The Waiting Game Begins…

Welp, there goes another week.

It pretty much flew by just as fast as the previous week did, and I don’t know how to feel about that. I’m loving my time in fourth-year right now and as they always say, times flies when you’re having fun. I don’t really want the rest of this year to flash before my eyes, so I’m trying my best to appreciate and live up each and every day from now until I start my residency training. However at the same time, I’m looking forward to beginning my residency training as an M.D. and to finally be someone’s physician. That’s an honor that I’ve been working towards tirelessly for a good chunk of my life now. As tough as the experience will be, I’m sure that I’ll work to appreciate each and every day of residency. Nevertheless, I’m a fourth-year now and as such, I need to be enjoying my hard-earned chill time!

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In other news, I stuck to my word and officially certified my rank list last week!

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Now that I’ve certified and submitted it, there’s no turning back. Wherever I end up matching is where I’m obligated to spend the next three years of my life training to become a fantastic Pediatrician. Up until this point, I’ve been busy securing good grades, gathering letters of recommendations, completing and submitting my residency application, traveling for interviews, and sorting out my rank list. I’ve just been straight-up busy working to secure my future all throughout my fourth-year. However, from now until March 15th, 2019, there’s nothing else for me to do but simply wait to see where all this labor and prayer will take me. It’s pretty wild, to say the least. In the meantime though, I’ll be finishing up my experience in my Immigrant Health/Public Health rotation and begin rotating through my last rotation of fourth-year, my Diagnostic Radiology elective. In addition, I’ll continue to update the blog, fulfill both my responsibilities for school and my ever-growing SNMA duties, and most importantly, continue to live out my best fourth-year life!

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I continued to benefit from some dope experiences during my third week in this rotation, some of which included attending a community meeting about taking action to promote the education and well-being of young children in the community, shadowing a community-based dentist, rotating through an STD clinic, a child abuse clinic (incredibly sad and gut-wrenching) and a travel clinic (I didn’t even know travel clinics existed…apparently you can go to a special clinic to get the information and immunizations you need before you travel abroad. The job also looked verrry chill…๐Ÿค”), attending an advisory board meeting where the topics of Medicaid transformation and safety net coordination in the community were discussed, and learning more about the control of communicable diseases (influenza, measles, zika, E. coli, norovirus, etc.) in the county by talking with people in the health department who worked specifically in the communicable diseases section of the department.

Like I said last week, I could go into detail about each of these interesting experiences, but then I would be here for a while writing an unnecessarily lengthy essay about each of them. Y’all know how long-winded I can get lol. This upcoming week is my last week in the rotation, which is a bummer because I’ve genuinely been having a wonderful time these past few weeks. But alas, all good things must come to an end. ๐Ÿ˜”

With that, I’ll go ahead and end this post here.

I hope that your week is a stupendous one!

โ€œWhatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us.โ€-ย Susan L. Taylor

– Black Man, M.D.

The Impact of A Decision

I must say, this week flew by pretty fast…I legit feel like I just finished typing up last week’s post. ๐Ÿ˜…

The completion of this week marks the halfway point in my current rotation, which means that I’m a week closer to Match Day as well as to graduation! People always say that this time period in fourth-year flies by especially fast and I gotta say, they WERE NOT lying. Like, we’re already approaching the middle of February 2019! This also means that the last day to submit my rank list is rapidly approaching (next Wednesday)!

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For those of you who don’t know the significance of that, it means that by next Wednesday I need to be 100% sure of which programs I want to rank #1, #2, #3 and so on. Once I submit this list, there’s no looking back. So as you can imagine, a ton of fourth-year medical students across the nation are currently stressing out about making an important decision that will directly impact their immediate future. I’m fortunate enough to say that I’m not necessarily that stressed about submitting my rank list because I believe that I’m going to end up wherever I’m meant to be and that I’ll do all I can to make the most out of my experience at whatever program I end up training at. That being said, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking, praying and talking with others in order to make sure that I’m making the best decisions I can for my list. I’ll probably work to get it finalized and sent in this week just so that I don’t have to worry about it next week. (I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if I missed the deadline to submit it…๐Ÿ˜ณ)ย After submitting it, I’ll chuck up a quick prayer and move on with my life. ๐Ÿ˜Š

As for my most recent week of my Immigrant Health/Public Health rotation, it was another great and informative one full of memorable experiences that I’ll be sure to carry with me as I begin my career as a medical doctor. I was afforded some more unique experiences throughout the week that I was able to appreciate, including attending a Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting within the Wake Forest Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Program in Community Engagement, helping treat low-income immigrants from various countries around the world, attending a Department of Health & Human Services board meeting where leaders in Forsyth County reviewed North Carolina public health law, recieved updates about various public health initiatives in the community and approved substantial budgets for public health programs in the county, experiencing first-hand how a WIC clinic functions on a day-to-day basis, observing how an ID card drive for undocumented immigrants operates in the community, and learning more about what the POSSE (Prevent Ongoing Spread of STIs Everywhere) program does in the community.

I could write in detail about each of these experiences, but then I would end up spending a lot more time typing up this post than I would like. What I will say is that as I worked with some of the low-income immigrants in the clinics I was rotating through, it was painfully obvious just how much harder it was for them to get adequate access to care. Not only did they have have a significant language barrier that they had to hurdle over, but they also had other additional barriers to care that you and I may take for granted. It was wild to hear about what a lot of them have to go through just to get by, but I’m glad that their struggles were reinforced to me. It definitely gave me some perspective that will prove useful to me in my career.

Overall, I really am glad that I decided to sign up for this rotation. The experiences that I’ve had so far and that I will continue to have these next two weeks will undoubtedbly impact how I practice medicine in my career. With all of the knowledge that I continue to acquire about the community throughout this month, I will feel much more empowered to connect my future patients to various resources that their respective communities have to offer.

That’s pretty much all I have to say for today. I have quite a busy day ahead of me now that I’ve recently (and unexpectedly) taken on the role of interim Region IV Director of the Student National Medical Association, a position that I’ll hold in conjunction with my position as one of the External Affairs National Committee Co-Chairs. While this new, temporary role just made me busier than I would have liked to be at this time in my fourth-year, I still have all intentions of living my best life on this final stretch of the school year!

Go on and make this week an outstanding one! And continue to revel in the awesomeness of Black History Month!

โ€œIf you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.โ€ โ€“ย Marcus Garvey

– Black Man, M.D.

A Different Angle

I’m only a week into my Immigrant Health/Public Health elective and I already love it! This unique rotation has been unlike any other I’ve had in medical school thus far. While I’ve been able to spend some time in clinics with various patients afflicted with conditions like HIV and Hepatitis, I’ve also gotten the chance to spend some time at the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, where I toured the facility and their in-house laboratory,ย  and learned about many of the resources that the county has to offer to its residents. I especially learned a lot more about the ubiquitous WIC (Women, Infants and Children)ย program, which I appreciated because although I knew what it was, I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on the details of the program as I should have as a future Pediatrician. ๐Ÿ˜…

I spent another day tagging along with Community Paramedicine Emergency Medical Services, where I got the opportunity to learn about the special role that these medical professionals have in the community. These medical professionals were seasoned paramedics, but their role as a community paramedicine EMS responder was quite different from what you and I would expect when we hear the acronym “EMS”. Instead of riding around in ambulances all day responding to 911 calls, these people moreso respond to acute calls concerning behavorial health, only responding to acute medical emergencies if it is absolutely necessary (i.e. an unforseen shortage in emergency responders in the community).

As they described it, the main reason as to why the county created their position a few years ago was to identify the people in the community who call 911 the most and find ways to reduce the call volume from them by connecting them to useful community resources that they may have otherwise never heard about. By doing this, the theory was that there would be a potential decrease in the number of unnecessary Emergency Room visits, thus saving time and money for everyone who was involved in the coordination of care. Over time, this group of paramedicine EMS responders have shown that their work does decrease the number of unnecessary visits to the ER and because they have been able to save the system money, they are increasing their team size in order to have a bigger impact in the community. It was cool learning about their unique role in the community and although there was a paucity of calls the day I was there (I only went on two trips), I am grateful that I got to appreciate the important work that they do. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ

According to my schedule for this upcoming week, I’m going to have even more experiences in the community than I did last week! In addition to rotating through infectious disease and refugee clinics, it looks like I’m going to be participating in community talks, board meetings, and an ID card drive with FaithAction for immigrants. I feel like it is about to be a very interesting week, with plenty of dope experiences to learn from.

I don’t really have much else to talk about today. I’m scheduled to help out with medical school interviews tomorrow morning, which should be pretty straightforward since I’ve already done this two other times this year. I’m also still working on my rank list, which I’m sure will continue to be a work in progress for the next week or two. Not gonna lie, life as a second-semester fourth-year medical student is pretty smooth. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

I hope that you have a terrific week!

AND SHOUTOUT TO BLACK HISTORY MONTH!!! WE OUT HERE!!! โœŠ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ”ฅ

โ€œSuccess is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.โ€ โ€“ย Booker T. Washington

– Black Man, M.D.

Final Quarter

Last Friday, I delivered my presentation on “The Pediatric Airway” and took my Anesthesia final exam (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL), thus officially ending my Anesthesia rotation. Now that I’ve powered through that experience, I’m about 3/4 of the way done with my fourth year!!

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Good God, time flies by so freakin’ fast. I now have only three more month-long rotations before I’m officially done with my final year of medical school and graduate with my medical degree from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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With my last three blocks being an Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, a Radiology elective and another “Flex Block”, this final stretch of the year should be somewhat of a breeze. However, there are quite a few important things to take care of throughout this time outside of my rotations. I need to complete and submit my rank list by February 20th in order to be eligible for the Match. Then there’s Match Day, the one day in the year where all the fourth-years across the nation find out what residency programs they have matched into. Then there’s the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference, which is taking place in Philly this year. Then I have to attend “Intern Boot Camp”, a two-week orientation session organized by my school for all the graduating fourth-year students. And of course, there’s the whole process of preparing for graduation and the transition into the next phase of my life.

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While these next few months will be more chill than the vast majority of my medical school experience was, it will still be a very busy time for me nonetheless. I didn’t even mention that I still have to carry out my obligations for the SNMA as well as put some dedicated time aside for blogwork. Since I’ll have more free time than usual, I definitely want to invest some of that time and energy into further enhancing this blog and figuring out how I’m going to move forward with it in residency. When I initially started this blog, my sole intention was to record my experiences throughout my time in medical school. Now that it has become so much bigger than I could have imagined, I have absolutely no intention on stopping the momentum that has propelled this platform into the lives of so many people. Aside from taking some time for both the SNMA and the blog, I definitely want to spend some time traveling to a few places for fun and also spend quality time with friends, family and my girlfriend. I’m real excited for what these next few months will bring, and am looking forward to the fantastic fourth-year life that has been promised to me for soooooo long!!

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I don’t want to take up too much of your time today, so I’ll breeze past some quick updates. The Anesthesia exam that I spent TOO MUCH time studying for was annoyingly specific and difficult. Who knows how that test went…I’m just mad that I actually read through ten chapters in two weeks, only to be asked questions that I would have never known the answer to, no matter how much I studied those chapters. I prepared a great presentation though, and it was on a topic that will be beneficial to me in the long run, so there’s that.

I had a meeting with Financial Aid last Wednesday about my loans and we discussed the options that I had to repay them. Looorrrrd, I’m going to need the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to come in clutch, because otherwise it’s very likely that I’ll be paying these loans off for the vast majority of my life moving forward. ๐Ÿ˜…ย That is, if I don’t end up doing any of the other forgiveness programs where I would practice primary care for a few years in specific locations after residency, which is a viable option as well. But with the PSLF, I will have the most flexibility with what I can do. Or I could just start up a wildly successful app and profit from that. Or invest in stocks early on in my residency that end up being wildly profitable later on in my career. Or win the lottery. Or find a sugar mama. My girlfriend wouldn’t be too fond of that idea though.

Lastly, I got to help out with Wake Forest SNMA’s 12th Annual Pre-Medical Conference yesterday morning, where I served as a greeter and welcomed various pre-medical students from across the region to the conference. Having volunteered at this event in various capacites in the past, it was a pleasure to be able to communicate with these students about my experiences as well as their own experiences thus far. Also, it was very heartwarming to hear that there were 200+ students that registered to this conference, making it the most attended pre-med conference out of the twelve that the school has hosted in the past! Shoutout to the Wake Forest chapter of the SNMA for organizing such a successful conference!

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That’s it from me today! I finally got my schedule for the first week of this new Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, and it’s not looking bad at all! I’ll let you know how this week ends up going in my next post!

Go on and make your week a glorious one! ๐Ÿ˜„

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” – Neil Strauss

– Black Man, M.D.

The Influence of Racism

First off, I want to give a shoutout to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as we celebrate his legacy as well as all the sacrifices that so many people in both the past and the present have made in order to guarantee everyone access to the civil rights that they deserve. While he wouldn’t be much too pleased about the current state of our country, he would be actively encouraging us all to fight for justice and to combat the racist & divisive rhetoric that is being spewed to us on a frighteningly regular basis. With that said, let’s continue to do our best to live up to the ideals that he believed in and work to make this country, as well as this world, a better place to live in!

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I spent the entirety of my weekend in Nashville, TN, at the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where members of the Board of Directors as well as pre-med and medical students in local chapters convened for a weekend of leadership sessions, networking, research presentations, and business meetings. Because it was my third one as a member of the Board of Directors, I already knew what the flow of the weekend was going to be like.

And sure enough, it was ridiculously busy.

Although I spent the vast majority of the weekend in board meetings discussing various matters pertinent to the organization, I did get the opportunity to sit in on a few sessions where physician-leaders of various disciplines spoke with us on topics such as what leadership in the SNMA looks like, leadership behaviors, addressing health disparities and racism as an executive, community organizing and using leadership for social justice. One common theme that kept resurfacing throughout the sessions of the conference was the powerful and negative impact that racism can have on one’s mindset. It’s almost mind-numbing to consider how something as arbitrary as race was turned into this whole social construct that was ultimately weaponized against specific populations for such an extensive duration of time that these minority populations ultimately came to believe and internalize the false and damaging stereotypes that were associated with their respective race.

I personally spent so much of my formative years internally struggling with this ordeal. Due to the media, my surroundings, the “Black” & “African” jokes and stereotypes I routinely heard throughout my adolescent years, I truly believed that Black people just simply weren’t “good enough” and that as a Black Man in America, I was supposed to be either an athlete, a rapper, an entertainer or something else along those lines in order to truly be successful. Even though I was fortunate enough to have an amazing support network and incredible parents who invested so much in me throughout my life, I still saw the intelligence I was gifted with as unusual, even embarrassing at times. I found myself desperately tryingย to fit in with what was considered to be “Black” as I went about my high school days and ended up suffering through an identity crisis. It didn’t help that I had a completely separate lifestyle back at home as a first-generation American.

It really wasn’t until I got to college that I began to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. My mindset about being Black also shifted dramatically during my undergraduate years and I ended up meeting many people who were just like me, including those who were raised by immigrant parents from various countries in the continent of Africa. I found strength in being Black and for the first time in my life, I was 100% proud of my heritage and of being a Black Man in America. I began to actively fight against the stereotypes that I had unconsciously internalized up to that point, instead finding traits such as resilience, wisdom, perseverance, courage and strength commonplace across the Black diaspora. I realized how troublesome it was to believe that being an intelligent Black Man could be seen as unusual and decided to not only be proud of who I was, but to also begin motivating and inspiring others like me to disregard the false stereotypes being placed upon us and to instead internalize the positive traits that we all have the ability to possess.

Even to this day, there are moments where I find myself having to mentally combat a stereotype I was conditioned to believe throughout my life. What’s so crazy about all of this is that even with the relatively comfortable upbringing that I had, I STILL went through all of this. I can’t even begin to imagine all of those young Black kids who don’t have the same resources I had growing up who have been conditioned to believe that they are inferior to others and that they don’t have the ability or potential to be just as great as, if not greater than, what they perceive to be as successful.

Yeah I know, I went off on a MAJOR tangent….but I felt that it was necessary to put all that out there. It was especially fitting, considering that it’s MLK Day.

Overall, the SNMA conference was pretty productive and I was able to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in months. However, I wasn’t really able to do much of any sightseeing of the city because I was so busyย ๐Ÿ˜”.ย Now that this leadership conference is over, it’s time to gear up for the national conference that everyone knows and loves; the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference! It’s taking place in Philly this year and I’m really looking forward to it, especially since it will be my final year participating as a medical student ๐Ÿ˜ญ. The past two AMECs that I’ve been to were phenomenal experiences and I have no doubt that this one will be just as awesome!

Briefly recapping my past week, I spent it experiencing various fields of Anesthesia while working on completing some of my required assignments. I spent one day working in Pediatric Anesthesia, another day observing what life performing procedures in a pain clinic looks like, and yet another day helping manage the airway of psychiatric patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. I even got the opportunity to push some necessary medications into them, which was a neat experience. In regards to the midterm I took on Monday morning…..it was pretty tough, but not as terrible as I was expecting. I got my score back a few days later and it definitely wasn’t the best I’ve ever performed, but more than enough to keep my chances of comfortably passing the rotation alive. I scored about what I was expecting to score, so I wasn’t really fazed by my result at all. I just want to now get through these required readings, deliver my PowerPoint presentation that I still have to finish working on, take the final this Friday and FINALLY be done with all these assignments that I REALLY DON’T want to do anymore.

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Speaking of, I’m going to go ahead and sign off so that I can start working on finishing this presentation as well as get through a chapter or two of my anesthesia textbook. *Sigh* C’est la vie.

I hope that your week is a delightful one!

“Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

So I got this Anesthesia midterm exam tomorrow and I have no idea how it’s going to go down. All I’ve heard about the exams on this rotation is that they were ridiculously hard (apparently it’s all resident/fellow level material ๐Ÿ˜) and that the questions on these exams were very nitpicky. After having read ten dense chapters of this “Basics of Anesthesia” book I’ve been lugging around these past couple of weeks, I can see why this midterm has the potential to be so difficult. I have no clue what questions I’m going to get, and there’s no way that I’m going to know everything that I’ll probably need to know for this test. There’s just way too much information to absorb. It also doesn’t help that I’m not that motivated to study day and night for it, not only because it feels pointless to do so (I’ve had so many people tell me how notoriously difficult it is, including Anesthesia residents), but also because I have no interest in going into this specialty and won’t be using the majority of what I’ve been learning after this rotation is over.

However, I’ve been mindful enough to seriously work on skills like establishing IV access, bag-mask-ventilation and intubation, because I will absolutely need them in my future career as a Pediatrician. I’ve also picked the topic of “Pediatric Airway Management” as my presentation topic (I’m required to present a topic to my classmates and an attending physician, in case you missed that on my last post) because again, I’m going to tailor my experience in this rotation as much as I can to my career path. And by picking that topic, I’ll be more engaged in creating my presentation because I’ll be learning very useful things that I’ll more than likely be implementing in residency.

Speaking of, I finally finished my interview season last Tuesday at UVA! The interview day was a great one, and I had a wonderful experience overall while at Charlottesville. I had actually never been there before, so it was cool to be able to briefly check the town out. I’ll admit, it’s a neat little town; I could see why some people would be happy settling down there for some time. And because it’s a college town, the presence of UVA is very palpable throughout the area. The people in the pediatric department at UVA were all very kind and welcoming, which I really appreciated. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to make the drive up there to complete that interview, even though I had to reschedule it from last month and I ended up missing a day of my current rotation because of it.

I must say though, the scenery up to Charlottesville from Winston-Salem and back was quite dreary. ๐Ÿ˜…ย Although I spent the majority of my childhood in Virginia, I had never been in those parts of the state before. Some of the towns I drove through looked pretty rundown and because of the season, the trees were all bare. Plus, I saw a massive Confederate flag waving in the wind at some point during my drive back. It was such a stark reminder that I was in the South and in a very different area of the state that I called home for so long. I sure wasn’t trying to get stuck around any of those parts, especially at night. So you already know that I was zipping across that state highway as fast as I legally could lol.

In addition to finishing the interview trail this past week, I got the chance to sit in on a Grand Rounds talk about caring for patients who are transgender and I also participated in my first Anesthesia long call shift. The Grand Rounds talk was an interesting one, where a speech pathologist talked about the importance of recognizing the culture of this population of people and how to help them feel welcome when they come to establish care with physicians. I learned a lot about what it’s like to live in this world as a person who identifies as transgender, and I realized just how much I didn’t know about this population. I can’t even begin to imagine the lack of knowledge that some people, especially those who aren’t accepting of other cultures in the first place, have for this community of people. Listening to the presentation also forced me to think about how my beliefs of transgender people have changed over the years as I’ve matured and how societies around the world severely marginalize this population on a daily basis. I’m glad to have been able to attend this presentation and while I’m sure that there were some people in the audience who would have rather not have been there or didn’t necessarily agree with what the speaker was saying, being exposed to this information is very important because it can very much impact the care of a patient who they may end up caring for in the future.

In regards to my 15-hour long call shift, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I actually was able to get some of my rotation assignments done during my shift and I also witnessed some very memorable events as I followed the on-call Anesthesia resident around the hospital. Some of these events included watching the resident perform an awake intubation on a patient using a fiberscope and participating in a Level I trauma in the ED, where I watched a code take place and unfortunately witnessed the life of a patient end. I have another long call shift tomorrow, and there’s no telling what experiences are going to come out of that. All I can do is gear up and prepare for anything!

That’s all I got today. I have another couple weeks of Anesthesia ahead of me before I move on to my next rotation, which is one focused on Immigrant Health & Public Health. While I’m excited about that rotation, I still don’t really know what it is going to look like…hopefully I get that figured out sooner rather than later lol. I also will be heading to Nashville this upcoming weekend for the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where I’ll be participating in educational sessions, catching up with friends from across the country, and engaging talks with the Board of Directors about what the Annual Medical Education Conference in April is going to look like. I’ve never been to Nashville, so I’ll also do a little sightseeing if I have time! Should be a great experience! ๐Ÿ˜„

I hope that you have a phenomenal week! Wish me luck on this test tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜…

“Be the kind of person that you want people to think you are.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

Fresh Start

It looks like the New Year is starting off on a strong note for me!

Well, nothing major has actually really happened this past week…but it’s been a great week nonetheless. I spent the rest of my winter break at home in VA with my family, neighbors and girlfriend, where I was able to bring the New Year in! After the whole celebration that came with New Year’s Day, I had to drive right on back to Winston that same day in order to start my Anesthesia Sub-Internship the very next day. Yeah I know, it kinda sucks to have to start back up the day after New Year’s, but I can’t really complain after having had no clinical responsibilities since my last day of my Sub-Internship at CHOP back before Thanksgiving break. I’ve literally spent the last 6 1/2 weeks doing a whole lot of traveling, interviewing and sleeping with nothing much going on in between. Okay I’m lying, I definitely had plenty of SNMA administrative work to take care of, especially making sure that we kept our social media presence strong this past month. Also, I’ve been actively trying to decide where I want to spend the next three years of my life, which honestly isn’t the worst problem to have….but still, it’s a tough decision to make. I would rather be in this scenario than be in the scenario I was in when I was applying to medical schools, essentially begging for a school to give me a chance at earning a medical degree and to put me in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt along the way.

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The whole point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had a great time using my time the way that I’ve wanted to use it this past month and a half. Having to go back to a clinical schedule wasn’t that smooth of a transition, but the nature of my current rotation has made it relatively painless. I started it this past Wednesday with a brief orientation, where I swiftly learned that I was going to have to take a midterm exam, a final exam, and a mock OR simulation exam.

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I went into the rotation knowing that I would have to unfortunately take a final exam, but A MIDTERM AND A SIMULATION EXAM?? THREE WHOLE EXAMS??? IN ONE MONTH??? JEEEESUS *in my most authentic Cameroonian accent*

I almost forgot to mention that I have assigned readings from a giant textbook each night, which is where the material I will be tested on will be coming from. Oh, and I’ve repeatedly heard that the tests were incredibly difficult.

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And to top it all off, I’m going to have to present a topic of my choice to my peers and an attending at some point in the next couple of weeks.

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So yeah, the requirements are ass, but it’s all relatively offset by the fact that everyone in the department seems to be really chill. Plus I get to pretty much design my own schedule when I’m in the OR, meaning that I can pick whatever cases I want to go to, with breaks included in my schedule. And while I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 AM, my workday is pretty much over by 3:00 PM, unless I decide to stick around for another hour for the residents’ lecture. So yeah, no complaints there. My first few days haveย  been great, and I feel that my day-to-day experience throughout the rotation will be engaging, informative and fulfilling. I did forget to mention that each medical student on the rotation has to do one long call shift each week (6AM – 10 PM), so I got that delightful experience to look forward to. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Outside of the hospital, I got the opportunity to interview some more medical school applicants, which was pretty cool. Because I had already gone through this experience once before, I was privy to what was expected of me and the applicants as I interviewed each of them. It’s very interesting to watch how one standard prompt can be processed in so many different ways. You would be amazed at what the applicants come up with. All I’m going to say is that if thinking on your feet is a requirement to get into med school, the competition is only getting tougher and tougher. The morning also seemed to fly by faster because I was fully aware of how things flowed. I have a couple more interview days that I will be helping out on, and I’m looking forward to serving as an interviewer on those days!

That’s really all I have to say today. I have my FINAL residency interview this Tuesday at UVA, which is the one that I may or may not have mentioned in an earlier post that I couldn’t attend because of a snowstorm last month and thus had to reschedule. I honestly wish that I didn’t have to do any more interviews now that I’m back in school and all, but it’s for the best. After this one, I’m all done with interviews and I can officially begin working on my rank list! ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ™ˆ

I hope that your New Year has been off to a spectacular start! Let’s make this week a fantastic one! ๐Ÿ˜

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you…..If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.” – Timothy Ferriss

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Now that the House of Representatives has offically switched power as of last week, I really am starting to feel those invgorating jolts of hope that were shattered soon after the shocking and disastrous 2016 elections. It’s a feeling that I’ve sorely missed these past couple of years. Shoutout to the new, diverse wave of Democrats in the House!!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

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The Start of Something New

In just a couple of days, I’ll be starting one of the most transformative years of my life. It’s a year that I’ve been treating as the distant future for a long time now, because it just always seemed so far away. It’s a year that I had been looking forward to with both pure excitement and guarded apprehension.

2019 is the year that I will finally graduate from medical school and become an Ophthalmologist!” I would tell myself back in high school, as if I had already mapped out my perfect life plan and knew it inside and out.

2019 is the year that I will begin my residency program and won’t have a life at all, because I’ll be busy getting worked to death…and I won’t be making much money…but at least I’ll be that much closer to becoming an eye surgeon!” I would tell myself back in college as I started to absorb what other people were telling me the medical journey would look like up until I was finally a board-certified physician.

I really wonder what my life is going to look like after I graduate in 2019…will I really be ready to begin my residency training by then? Will I actually be able to retain all of these crazy amounts of material that I’m being tested on? Will I be confident enough to treat patients on my own? Will my positive and resilient mindset truly get me through both medical school and residency? Will I really have no life when residency begins, or is that just something people say? How will my Step scores influence my residency choices? I know I’m good enough to be a doctor…but what if I find out that I’m actually not? Where will I live in 2019 after I graduate? Will I still be in Winston-Salem? North Carolina? Somewhere completely different? How the hell am I going to even begin paying back these massive loans???ย ” I would ask myself over and over again back in the early months of my first-year of medical school.

Oh wow, 2019 is getting preeee-tty close ๐Ÿ˜…” is what I’ve been telling myself these past few months as January 1st, 2019 has crept closer and closer with each passing day.

Looking back on my past 3 1/2 years as a medical student, I can comfortably say that I’m going to be ready to start residency come July 1st, 2019, or whenever my future institution decides to begin our training. I’ve come to understand that being ready to start residency does not necessarily mean that I’ll already know how to be the perfect doctor once I start.

NEWSFLASH!!! I won’t.

As much as I’ve learned these past few years, there will be many things that I won’t know once I begin residency. But remember, that’s what residency training is for; it is designed to teach us what we need to learn in order to become an effective board-certified physician. All I need to arrive with on my first day is my basic knowledge set of medicine that I’ve been continously crafting, my personality along with my other character traits that helped me secure a residency spot in the first place, the confidence that I can conquer just about any challenge thrown my way, and the sheer will to work in order to improve the lives of my patients. Just with those alone, I know that I’ll be good to go. It’ll definitely be a tough transition, but I’ve been through tough times before and others have gone through this transition and succeeded. Plus, it’s not like I’ll be going through this alone; I’ll have my co-residents, mentors, advisors, faculty, family, friends, my significant other, plus others who will be there for me throughout this time.

As of late, when I’ve been asked if I’m ready for graduation and residency, I’ve been telling people that I feel like it’s all going to be an exciting and nervewracking experience. I still think so, but I’m now leaning more towards exciting and away from nervewracking. Why, you may ask? Simply because, I’M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR. There are a TON of people who aren’t able to say that and countless others who wish and dream of being able to say that. It’s an honor to be able to enter such a noble and highly-regarded profession. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and so many people have supported me along my journey and prayed for me to get here. So why wouldn’t I be thrilled about the fact that I’ve made it this far? By allowing myself to enjoy the journey towards being a doctor, I have really been able to appreciate so much along the way and because of this, I feel energized as I approach my final semester of medical school and graduation. The journey is so much more important than the destination y’all, because how you develop during your journey directly correlates to how you will function once you reach your destination.

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2018 has been an amazing year of growth for me overall. I literally started the year off at the midway point of my third-year Neurology rotation and now eight rotations (including my two away rotations), two Step exams, and ten residency interviews later, I’m ending the year as a much more confident and resilient fourth-year student who is ready to power through three more rotations before enjoying another flex block and graduating with a medical degree. And through all of this, I’ve been able to expand my blog even further, begin fundraising for The Desire To Inspire Scholarship, become a member of the SNMA Board of Directors, visit San Francisco and other major cities across the East Coast, forge important connections with all kinds of people across the nation, confirm my career choice as a Pediatrician who is on an even bigger mission, get nominated for various scholarships and even awarded some of them, and much more! I’m really looking forward to what 2019 is going to bring and how much growth I will continue to enjoy as a result of the events that will occur throughout the year. With it being a year of major transitions, I’m sure that there will be plenty of personal growth and development to appreciate!

I hope that you had as wonderful of a Christmas and overall holiday season as I had! Being able to spend quality time with family and friends is always a blessing that I try not to take for granted.

I also hope that you’re as excited as I am about all of the potential opportunities in store for us as we enter 2019! ๐Ÿ˜„

Here’s to a fantastic and prosperous New Year!

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“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I’ve been blogging for so long that I recently realized that I was able to read what I typed in my end-of-the-year/New Year posts for 2015, 2016, and 2017. If you’re curious like I was, feel free to check them out for a trip down memory lane!

Kickin’ Back

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is really two days away! It’s even harder to believe that I’ve already blown through my first week of my winter break!

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It feels like I just got to Atlanta a couple of days ago. While I’ve been here, I’ve mainly been relaxing and lounging around while also catching up on some books that I’ve been wanting to read for months (Iย FINALLY read The Alchemist), watching some movies with my girlfriend and catching up on some of our favorite shows. (We started Grey’s Anatomy this past summer and are only midway through Season 3…I’ve already accepted that this will be a LOOONG-term endeavorย ๐Ÿ˜…) Outside of all that, I’ve been able to catch up with some other college friends over brunch, meet a ton of my girl’s high school friends at her school’s five-year reunion, crack down on some work for the SNMA, begin seriously thinking about and comparing the pediatric residency programs I’ve interviewed at to each other, eat a ton of great food and SLEEP. I haven’t slept in this much in forever…I had forgotten what it was like to sleep in past 9 AM ๐Ÿ˜‚. I also finally got my grade back from my CHOP away rotation and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well my evaluation turned out! Long story short, my evaluators thought highly of my performance while I was there, witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in me and feel that I’ll grow into an excellent physician as long as I continue to work on some key things. It’s incredible what getting a grade of Honors can do to your self-confidence, especially when you get them back-to-back in rotations of the specialty you’re going into.

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I really don’t have much else to say other than that I got an email with details about my upcoming Anesthesiolgy Acting/Sub-Internship in January. Based off the email, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of studying due to the fact that I have a midterm and a final exam during the rotation. Sheeeeesh. I’m also going to have to be on long call from 6 AM – 10 PM once per week and I’ll be busy doing procedures and simulations for the most part throughout my rotation. I don’t think it’ll be that bad though…as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to participating in all kinds of procedures and observing various surgeries in the operating room. It’ll also be nice to be back at Wake after living out of my suitcase for the past 3+ months, though I’ll be completing a couple more trips in January (UVA interview and SNMA National Leadership Institute in Nashville, TN). While it has been fun being on the road meeting so many new people and catching up with old friends, I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed again and to use the space and utilities in my apartment that I’m still paying for.

Keeping it short today because we’re all busy getting ready with the holidays with our families and there’s probably a number of you getting your last minute Christmas shopping in. Plus like I stated earlier, I don’t have much else to say.

So on that note, I hope that those of you who celebrate Christmas have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿฟโ„๏ธ

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his (her) dream.” – Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Coming Full Circle

Bruh, I was thiiiiis close to being able to say that I finally completed the interview trail.

THIIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE!

(I’m putting my index finger and thumb extremely close to each other over here for emphasis, you just can’t see it….so here’s an emojiย ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฟ)

But thanks to the freakin’ snowstorm last week, a.k.a. Winter Storm Diego (really though, where do they get these storm names from? Does someone decide on random names and put them in a database or something? Alas, I digress…), my UVA interview that was scheduled for last Tuesday had to be moved to a date in January. So I have one more interview to look forward to before I can truly say that I’ve finished the interview season. This also means that I now have to miss a day of myย Anesthesiology Sub-Internship to drive up to Charlottesville and back down to Winston-Salem. Thanks a lot Diego. While it is now going to be a bit of an inconvenience to have to interview in January, I’m really glad that UVA was flexible enough to allow me to do so. I’m still looking forward to interviewing there, seeing what the program has to offer, meeting the residents, faculty and staff, and finally finishing out all of my interviews once and for all!ย ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

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While I missed out on my previously scheduled UVA interview, I did get to go to my other interview I had scheduled for last week, which was at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. As you may or may not already know, I grew up around this area of Virginia, so it was pretty much a homecoming for me. It was surreal being able to walk around the hospital that I grew up hearing so much about as a kid in my community. Also when people asked where I was from during my interview day, I no longer had to say “I’m from the Virginia Beach area of Virginia”, knowing that most people would have no clue where Norfolk or Chesapeake were. I could just proudly say,

“I’m from this area! I actually grew up in both Norfolk and Chesapeake!”

Okay I didn’t really exclaim it all overly excited like a cornball, but you get the idea. The hospital itself was a beautiful one, and I learned that it was the only free-standing hospital in the state of Virginia. I also had pleasant conversations during my actual interviews after being served breakfast in an elegant fashion. And to top it all off, I was placed in the comfiest apartment that I’ve been in since the interview season started, at no cost to me.

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After the interview day, I was even able to drive on home to spend time with my family for a couple of days before flying out to Atlanta, where I’ll be staying up until Christmas Eve. Overall, it was a great interview day and would have been a perfect way to cap off my interview season but you know, Diego.

Before I left to come to Atlanta, I made a quick stop at my former high school to talk to some of my former orchestra teacher’s students at his request. Again, it was very surreal to walk in the halls of my high school once again after graduating from there over seven years ago. Everything looked the same for the most part, but the students walking around literally looked like children to me. It made me think about just how young I was in high school, although I really believed in all my heart and soul that I was grown back then ๐Ÿ˜‚. It was also funny listening to the bells once again, which signaled that it was time to switch classes. (Wow, that bell really used to run my school life lol.)

When I got to the orchestra room, I was again hit with a sentimental wave. I met the students that were there and after introducing myself to them, I began talking about my experiences as a student voyaging from high school to college to medical school. I then turned it into a Q&A session and was instantly hit with a barrage of questions that I was more than happy to answer. I repeated this whole event with his next class as well, who had just as many questions to ask me about my experiences. Overall, there were probably about 70-80 students listening to what I had to say. By listening to what types of questions they asked, I was reminded of how much information I had taken for granted over the years. Some of the things that have become basic facts to me were unknown mysteries to them. This made me even more thankful that I was there to give them some helpful information that even I did not have when I was in their shoes, while also helping them relieve some of the anxiety that a number of them were feeling about college and medical school. Speaking of, the vast majority of them had plans on going to college and a good amount also had aspirations of working in the field of healthcare. Not to mention that they ALL played an instrument. They were an impressive group of students y’all. I had an awesome time spending a couple of hours with them and am grateful for the opportunity that one of my favorite teachers of all time afforded me!

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Those are all the updates I have for you today! Now that I am officially on winter break, I plan on living it up to the fullest, starting with my week here in ATL with my girlfriend, her family and some of our friends! Plus I just upgraded to the iPhone XS, so I’m about to be actin’ a whoooole fool ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‚.

I hope that your week ends up being a spectacular one! And be sure to cherish the time you have with your loved ones this holiday season!

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I would begin saying something about the political climate and the current state of the country, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Y’all already know the insanity going on around us. So I’m going to keep it positive and encourage each of us to do what we can to make the lives of others around us better, no matter how small or big the act of kindness is. Let’s just all continue to support the people who are actively fighting to make this country a better place to live in!