The Marvels of Leadership

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you now, this post might end up being one of my long ones. I already know that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get long-winded as I type about my experiences at the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference, where I spent most of this past week at. I’ll try not to write a novel about it all, but if you’ve been following this blog for some time now, you know that I’m more than capable of doing so without even realizing it lol.

So now that I’ve prefaced this post by saying that, let’s get started. 😊

Like I said, I spent the vast majority of last week at AMEC, which took place in Philadelphia this year. It was such a great time, although I was much busier at this conference than I had been in the other AMECs I attended these past couple of years. It also happened to be the 55th Anniversary of the Student National Medical Association, which only added to all the hype and fanfare surrounding this sold-out conference. Before I get into all of that though, I first want to talk about an unexpected experience that took place the day before I traveled to Philly, that of which has nothing to do with the conference. I literally just thought about it right now and figured I would share it with you since it was cool and all and it happened before I went to AMEC.

I had been in Chapel Hill the weekend prior to the conference and I had planned to stay there with my girlfriend until Tuesday morning, which was the day I left to go to Philly. On Sunday, she told me about an unanticipated rally that Beto O’Rourke was hosting at UNC the very next day and asked if I wanted to go while she was in class. I figured that I wouldn’t have anything to lose by going, but I also didn’t want to have to deal with the parking situation on campus…..plus I was busy getting ready for the conference and I didn’t really want to interrupt my day by going to a rally for a few hours. In addition, there are so many candidates in the Democratic primary race and I think that it’s far too early for me to throw my support behind someone, especially since I haven’t done a ton of research into each of their respective platforms. So with all that said, I decided that it would be a gametime decision.

Monday afternoon eventually came around and I finally made the decision to go and listen to what this presidential candidate had to say. I liked watching him speak on TV and I figured that it would be cool to hear him speak in person now that I was given the chance to do so. Plus like I said, I had nothing to lose. So off I went.

I got to campus, found a visitor garage to park in, walked across campus to the student union, and dropped my jaw when I saw the line to get into the building.

Bruh, it was so long.

It wrapped around the building and stretched deep into the courtyard. As I walked alongside all of these people in line, I started to become concerned that it was never going to end. When I FINALLY reached the end of the line, I just stood there in disbelief and was about two seconds from saying “screw this” and walking back to my car when the people in front of me started to engage in conversation with me. I then convinced myself that I would wait about ten minutes to see how fast the line moved before deciding if I was going to leave or not. Thankfully (and surprisingly) the line began moving rather quickly and before I knew it (actually took a little over twenty minutes), I was very close to the entrance. 😁

Then they halted the line.

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They informed us that there probably wouldn’t be space for the rest of us and offered that we could see him speak outside for a few minutes before he walked into the building. At this point, I didn’t care either way. I just wanted to see this man speak so that I wouldn’t be mad at myself for having made this trip to campus. So I stepped to the side along with a few other people and patiently waited for his arrival. Because I was one of the first people to decide to step out of line, I ended up being front and center of the small platform he was given to speak on. When he finally did arrive, I found myself literally a few feet in front of him. It was pretty cool, to say the least.

He spoke to the small group of us for a few minutes and then shook hands and took pictures and whatnot. I got the chance to shake his hand, look him in the eye and express my thanks to him for coming to speak to us. I wish I had been able to get a legit picture with him, but he was obviously being pulled in every direction and I only was able to get pictures of him with other people. I took a few selfies as he was speaking but I looked like a straight-up dweeb in them, so I’m not sharing them with y’all 😂.

All in all, it was a pretty cool experience and definitely not how I expected my day to go when I woke up that morning lol. I’m glad I took the time to go see him; I got to shake his hand, listen to him speak and I didn’t even have to spend that much time there because after he went inside, I just left. Now if I could have similar experiences with some of the other candidates and/or the Obamas, that would be spectacular. This is me speaking it into existence! 😉

What the hell, I’m at 1000 words and I haven’t even started talking about AMEC. See, this is what I was talking about at the beginning of the post; y’all should have just told me to shut up. Welp, I guess I don’t have any choice but to continue. 🤷🏿‍♂️🙃

I left for Philly on Tuesday afternoon and after hopping off my quick flight, I arrived at the hotel that I would be spending the next five days in. I already knew that it was going to be LIT the moment I walked up to my room and noticed that I had two doors as opposed to one.

Once I got settled into my suite, I grabbed dinner with a couple of friends and prepared myself for the events that would be taking place at the conference, starting with the community service event that was scheduled to take place the very next morning.

This event, the Healthy Attitude Summit, was co-sponsored by the SNMA and the Student Health Impact Project and its purpose was to engage with local high school students in order to help inspire them to pursue careers in the STEM fields. We engaged with them via interactive sessions where we taught them basic medical skills (CPR, blood pressure measurements, heart sounds, bag-valve-mask ventilation, splinting, etc.), introduced them to osteopathic manipulative techniques, taught them about vision & dental care and emphasized the importance of exercise and physical fitness. They also were able to listen to a few people speak, including a public health professional who talked about the power and inherent dangers of addiction. My main role throughout my time at the event was to float around, which pretty much meant to “get in where I fit in”. I found myself helping out at the CPR station, where I met some interesting high school students who impressed me with their high level of interest in the field of healthcare. I also got the chance to catch up with old friends as well as establish new connections with pre-meds and medical students while I volunteered alongside them. It was a great time!

I spent that afternoon at a Board of Directors meeting, where we talked about the business of the SNMA and kept everyone informed of what to expect in the next few days. There was going to be a huge influx of conference attendees the very next day, so it was important that we were all on the same page. After the meeting, I made my final preparations for the conference before going to sleep. I knew that I was going to be very busy this conference due to the fact that I was holding the position of Region IV Director, which meant that I was literally being held responsible for the MAPS and SNMA chapters in my entire region (chapters in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida & the Caribbean) when it came to business matters during the conference. So I had to make sure that I was at the top of my game by the time the attendees arrived. I had already made agendas for the regional meetings that I would be running, sent out all the documents that I deemed to be helpful for AMEC to the chapters in the region, and even created a GroupMe for all the conference attendees from my region (this eventually grew to include 250+ people) so that people could stay in communication with one another.

With all of this complete, I felt as prepared as I was ever going to be. However, I still didn’t sleep that well that night because I honestly was a bit nervous about how I was about to represent a whole region at the House of Delegates meetings and run two separate regional meetings as well as host regional elections, considering the fact that I had just unexpectedly taken over as regional director just two short months ago. I also knew that I wouldn’t be anywhere near as free as I was in prior AMECs to do whatever I wanted to do or to go to whatever sessions I wanted to go to because of my responsibilities as regional director, which bummed me out a bit. And lastly, I definitely planned on having fun at the nightlife events, so I already knew that I would find myself running on less sleep than usual throughout the conference, which would leave me feeling drained every day of the conference. With all of this in mind, you could probably imagine how much my mind was racing as I tried to fall asleep.

Turns out that I was pretty much spot-on with my predictions.

I was TIYYYAADDD, especially from Friday-Sunday. I ended up rallying throughout each of those days and making it to all of the nightlife functions, where I would spend a few hours at before crashing on my bed for another few hours only to get up and do it all over again. The vast majority of my time at the conference was spent at either the House of Delegates meetings, where the official business of the SNMA took place over the span of three days (including the elections of national officers), the Board of Directors meetings that took place both on Wednesday night and throughout the day on Sunday, my two regional meetings where I held regional elections as well as updated the regional members on the status of the region and touched on a variety of topics pertaining to our region, some other random meetings that I was pulled into, the AMEC Opening Ceremony, the President’s Luncheon, the Exhibitor’s Hall, and the Closing Banquet, where SNMA graduation took place as well as the delivery of regional speeches and chants (I gave one of those speeches 😄), the distribution of awards, the delivery of a keynote speech, and a variety of other things. Oh and I put together a compilation video of the ten regions, that of which was shown at the banquet! The video ended up coming together quite nicely, but maaannn getting that video to the tech team was a hell of a stressful ordeal that I don’t even feel like talking about right now….let’s just say that the people at the banquet were able to enjoy the video mere minutes after the tech team received it. Lol. I’m just glad that it all worked out. 🙏🏿 I did end up missing the graduation picture of all the fourth year medical students because of the ordeal though, but it’s all good. I probably wouldn’t have even been able to spot my face in the picture anyway. I did get my stole and walk across the stage thooo!!! 🙌🏿

Man, there’s so much that I could talk about regarding my experiences at AMEC but then I would be sitting here all day, fervently typing away. I gave about as decent of a summary as I could, and I still ended up typing up a novel that’s now well over 2000 words and counting. There were such dope vibes all throughout the conference, and I got to listen to some AMAZING, INSPIRING & INFLUENTIAL physicians speak while I was there. I also got the chance to catch up with a lot of old friends as well as make brand new ones, especially within the region I was leading these past couple of months. And lastly, I was able to successfully transition both of my leadership roles (External Affairs National Committee Co-Chair & Region IV Director) to my successors, so I’m officially off of the SNMA Board of Directors! Definitely a bittersweet feeling, but I know that the people I’ve transitioned power to will be phenomenal in their respective positions! Plus, I’ll still be in the background helping with transition stuff, so I won’t be completely ghost or anything. Oh and speaking of the External Affairs Committee, HUGE shoutout to my co-chair, Osose Oboh, for being elected as President-Elect of the Student National Medical Association!! That’s my co-chair, THAT’S MY CO-CHAIR!!! 🙌🏿🙌🏿🙌🏿

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Now that the conference is officially over (I was EXHAUSTED yesterday and ended up getting a smooth nine hours of great sleep after collapsing on my bed), I’m back in Winston kicking off my Intern Boot Camp experience. We were given a TON of great information today that I’ll share with you on my next post because I’m tired of typing. And you’re probably tired of reading. But you a real one, which is why I appreciate you! 😁🤗😄

I look forward to seeing what this week has to bring and to sharing my experiences with you next week! I hope that your week is a marvelous one!! To those of you who celebrate it, I hope that your Easter holiday was a gratifying one!

Also, please keep the families of the many people who were targeted by the horrific acts of terrorism in Sri Lanka in your thoughts and prayers. Words cannot even begin to express the sadness, anger, despair and anguish I felt when I first learned about that catastrophe. Like, what can you even do or say in the face of something like that? Smh. The world can be a scary place man. I’ll definitely be praying for them.

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I hope you all are ready for AVENGERS: ENDGAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Preparations.

Umm, okay……well……not much has changed in my life since my last post.

Your boy is still here making the most of the free time that has been afforded to him during this flex block. 😜

I flew back from Boston last Tuesday and have been hanging around both Chapel Hill and Winston since then. I’ve also been continuing to prepare myself as well as my region for the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference, which is taking place this week in Philly! Definitely excited about that, especially since it will be my last AMEC as a medical student. 😥 I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about my experience at the conference next week, so stay tuned for that post!

Although I don’t have much to update you with today, I do have a couple of things that are worth mentioning in this post. First off, my girlfriend and I did some apartment shopping yesterday in the Chapel Hill/Durham area and ended up being impressed by a couple of great places on our short list of complexes to visit. It was invigorating to explore new locations and to imagine what it would be like living in a brand-new community after having spent several years in Winston. It was also just as thrilling to consider the fact that I will now be in close proximity to my significant other after having spent the past four years in separate cities! 😄

What I’ll NOT be looking forward to is the actual process of moving all our stuff into a new apartment. God, I HATE moving. This is probably part of the reason as to why I don’t own a lot of things lol. I guess I just figured that the less I own, the less I’ll have to move. You may think that sounds stupid, but I don’t really care. I stand by my logic! 😤

The other thing I would like to mention is that I got the opportunity to be featured on a podcast a couple days ago! The podcast, Melan-In-White Coats, is one that was started by three medical students who wanted to use their unique platform to share their experiences as minority medical students with their audience while also discussing a variety of topics with invited guests on the podcast. On the episode that I was featured on, the host and I talked about numerous things, those of which included: sustaining a relationship while in medical school, the importance of giving back to the community, the growth of my blog, the scholarship that I just recently launched, my ambitions and expectations in the field of Pediatrics, and more! We had a great time chatting with one another as the time flew by, and we ended up inspiring one another to further expand our own respective platforms! Speaking on a podcast for the first time was a humbling experience, and I’m looking forward to sharing the episode with you all once it is officially up and running! 🙌🏿

That’s all I really have to say today. Short and sweet.

I hope that you have a delightful week! And to those of you who celebrate it, have an amazing Palm Sunday!

“You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it.” – Dr. Robert Anthony

– Black Man, M.D.

Life After Step

It’s OVER!! I made it to the light!

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

WHOOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!!!

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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.