Moving Along With Time

I can’t express in words how much I hate moving.

Like, I HATE MOVING.

The whole process of taking everything down in your apartment, packing it all up, transporting all your items to the UHaul, driving the UHaul to your new place, UNLOADING everything from the truck, carrying those items unto your new spot and rearranging everything once you’ve finished bringing everything in the apartment is a struggle from the depths of hell. That may be a bit dramatic, but I don’t care. I spent ALL DAY yesterday moving from my apartment of two years to a new one up the street, mainly because of rising rent prices. Plus, the new one had a better deal overall and was cheaper than what I was paying this past year. And furthermore, my roommate had decided that he was going to move out of our apartment to a house closer to the hospital. Soooo I made the executive decision to endure the struggle of the moving process, even though it’s one of my least favorite things to do. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective) I don’t own many things, so I was able to start and finish the whole process in one day! So I’m currently all moved in and enjoying my new apartment, which also happens to have a skylight in it! I’m also even closer to downtown Winston-Salem now, so many of the restaurants are within walking distance from me. Only thing missing is a grocery store, which I still gotta hop in a car and drive to when necessary. Closest thing I got to a grocery store is CVS about a block away. Yeah, I wouldn’t wanna grocery shop there either.

But you didn’t click on this link to read about my moving struggles. You clicked to read about how my latest experience in my Internal Medicine clerkship went and what you could possibly take from my experience so far. Or you may have clicked for another reason unbeknownst to me. I don’t care. I’m just glad you’ve taken some time out of your precious day to read what I end up typing on this post. For that, you are much appreciated. I’m grateful for your attention. Thank you!

 dj khaled i appreciate you GIF

As a sidenote, take a listen to that new DJ Khaled album, Grateful, if you haven’t already. It’s 🔥🔥🔥! The album also got me through the hassle of the moving process. Did I already tell you how much I hate moving? My disdain for it is up there on the list next to being ignored. And having insomnia. Insomnia is the absolute worst.

Lol okay, I’m done.

I spent this past week working at an outpatient clinic for the underserved in downtown Winston, where I interacted with an interesting array of patients. During the week, I worked on my history-taking and physical exam skills as well as my patient presentation skills. I also wrote up a few patient notes and was able to get some good feedback on those from my attendings. One interesting aspect of my time in the downtown clinic was participating in this program called CarePlus, where healthcare providers travel to the homes of certain patients to make sure that these patients are getting the care that they need. I was able to ride along with a nurse on one of these trips and was afforded a unique perspective of distributing healthcare as a result. We traveled to three different patient homes, all in places that I wouldn’t have ever ventured to otherwise. By going to these places and experiencing them with my own eyes, I could fully appreciate how much of an effect the environments of these patients had on their overall health and on their respective perspectives of the world. I was already well aware of the types of environments that a vast majority of the underserved population routinely inhabit and of the power that an individual’s environment has on their life. This experience only heightened my awareness of that absolute truth. Overall, my experience in the clinic was a great one! The atmosphere was inclusive, the people that I worked with were very friendly, and I didn’t have to wake up at 4:45 AM each morning. How can you beat that? Plus, I’ve been doing quite well so far in staying disciplined in my studies. I’m seeing a steady increase in my knowledge base and I’m getting better at reasoning through these practice questions. Yes, they’re still hard as hell…but I’m learning a ton from them!

With that said, I gotta get back to them. I took an unexpected (and extended) break from studying this afternoon, but I got free food and good vibes from friends in return! So now that I’ve used up a good portion of my afternoon, it’s time for me to get back to the grind and prepare for my week in hospice care coming up. I have a strong feeling that this is going to be quite an emotional week…

Y’all be sure to have a lovely week! It’s hard to believe that I’m already halfway done with my first rotation of third-year!

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – R.I.P. to the King of Pop!

Same Building, Different Views.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you dedicated and respectable fathers out there adequately taking care of your families!

I was thankfully able to make it home this weekend to not only spend Fathers’ Day with my dad, but to also celebrate my siblings’ graduation from high school as well as to spend some necessary quality time with my family after several tough weeks of dealing with my grandma’s rapidly deteriorating health and eventual passing. I wasn’t able to stay home for long, but the time I spent with everyone was extremely worthwhile and refreshing. I didn’t get much studying done while at home, but I did get a rejuvenating dose of motivation to continue grinding! I also received an unexpected dose of motivation from the Financial Aid office a few days ago, who decided to update me on the amount of money that I currently owe to the government.

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Go ahead and try to guess the amount I’m currently shackled with. Here’s a hint: I currently have a six-digit negative net worth. Let’s just say that with the amount I owe, I could easily purchase a $200,000+ house in a nice surburban area.

LAAAWWWWD.

But it’s all good though, I’m gonna pay it all off in the distant future. No point in worrying about something that I can’t necessarily control for the moment. All I can do is continue learning from my clinical experiences and formulating a foundation of knowledge that I’ll effectively utilize for the rest of my career as a physician.

Speaking of which, I had quite an interesting week in my most recent week as a third-year medical student. I was afforded the opportunity to participate in a week-long collaborative interprofessional practice immersion experience (Walk In Their Shoes “WITS”), where I took on the role of various providers of healthcare and learned about their respective responsibilities on the healthcare team. I was also able to gain valuable insight from these different providers of care and appreciate the various perspectives that they harbored. I ended up taking on the role of seven different healthcare professionals overall! At certain times of the week, you could find me working as a Nurse Assistant, a Speech Therapist, a Bridge Nurse (Nurse Navigator), a member of the Rapid Response Team, a Charge Nurse, a Pharmacist, and a Bedside Nurse.

  • Nurse Assistant: I spent the majority of the morning watching the nurse assistant routinely take vital signs, attending to the patients’ needs and helping clean patients as needed. It was a relatively slow morning so I was able to study a bit as well!
  • Speech Therapist: I assisted with monitoring and testing the swallowing function of various patients. In between seeing patients I ended up learning A TON about this profession from the speech therapist that I was following, who was very enthusiastic about teaching me everything she did! She was also quizzing me constantly in order to make sure I understood what she was saying. It was a very interesting experience!
  • Bridge Nurse (Nurse Navigator): In this role, I observed how these nurses worked to “bridge the gap” for patients as they were getting ready to be discharged from the hospital. They did so by communicating interprofessionally with other folks on the team (social workers, physicians, pharmacists, etc.) with the goals of not only preventing the patients from having to return to the hospital, but to also make sure that they understood what they needed to do once they were officially discharged. This is such a neat and highly necessary concept that I very-much-so believe positively influences the quality of patient care.
  • Rapid Response Team: I spent the afternoon responding to calls from different departments of the hospital and adequately managing the situations that we were informed about. Nothing too crazy happened during my experience, so we were able to have some great conversations with one another during our downtime. The people I worked with on the team, who were all nurses, were extremely laid-back and just simply cool people to be around. I had a blast spending my afternoon with them!
  • Charge Nurse: My morning as a charge nurse was pretty chill overall. I helped monitor a couple of patients and observed the charge nurse manage the other nurses on the floor. She was fun to be around and had a great personality that the rest of the nursing staff thoroughly enjoyed!
  • Pharmacist: As an inpatient pharmacist, I was given a tour around the pharmacy lab as well as the pharmacy “outpatient clinic” located in the hospital. I also learned a great deal about the roles of the different staff members of the pharmacy team in the hospital and observed as the pharmacist gave updates about each patient’s medications. This was a really cool experience!
  • Bedside Nurse: This was my busiest experience all week. We were literally on our feet all morning as we gave scheduled medications to our patients, educated them about various things and attended to each of their specific needs. It was great!

It was so cool to experience each of their perspectives of healthcare and to witness the impact that each of their respective professions had on the quality of patient care. In addition, my already immense respect for nurses only further increased after having worked alongside them all week. From the Nursing Assistants to the Nurse Practitioners, it’s very obvious just how critical the nursing staff as a whole is to maintaining quality patient care.

Now that WITS week is over, I’m spending this upcoming week at an outpatient health clinic. I’m looking forward to not having to wake up at 4:45 AM! If you didn’t already know, the hardest part of third-year so far for me is getting out of bed at ungodly hours of the morning. But I’ve been getting used to it!

Time for me to get a bit of studying in. Make sure to have a wonderful week!

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

– Black Man, M.D.

Letter to Grandma

Bonjour MamiCo!

I pray that you are resting well, now that your suffering has come to an end. You left us way too soon in such a sudden manner, but we both know that God’s timing is perfect, no matter how imperfect we may percieve it to be. I was excited to come and see you this upcoming weekend because I hadn’t seen you in so long…but now that I’m unable to, I want to dedicate this post to you and tell you what I’ve been up to as of late. I’m sitting here chuckling because you would have no idea how to even read this English that I’m typing — forgive me for not being as fluent in French as you would have liked me to be. If you really wanted to though, you could probably copy and paste this whole post in Google Translate…but then again my younger brother would probably have to show you how to do that lol. I can vividly imagine you yelling his name and him running down the stairs to get to you, only to stare blankly at you in confusion for about a minute as you asked him in French how to work the computer you would be reading this on.

Okay, okay, I’m done rambling.

I just finished my first month of my third-year in medical school! Can you believe that?? I’ve been actively caring for patients for about four weeks now, specifically patients with heart issues my first two weeks and patients with kidney dysfunctions these past two weeks. C’est une bonne chose, n’est-ce pas? It’s already been a month and I’m still here trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m really part of a team in the hospital working to save lives on a daily basis. If it’s crazy for me to think about where I’m at in my life now, I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be thinking about how much I’ve evolved ever since you first saw pictures of me as a chubby baby with a distinct, golden birthmark streaked across my cheek. Time flies huh?

This past week I had some pretty interesting experiences with several patients greatly varying in ages, who all made it known how appreciative they were of my care. I even found that my presence in one of the rooms of my patients had a calming effect on her and her regularly visiting family member! All I’ve really been doing for my patients is waking them up each morning to ask them how they were and to perform a physical exam before going back to my team to present the patients’ conditions to them as well as to work on my patients’ notes. Then I would go back to my patients later in the day just to chat with them for a bit. It amazed me how much they loved the simple fact that I would go back to check in on them in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, it continues to amaze me, and the things I learn about these people are incredible. Likewise, they’ve all been impressed at how far I’ve come at such a relatively young age.

However, even with all the excitement that comes with caring for patients, it continues to be a struggle to make myself study the material that I need to learn for my first shelf exam in early August. Granted, I’ve gotten creative with my study habits over the past couple weeks and have been able to get some good studying in while at the hospital. But once I get home, my drive plummets. I literally have to force myself to stay awake and work on practice questions for this test that’s sooner than I like to realize. It makes me wonder how in the world the interns and residents make it through the day with energy left to do other things when they get home. They work 10x harder than us medical students, and still have other things that they need to study just like us. I guess I’ll find a way to make it work when I get to that level, just like I’ve found ways to make it work in other scenarios both in the past as well as the present. I’m sure you would tell me to do the same thing, for you’re not one to listen to excuses haha. Compared to what you’ve been through, my struggles pale in comparision!

Now that I just finished my Renal rotation today, I’m heading into my Transitional Care Month. In this month, I’ll be participating in an immersion program called Walk In Their Shoes and will be working with the Geriatrics team in order to help take care of elderly patients. I’ll also be learning how to care for patients in hospice care and I’ll gain some experience working in an outpatient clinic in the city of Winston-Salem. With Walk In Their Shoes this week, I’ll take on the roles of different kinds of health workers in the hospital such as nurses, pharmacists, members of the rapid response team, and speech therapists. This collaborative program was created in order to give us the perspectives of other critical members of the healthcare team and to better appreciate what they do for a living. I’m honestly pretty excited to see how this week turns out!

Alright grandma, that’s all I have to update you with. It’s probably not as exciting as watching my brother and sister graduate from high school, but I hope it’s enough to make you very proud to call me one of your grandchildren. It really sucks that I wasn’t able to talk to you face-to-face one more time, but I’m sure we’ll meet again. When we do meet, I’ll be sure to tell you and the rest of the older generations in our family all the incredible things that your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and beyond have accomplished! You all will be so proud of having helped maintained lineages of excellence! The whole family is currently in deep mourning for you, but I pray that we gather the strength to turn this sorrow into a joyous celebration of your life. There is so much more that I wanted to learn about you, but I guess I’ll have to now get these stories from my parents as well as from the huge extended family that you’ve blessed us with. I’m incredibly grateful that I was granted the opportunity to have a memorable relationship with you, for you were my last surviving grandparent. May you forever Rest In Peace MamiCo. Looking forward to catching you on the other side! ❤️❤️❤️

MamiCo and me

Colette Ngantcheu

December 5, 1949 – June 10, 2017

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham

– Black Man, M.D.

Grindin’ With Appreciation

You know, having to be on the wards this morning wasn’t that bad at all. Yes, it was weird having to go to sleep around 9PM on a Saturday night and having to work at the hospital today all the while reminding myself that tomorrow was actually Monday and not Tuesday…

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But having to work a weekend day wasn’t bad at all! It was actually relatively chill, or as “chill” as being on the Renal unit can be I guess. I have absolutely no complaints and I absolutely enjoyed the more intimate atmosphere that I had with the smaller team that I was working with for the day. The interns I worked with this morning even let me go home quite early. However, my concept of a weekend is now a bit discombobulated lol. It now feels like I have “hospital-time” and “free-time” during the week as opposed to “a work-week” and “a weekend”. Thank God I’m actually having a great time while at the hospital and am not dreading spending my days there! The fact that time just continues to fly by while working just proves to me how much I’m loving my experience in third-year so far, even if I’m exhausted by 7:30 PM just about every day and have zero willpower to continue studying. Overall, I just feel very lucky and blessed to be able to love what I’m learning and doing enough to be perfectly okay with going in to work on the weekend.

This past week on the Renal service has really been an interesting one. (I know I’ve probably said that about the last two weeks already but darn it, all of third-year has been interesting so far!) During my second-year, I learned about how renal patients tend to have multiple co-morbidities and how the ones with end-stage renal disease have to rely on dialysis to keep themselves relatively healthy. But it’s one thing to learn about it from PowerPoint slides and another thing to witness these real-life patients with your own eyes. These patients are truly sick with multiple conditions and dialysis is required for many of them to survive. I felt really bad for the patients that I interacted with this past week, but I also got a sense of the strength that these patients possessed in order to battle the multiple conditions that they were afflicted with. I’ve also felt the deep appreciation from a patient who was just grateful that I came in to listen to her talk for an hour. That experience reminded me just how lonely being a patient in the hospital can be and just how appreciative some patients are when someone comes in to spend more than a few minutes with them. With another week in this unit, I’ll be granted the opportunity to continue processing the difficult lives that these patients live as well as the complex care that is necessary to adequately care for this patient population.

Along with learning more about this patient population, I also had the opportunity to observe and perform a few procedures! Yeah, I said it. You read that right. I PERFORMED SOME PROCEDURES! (With supervision of course.) I wasn’t doing brain surgery or anything, but I had a direct, physical impact on patient care for the first time since I started medical school! Well that is if you don’t count physical exam manuevers, because I guess that also qualifies as having a physical impact on patient care. But that ain’t as direct as pulling out vascular catheters from the necks of patients or placing an IV line into someone’s arm! Yeahhh that’s pretty lit, ain’t it? I did pretty well with removing the catheters, but I could use some more practice on placing IV lines though 😅. I also was able to observe a couple of blood draws and a procedure called a thoracentesis, where a doctor works to remove excess fluid from the pleural space surrounding the lungs. Wild, huh?

Alright, I gotta get back to studying/tackling my to-do list now that I have a bit of free time to do so, especially since I’m getting ready to attend an Internal Medicine Clerkship dinner in a couple of hours where I’ll be socializing with other students, faculty and residents working in Internal Medicine. Should be a good time!

Make sure to have a spectacular week!

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. Please remember that your difficulties do not define you. They simply strengthen your ability to overcome.” – Maya Angelou

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I’m trying not to let the ridiculousness currently taking place in the government kill my mood on a daily basis, but it’s getting REALLY hard to helplessly go on about my day while our country is being actively driven to the ground. There’s only so much phone calls can do, especially when your “so-called” representative isn’t even listening to what you have to say.

Moment of Clarity

And just like that, another week has flown by! Chai!! *in my best Nigerian accent*

I think I’m already starting to get used to this third-year lifestyle. In between the early mornings, long yet satisfying days at the hospital, lessons I’ve been learning from my upper-levels on my teams, nights of forced studying, and patients I’ve helped treat, I’ve been getting closer to establishing a steady routine. Granted, it’s kind of tough to fully establish one since I’m going to be switching services all the time (I’m starting my Renal service this week), but with each passing day I’ve been getting a better and better sense of how things flow. I’ve also been noticing fast improvements with my information gathering, physical exam and presenting skills, although I still have a ways to go. And last but not least, I’ve noticed how awesome all the people I’ve worked with so far in Internal Medicine are! Both of the teams I’ve worked with so far have been very willing to help teach my classmate and I major keys for success as we continue to acclimate ourselves as newly minted third-year students.

This past week was my second (and last) week of working on the Cardiology unit. But this time, I was on the General Cardiology service, as opposed to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU). This meant that the patients that we cared for weren’t in as critical of a condition as the ones in the CCU, but they were still quite sick. I ended up following four patients overall while on this service, who all had various conditions that required remarkable treatments. I had a good time getting to know to each of them, and they all showed appreciation for their care and for me taking the time to just chat with them, which touched me quite a bit.

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As for the team I worked with duing this week, they were simply fantastic. I had such a great time working with them that I found myself looking forward to going to the hospital each morning (after making myself crawl out of my bed) just so I could learn from them! The interns were so kind and were willing to explain to us practical things about being a third-year student that we didn’t understand yet. Both the resident and the fellow on the team were geniuses who actually carved time out of their schedules to give us valuable information about Cardiology while making sure we understood what they were telling us by continuously prodding (pimping) us with questions along the way. And the attending we worked with was just incredible. She was highly personable with everyone she interacted with and was incredibly kind to the team as well as to her patients (Her bedside manner is absolutely stunning!). She also was a very effective teacher who forced us to think through the questions that she shot at us routinely so that we would better remember the information that we were learning. I really appreciated that because although I was put on the spot numerous times, I found myself better remembering the things that I was asked and I also found myself more engaged in learning about the various conditions that the patients had, along with their respective treatments. To sum her all up, she’s just the type of person who makes you smile whenever you see her, which is the type of doctor that I aspire to be!

Out of all the lessons that I learned this past week from my team, there was one that really stuck with me and will continue to be with me throughout the rest of my student years as well as my professional career. I had wanted go and talk to a patient we had checked on earlier in the day about a specific issue that was concerning to me, but I didn’t know if I had the authority to do so. So I asked the fellow on the team about how I was feeling, and what he told me truly inspired me and completely shifted the way I perceived my current position as a third-year medical student. He told me that I should not only go for it and talk to the patient, but that I should aspire to take ownership of all the patients I follow from here on out and really feel as though I’m the doctor caring for them. I should never feel as if I’m not in a position to talk with them about certain issues because I’m “only a third-year student”. With that mindset, I’ll feel much more compelled to do what I feel that I need to do for my patients, allowing me to establish more solid connections with them and ultimately allowing me to become an exponentially better care provider at a much faster rate. I instantly had a moment of clarity as soon as I heard that answer. I had heard variations of that answer many times before from other people, but it wasn’t until that moment that I finally and truly understood the incredible power that I had as a third-year. I may still be a student, but I’m here to learn how to become an effective physician. In order to become an effective physician, I need to learn how to do what effective physicans do. And the best way for me to learn how to do these things is to do them myself. I don’t have to merely be a chronically unsure errand-boy constantly doubting my own thought processes. I already have the power to really help change lives through conversation and decision-making. All I had to do was believe that I possessed this power and then act upon this mentality. So I did and I went to talk to the patient, who was actually quite appreciative that I did so. This is definitely a mentality that I plan on fully upholding from here on out!

Overall, I had another great week in this Internal Medicine clerkship. I actually had forgotten that Memorial Day weekend was coming up, so now I’m here on a three-day weekend without any plans except to chill for a bit, complete tasks I hadn’t been able to do during the week, and prepare myself for my upcoming service on the Renal unit. I actually have weekend days to work during this upcoming service as well, so that’ll be quite interesting…😅😅😅.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and a magnificent week! Make sure to take some time to give gratitude to all the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives over the decades in order to continue keeping us and our country safe from harm!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marriane Williamson

– Black Man, M.D.

Beginning A New Lifestyle

I’m a week deep into my Internal Medicine clerkship and I’m happy to report that I’m loving it so far! Sure the days have been long, but there has been virtually ZERO instances of boredom within these past few days. Plus, the interns and residents I worked with this past week have been gracious enough to let my classmate and I out at least a couple hours early each day. (I’m supposed to be at the hospital from 6AM-7PM. Lol, yeah.) I’ve been learning so much new & pertinent information so far and have been able to watch that information be applied on real patients. I was in the CCU (Cardiac Care Unit) this past week, so the patients that I saw were those who had critical heart issues and who needed to be monitored on a constant basis. It was an intense environment full of healthcare workers who had to be attentive at all times to all the patients there. There was also a death on my first day there and a couple of other patients who were transferred to hospice care to prepare for their own passings. Way to start off my third-year. But on the other hand, there was a good number of patients who were adequately treated and discharged from the unit! Also, the team that I worked with all week was full of pretty awesome people!

But before I get too deep into my experience at the CCU, let me step back real quick and touch on what I did on the day before I started working in the CCU. On Monday of last week, we (we as in the 30-or-so of us in the IM clerkship) had an orientation session specific to the Internal Medicine clerkship. Because I had flown in late the previous night from Miami and had gone to sleep around 2 AM, I was TIIYYAAD all day on Monday. But I was able to stay awake long enough to glean the important information given to us that day. We finally began to understand the sub-rotations that we were assigned to within the overall IM clerkship and we made our call schedules for specific sub-rotations that necessitated them. (I’ll be working four weekend days and a week of nights during this clerkship. Say it ain’t so! 😅) My IM schedule consists of:

  • 1 week of Cardiac Care Unit
  • 1 week of General Cardiology
  • 2 weeks of Renal
  • 1 month of Transitional Care
  • 1 month of General Medicine

So as you can see, third-year is quite complicated to understand. I’m here still trying to figure out how all of this works, and I’m the one living through it! However, we got a better understanding of what to expect during this clerkship and we were handed a bunch of papers to better supplement our knowledge. We then attended a few sessions, which included a Geriatric interactive presentation where we talked about different ways to properly care for the elderly, an ultrasound activity where we practiced how to perform a transthoracic echocardiogram, and a trip to the Crisis Control center where we participated in a simulation that enabled us to consider what living in relative poverty felt like and how powerful the concept of “generational poverty” can be on underserved populations. ‘Twas an interesting & busy day but by the time the last session (Ultrasound) rolled around, all I could think about was how nice it would be to collapse on my bed. I ended up crashing around 9 PM…only to wake up at 4:30 AM to start my first day on the CCU.

My first day up there was not really what I expected it to be. Then again, I had absolutely no idea what to expect in the first place. I walked up to the unit dressed up in a shirt and bowtie, only to be notified that I was supposed to be wearing scrubs. Go figure. After changing into scrubs, my classmate and I got assigned patients, which surprised us because we were previously told that we were going to be merely observing today. So we researched our patients and went to meet them. My patient had suffered a heart attack and was scheduled to have stents placed in his heart to open his occluded coronary arteries. He was a pleasant man to take care of, and I was actually able to watch the procedure he needed (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) the next day! After getting the information I needed for my patient, the team and I all began our morning rounds, where we presented our patients to the attending (head doctor in charge) and visited our respective patients as a group. This took almost FOUR hours. FOUR. HOURS. It turned out that this was a particularly busy morning and that rounding this long was unusual, which relieved me. The experience was really cool though and having to present to the attending on my first day was quite challenging, to say the least. Especially since I wasn’t aware that we would have to do so. But she was understanding and gave both me and my classmate some useful advice for presenting patients, something that she continued to do throughout the week. After that marathon morning of rounding, we were notified about a patient who was not recovering from his acute condition and who would end up passing away that day since there was nothing that the team could do for him anymore. My classmate and I joined the Cardiology fellow on our team as he sat with the patient’s family to discuss the unfortunate circumstances that he was in. The conversation was a heavy and sad one where the whole family was in tears, but they were also understanding of the situation. The fellow handled the conversation very well and I’m grateful to have been able to witness that conversation, because I’ll definitely have to have those conversations with the families of patients that I will be helping to treat in the future.

The afternoon consisted of a third-year med student conference that we were required to attend (we have these conferences almost every day), following up on our respective patients, writing notes on them, sitting in on an impromptu lesson from the fellow, and talking with the team about a variety of things. I was actually surprised as to how flexible our time in the afternoon was. I found that I could actually get quite a lot of stuff done in that time, which is very good to know moving forward. We were free to leave around 5 PM and I immediately felt the fatigue hit me once I got back home. Crazy thing is, I needed to study and review material that I had forgotten during my post-Step vacation. I also realized that my mind was still in vacation mode, so I had to force myself to snap out of that mentality. I got a little studying in, but ended up crashing again around 9 PM, only to do it all over again the next day.

I won’t go into length on what I did each day because then I’ll be sitting here typing this forever. But it’s worth noting that each day had a similar schedule and although it has been a busy week, it certainly beats having to watch a lecture in the classroom. Even the whole “having way less free time” thing hasn’t bothered me that much (yet). I think my body is quickly adjusting to this new lifestyle of waking up before dawn and going to sleep at the same bedtime I used to have when I was like 10. In addition, I was able pick up a new patient on my second day, but I struggled on my presentation because he had multiple co-morbidities that needed to be addressed in addition to his chief complaint of chest pain. Turns out he had a stomach bleed that I was able to see via an esophagogastroduodenoscopy. (EGD) (Try saying that five times fast.) We had to take care of that before getting to the chest pain he had, which hadn’t bothered him ever since his stay in the hospital. I stayed with this patient until I left the unit on Friday and as for my first patient, he was discharged on Thursday. As the week progressed, I found that I was getting better at giving presentations, I was getting more accustomed to the flow of rounds, I was learning a lot more about asking pertinent questions & performing pertinent physical exams, I was bonding quite a bit with my patients, and I was running around with my classmate trying to watch various procedures being done on multiple patients. We were able to watch a Foley catheter being put in as well as two heart stents being placed in the cath lab, but we missed two arterial lines and a thoracentesis. Darn. The team was also very gracious to us in answering any questions we had, chatting with us on the topic of choosing specialties and in giving us very helpful tips on necessary third-year skills. They were also getting a laugh at how enthusiastic we were about this new lifestyle. Before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon and we were leaving the team that we had befriended pretty quickly. My classmate and I were legitimately sad to have to leave them because we had been having such a great time with them. But alas, we must continue to expand our medical horizons!

Overall, my first week of third-year has been a great one! I’ve already learned so much and I was made aware of just how much more information I need to learn. I also found myself thinking about various things like how much medicine has changed over time and how amazing procedures such as PCIs can save someone from heart damage in 20 minutes while a heart attack 100 years ago was, as far as I know, pretty much a death sentence. I also noticed myself often thinking about both the patient and their family’s perspective in the hospital in parallel with my own perspective as a third-year medical student and just how different our worlds were in the moments that I saw them during rounds. No wonder many doctors have written countless books about their experiences in the hospital…this type of stuff really gets you into deep thought. I could personally write a narrative on the thoughts I had while helping to take care of the two patients I was assigned to this past week. And that’s just after a week of being in the hospital. Who knows what I’ll come across these next twelve months and in the foreseeable future as I continue my medical education.

But as for now, I’m done with this post. I gotta review some Cardiology for this upcoming week lol. I hope you enjoyed reading this! Have a wonderful week!

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Today is the two-year anniversary of my one and only acceptance to medical school! Shoutout to the Wake Forest School of Medicine for taking good care of me! I’ll be forced to (literally) repay the favor to the government for temporarily funding my education, but this is one investment that I’ll voluntarily (though quite begrudingly) go into debt for!

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (1/2) M.D.

Boy does it feel good to see the “1/2” in front of the M.D. in my name.

I guess I’ve technically been a 1/2 M.D. ever since I took my Step exam, considering the fact that it was the monumental milestone that effectively ended my second year of medical school. All I’ve really been doing ever since then is going on vacations and attending third-year orientation sessions. So pretty much, I’ve been straight chillin’. But I found it fitting to officially call myself a 1/2 M.D. only after officially becoming a third-year med student, which to me meant completing all my orientation sessions. So here I am, a third-year medical student who has conquered both Step 1 and the required basic science coursework necessary to continue on to the clinical wards in order to begin my clinical rotations this week. Although I may be halfway done with my formal medical education (*GAAASSSPPP*), I sure don’t feel anywhere near ready to become a practicing physician. But I’m sure that all the looming long days in the hospital will work to effectively change that. Lol. Not really laughing though.

This past week was been an excellent one, to say the least! I started off my week at a day-long session on how to effectively use the Electronic Medical Record, which we had lowkey already went over the prior week. However, I did learn how to use the system a lot better this time around. It was still painfully boring though. The next day, I attended a Pharmacology lecture and was inundated with drugs and drug classes that we were expected to be familiar with once we got on the wards. Again, my eyes glazed over during this session. This ended up being the last session of third-year orientation, meaning that I was free to do whatever I wanted the rest of the week! Take a guess as to what I ended up doing? Yuuuuup, I was off to Miami for the last time in a long time in order to watch my girlfriend as well as my other close friends walk the stage for graduation! I flew out late Tuesday night and am just now returning to North Carolina after about five days of non-stop festivities. It was such a great time! As always, it was an absolute pleasure to link up with fraternity brothers, old friends, and my girlfriend + her family. I also haven’t had so much good, free food in such a long time! Shoutout to my girl’s parents for taking care of me the whole time I was in Miami! In between going to dinners, helping her pack her room up, going to graduation ceremonies, catching up with old friends, and trying to keep up with my emails, I was kept pretty busy the whole time and lost some precious sleep as a result lol. But it was an awesome and unforgettable time and I’m so thankful that I was able to attend UM’s graduation this year!

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With the completion of this trip unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you wanna look at it) comes the end of my post-Step vacation. It was an amazing vacation overall and am grateful that I was able to enjoy the whole experience. Now it’s finally time to apply the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over these past couple of years to real-life patients. Can’t believe that this time has finally come….I’m sure that it’s about to be a very interesting ride!

I hope that you have an outstanding week! Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you mothers out there, you are very much appreciated! And a huge congrats to everyone graduating from their respective institutions this month! You’re making all of your loved ones extremely proud!

“All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing until you decide that your essential purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.” – Robert White

– Black Man, M.D.

Closing Of A Chapter

Only a week left until I finally start my clinical rotations!

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The closer I get to my first day on the wards, the more excited I’m becoming! I’ve also noticed that I’m feeling much lower levels of apprehension about this shift in my life than I was feeling just last week. Much of that has to do with these orientation (third-year boot camp) sessions that I’ve been attending as of late. We’ve gotten repeated exposure to our clerkship directors, who’ve made themselves available to us for any questions that we may have of this next step in our medical careers. We have also listened to multiple student panels made up of rising 4th-years, who’ve worked to appease our anxieties by giving us the rundown as to how third-year works and on what to expect going in. We also have been led on tours of the hospital and have been instructed on how to utilize the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) that we will be using throughout not only this upcoming year, but for the rest of our careers. As a matter of fact, this past Monday was dedicated to learning how to use that system….it was not the most fun thing I’ve ever done. And it wasn’t easy to use. Hell, I still don’t know how to effectively use it. It’s one of those things that you gotta continuously play with until you get into your groove with it. Just one more thing to add to the steep learning curve that I’m already facing starting next week.

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Along with “learning” how to use the EMR, we learned how to electronically track our patients & procedures that we’re expected to do. We also listened to presentations about communicating bad news with patients, making the most out of the countless opportunities that will be available to us during third year, tips for studying for our shelf exams and performing successfully on them, conflicts of interest, and how to stay professional while caring for our patients. On Wednesday, I got to know my third-year team some more via a group exercise where we shared our personal stories with each other. I’m glad that we were able to do that because although I knew who each of these people were (I’ve been in the same class as all but one of them for the past couple of years), I realized how little I actually KNEW of most of them until I listened to each of their stories. I’m looking forward to working with them for the next year and I hope that we all manage to continue getting along throughout our rotations!

On that same day, I FINALLY got my Step score back.

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There was actually an annoyingly dramatic sequence of events that preceded my viewing of my score. I got the email notification that my score could now be viewed as I was getting out of the group exercise session that I previously mentioned. I then proceeded to go home, place my free chicken salad on my kitchen counter (I managed to lose my appetite, even though I was starving just 10 minutes ago), plop on my (roommate’s) couch with my roommate, stare at my phone for a good 20 seconds, take a few deep breaths, and finally open my email…..only to realize that I needed to click a link in the email to see my actual score. I rolled my eyes as my roommate chuckled and clicked the link after a couple more deep breaths. I was then led to a sign-in screen, which annoyed the hell out of me. I then signed in and was led to another screen that informed me to click on ANOTHER link, which held my score via PDF format.

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Now I was getting extremely annoyed and nervous at the same time. I stared at my screen for another 30 seconds while my roommate repeatedly told me that I did fine and coaxed me to click and get it over with. I then held my breath and clicked the link, only for my phone to tell me to disable my pop-up blocker! Seriously??? Now I was getting mad while my roommate just busted out laughing at me. After a few more futile attempts to open the PDF on my phone after trying to disable my pop-up blocker, I gave up and logged onto my laptop in order to view my score. This process took an additional (and painful) three minutes. When I finally got to the PDF link again, I stared at my screen for what seemed like an eternity before holding my breath again and FINALLY clicking on the link. It led me to the score that served as the culmination of all the strenuous studying I had put towards preparing for that exam. When I ultimately laid my eyes on my score, I paused for a couple of seconds before exclaiming, “I’lllllll TAKE IT!!”  Granted, it wasn’t as high of a score as I was aiming for…but I am perfectly content with the score, especially since I had absolutely no idea how I did after taking that test. It really could have been potentially A LOT worse. Plus, my score still keeps all the specialty options that I’m considering relatively open, which is what my true end-goal was. So with that said, I’ve officially closed the Step 1 chapter of my life! However, it’s just incredible to see how I still wasn’t able to get that close to the score that I aimed for even after all the hard work and long hours I put into preparing for that exam. That test really is something else man. Although I didn’t make it to the stars, I sure as hell landed on the clouds!

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Thursday and Friday consisted of other useful sessions including personal wellness during third-year, financial aid, and a session called “What I Wished I Knew Before Third Year”. The main points I gleaned from that last session were to be assertive with my learning, to appreciate the growth that I will experience as I get comfortable with procedures and coming up with plans for the patients, to be unafraid of being wrong because I still will have relatively fewer responsibilities than my upper levels, to look at every day as an opportunity to do something that I’ll probably never be able to do again, to have very few expectations of going home early, to inquire what my upper levels expect of me as and to use “pimping” questions as a method of learning. Friday’s day-long session centered around inter-professionalism and working in teams with healthcare providers in other career paths such as physician assistants and CRNAs. In this session, we listened to a number of presentations regarding the importance of teamwork and got into smaller groups that included medical students, PA students and CRNA students, where we worked through a patient case and used root cause analysis to improve the quality of patient care. It was a long, yet interesting day!

And last but not least, I was invited to both a scholarship dinner for the Wake Forest School of Medicine Class of 1967 last night (it was their 50th reunion!) and a scholarship brunch this morning for all scholarship donors and students on scholarship. I was invited to the former dinner because I was awarded a scholarship this year from a late member of the Class of 1967. I’m still not entirely sure why I was blessed with the scholarship, but I’m not about to start asking any questions 😊😊😊. At the dinner, I found myself in a friendly room of elderly physicians and their spouses, all of whom were very excited to see the product (me) of their donation to their scholarship fund. As they shared stories of the man whom my scholarship is named after, I found myself feeling even more honored to have been selected to receive this scholarship because it was very obvious how much it meant to these physicians, for everyone I spoke to had very fond memories of this man. As for the actual food, I found myself eating the salad with a fork and knife lol. I also thoroughly enjoyed the free salmon, steak and mashed potatoes + vegetables that made up the dinner! As for the dessert, I took a bite of it and decided that I didn’t vibe with it. The dinner reception was marvelous overall and I had a blast this morning at the scholarship brunch as well! I’m really making it a mission of mine to provide scholarships to deserving students in the future, for these generous gifts of money have been changing my life ever since I received the Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship that allowed me to attend the University of Miami.

Alright, my word vomit has finally ended. Be sure to have an exceptional week! And congratulations to all of you graduating from your respective universities! That’s a major accomplishment that you should be extremely proud of! I’ll be in Miami this week to watch my girlfriend cross the stage and officially become a UM Alumni! 😆

“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” – Denis Waitley

– Black Man, M.D.

Apprehensive Excitement

After going through this first week of third-year orientation (or as we like to call it here at Wake, Third-Year Boot Camp), it’s evident that this next year of my life is going to be VERY different from what I’ve been used to thus far. I mean, of course I knew I was going to be entering a new dimension of learning and all…but the closer I get to the start of my third year of medical school, the more I’ve begun to notice this uneasy feeling of uncertainty that has been creeping up in me for some time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually really excited about beginning to do what I’ll be pretty much doing for the rest of my life. But with this excitement comes a degree of uneasiness due to the fact that my whole life schedule is about to be completely, and permanently, flipped over. I’ve been learning in a classroom environment for the past twenty years, so it’s pretty much all I know when it comes to school and the learning environment in general. I’ve grown extremely comfortable with this type of environment, even if it can get ridiculously old sometimes. Unlike the majority of my classmates, I don’t have the luxury of understanding what a true full-time job entails, which is what I’m essentially going to be doing from here on out…except I’ll still have to miraculously find the time to study for my shelf exams that I’ll have to take at the end of each rotation. And I sure as hell won’t be getting paid for this “job” for the next two years.

Another part of my uneasiness stems from the realization that I will no longer have as flexible of a schedule as I’ve grown accustomed to ever since I first started college. I will now have a structured schedule that I will be required to stick to and I’ll have to learn how to successfully work with it while continuing to do the necessary things that I love to do in the substantially decreased free time that I’ll have to make for myself. And not only will this regimented schedule be almost inflexible within each rotation; it will be continuously changing as I cycle through different rotations. It’s going to be a HUGE shift in my life, and I honestly don’t know if I’m entirely ready for it. But I guess it’s all just a part of growing up. Plus, there are countless people in the world working in jobs with structured schedules…so I actually can’t really be complaining. However, this boot camp that I’m currently in has really been instrumental in mentally preparing me for this dramatic shift in my lifestyle. Also, it gives me comfort to know that MANY other people have gone through this rite of passage, and that others are traveling along this same journey as we speak. So with that said, I’ll be alright!

I’m happy to say that my experience in this third-year boot camp has been quite fantastic so far! We’ve had a good amount of sessions in this first week, and we’ll have even more to learn from this upcoming week as well. I won’t go into a huge amount of detail about my sessions so far, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that in this past week I’ve been able to:

  • Practice putting in a Foley catheter and a peripheral IV
  • Practice drawing blood from a dummy as well as a classmate, who insisted that I practiced on him! (It was my first time drawing blood from a real person and I won’t lie…I got a bit of a rush from doing it 😂)
  • Practice putting in an OPA (oropharyngeal airway) & an NPA (nasopharyngeal airway)
  • Practice applying a bag-valve-mask on a dummy patient
  • Listen to lectures about women’s health, intimate partner violence, radiology, email etiquette, the relationship between social media and healthcare, and the Doctor-Patient Relationship and how just simply being there for the patient is sometimes more important than trying to do something
  • Witness an interesting discussion about abortion ethics between two doctors with opposing views about abortion
  • Listen to what the panel of third-year clerkship (clinical rotation) directors had to say about life as a third-year medical student in each of their respective clerkships (Coffee is really about to become my ride-or-die.)
  • Become certified in initiating Basic Life Support/CPR after a morning of training and an examination
  • Take a tour of the surgery unit and become oriented in how the Operating Room works
  • Practice scrubbing in and changing into surgery gear
  • Meet Dr. Bryant Cameron Webb and unintentionally crash his scheduled dinner with a few other physicians
  • Take updated photos for my clerkship years
  • Participate in an interactive and eye-opening simulation focused on Health Equities and the lives that patients from various backgrounds may live outside of the clinic
  • Go apartment hunting, chill with friends and look for resources necessary for success in my clerkship years

Needless to say, it’s been quite a busy week. But I’ve also had a good amount of free time that I’ve been able to adequately enjoy! Gotta make the most of it all before I begin rotations in a couple of weeks!

And as for you, be sure to have a marvelous week!

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree

P.S. I think I’m receiving my Step 1 score this week…….

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Entering A New Dimension

I’m not gonna lie, life has really been treating me pretty well as of late.

Ever since taking Step a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been in straight vacation mode. But I’m sure you already knew that. I already told you all about my trip to the medical education conference in Atlanta that I was a participant of in my last post, so there’s no need to talk about that again. What I haven’t told you yet is how I supercharged my vacation by flying to Cancun for a few days with some college friends! As a matter of fact, I just got back to North Carolina from the trip lol. This trip was pretty awesome overall! I’m not gonna get into the details of all our shenanigans because I’ll be sitting here all day typing them out, but I’ll go ahead and say that it’s the most fun I’ve had in quite a while 😂. It rained a lot the first couple of days we were here, but best believe that didn’t stop us from having a great time! We weren’t about to let some random thunderstorms stop us from getting our money’s worth. The last couple of days were much sunnier and we were actually able to the things we intended to do on our trip, like sipping on pina coladas with a backdrop of palm trees on the beach and going on a “jungle tour”, where we sped through the coast in speedboats and snorkeled on the reefs. (I thought I knew what snorkeling was…until I actually did it for the first time 😅) Throughout the trip, we ate out at various authentic Mexican restaurants, visited various bars, ruthlessly made fun of each other, explored downtown Cancun, experienced the insanity of Cancun driving, endlessly struggled with USD à Pesos conversions, became besties with a dope waitress who became our personal DJ at the restaurant we were at, spent hella pesos, enjoyed Cancun’s nightlife, befriended & partied with other Americans on vacation, and were endlessly & aggressively harassed by club promoters (bruh, these promoters were so damn persistent…like I encountered at least 100 different promoters during my time in Cancun. There were even little kids following us around trying to sell us bracelets wayyyy after their bedtime! It was all just insane.) As you can probably tell, I did NOT get much sleep these past five days. But it was absolutely worth it!

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It was a dope vacation overall and am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico for fun. My friends and I decided to try and make traveling an annual occurrence, so I’m looking forward to the crazy adventures that the world has in store for us in the future! Now that my two-week vacation is just about over, I plan on catching up on some sleep before dealing with the fact that I’m about to officially be a third-year medical student in a few short weeks. Ain’t that crazy?? It’s pretty weird to even say that I’m going to be a third-year. I’ve been in the classroom environment for so long…so not having to adhere to that lifestyle anymore is totally strange. I actually start third-year orientation this week, which consists of jam-packed 8am-5pm days full of information about what our next couple of years is going to look like. Needless to say, it’s going to be a very interesting couple of weeks and an even more interesting couple of years. But I’m ready for it. Okay I’m lying; another week of vacation would be absolutely lovely. But whatever, I’ll take what I can get lol. Ultimately, this two-and-a-half week-long orientation will definitely help to prepare me for the new dimension of learning that lies ahead, a dimension that will help to equip me with the practical and necessary skills that I need in order to become an effective and successful Black Man, M.D.

Y’all have a splendid week!

“To the degree we’re not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.” – Peter McWilliams

– Black Man, M.D.