Diddy. Then by Sunday night of the same weekend, I’m silently weeping myself to sleep about starting the cycle all over again the next day.

It’s all good though, because after this upcoming test I’ll have one more block of anatomy!!! 😄

Then Biochemistry starts and I’ll have to start listening to three-hour lectures while taking notes on 100+ Powerpoint slides.

Honestly, other than having made some incredible friends here and having an enormous amount of support from old friends and family, only reason I’m getting thru all of this with a smile on my face is the fact that I continue to put time aside to volunteer for various things. It reminds me that the world is very much alive outside of the four walls that tend to trap me more often than I would like. I actually started participating in a once-a-week tutoring initiative this past week called Project TEACH through the SNMA (Student National Medical Association) group at Wake. I went in last Tuesday thinking that I would be helping out underrepresented high school kids that were having trouble with their school assignments….but I quickly found out as I walked in my first session that we would actually be helping out not-so-underrepresented gifted middle school children. I admit, I was a bit confused because I did expect quite a bit more diversity, and the kid I ended up getting paired with was smart as hell. He’s actually a pretty funny kid with a very thick Southern accent that loves to fish and hunt, both of which I have actually never done 😅. It was a good time though, we vibed for a while after I helped him a bit with his homework. I have a feeling that tutoring him is going to be a blast. I also get to be a role model for a young guy that doesn’t look like me, which I find to be a pretty cool and unique experience. I would also love if we could add some color to the mix of students, because I know that if I had come, as a young black middle school kid, to a nice tutoring facility and saw some medical students that looked like me trying to achieve great things with their lives while taking the time to make sure I was doing alright in school, I would highly appreciate it. I would even internalize it. Who knows, it could potentially spark a flame of ambition in my young mind.

Another thing that’s been keeping a smile on my face is hearing all the good news about friends that have already gotten interviews and even acceptances from medical schools around the country! CONGRATS to all of you already hearing back from medical schools, y’all highly deserve it!! It really makes my day every time I hear about someone I know getting either an interview or an acceptance because Lord knows I know the feeling. Especially that feeling of your first acceptance. It’s amazing to think that I was applying to schools as well as painfully waiting for replies around this time a year ago. At that time, I had absolutely no idea what my future would look like, much less where I would end up. Hell, I didn’t know until six months ago if I would even be going to medical school this fall. (The MCAT can go to hell. t(-_-t) ) So to all of you that may be painfully waiting right now to hear back from schools and may be painfully waiting for the next few weeks or even months ahead, keep your head up. Anything can happen at any given moment. And congratulations on having the drive to get thru the MCAT and the application cycle, that in itself is a feat to be proud of. Not everyone is blessed with that gift.

And to all of you going on interviews, honestly just be yourself. It’s cliché as hell but it’s cliché for a reason. It works. You already know all the answers to the questions they’re gonna ask you because you’re the only person that’s lived your life. If they’re putting time aside to talk to you, they want you at their school. All they need you to do is talk about yourself, and ask them questions about their job and institution. Think about how hard it is to screw that up. So don’t stress about it, just do it! Plus there’s plenty of stress to choose from after you make it into your school.

With that said, GOOD LUCK to all of you applying to medical schools! Patience and persistence is key!

Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

Gotta Keep Pushing…

So I took a morning stroll today to CVS. It was a nice, brisk morning, not too hot and not too cold…it was pretty chill. It was also a very slow morning. Winston-Salem is the kind of city that has traffic lights on every corner because it wants to act like it’s poppin’…thing is, I saw like three cars on the road this morning. And it was 11 AM. But anyway, the walk to CVS and back gave me time to do some reflection and goal-setting while appreciating my surroundings. It reminded me of when I used to take walks to Sunset down in Miami, minus the drowning in my own sweat under Miami’s unforgivable sun.

I actually don’t have a good reason as to why I wrote that. I just figured I’d tell y’all I had a nice walk this morning. You tend to walk a lot when you don’t have a car…you’d be surprised at how far your two legs can take you.

In other news…

I’ve been dealing with Anatomy for seven weeks now. It’s not getting any easier, but it’s not getting much harder either. It’s just a steady monsoon of information thrown at us every day…it’s actually starting to get old. Learning about the body is cool and all but I’m starting to get tired of these lectures and labs. It’s just the same thing every day, go to lecture, go to lab, fall behind all week and catch up on the weekends. I don’t hate anatomy or anything, I actually like dissecting in anatomy lab. Maybe it’s not actually anatomy I’m getting tired of…maybe it’s just this repetitive cycle of doing the same damn thing over and over again that’s wearing me down. Maybe it’s also the fact that I haven’t left this area since moving down here in July. I’m used to being up and about, but I haven’t done much of that since I’ve been here because Uber and my two legs can only take me so far. Shiiiii if it wasn’t for great friends that offered me rides on a constant basis, I probably would never leave my apartment. And that’s just a sad life man.

Screw what I said earlier, I’m definitely getting sick of learning new anatomy on a constant basis. I’m so ready for the next block of material, which happens to be Cellular & Sub-cellular Processes (AKA Biochemistry). Never thought I would be saying that since it was the BANE of my existence my senior year of college, but at least I have a background in it…which means I won’t be lost and gasping for help every time I go to lecture…

But that’s weeks away. Gotta deal with things one day at a time. These weeks tend to fly by anyway whether I would like for them to or not. I did get to play doctor last week for that clinical experience “exam” I was talking about last post! It was kinda cool, I had a patient interview and then literally performed a 20-minute physical examination that included the lungs, heart, abdomen and extremities. I’m amazed I didn’t forget any part of the physical exam…makes you appreciate how much your doctor has to remember whenever you go in for a checkup. The best part about the whole experience was that I didn’t have a damn clue as to what I was doing. I was just literally going thru the motions that I was taught and feeling for pulses like I could actually tell my patient about his health or something. But that was good enough for my evaluator, who said I did a great job with the exam and the interview 😅. He made a strong point about liking my personality too, and told me to feel good about myself. So I did.

Turns out he was just warming me up for those burning flames of criticism.

RIght after he pumped me up about how personable of a doctor I will become, he hit me with that “HOWEVER.” He then proceeded to very nicely rip me apart on my history-taking skills. Good thing I’m not sensitive and that I’m one to fully appreciate feedback, because he was very much sonning my ass on how to take a good history from a patient during the patient interview. I actually learned a lot from what he told me and am glad he gave me ways to improve on that. And it turned out that I got to use his advice when I played doctor again a couple days later while taking a real patient’s family and social history in the hospital wards. It was a lot easier than I expected, because she was actually very happy to talk to me and she also literally spilled her life story on me. Taking notes while she was talking was a hassle though, I could barely keep up! I’ve finally come to realize that patient interviewing is not just simply talking to patients…it’s a complex process that takes hella practice. But it’s all good, I got a good four years to work on it, not to mention the fact that I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life. 😄

This past Saturday, I got the chance to do glaucoma screenings at a church. I was performing visual field, visual acuity and eye pressure tests on a number of people and was having a great time doing it! I tried sharing my enthusiasm with the patients I was testing. Thing is, they all spoke Spanish. I just ended up looking stupid trying to have conversations in broken Spanish, so I stopped trying after my second patient. Thank God for my translator. That lady was my savior for the three hours I was there. It was a great time though, and so was the dinner I had on Friday night with a number of upperclassmen of color. Talking with them gave me a much-needed reality check of my future in med school. Something that really stuck with me was the way they were talking about the USMLE Step 1 Board Exam. I already knew how important it was, but its still shocking how vital that test is. Like, that shit dictates your destiny. Your score can literally cut you off from a specialty that you want to pursue if you don’t score high enough. Worst part is, you can only take it once. There isn’t a round 2. You take it once and that’s it. One and done. Had me like:

As if getting into medical school and surviving the bull wasn’t stressful enough. But aye, can’t waste energy and time worrying about that right? Being afraid of the test will only make it even worse than it has to be…fear is a mind-killer. So I’ll deal with that challenge when I get there, I still have well over a year until I take that test. Just never thought that there was something potentially worse out there than the MCAT…or more challenging, depending how you wanna look at it. Matter of fact, I’ll start calling it a challenge, it kind of turns it into a game that I want to beat. Doing that will also help me stay positive about it, because I don’t got time for negativity or worrying. I just gotta trust I’ll be ready when the time comes. For now, I just gotta pass my next exam in a couple of weeks so I can hurry up and get closer to finishing anatomy.

So with that said, here I go with the start of another week.

Hope y’all start your week off strong! I also appreciate all the support y’all continue to give me! All those calls and texts I get from people checking up on me really mean more than you can imagine…they keep me optimistic and driven!

Stay blessed!!!

– Black Man, M.D.

Halfway thru Anatomy!

I can’t believe that I’m already halfway done with anatomy…

We literally started anatomy six weeks ago. The weeks have flown by like crazy…like I would go to sleep Monday night and before I knew it, I was waking up on Friday morning. But at the same time, I feel like our first day of anatomy (August 24) was a lifetime ago. Six weeks have passed but I feel like I’ve mentally aged about five years. It’s like I’m in some kind of time-warp shit, like I’m in the Matrix and I’m Neo. Or like I’m in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for any DBZ fans out there.

Okay that sounds kinda stupid. Just know that it feels weird.

Although I have half of the anatomy block under my belt, I still have another six weeks to go…which means two more tests plus a final CUMULATIVE exam. 😀🔫 Oh yeah and the final exam is FIVE DAYS after my fourth exam. That’s just cold yo. But that’s another topic for another day. I’m finding that my least favorite part about anatomy (other than repeatedly figuring out that damn near half of the structures in anatomy has multiple names 😒)  is the fact that I always have to gear up for another brutal three weeks of a different region of the body right after taking a test for the previous topic the previous Friday. It sucks because my favorite part about anatomy is finishing up a body region and the free weekend I have right after taking a test. So it just ends up becoming a cycle of straight bull. Also, this upcoming region we’re about to delve into is the head & neck. Maannn do you know how much crap is in the head alone?? The fact that we have a whole test dedicated to just the head & neck is baffling. The brain damn near controls everything. I don’t even wanna think about all the little bones, muscles and NERVES that we’re going to have to memorize…

On a dimly brighter note, the test that I took on the abdomen/pelvic/perineum region this past Friday was not as tough as the one I took three weeks ago, in my opinion. Well at least the written portion wasn’t. The practical portion, where we have to identify structures in different cadavers and on CT scans/tissue samples/bones, wasn’t too pleasant this time around, just like last time. But I felt like I answered more questions confidently this time around on the written portion than I did on the first test. I was so shocked that I spent another 20 minutes going over each of the 123 questions I had to answer. It was also weird because a number of my peers felt that it was really hard and I usually tend to agree with them since I have already gotten used to getting my ass constantly handed to me in medical school. But it was different this time around. I don’t think the content got any easier, and the questioning style didn’t change much from the first test either. Maybe my no-stress strategy is actually working? Maybe I’m actually learning how to study smarter???

I must admit, I focused my attention much more on overall concepts like how nerves actually work and the routes of blood flow, specifically what arteries supply which organs. I also made myself think more in terms of spatial relationships, which I think really helped for this test. Regardless of how I feel about the test, I’ll find out how I really did sometime this week when I get my grade back. I could be talking up all this hype and end up finding out that I barely passed. That’s tends to be a trend in med school.

Another thing to look forward to this week is the Clinical Practice Assessment Exam we have to take. To put it simply, it’s an assessment of how well we can interview a patient and perform a physical examination on him/her. I find it pretty cool that Wake has us learning how to interact with patients early on in our first year. Problem is, ain’t no way in hell I’m ready to perform any type of physical exam on a patient. I still have trouble getting an accurate blood pressure…but thank God it’s not a graded exam this time around. It’s more of an assessment of what we need to work on, so I’m about to get hella constructive criticism by the doctors observing me. I’m cool with it though, because I really want to be the best doctor I can be which means I need to get the patient interview and physical exam down cold. It’s just crazy how hard it is to get the process right and I really don’t want to mess up even if this is a formative assessment. You would think talking to a patient was easy…turns out there is a whole interview technique that we learn to adopt when it comes to talking to a patient and my biggest problem is trying to remember to do everything in that technique while actively listening with empathy and not looking like I’m actually trying to remember what I’m supposed to say. I’ve had to really swallow my pride and allow myself to screw up during our clinical skills sessions, and I’ll have to keep doing so for a long time until I actually perfect this skill. I’ve never been graded in this way before, so it’s a whole new adjustment to me and I’m probably psyching myself out about it more than I need to. Idk, i just like getting things down fast, especially a skill that I absolutely need for my future profession.

But hey, every failure is a chance to improve right? As a matter of fact, now that I’m reflecting on my thoughts, I’m reminded of one of my mantras:

The greatest mistake in life is being too afraid to make one.

So with that said, I’ll stop complaining. I’ll be fine.

One last thought. I’m coming to dreadfully notice that the more things I learn in medical school, the more things I realize I don’t actually know. I’ve learned a ton of info, but I’m also finding that I’m only left with more questions. Even after anatomy is all over, I still won’t know how exactly everything works in unison, much less how to fix things when something in the body goes wrong. Hell, everything I’m learning in lecture is based off a perfect body…something nobody has. It’s amazing to see how many of us live our everyday lives without actually knowing what our bodies are made of and how our bodies really work. I’ve really began to appreciate the human body and all its wonders and I wish that everyone actually knew what their bodies were capable of. But then everyone would be studying medicine and in debt. That being said, I’m still very much grateful that Wake Forest gave me a chance to pursue my passion. As much as I may roll my eyes at country-ass Winston-Salem and at the fact that I study damn near 24/7, I’m very much glad and honored to be in the position I’m in. Many would give anything to be where I’m at and I realize that. That’s why I try to not complain whenever things aren’t going my way, even when everyone around me feels like throwing shade on their experiences here. Ultimately, I made a promise to myself a while ago that I will make the most of my blessing and do what I can to help those that want a chance to prove themselves in medical school or in any other profession get that chance.

Okay I’m done.

Hope y’all have an outstanding week! Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S:  Black Man in a White Coat is really proving to be an interesting read!

Second Test, No Stress.

Can we talk about why everything in anatomy/medicine is SO hard to pronounce??

It’s like the scientists and doctors in years past just huddled together played the “How Hard Can You Make The Life Of Future Med Students” game. Brainstorming words like pancreaticoduodenal and ischiocavernosus and shiii…try saying preganglionic parasympathetic nerves five times fast. If you can, try saying it ten times fast while doing backflips, ya damn showoff. Lord already knows I pronounce regular words wrong all the time, now I gotta learn how to speak in medical language (PIG LATIN) without sounding illiterate. Smh. Whatever. I’ll be fine with sounding illiterate, I’m still gonna be a doctor lol.

But in other news, I’m finding it incredible that my brain is starting to get used to retaining a crazy amount of information at once. Like, I’m actually starting to learn how to study properly in medical school…or maybe just for anatomy. Although I kept my cool before my first exam a couple weeks ago, I was still pulling hairs out trying to figure out if I knew everything I needed to know. Now even with my second exam this Friday, I find myself strolling into anatomy lab everyday with a smile on my face. Maybe it’s confidence, maybe it’s the first signs of insanity. I don’t care. It’s either this or crying myself to sleep at night feeling like anatomy slapped me across my face.

I’m also amazed at the fact that I’m starting to make actual free time for myself during my marathon days of studying. Just last Friday, I went to a pregame, a party that the school threw for Homecoming and an after-party where I met Melissa Harris-Perry. Great times, great times. I’m also making time to volunteer for different organizations to help keep me involved in my new community. I started volunteering last week at a free clinic where I helped with vision tests and I’m going to start tutoring high-school kids in a couple weeks. Studying is vital to doing well in school, but I personally just can’t do that 24/7…I need to be doing other things to keep my mind fresh. It’s just how I’ve always operated. Plus I like to meet all kinds of people and learn how others see the world. Who knows, you could end up changing someone’s life for the better…or they could even end up changing yours. You’ll never know if you never put yourself out there.

Speaking of volunteering, I beginning to wonder what the hell I’m gonna do this upcoming summer. I don’t know if I should go abroad and help set up free clinics, stay in the country and do some ground-breaking research to try and get published, find a summer job and get some money, shadow doctors, chill and travel around, etc. People say it’s your last free summer, so I wanna make sure I spend it doing something I really want to do…but I have no idea what I want to do. I feel like I need to do something productive, which I have no problem doing…I just want to enjoy whatever it is I get myself into. I spent so much time and energy trying to get to medical school that I never thought about what I would actually be doing (other than studying) now that I’m here. I guess I got time to figure it out, but time is slick flying by. You’d be amazed at how fast you can make time pass by staring at notes and cutting up dead bodies in lab. Creepy as hell, but you get the point.

So yeah, back to this test on Friday…I plan on doing the best I can because that’s all you really can do in anatomy. Between the gastrointestinal system, the renal system, the anterior abdominal wall and the pelvic region, I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’ll never know every little detail by Friday…or ever. If I get the general concepts down cold, I’ll be able to make a good amount of educated guesses, which is what being a doctor is all about. No point in overly stressing myself out. Sooo I’m just gonna keep smiling, studying, and sending prayers up to God. 🙏

Positive Vibes!

– Black Man, M.D.

Another Week. 😒

Here goes the start of ANOTHER week of fresh, brand-new material to study.

SMH.

Is it bad that I’m not feeling as pressed about this new section of material as I was about the material before my first exam? Like my next exam is next Friday (Oct. 2) but I’ve been pretty chill about studying and I’m just more lenient with what I’m studying. Maybe it’s because I know how I’ll be tested so some of that beginner’s anxiety is gone? Maybe it’s because I’m finding more efficient ways to study? Or maybe it’s because I’m just starting to slowly burnout already?? Nahhh…It’s only been about a month since anatomy started, I can’t possibly be burning out. I’m actually all caught up in my studies from this week…or at least I think I am. We’ve gone through the whole GI (gastrointestinal) system and pelvic region in a week as well as had four lab dissections of the GI tract in the same amount of time. Try and imagine what that smelled like. 

But even with all that, I feel alright…almost like I’m starting to get used to the flow of medical school. Sure, waking up around 6:45-7:00 AM everyday sucks ass, but I’m also going to bed around 11 PM so that I can still get my 7-8 hours of sleep. I’m also starting to learn how to find what is going to be high-yield for exams in my notes, allowing for me to study more effectively. I’m really trying to learn the material not only to pass these exams, but to be a better future doctor overall…but it’s hard man. There’s just too much material to try and learn every little detail exactly, so I’m learning how to completely understand all the overall concepts while being at ease that I simply won’t ever know everything. Guess that’s just something you eventually learn while in medical school.

Something that’s been kind of bugging me though is the fact that I’m actually becoming an adult…as a matter of fact I technically am an adult. Not only that, but I literally went from college where people all around me were around my age to being the fourth youngest person in my class…damn near everyone around me is grown. I’m still tryna wrap my head around that. I feel like a small part of my mind is still down in Miami in college and is unable to accept the fact that I’m not a kid anymore. I’m in the real freakin’ world.

Ain’t no more dining hall bih.

Ain’t no more stroll-offs bihhh.

Ain’t no more free merchandise bihhh.

Just me, this crazy world and all this damn debt that I’m putting myself in. It’s still crazy to me that I have my bachelor’s from undergrad and even crazier that I made it to medical school on my first try by the skin of my teeth. Sometimes I wonder what I would have actually done if I had decided to take a year off…

I’m also trying to wrap my head around the fact that medicine is literally going to be the rest of my life. Like, I’m actually going to be working in the medical field until the day I die. This is going to be my job, my passion, my desire. This is where my place will be in this world. It’s honestly a surreal feeling. I’ve been working my whole life up to this point to make it into medical school and now that I’m actually here, I’ve really started to understand that this will be a lifelong journey. I just gotta make sure I make it worthwhile and that it doesn’t take away my sanity…

F- it, I’ll be good. I’m just airing out floating thoughts. Y’all didn’t help support me all this time just to see me get anxious about my future!

If there is NO struggle, there is NO progress.

Y’all have a blessed week!

– Black Man, M.D.