Back To Basics

It’s hard to believe that I’m already a month into my Pediatrics rotation…but then again, I’m always finding things hard to believe. I’ve come to accept it as a recurring theme in my life lol. Having a month of Pediatrics behind me means that I only have two more weeks to soak this rotation all in before I go on to my next one, Psychiatry.

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I’m definitely not ready to end this experience any time soon; I’ve been having such a great time! I was afforded the opportunity to work in a private practice clinic last week, where I participated in handling the bread-and-butter of outpatient pediatrics: well-child visits, immunizations, upper respiratory infections and a WHOLE LOT of reassurance to worried parents. The clinic was very busy and the pediatrician I was working with was always darting from room to room, which meant I was getting a ton of steps in. But even with the speedy nature of the clinic, she was very willing to teach me many things about outpatient pediatrics that I never knew, allowed me to go into her patients’ rooms to gather histories & perform pertinent physical exams, and went out of her way to discuss important concepts that I needed to know for my shelf exam. I was also struck by how nice she was, and by how happy and kind everyone else in the clinic was as well. I really felt welcomed there from the minute I first walked in on Monday morning (after having showed up at the wrong clinic first 😂)! In addition, I truly appreciated the amazing level of rapport that she had for her patients and I could literally feel her passion for children radiating from her while she interacted with them. She would ask them what they were wearing for Halloween, joke around with them, hold and bounce the babies to calm them down, and let the little kids play with the toys she had in her handybag, just to name a few of the things she did. Overall, I had a fantastic experience at the clinic! It was only made better by the fact that I avoided getting sick 😄. Now excuse me as I proceed to knock on some wood and plead to God that I don’t catch a cold.

Because I was in an outpatient clinic last week, I had quite a bit more “free” time to work with than I had while I was on my inpatient weeks. Due to this, I got a ton of studying in and was able to fulfill a number of tasks that I had been pushing off for a while. Oh yeah, before I forget, lemme tell y’all about the clinical practice exam that I had to take on Monday afternoon. You know, the one I mentioned to you at the end of my last post. It was so different from the CPXs that I had participated in previously. Instead of focusing on one patient for 45 minutes and having a couple of days to write up a clinic note, I had to zip through six patients in 15-minute intervals and then write brief clinic notes on them, each of which I had only ten minutes to complete it in. It was a whirlwind of an exam, especially with the constraints of the time limits…but I think I did alright on it. I know that I could have done better for sure, but the GAG is that it was formative! Which means that it doesn’t have any impact on my grade at all!

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I sure am glad that we got the opportunity to experience this exam in a stress-free environment, because I know have an idea of what to expect when it comes time to take Step 2 Clinical Skills. We’re going to have to do this exam again at the end of the school year before taking Step 2, but with this reference point now in mind, I’ll feel more confident about my performance when it comes time to do so. However, I am very interested in hearing the feedback from my performance because Lord knows it was far from perfect 😅.

Before I finish this post, I want to share with you some very insightful advice I recently received from the course director of my clerkship. In my short meeting with him last week, I had explained how much I was liking Pediatrics so far and how I’ve begun to actually consider it as a career path alongside Ophthalmology. He smiled and then responded with saying that my main mission as a third-year student is to enjoy the ride while being aware of which specialties I mesh really well with…then as third-year comes to a close, I’ll have a lot more clarity than I have now and I’ll be better able to “find a specialty that feels like home”. This is all stuff that I’ve already known for some time, but for some reason his “home” comment really resonated with me. It was such a simple, yet profound message. It makes total sense that I should feel at home in whatever specialty I end up choosing to practice in. There are so many variables that go into picking a specialty, but if you don’t feel at home in it then you’re ultimately doing yourself a disservice that you may unfortunately regret. This is a message that I’ll hold on tight to and it’ll definitely play a huge factor into my decision when it comes time to choose my specialty.

Lol, what a great way to end this post. Next up in my Peds experience is the newborn nursery! Looks like this week is already shaping up to be another great one!

Y’all have a sensational week!

“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.” – Neal Boortz

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I finally got my Ob/Gyn course grade back this weekend…let’s just say that I done came up A LOT from my Internal Medicine rotation grade! I pray that I’m able to have a repeat performance with this rotation! 😅

P.P.S. – Miami is 6-0 baby!!! Let’s keep the momentum going!!!

How Did I End Up Here?

Y’all.

I’m in the middle of a crisis right now.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my future anymore.

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Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be reconsidering my “definite” decision of pursuing Ophthalmology as a career. I had been told numerous times that clinical rotations tended to steer people towards career paths that they never envisioned themselves in before, but I was always so sure that I had a steadfast hold on my goal of becoming an Ophthalmologist. Like, I used to have a quick answer every time someone asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to become. I definitely didn’t believe that I would be one of those who had the potential to be swayed into another specialty, especially because I had been interested in vision care ever since my early high-school years. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still interested in vision care and the field of Ophthalmology as a whole. But maaannn, the field of Pediatrics has been really tugging on me!

Like I said a couple weeks ago, a lot of my friends had said to me time and time again how they could see me becoming a wonderful Pediatrician. It always seemed crazy to me whenever I heard this because although I knew that I could tolerate kids and deal with them well, I just did not see myself ever deciding to become a doctor for kids…especially since I spent the majority of my childhood helping raise my five younger siblings, whether I wanted to or not. This is why it’s so unreal to me that I’ve been having so much fun on this rotation so far! From the people I’ve been working with to the families that I’ve been serving, my experience in this rotation has been a very interesting one. And I haven’t even started my outpatient experience yet! I’ve also noticed how much I’ve been enjoying the primary care aspect of this specialty, something I had not previously considered since I was all gung-ho about Ophthalmology up until recently. Man let me tell you, third-year is something else. Makes me wonder if I’ll run into another specialty that I find myself liking a whole lot…

You’ll probably hear me talking about my joy in this rotation about ten more times in the near future, so let me stop and actually tell you how my week went. I was on a service where I helped care for kids with chronic conditions relating to their GI (esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum), Cardiologic (heart) and Nephrologic (kidneys) systems, and I was able to learn a lot about their various conditions. Like, A LOT. Both the residents and the attendings on my team were very willing to teach me as much as I wanted to know about anything I asked them, and believe me, I wanted to know A LOT. They were also all just very nice and cool people to be around, which made my 11-hour shifts something to look forward to each night.  Wait a minute, looking forward to 11-hour shifts?? Did you read that right? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Lol well it is, which why this all seems unreal. The days really just flew by during the week and before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon. And with the end of that week came the end of my inpatient part of this rotation.

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While I was working in the hospital, I kept myself even busier (what a great idea) outside of the hospital by helping host a Mentor/Mentee mixer between the Twin City Medical Society Chapter of the National Medical Association & the Wake Forest Chapter of the SNMA, attending a discussion on keeping a humanistic perspective while working in clinical rotations, organizing a glaucoma screening within a health fair that was taking place in the community yesterday morning, and now volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Brenner’s Children Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Health. I could talk more about each of these events, but I tend to write novels when I get carried away with my thoughts. Plus, I’m lowkey running out of the time I gave myself to write this post 😅. To make long stories short, I’m really glad that I’ve been able to find the time to pursue other endeavors while on my clinical rotations. It’s been a bit tough to do so, but far from impossible. Participating in extra-curriculars also keeps me motivated as well as disciplined, and it allows me to continue being a well-rounded individual, something that has been an integral part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I feel like my life would probably be easier if I weren’t as involved in a number of things outside of my curriculum (including running an ever-expanding website), but I also know that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.  With that said, I would trade easy for happiness anytime, anywhere.

Alright, I gotta go on ahead and gear up for the outpatient part of my rotation, which starts tomorrow morning! I also have a CPX (Clinical Practice Examination) I have to complete tomorrow afternoon, where I’ll be interviewing six simulated patients (15 minutes each) and writing notes on them (10 minutes each) in succession. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? It kind of is, but it’s all in preparation for the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam that I’ll need to take after my third year is over. Step 2 though? Didn’t I just finish up Step 1 like not too long ago?? Smh. The tests never end fam. They never do.

I hope that each of you has a spectacular week! Also, please pray for the world. And then make it a point each day to do something, no matter how small or big, to make it a better place. There’s so much trouble in the world right now and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the craziness just in our country alone. Believe me, I know it’s hard…but try your best to not to let the negativity around you consume you!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart

– Black Man, M.D.

Everyday I’m Hustlin’

My experience in this Pediatrics rotation so far just continues to get better and better. I was on the night shift this past week and I had just as great of a team as I had the previous week! Not only that, the shifts only ran up until midnight, so I’ve had a good amount of time to study (Thank GOD) and get other things done during the day. I probably won’t have as much time to study this upcoming week due to the fact that I’ll be back to working 6AM-5PM shifts, so I really needed this past week to catch up on material that I still don’t feel like I’m caught up on. But on the other hand, I’m sure I’ll have some amazing learning experiences this week because I’ll be helping to care for patients with impairments in their Cardiologic, GI and Nephrologic systems.

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During my time on night shift, my team and I routinely checked in on currently admitted patients on the floors we were covering to make sure that those kids were doing alright. We also frequently went back and forth from our workroom to the Pediatrics Emergency Department to assess and/or admit new patients into the hospital. While in the ED, I helped admit a good number of patients who came in with a wide variety of symptoms that ranged from very benign to extremely serious. I was able to further hone my interviewing skills and to tweak them in a manner that was more amenable to pediatric patients while fully taking in the endlessly busy environment of the ED. Furthermore, I witnessed bad news being delivered to patients on a few occasions and acknowledged not only how the patient’s family took the information but also how the doctor delivering the unfortunate news phrased everything she was saying. Having to deliver news that you know is going to be devastating to a family is tough…but learning how to effectively do so while providing justified hope is an incredible skill to have in your toolkit, and one that I would definitely like to acquire. Overall, my time on Peds night shift was a memorable and enriching experience filled with encounters that will truly be unforgettable.

I’m keeping this post short because I actually have a thousand things to take care of at the moment, which brings me to my final point. As of late, I’ve been asking myself, “Why is it that the further along I get into my medical education, the busier I make myself outside of my studies?” It’s pretty backwards, to tell you the truth lol. You would think that I would participate in more extra-curricular stuff as a first or even second-year student due to the relatively higher amount of free time I had in those years. But I’m finding that I’ve been doing a lot more extra-curricular work this year than I had in years past…or at least it feels like it. Maybe it’s because I’m usually busy in the clinic or the hospital now, so my limited “free time” is spent studying and squeezing in time to fulfill the multiple responsibilites I currently have. Also when I look back, my first-year was a time of adjustment for me…so it was probably better that I stayed focused in my studies. Not having a car back then didn’t make things easier either. But now that I’m a third-year student, I’m a lot more comfortable in taking on multiple responsibilites while fulfilling my role as a medical student. It’s just ironic that I happened to want to become more active in areas that I’m passionate about while at the same time having to deal with an even more demanding workload from school.

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*Sigh*

Such is life.

Y’all make sure to have a wonderful week! It’s hard to believe that October is already in full swing! AND SHOUTOUT TO THEM CANES FOR BEATING FSWHO IN A DRAMATIC FASHION AT THEIR OWN STADIUM!!!

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“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Luhhh The Kids!

Multiple people have told me time and time again that they could definitely see me as a Pediatrician. Whenever I used to hear that, I would usually laugh it off and say something like, “Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?” with a shrug. But after this first week in inpatient Pediatrics, I can finally see why people have always told me that they could see a future Pediatrician in me.

I’M FREAKIN’ LOVING THIS ROTATION SO FAR!!

From day one of this rotation, I was a little too excited to start it and my excitement hasn’t died down since! Having such an AWESOME team to work with this past week only added to my excitement! There wasn’t a minute during the week where I wished I were somewhere else other than the hospital; my team was just that much fun to work with. And in regards to the patient population I was serving (newborns to late adolescents), I found myself very inspired and driven to help care for them. Part of the reason I was so driven to help them was because of my inability to stop thinking about the unfairness of the situations that many of these kids were in. They did not deserve to be as sick as they were, especially with such full lives ahead of them. Seeing sick children in general bothered me, but it was especially bothersome when the youngest of them had either serious chronic conditions and/or terminal conditions. Like, what did they do to deserve those gravely unfortunate conditions?? And as for the families of these children, they really deserve kudos for doing their best to keep the child’s quality of life as high as possible. I can’t even begin to imagine just how hard it must be to care for a chronically ill child.

In addition to thinking about how these kids deserved the best treatment possible in order to continue living out their lives, I found my mind repeatedly wandering off to what my life would possibly look like if I were to decide on becoming a Pediatrician and I must say, I can definitely see myself being perfectly happy in that career path. I don’t mind working with children at all, and I actually find myself playing with them as I’m caring for them. I also feel like I tend to get along with the family members of the patients, whether they be parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. Plus, I believe that a career in Pediatrics would align very well with the various goals and plans I have for my future, especially the primary care aspects of it. But with all this being said, I’ve only been in this rotation for a week….so it’s probably a bit premature to say that I love this specialty, especially with five more weeks to go in it lol. I’m still interested in the field of Ophthalmology but in all honesty, Pediatrics looks like it’s starting to become a serious contender….

I’m going to be working inpatient nights this week, so I’ll get to have another unique perspective of this specialty. But before starting this night shift, I’m going to be attending a wedding for one of my fraternity brothers over in Phoenix, Arizona, where I’m currently at right now. It’s pretty trippy over here y’all. The sky is always blue, there’s no grass, there are a bunch of cacti in the city, it’s pretty hot, you can see mountains in the distance, and we’re in the middle of a freakin’ desert. I really feel like I’m on another planet right now…it’s hard to believe that I’m still in America. And oh yeah, I’m a whole three hours behind from the East Coast. That really tripped me up yesterday. But I’ve been having a fantastic time here with old and new friends alike, and am looking forward to this wedding ceremony that will be taking place in a few hours!

Y’all be sure to have a glorious week!

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John C. Maxwell

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Unbroken.

Do you remember the quote I posted last week?

You know, the one that read, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.“?

Turns out that it was ironically the PERFECT quote for me this past week. But before I get into all that, let’s talk real quick about my most recent shelf exam, my relaxing weekend and my upcoming Pediatrics rotation that starts tomorrow morning. The Ob/Gyn shelf exam still ended up being tough, even after all the long hours of studying I put into preparing for it. Smh. But that was to be expected. Of course there were going to be a few questions asking about minutia that I never even considered putting to memory. For those questions, I mostly just used process of elimination before throwing hail marys and moving on.  For the most part though, I was able to breeze through a good number of the questions that asked about important topics that I had drilled into my head. I was even able to finish the test and review some of the questions I was previously unsure about before time ran out, something that I had way less time to do on my previous Internal Medicine shelf exam. Overall, I think I did better this time around than I did on the IM shelf due to the increased emphasis I put on preparing for it and the fact that I had a better understanding of how to take a shelf exam….I just hope my grade shows proof of that. 😅

In other news, I’m honestly pretty excited about my Pediatrics rotations coming up! Six weeks of caring for children and teenagers is going to be a unique challenge, especially since I’ll have to learn how to efficiently interact with their families in a direct manner. Although it’ll be cool to help care for kids with their relative innocence and all, I feel like it’ll also be quite depressing to see them in the hospital stricken with debilitating conditions that they do not deserve to have. That will most likely provide me with an even stronger resolve to try and help them in any way I can. With the outpatient component of this rotation, I’ll be working in a sub-specialty clinic, a newborn nursery and an ambulatory clinic, each for a duration of one week. It’ll be quite interesting, to say the least. I’m also 96% sure that I’ll catch a cold at some point during this rotation.

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In regards to this weekend, I spent it relaxing back home in VA with both my family and my girlfriend. As always, it was a pleasure to be back there spending time with them! We all ended up chatting merrily with one another and having a great time grilling with our neighbors while enjoying the pleasant weather that was gifted upon us. It was a much-needed decompression, especially after this past week. Speaking of this past week…

Let me start off by saying that I learned a LOT about the female pelvis and about many of the reconstructive surgeries that can be done in that area. Also, the field of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery is just about as cool as it sounds; you literally assess the pelvis and perform various operations on the defect(s) that the patient is complaining about. Over the course of the week, I participated in clinic work and assisted in multiple surgeries, those of which included a sacral colpopexy, a colpocleisis and a bilateral oophorectomy, among a few others. Now you may be reading this and asking yourself why I went ahead and said that last week’s quote was the PERFECT quote for me while I was on this service this past week. Up until now, it pretty much sounds like I had the typical great experience that I’ve been having so far in my third year, does it not?

Well, everything about the experience was actually pretty great if you take out the critical fact that, throughout the week, I honestly felt like I was being treated in a manner that could have made it incredibly easy to doubt my own intelligence. Keywords, could have. Thankfully, I’ve acquired the ability to take criticism, warranted or not, with a graceful stride. Plus, I’ve already been working on developing confidence in my growing medical knowledge and after writing what I wrote near the end of my last post, it only felt right to keep all thoughts of self-doubt at bay as I was pummeled with endless, highly specific questions about pelvic surgeries throughout the week, half of those I simply did not know the answer to. I was also torn apart after fumbling through a patient presentation that I had been given very short notice about, was told that I had to shadow during my day in the clinic to learn more about interviewing patients since I had not given a good impression so far (it was Tuesday) and was given the impression that I needed to do some serious improvement if I were to perform adequately as a third-year student.

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However, I was given the opportunity to present another patient near the end of the week and did a “fantastic” job after having been able to prepare for it, and was able to answer more of the questions directed towards me by the end of my time on that service after putting more work in understanding the pelvic surgeries that I was assisting in, none of which were tested on in my shelf exam. Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy week for me. For the first time in my third-year (and probably in all of medical school), I was unhappy with what I was going into each day. Sure, there had been times as a medical student where I looked forward to a week being over in anticipation for an exciting event during the weekend or where I looked at an upcoming situation with typical anxiety. But never had I gone to sleep at night absolutely dreading the next day. It was not a good feeling. I felt intimidated, frustrated and annoyed all at the same time. The atmosphere I encountered while on that service was also unsettling to me. While I did appreciate the knowledge that was shared with me (usually after having been burned) and all of the learning opportunities that I took advantage of in the clinic and the operating room, I feel like the experience had the potential to be more enjoyable overall. Thank God for my thick skin.

Whew! It feels great to have gotten that off my chest! I gotta be genuine at all times man; I would be doing you and me both a disservice if I strayed from doing so!

Cheers to an exceptional week ahead of us!

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu

– Black Man, M.D.

Switch Up

I’m on the home stretch of my second rotation of third-year! Which means that I get to show “the powers that be” how much knowledge I’ve accumulated while on this rotation via my Shelf exam this Friday! How exciting is that?? Like, when else will I get the amazing opportunity to impress upon myself how much I’ve learned in Obstetrics & Gynecology? There’s no better way to do it than to take a standardized 110-question exam within a 2-hour-and-45-minute time window on a Friday afternoon! I just feel like — okay, I’ll cut the BS 😂.

Yeah, my Ob/Gyn shelf exam is this Friday and yes, I’ve been feeling the pressure of it as of late. I really want to perform as well as I know I can, especially since the exam plays a large role in my grade for the overall rotation. I learned that first-hand in my Internal Medicine clerkship where I did okay on my shelf exam but not as well as I would have liked, which ultimately impacted my overall clerkship grade that — in a way — contradicted the positive feedback I received from my evaluators. It really proved to me that shelf exams will play a determining role in my grades, no matter how well I may perform in the clinic. So with that said, I’ve been working particularly hard on studying for this upcoming exam from day one of this current clerkship. I’ve also been using the whole reframing mindset that I’ve practiced in the past, where I’ve been working on viewing this exam as a welcoming challenge to overcome as opposed to a stressful barrier on my path that is stopping me from achieving my goals. It’s gotten me this far, why stop now? And honestly, the fewer unwelcome surprises that are thrown at me on the exam, the better. They can miss me with all that. With all that in mind, I’m just going to keep working hard on reviewing my material this week and perform to the absolute best of my abilities on Friday!

I was quite studious this past weekend, only breaking away from my studies to hang out at Melissa Harris-Perry’s house for her annual homecoming celebration and to further celebrate Wake’s homecoming with other alumni & friends at a nearby venue. Before the weekend started though, I journeyed through another week full of unforgettable experiences at the hospital! I continued to work the night shifts that I told y’all about in my previous post up until Wednesday morning. During those nights, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver some more placentas, bringing my placenta count up to five! I also tagged along with interns and residents in managing patients in the Emergency Department, checking in on laboring patients, and interviewing patients coming in to the triage unit. There were also stretches of time during the shifts where things slowed down, so I was able to (thankfully) get quite a bit of studying done. Ultimately, I managed to witness and assist in the live births of 14 newborns during my time on the Labor & Delivery service! But, unfortunately, I was not able to deliver any one of them with my own hands 😔. It was an overall great experience nonetheless!

Just when I was starting to get used to the night schedule, I had to switch up my circadian rhythm yet again in order to start my experience on the Gynecology surgery service this past Thursday. In the two days that I was on that service I scrubbed into multiple procedures, those of which included a vaginal hysterectomy, an abdominal hysterectomy, a bilateral oopherectomy and ROBOTIC removal of endometriosis lesions. Yes, ROBOTIC. It really looked like the physician was playing a video game on the machine…except that the stakes were massively higher. And in case you were wondering, hysterectomy = removal of the uterus, oopherectomy = removal of the ovaries, and endometriosis = endometrial tissue found in areas outside of your uterus. The procedures were very interesting to watch and assist in. I also found myself asking a thousand questions while observing the procedures, those of which were answered by the very patient surgeons.

During one of the operations, I found myself thinking about just how much I still don’t know about the human body and medicine in general even after studying it in detail for the past two years. It both astonished me and bummed me out at the same time…but then I quickly reminded myself about how much more I actually do know compared to my college self and even my first-year med student self. I’ve learned an unbelievable amount of information in these past couple of years and it’s important I keep reminding myself that I’m more knowledgable than I perceive myself to be, because I have a strong feeling that I’ll continue to experience these skeptical thoughts about my knowledge base throughout my medical education and even during my residency years. This is why having friends outside the medical field is essential; you realize how smart you actually are when you see that they have no idea what you’re talking about lol. It also works well for them, because when they talk to you about their area of expertise, you’ll most likely look at them with utter, hopeless confusion. I say all this to say that it is of the utmost importance that I have confidence in my abilites and my growing knowledge, because without confidence I’ve already defeated myself. With confidence however, I’ll be much more likely to obtain better results, enjoy more opportunities of quality learning, and provide higher quality patient care which will in turn lead to safer patient care! If you’re a fellow health professional student reading this, please take this advice to heart and recognize that you’re more powerful than you may allow yourself to realize! If you’re reading this and are not a student in healthcare, please take this message and apply it to your life as well! Don’t unnecessarily put yourself down if you know that you’ve been working hard towards your goals!

I’m finishing this rotation up on the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery service, which I sincerely hope is just as cool as it sounds! Please feel free to wish me luck on this last week and on my shelf exam! 😁

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

– Black Man, M.D.

Life Comes At You Fast

Whoa.

I only have less than two weeks left of my OB/Gyn rotation.

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How did that happen?? It really wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even know there were different stages of labor, and I sure as hell couldn’t have described each stage for you. Orientation for this rotation doesn’t feel like it happened that long ago…because in reality, it didn’t. August 14th, the date we started this rotation, was less than a month ago. That just goes to show how rapid the turnaround of these rotations are, especially after the massive 12-week rotation of Internal Medicine; the rotation that literally ate up most of my summer. It’s almost absurd as to how much new information I’ve learned in these past four weeks, and it just as ridiculous as to how much I still need to cover before my shelf exam next Friday. Fortunately for me, I’ve been making the time to get some major studying done, especially after this past week where I worked one full day and three half-days at a nearby free clinic! But then I started my 4-day stretch of OB night shifts on Saturday night. Yeeaaah, life comes at you fast.

Let’s start with my time in the free clinic though. During my week there, I must’ve seen about 50 patients…it was so freakin’ busy man. But with that said, I was able to see and do a lot of different things in addition to interviewing the many patients that I came across. The vast majority of my patient interactions consisted of prenatal visits; a TON of prenatal visits. So I ended up getting a lot of experience in using the Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeats of fetuses and in measuring the fundal height of the uterus to see how big they were. In addition to playing a part in the prenatal care of patients, I was also able to participate in some pelvic and breast exams, assist in contraception counseling, observe both IUD and Nexplanon placements and removals, watch how Pap smears are performed, and help patients view their babies via ultrasound. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine how awkward things can potentially get if you aren’t prepared for what you’re going to see in an OB/Gyn clinic. Thankfully, my ability to ward off awkwardness in a clinical setting has vastly improved over the years right along with my ability to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations. There’s always room for improvement though!

With the free time I was afforded this past week, I was able to not only get a lot of studying done, but to also work on making the multiple responsibilites that I have as a student-leader flow smoothly with one another. At first glance, it looks like I have so much to do that it seems like I’ve unnecessarily overburdened myself. But once I took some time to simply list out and organize the things that I had to do, all of my seemingly looming tasks became much more easier to digest and carry out. I’m relieved that I took the time to do that when I had the chance, because my free time practically vanished as soon as my first night shift started. After having to labor through the process of completely flipping my sleep schedule, I began my first night shift strong. I ended up getting some pleasant surprises when I realized that some of the patients I saw earlier in the week in clinic were in labor at the hospital! Those families were actually happier to see me than I would have expected them to be, and one of the mothers even told me that she had just been telling her whole family about me the previous day! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised as well as honored about the fact that I was memorable enough to elicit praises from them. All I had really done was check those patients up during their prenatal visits, but based on their families’ reactions after seeing me, you would have thought that I was one of their beloved cousins that they hadn’t seen in years. It was pretty wild and awesome at the same time! Talk about continuity of care!

There was a good amount of excitement as well as some mild lulls during my first night shift. It was harder than I thought it would be to keep myself awake and alert the whole time, even with the huge amount of sleep I was able to enjoy before I ventured off to the hospital. (God bless the residents I worked with who were working 24-hour shifts.) I don’t know what it is about the night shift, but it just feels vastly different from the day shift, even though the hours are similar in length. Maybe it’s the fact that I automatically find myself wondering why the hell I’m still awake after seeing something like 3:16 AM when I look at the clock to check the time lol. I found myself eventually drinking a cup of coffee to keep myself going throughout the night and when I wasn’t actively triaging patients, checking on my assigned patients or following interns/residents around, I was working on answering questions from a question bank. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that it was a successful shift overall!

After trucking through the end of my shift, I returned home and started typing out the first paragraph of this post before my body decided to crash on me at around 8:00 AM. I then woke up around 1:30 PM still pretty tired but unable to go back to sleep, so I got up and chatted with my roommate and girlfriend before attempting to finish this post. I got to about half of the post before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it before going back to the hospital for my second night shift, which started at 5:00 PM (I felt like I had literally JUST left the hospital). So I made my way back to the hospital and spent my evening checking in on my assigned patients, helping triage patients and shadowing a nurse for a few hours. While shadowing the nurse, I assisted with the birth of a newborn by coaching a first-time mother in labor for a couple of hours. The birth was simply beautiful and the emotions of the new parents after laying eyes on their new addition to the family was unforgettable. Their eyes were filled with a dazzling mix of joy, excitement, disbelief and love as they caressed their newborn. Having the privilege to be a part of that wonderful moment was amazing. Now I’m sitting here FINALLY finishing this post during a lull in my current shift. I can’t believe that it literally took me all day to write this…but that’s what happens when your sleep schedule gets flipped-turned-upside down.

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Make your week a marvelous one! And I sincerely hope and pray that those of you affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are safe and sound. Sadly, the rebuilding process will be incredibly hard for some of you…but with assistance, strength and an incredible amount of perseverance, the job will get done.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – 9/11. Never Forget.

From Past To Present

So I know that today is Monday and that I’m writing this post today as opposed to yesterday, which was Sunday…my bad y’all. 😅 I was up and about pretty much all day yesterday and got back to North Carolina late last night. I was going to write the post when I got back, but I was quite tired and I wouldn’t have put a good faith effort in updating y’all about the incredible week that I just had. So I waited until this morning to do so, especially since it’s Labor Day and all. In a way, it feels like Sunday lol. And by the way, Happy Labor Day!

I spent the weekend in D.C. with my girl, where we visited a handful of the museums at the National Mall, visited a few of the monuments there, got rained on while trying to visit the White House (how fitting), ate at several D.C. dineries, and hung out with some of our old friends. Apart from spending time with our friends, the highlight of the trip was finally being able to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture! I had been waiting almost a year to visit it because it has been so hard to get tickets for it in advance…we were only able to go because I was willing to wake up at 6:25 AM to secure same-day tickets. I’m glad I did, because what we saw in there was simply stunning. There was such an unreal collection of items in the museum that accompanied a brutally truthful account of our history. I can’t even truly begin to describe all the thoughts flooded my mind as I took in the harrowing struggles that both Africans & African-Americans experienced as a result of both the slave trade and the harsh realities of racism and discrimination. The exhibits made you realize just how insane and cruel the idea of racism is. They also repeatedly reinforced the truth of how the ridiculous construct of racial divide had been created simply to maximize the profits of greedy individuals. However, the museum also exhibited all the successes that African-Americans were able to achieve despite our struggles, which was highly refreshing. Ultimately, we were only able to visit the museum for a couple of hours, so I definitely need to make another trip back in order to really take everything in!

Before making the trip to D.C., I spent the week on the Labor & Delivery service where I continued to provide care to pregnant patients during my long yet rewarding shifts. Ever since my last post, I’ve witnessed the births of eight other individuals, most of which I lended a helping hand in delivering! Most of them were vaginal births, and two of them were via C-section. One of those C-sections resulted in the birth of twins, who now share the same birthday as me! 😄 (It was also the first C-section that I had ever seen! Scrubbing in is still a struggle though…I gotta work on that lol.) As a matter of fact, I witnessed the entrance of four newborns into this world on my birthday! Being able to witness the birth of a individual is truly a special experience, especially when it occurs on your birthday. You just feel a special type of connection to the newborn, although chances are that you’ll never see them again. Also, while running around trying to help out with births, I managed to deliver three placentas! I think it’s safe to say that I’ve already gotten used to the unusual sight of an umbilical cord and a placenta exiting a mother. 😅 However, I haven’t delivered a baby on my own yet, which is something that I plan on doing on my upcoming night shift in Labor & Delivery. Stay tuned for that!

Kept it short this time! Truth be told, I actually have to start getting my life together before tomorrow starts. I’ll be spending my time at a free health clinic in downtown Winston-Salem this week before starting night shifts on Saturday night. Yeahhh, I don’t have much of a weekend coming up. Eh, whatever. Y’all continue being great and I hope that you fully enjoy your Labor Day!

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

– Black Man, M.D.

More Life

Yeah yeah, I know the phrase “More Life” has been played out/is in the process of being played out (just like most of the other phrases Drake has popularized in the past)…but if you saw what I saw this morning, you wouldn’t be able to help but agree that it’s an extremely fitting title for the experience that I’m about to tell you about! Also, I’m currently pressed for time and it took me all of 2 minutes to come up with this title…so I’m sticking with it. 😤

So to start off, my first day on the labor & delivery service was today! (Yes, it’s Sunday. Trust me, I’m WELL aware.) I’m going to be on this service until Thursday and won’t be back on it until a couple weeks from now, where I’ll spend about four nights working the night shift on the labor & delivery service. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, labor & delivery service = the magical place in the hospital where babies come from. (You starting to catch the drift of the title? Clever ehh? Ehhhhh??? *nudge nudge* 😉) I began my day at 6 AM at the hospital, where I met with my team and proceeded to participate in check-in (getting updates about the overnight patients from a doctor on night shift). Then soon after, I tagged along with a resident and checked on a few patients that needed attention at the moment before getting back with the team to talk about all of the patients we had on our service (talking about all our patients with the teamrounding). As soon as we finished our table rounds, we got notification that one of our patients was beginning to deliver!

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The resident I was following earlier sped off to the patient and I simply followed right along because 1) I didn’t know any better and 2) I REALLY wanted to witness the birth of another human being in real-time! After getting to the room, I proceeded to watch in absolute awe as the mother miracously pushed a brand-new, beautiful human being into this world in less than 30 minutes. As much as I’ve studied and reviewed the whole birthing process, I couldn’t help but stand there looking dumbfounded as I heard the baby cry for the first time in its life. It was such a fascinating and wonderful experience. As the family coddled and adored their new member, the mother’s placenta was delivered (if you aren’t familiar with what a placenta looks like, the sight of it would probably freak you out) and her lacerations were all stitched up. Thank God for anesthesia. I really couldn’t believe how well the epidural was working for the mother…like, there was a freakin’ needle being threaded all throughout a very sensitive area of her body!! Yet she couldn’t feel a thing. Plus, all of her attention was devoted to her new bundle of joy so she wasn’t even concerned with what we were doing. Strangely enough, I began to deeply consider and appreciate the power of anesthesia as I stood there and watched her stitches being placed. Because of a simple painkilling drug, the doctors were able to heal the mother in what appeared to be a graphic manner while she enjoyed her very special moment in an oblivious fashion. Incredible.

So that was my Sunday morning.

After receiving the unforgettable opportunity to witness the start of a new life, I went about the rest of my day following the residents and interns around as they attended to both current and new patients while answering the barrage of questions that I frequently unloaded upon them. I also helped admit a few patients to the service, viewed a few ultrasound procedures and studied Ob/Gyn material in the lapses of downtime we had. Before I knew it, it was 5 PM and I was headed home to get some more work done as well as to write this post. It was a great day overall!

I was in such a great mood today not only because I was excited to witness births, but also because my girlfriend planned a whole surprise birthday event for me that took place yesterday! She got me good y’all…she had planned out this event with a few of my good friends here at Wake over the course of a few weeks and had about 30+ of my friends show up to yell “SURPRISEEE!!!” as I turned around to face them unexpectedly haha. Y’all really should have seen my face when I saw all those people there, some of whom I definitely did not expect to see there! I really wish someone had snapped a pic of the hilarious face I must have made when I realized that I had just been tricked into attending my very first surprise birthday party! 😄😂 It was simply an awesome feeling to know that all those people showed up just to celebrate my upcoming birthday with me. I felt so loved lol. Shoutout to my girl and everyone who helped make that birthday surprise a reality, I deeply appreciate each and everyone of y’all!!

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As for the rest of my week, I was mainly working in outpatient clinics affiliated with the Wake Forest Baptist Health Center throughout Winston-Salem and Lexington County. During my time in those clinics I managed to witness a colposcopy, watch the placement of an IUD into a uterus, observe a couple of operative hysteroscopies, interview a patient who spoke a language I had never heard of before, delve deep into the intracacies of the different types of birth control with one of my preceptors, realize that there are a good amount of patients who will understandably not be comfortable with me being in the room while a pelvic exam is being performed on them, and learn more about both the menstrual cycle and the various types of assisted reproductive technologies that is made available to patients. I also was tasked with giving a presentation to my colleagues on Hormone Replacement Therapy earlier in the week, which can be found in the linked text! Take a look! That is, if you even care to look at it. Because you probably don’t. Don’t lie. You won’t hurt my feelings. Okay maybe just a little. But it’s all good.

Whew! I said I was pressed for time, yet I didn’t do that great of a job at keeping this short. That’s what happens when you actually have some exciting things to talk about. But whatever, I feel good about being able to reflect on my fantastic experiences and for giving you something to do with your spare time! I sincerely hope that you have an outstanding week!

#MORELIFE 

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melodie Beattie

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – My prayers are going out for all of those afflicted by the wreckage that Hurricane Harvey has brought to Texas and the neighboring regions. Hopefully our fractured government can lend some assistance to the many people who have been tragically impacted by this storm.

Demystifying The Unexposed

It has been quite an interesting week so far…and my time throughout Ob/Gyn is only going to get even more interesting.

Orientation for this rotation was about four days long and I had my first clinic day on Friday afternoon. Although each day during orientation was long and packed with information and modules, I found myself really engaged in everything that I was learning and I was very appreciative of the modules and workshops/simulations that we participated in. However, these long days have forced me to play a balancing act with keeping up with my outside studying, since I only have six weeks (now five 😭) to prepare for my upcoming shelf exam. As a matter of fact, I’m already feeling a bit crunched for time, especially since a lot of the material that I’m studying is new to me…but on the bright side, I don’t have to cover anywhere near as much information as I had to cover in the broad clerkship of Internal Medicine!

Like I just said, we were able to participate in some very informative modules, simulations and workshops during our time in orientation. These great learning opportunities included a cervix dilation and effacement palpation activity with plastic models, vaginal delivery simulations with plastic models, videos on incontinence, uterine & cervical cancer, bimanual & breast exams on some more plastic models, tying surgical knots, stitching a wound on pig feet, and performing a very thorough pelvic & breast exam on an actual person who was specially trained to help coach aspiring health professionals in performing these exams (this was quite a strange experience, but she was very good at keeping the atmosphere light and also made sure that none of us felt awkward about performing our exams! I learned so much from this particular activity!)

The hands-on approach of these learning opportunities made the information stick with me so much better than if I had to learn it all by simply reading a textbook. It also gave me more confidence (not a lot though) in performing breast and pelvic exams, exams that I’ll be having to perform on actual patients very, very soon.

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My experience in an outpatient Ob/Gyn clinic on Friday afternoon was pretty chill overall. I had a fantastic attending who had patients that absolutely loved him, and whose appointments consisted mainly of quick prenatal checkups and pap smears. I was given multiple opportunities to use a doppler fetal monitor to listen for fetal heartbeats, which was a pretty neat experience! I interacted with patients who ranged from being early on in their first pregnancy to being about a couple of weeks from giving birth to their third child. The emotions emitted by all of the mothers I interacted with were fascinating and mainly consisted of excitement, concern and joy of having the blessed opportunity to give this world another human being. One other thing that gave me pause while at the clinic was the number of women around my age or younger who were pregnant with their second or third child. Unlike in high school where having a baby as a teenager was viewed in a stigmatizing manner, I’m at the age where starting a family is actually pretty common and widely viewed as normal. However even with that said, I couldn’t even begin to imagine becoming a father right now. I definitely couldn’t handle being completely responsible for another human being at this stage in my life, let alone financially afford it. It has always been intriguing to see how different the lives of others who are around my age are from my own, and I’m sure that this observation will only continue to get even more intriguing as I grow older. Interacting with these young patients also reminded me of just how much older I’m becoming. With my 24th birthday coming up next week, I’ll officially be in my mid-20s. That’s preeeeetty bewildering to me. It means that I really have to seriously think about some of the critical details concerning my future, because it’s no longer some distant time period that I can deal with later. Now is the “later” that I’ve been telling myself for years. Gulp.

Well like I said earlier, I’ve been feeling a bit crunched for time lately, so I’m going to end this post now. I got videos to watch, questions to answer, text to read, and a week of outpatient care to prepare for. Sigh. Thankfully, my girl visited me this weekend and has made my weekend work more bearable! 😄

Make sure to have a stellar week!

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers

– Black Man, M.D.