D.C. To Philly

A-hem, a-hemmm.

🎶Innnnnn West Philadelphia born and raised,

On the playground is where I spent most of my days

Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool

And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school

When a couple of guys who were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I got in one little fight and my mom got scared

And said “You’re moving wity your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”🎶

Now you already know that I couldn’t be up here in West Philadelphia without paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite actors! Shoutout to my man Will Smith, come out here and have brunch or something with a youngin’! 😄😎

Confused The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air GIF

Now that I’m all settled here in Philly after driving up here yesterday (TOLLS ARE THE DEVIL), it has finally hit me that my time in D.C. has officially come to an end. My final week at Children’s National was full of positive experiences, all of which led up to my residency interview there that took place on Friday! The interview day went by smoothly, even though both the morning traffic and the 1000+ traffic lights that I had to get through before arriving at the hospital tried to conspire against me 😒.

Throughout the day, I learned even more great things about the program than I had already known, which is saying a lot because, well you know, I spent a freakin’ month there. My fellow applicants and I were able to talk with current residents about the program, listen in on a presentation given by the program director (HE IS HILARIOUS 😂), meet the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, get a tour of the hospital, and participate in a noon conference. Throughout the day, I had two separate interviews that felt moreso like genuine conversations rather than me being put on the spot in a glaring spotlight. Before I knew it, the interview day was over 😯. I think that it went well overall; hopefully my interviewers think the same! I honestly really lucked out with being able to schedule my interview on the last day of my rotation. This made the interview process here so much more convenient and it provided the perfect finish to my rotation experience.

neil patrick harris good job GIF by bubly

In the days leading up to my second interview of the interview season, I helped treat as many patients as I could by taking histories from them, performing physical exams, obtaining informed consents from parents if necessary, presenting them to my attendings, providing an assessment and plan, and writing notes on each patient. In addition, I continued to take in the diversity of the patient population by having conversations with parents about where they were from and the things that brought them to the nation’s capital. The topic of diversity came up during the meetings I had with the Department Chair of Pediatrics as well as with the Residency Program Director throughout the week. In my conversations with them, they demonstrated how committed they were to creating a physician workforce that mirrors the diversity of the patients in this country. The program really seems to be taking active measures in this realm, which is something that I really appreciate.

Completely unrelated to the topic of diversity, I decided to get an environmental allergy test because why not? I had never had one before and there was a nurse who needed to get some training in performing allergy tests, so I went ahead and helped her out by being a guinea pig.

BRUH.

I was floored when I got my results back.

Turns out my allergy testing came back positive for just about everything that I was tested for 😂. And I’m not even exaggerating. According to the test, I have an allergy to:

  • “Tree Mix 3” (Elm, Maple, Sweet Gum, Sycamore)
  • Bermuda
  • Johnson
  • KORT Grass Mix (Kentucky blue, Orchard, Red top, Timothy Grass)
  • Weed Mix 1 (Cocklebur, Lamb Quarter, Pigweeed, Plaintain, Russian Thistle)
  • Weed Mix 2 (Baccharius, Mugwort, Nettle, Ragweed, Sorrel)
  • Indoor and Outdoor Molds
  • Dust Mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rats
  • Mice

chris jericho what GIF by CBC

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have to avoid all of these things. A lot of these came back barely positive. Plus, it turns out that my body has been sensitized to the vast majority of these substances. However, my biggest reactions came from dust mites and cockroaches. The reaction was so positive that even the healthcare providers I was working with were flabbergasted. I told them that I had never really experienced any allergy symptoms, but I did tend to sneeze a lot whenever I was cleaning an area that had a lot of dust. I just figured that was a normal reaction for everyone lol. Also for the past couple years, I’ve experienced itchy and watery eyes on a nightly basis but I attributed that to dry eyes after my Optometrist diagnosed me with that. My attending suggested that my eyes may be getting dry as a symptom of dust allergy and that I could be experiencing itchy eyes every night because of the amount of dust that accumulates on my face throughout the day. The fact that my symptoms go away when I wash my face only made her suspicion that much stronger.

chris pratt mind blown GIF by Omaze

So I guess I officially have allergies lol. When I told my girlfriend, she was thrilled to hear that she was no longer the only one who suffered from allergies 😂. I guess I should start having some Zyrtec on hand or something now. Or maybe I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean at night. Yeah, I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean. Cheaper than popping a pill everyday.

Although I’ll miss the outpatient life (it was sooo good to me 😭), I’m looking forward to my inpatient experience here at CHOP that I’m sure will be as unforgettable as Children’s National was. I’m within walking distance from the hospital, which is awesome because I very quickly learned that trying to drive and park around here is pretty terrible. And I gotta give a HUGE SHOUTOUT to my friends (they also happen to be fellow ‘Canes 😏) up here who have allowed me to crash with them for the next month! I deeply appreciate your generosity!! 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

All done with this post! Bye for now! And I hope that your week is as great as the one that I’m hoping to have! ✌🏿

– Black Man, M.D.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

P.S. – I just recently got hit by some voter suppression tactics and I’m still in shock about it. Worst part is that I have other friends who told me that they were affected by voter suppression as well. I can’t even imagine the number of people out there who are going to decide not to vote because of the inconvenient difficulties that can spring up unexpectedly while trying to do so. Best believe that I’ll be on the phone with someone this week about this. North Carolina better give me the absentee ballot that I applied for over a month ago…they messing with the WROOOOOOONG ONE 👊🏿👊🏿👊🏿

The Power of Adaptability

This week is my last week in D.C. and I’m not ready to leave just yet 😭😭😭.

I’ve really settled into the flow of things in my rotation and have quickly gotten used to the diverse nature of this city. I’ll probably never get used to the traffic in this city, but I’ve managed to get around without losing my mind, which is an accomplishment if you ask me. 😊 I kept telling myself that I would eventually start using the metro to avoid the congestion, but I would always end up leaving for clinic each morning in my car. It’s just easier and more convenient to me, even though I spend a good amount of time on the road as well as a good amount on gas money.

Angry Simon Cowell GIF

After this upcoming week, I’ll be heading up to Philly to start another Pediatric inpatient rotation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I’ll be on a general pediatric team that also treats kids with allergic, immunologic, rheumatologic and hematologic conditions. Yeah I know, that’s a lot of different types of conditions. I just recently got my schedule for the rotation and boooyyy am I going to be busy 😅. I’m really going to be living like an intern…six day work-weeks with only one day off each week, one week of nights, case conferences, teaching sessions, performing patient responsibilites on an intern level — yeahhh I’m gonna be working for real. I probably won’t see much outside of the hospital to be honest…but that’s okay, there’ll be plenty to see in the hospital. Plus, being in the north and all, I’m sure that it’s going to get cold real soon so staying indoors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Shoutout to the power of positive thinking 🙌🏿😂.

With all the time I’m going to be spending in the hospital, I’m definitely going to be able to see a wide variety of illnesses and there’s a good chance that I’ll be participating in very unique and interesting cases. Also, as you may already know if you’ve been following my posts these past couple of months, I just so happen to have some experience in hematology, allergy and immunology….so I’m fortunate in that I’ll be able to continue building upon the knowledge that I’ve accumulated in those sub-specialties so far. 😄 In addition, I’ll get to network with a variety of people and will be paired with mentors who will undoubtedly be instrumental in helping me lay the foundation for my future career. Until I get to my experience at CHOP however, I need to get through a mountain of modules that need to be completed prior to rotating there.

Confused Steve Harvey GIF

Now about my most recent week in the Capital.

I had a pretty full schedule of events last week, those of which included a couple of food allergy clinic days, an inner-city asthma clinic day, a mock interview session, my first residency interview at Wake Forest, a couple of one-on-one meetings with faculty here at Children’s National, an allergy & immunology department-wide morning conference, a meeting with one of Senator Cory Booker’s legislative assistants on Capitol Hill, and a great weekend with my girlfriend and other friends who are here in D.C. Yeah I know, I told you it was going to be a lot lol. I did my best to take things one day at a time though and that helped me get through everything that I experienced throughout the week.

The food allergy clinic days were the usual, where I helped consent patients and their families to oral food challenges, took histories, performed physical exams, and presented the diverse array of patients that I interacted with to my attendings. The inner-city asthma clinic was unique in that it was designed specifically to comprehensively address issues regarding asthma in children, which meant that there was an extensive amount of time dedicated to this mission. The patient and their family would meet with an asthma educator and the physician, with some visits taking as long as 90 minutes if necessary! 😯 I’m glad that I got the chance to participate in that experience, because I also ended up learning some very useful information about asthma and all the various substances in the environment that can trigger it.

As a participant of the Minority Senior Scholarship Program (MSSP), I got the opportunity to engage in a mock interview session as well as to go to Capitol Hill to talk with a legislative assistant about her role in health policy while also asking her questions regarding health policy and how we as future physicians can help influence it for the sake of our patients. The mock interview session was very helpful because not only was I able to practice my interview skills a couple days before my first residency interview, but I was also able to gain some valuable advice that will really help me out on the interview trail. The session at Capitol Hill was primarily a conversation between the students in the MSSP and a legislative assistant, who explained how she helps advise Senator Cory Booker and answered the barrage of questions that we had for her. She encouraged us to keep our passion for advocacy as we grow into physicians and shared with us how much she admired the work that Pediatricians do when it comes to advocating for their patients. It was a really cool experience overall, even though we didn’t end up going inside the Capitol building like I initially thought we would lol. I’m not gonna lie, I was getting hype as we drove up to the Capitol building in our Uber, but we then took a sharp turn left and ended up at another building a couple of blocks away. But then again, it’s not every day that you get to walk into the office of a Senator!

As for my interview at Wake, it ended up going pretty well overall! I definitely felt welcomed, many aspects of both the pediatric residency program and life in Winston-Salem were reinforced to me, and I had some great conversations with my two interviewers. That particular interview day was a day specifically for interviewees who had some sort of tie to Wake Forest, so I was able to connect with the majority of my classmates who are also going into Pediatrics, which was nice. Honestly, the only stressful part about the whole day was the fact that I had to fly from D.C. to Raleigh Tuesday night, pick up a rental car from the airport, drive to Chapel Hill to stay the night at my girlfriend’s place, and drive in a rental car from Chapel Hill to Winston early Wednesday morning through the rain in order to make it to the interview group with only a couple of minutes to spare. And then after the day was over, I had to drive back to Chapel Hill to pick my stuff up, drive to Raleigh, return the rental car and fly back to D.C. that night in order to go to clinic the next morning.

oh my god what GIF

It was definitely A LOT, but it was also worth it. With my first interview complete, I feel that much more comfortable attending interviews at other institutions. Plus, I felt like I got a solid feel of what residency at Wake would be like. With that said, I feel adequately prepared for my interview here at Children’s National this Friday! 😁

michelle rodriguez letty ortiz GIF

My busy week was topped off with a fun weekend with my girlfriend and other good friends of mine. Between eating at a “bottomless” brunch, eating some of D.C.’s deep-dish pizza, visiting various monuments, viewing portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, watching a movie (The Oath) before it’s nationwide release date, and (painfully) watching the UM vs. UVA game at a bar/restaurant/arcade, I had an awesome time! The Canes may have lost (in a ridiculous fashion, to say the least), but it’s the time spent with the people I care about that matters!

I’ve been typing for a good amount of time now, so I think that it’s about time that I end this post and start putting in some more work on these modules that I really need to finish up. 😅

I hope that your week turns out to be an excellent one!

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” – Denis Waitley

– Black Man, M.D.

Life In The Capital

D.C. IS. LIT. 🔥🔥🔥

I just needed to let you know in case you weren’t already aware. My experience in the nation’s capital so far has been fantastic!

First off, I’ve been able to learn so much in my first week of my Allergy & Immunology elective at CNMC. Like, SO MUCH. I thought that I had a good understanding of what food allergies were and about the overall mechanisms of various allergic and immunologic conditions. Turns out that my understanding was basic at best lol. There’s definitely more to the specialty of allergy & immunology than meets the eye. Not only have I become aware of conditions such as FPIES and Omenn syndrome, but I’ve also learned the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to diagnose and treat both food and environmental allergies. In addition, I’ve quickly become comfortable taking an allergy history and teaching families how to use epinephrine to treat an anaphylatic reaction. I must have been doing a great job or something because one of the mothers of a patient kept telling me how sharp I looked and how good of a role model I was to her teenage son. My heart melted even more when she told me how proud she was of me, before proceeding to tell her son that he could be a doctor too in case his basketball dreams didn’t work out.

excited done with finals GIF

The education that I have been receiving has only been made better by the kindness of the providers that I’ve been working with. Everyone has been so relaxed and willing to help me not only acclimate to the workflow, but to also help me understand concepts that I’ve been curious to learn about. The chill atmosphere in the clinics I’ve worked in so far has allowed me to feel comfortable enough to truly take advantage of all the learning opportunities that have been offered to me. Also, I can’t adequately talk about my experiences without mentioning the diverse array of patients that I’ve seen. The cultural melting pot that makes up the city of D.C. is simply phenomenal. I’ve probably seen patients from over ten different countries this past week, no exaggeration. As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the patients that I saw on my first day shared the same race or ethnicity. It’s amazing to be able to meet and treat people from many different backgrounds. I really want to be able to continue treating such a diverse array of patients throughout my professional career.

Outside of clinic, you could catch me either reading up on articles related to my elective, prepping for interviews, getting work done for the SNMA, or catching up with friends that I haven’t seen in a long time (between Friday night’s talent show at Howard and hanging out on U Street last night, there was a lot of fun to be had lol). Oh, and getting extremely frustrated trying to drive in D.C.

Bruh.

The traffic here can get horrendous. It didn’t help that it rained just about all day every day throughout the week. At one point, the mixture of heavy rain and traffic was so bad that it literally took me an hour to drive six miles. ONE HOUR. SIX MILES.

Oh My God Omg GIF

How absurd is that? And because I travel between two clinics for my rotation, I have to do a lot of commuting back and forth from the main hospital to the outside clinic. I’m seriously considering quitting driving in D.C. altogether and just using public transportation. But at the same time, driving myself around is very convenient, even with the traffic and all.

*Sigh*

C’est la vie.

Alright, that’s all I’m going to write today. Not too long, not too short. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my team in clinic, exploring the city more, and meeting up with other old friends while getting to make new ones. I also hope that these next three weeks don’t fly by too fast…🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

Make your week a marvelous one! And please, please, PLEEEAAASSEEE remember to register to vote if you haven’t already!

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” – William Arthur Ward

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – As I was getting updates about the Kavanaugh hearings taking place last week, I eventually came to realize that this event that was being broadcasted across the nation was literally taking place about fifteen minutes away from me. Talk about surreal.

 

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Man I have so much to say, but not a lot of time to type it all out. As you can see, it’s Monday…which means that I had just about no time to type up a post yesterday. Why didn’t I have time to type up a post, you might ask? Well, I would answer back by saying that I spent the majority of my Sunday in a Board of Directors meeting for the Student National Medical Association. After the meeting ended, I had to drive from Delaware back to D.C. to attend the orientation for the Medical Senior Scholarship Program (MSSP) at Children’s National Medical Center. (My acceptance into this scholarship program allowed for me to participate in an away rotation at this hospital. Look at God!) In order to get back to D.C. though, I had to fight in the war that bumper-to-bumper traffic, blistering rain, and taxing tolls waged against me. Speaking of them tolls,  can you believe that I paid $16 just to get to Delaware, and $8 just to drive back to D.C.?? Like, what kind of scam is this?? Booyyy was I mad. Matter of fact, I’m starting to get annoyed just thinking about it again. Smh. But anyway, after I FINALLY got back to D.C., I got oriented to the hospital by one of the fellows there and then I finally got back to my cousin’s place, which is where I’m staying for the month. I then had to get all prepared for my first day in clinic in the short amount of time I had left and thus made the executive decision to push this post to tonight.

So there you have it. That’s my excuse. Take it or leave it. 🙃

I’m gonna just blaze through the important updates in my life so that I can get through the rest of the tasks that I need to complete before going to bed tonight. First off, the SNMA National Leadership Institute that took place in Delaware this past weekend was a fantastic experience! Outside of helping take pictures throughout the conference to post on the organization’s social media, I was able to sit in on multiple sessions that focused on branding one’s self in this day and age, reprogramming the negative bias that we all hold within ourselves, optimizing grit and resilience, useful tips for interview season, and pinpointing & combating microaggressions. In addition, I got the chance to do some networking and even got approached by a pre-med student who distinctly remembered me from a panel I was on back at AMEC in San Francisco! Shoutout to her for reading my blog on a consistent basis and I wish her the best of luck on her medical school application cycle!

mel b good luck GIF by America's Got Talent

Oh and yeah, I was also busy playing an active role in a board meeting on Sunday. I had to give (A TON) of updates from my committee (External Affairs) as well as from an AdHoc committee that both my co-chair and I are in charge of. I did a lot of talking when it was my turn to give updates, and I’m happy to say that my updates were well-received! 😄 Being on the Board of Directors is some serious work though; I feel like I’m always busy doing something for the SNMA. Matter of fact, SNMA tends to take up the majority of the free time I have when I’m not busy doing clinical work. While the endless amount of work can get irritating at times, I honestly am glad that I decided to join the board. The experience that I’m receiving coupled with the connections that I’ve been establishing makes it SO worth it.

I spent a good amount of my free time last week tying up loose ends that I had been putting off during my Heme/Onc AI. I ran a ton of errands, got my locs retwisted (ayyyyeeee I’m fresh), spent time with my girlfriend, prepared for the SNMA conference, did a lot of emailing, helped host some conference calls, and drove from Winston-Salem all the way up to Maryland. I even got to stop and visit some of my siblings on my trip up to the DMV! (DMV = D.C., Maryland, Virginia. That’s for those of you who thought I was talking about the godforsaken Department of Motor Vehicles). And last but certainly not least, I actually ended up getting some residency interviews last week!!!

tiffany haddish dancing GIF by Saturday Night Live

I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be securing any interviews until about maybe mid-October. With that said, try to imagine my complete surprise when I got my first interview last Monday! Ever since then, I’ve been on an unusually high level of alertness for new emails lol. Like, I really do look like a madman whenever I feel my phone vibrate. Boooyyy I be yanking my phone out of my pocket so fast…..

It feels awesome to know that residency programs are confident enough in me to give me a shot at training in their program. This application cycle is already proving to be leaps and bounds better than my medical school application cycle was 😅. I’m looking forward to my interviews and to hearing back from the other residency programs that I’m currently waiting on!

Okay I’m all done for now. My first day at Children’s National was wonderful; you’ll hear all about it plus more on my next post! 😉

Keep your grind up this week!

“Let yourself be driven by your will to succeed rather than your fear of not succeeding.” – Kevin Hart

– Black Man, M.D.

State Of Emergency

In case you hadn’t already heard, my residency application was finally submitted on Wednesday, September 12th at 8:09 PM! I’ve officially applied for my first big boy job!

blackish make it rain GIF by HULU

Talk about getting a weight lifted off your shoulders. My application was actually already complete on Tuesday, but for whatever reason I refused to submit it that day. I just couldn’t bear to send it off knowing that I wouldn’t be able to revise it at all once it was gone. Plus I had until Saturday to submit it, so why rush to get it in? Thanks to my growing anxiety and hesitation, you can probably guess what I ended up doing. My application ended up going through a scrutinizing process, where I couldn’t help but double-check everything that I had typed into the application. My double-check was soon followed by a triple-check, then a quadruple-check, a quintuple-check, etc. etc. I continued this maddening routine the rest of Tuesday evening and all throughout Wednesday evening until my girlfriend called me out on it and encouraged me to press “Submit”. After sitting with me for about 20 minutes, I finally mustered up enough courage to send my application in. Even after sending it in, I felt some anxiety about not being able to edit it again…but then after looking at the PDF version that was still accessible in the ERAS system one last time, I finally felt at peace with my decision to send it out early. It was liberating to not have to think about sending it out as the deadline of Sept. 15th neared. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend though, I definitely would have sent it out much closer to Saturday lol. I was also pressured to submit it by the impending hurricane that was forecasted to slam the East Coast the same weekend that my application was due. And I would be damned if I lost power before being able to submit my application.

Speaking of Hurricane Florence, this storm really screwed up all my plans for the weekend. I didn’t even know about this storm until last Sunday evening, and it very quickly became the talk of the town as we advanced through the week. By Wednesday, it became very clear that North Carolina was going to endure a direct hit from this Category 4 storm.

panicked the office GIF

With that said, the state proceeded to declare a state of emergency and widespread panic ensued. The coastal areas definitely needed to evacuate, but the forecast wasn’t as certain for more inland areas like Winston-Salem and Charlotte. We still had to take precautionary measures though, so I ended up being relieved of all clinical duties from noon on Thursday and throughout the weekend. That was actually a bummer, because it was my last week on the Peds Heme/Onc service, a service that I had grown to love. But the precautionary measures didn’t stop there. I had been recently selected to be one of the student interviewers for this cycle of medical school applicants (yay me 😄) and the mandatory training that I needed to attend was supposed to be last Thursday. That ended up getting rescheduled to this Tuesday afternoon. The annual Millenium Ball, a school-sponsored party that allows for all of the classes to celebrate the beginning of a school year together, was also cancelled.

Come On Please GIF

In addition, the World Congress of Ultrasound Medical Education conference that had been scheduled to take place at Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 15th was cancelled too. I mention this because I had signed up to volunteer for this conference back in the spring and I really wanted to learn all sorts of things from the world-renowned ultrasound experts scheduled to attend this event. So best believe that I was pretty annoyed about that, though I’m sure that Wake Forest was 1000x more annoyed than I was because they had been planning for this conference for God knows how long. I was then supposed to FINALLY get my locs retwisted, but I had to reschedule that for this Tuesday as well. And my girlfriend and I were looking forward to going to a nearby vineyard this weekend after I had submitted my application, but you can already guess what happened to those plans.

Oh Hell No I Give Up GIF

So because of this hurricane-turned-tropical-storm, we’ve been chillin’ in my apartment all weekend getting work done while watching a ton of college football. The worst part is that the storm really didn’t even hit Winston that bad! I’ve thankfully had power this whole weekend, and we even went out to eat last night. So much for buying extra bottles of water and groceries. I even finally broke out my heavy-duty flashlight that my dad got me for Christmas last year! (Yes, my dad got me a flashlight for Christmas. And no, I did not ask for one. 😂) Turns out that none of our extra supplies have been necessary up to this point. But I sure ain’t complaining! I’m really glad to have been fortunate enough to not suffer the very real consequences of this storm that other people along the coastline have had to suffer. I feel so bad for all the people who have been severely affected by the storm though. Even though Winston mainly got a lot of rain and wind, I don’t want to downplay the havoc that this storm brought when it hit land as a Category 2 hurricane. R.I.P. to all of the people who lost their lives to this storm.

Now that my Peds Heme/Onc rotation is sadly officially over, I have a week “off” until I head to D.C. to start my first away rotation in Allergy & Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center! I have a week “off” because the rotation schedules at my school and George Washington University are off by a week, so I had to use one of my “flex” weeks this week to compensate for that. It’s great because I can take care of a lot of tasks that I’ve been pushing off for a while and also get some downtime to rest for a bit. I can also attend the quarterly SNMA’s National Leadership Institute that is taking place in Delaware this weekend. I’m excited to see all the thrilling attractions that Delaware has to offer!! Said no one ever. But still, I think that I’ll get some great networking opportunities at the conference and learn valuable things from the speakers there. Plus, the conference site is only about a couple hours from D.C., which is pretty convenient for me. So Delaware, here I come!

That’s it from me today. Oh and before I leave, I just want to remind you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. How crazy is it that I was on my Heme/Onc rotation this month? If you can find a way to support the eradication of both childhood cancer and sickle cell disease this month, I encourage you to do so! And then while you’re at it, be sure to register to vote if you haven’t already! 😄

Make sure to have an exceptional week!

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Leap Of Faith

The time has finally come.

I’ll finally be submitting my application to residency programs this week.

nervous big bang theory GIF

People who have gone through this process always told me that the due date would sneak up on you fast. And whaddya know, it did just that. For the longest time, September 15th was a date that seemed so far out into the future. I had filed away the date in my brain a long time ago and slowly began working on my application little-by-little. Although I was aware of the approaching due date, I don’t think it really hit me that it was coming up so soon until about a week ago. Thankfully I had been working on my application all summer, so I didn’t have a freakout moment or anything once the realization hit me. But with that being said, I spent all of yesterday finalizing my application so that I could print it out, review it all one last time in PDF form, and officially submit it at some point this week. My letters of recommendation have also been trickling in, which I’m very thankful for. In regards to where I’m applying to, I’m looking at programs across the East Coast, with most of them being concentrated in the Southeast region of the U.S. I initially had over 30 programs on my list, which I’ve successfully whittled down to 18. Man I swear, I can’t wait to finally submit this application so that I won’t have to think about it anymore!

This upcoming week is also the last week of my Peds Heme/Onc AI. 😔 I must admit, I’m not ready to finish up this rotation just yet. I’ve learned A TON about cancer therapies, treating various blood disorders, how to effectively communicate with the families of cancer patients and how to write my patient notes in a more effective manner. My team has been absolutely wonderful to be around, and I’ve loved the time I’ve spent with the patients on the floor. I’ve also surprised myself on how well I’ve been able to manage my emotions during the rotation so far. There have been some really sad moments as well as some very happy moments, all of which have been memorable. We even had a taco party for one of our patients, much to the delight of both him and his mother! Along with the experiences I’ve had here, I’ve found that I am quite interested in the pathophysiology of cancer and the innovative ways that are being used to treat the various types of cancer that exist. As of right now, I can definitely see myself working in this sub-specialty in the future! However, my mind is still open to other possibilities and it will remain open as I continue to get through fourth-year and work through my various electives in residency.

In addition to caring for my patients last week, I got the opportunity to attend the Department of Pediatrics session of the Dean’s Research Symposia Series as well as another Schwartz rounds, a multidisciplinary forum focused on discussing the experiences that various healthcare providers have gone through. The research symposium was styled like a TED Talk, where pediatricians in various specialties spoke for five minutes at a time about some of the research they were doing. The topics ranged from things like obesity, food insecurity and literacy promotion to NICU clinical trials, palliative care and medical education. It was pretty interesting to see such a plethora of ideas being presented and reminded me of just how vast the field of pediatrics is.

The theme of this month’s Schwartz rounds was focused on medical error and how the healthcare professionals on the panel dealt with it in their careers. It was powerful to watch them talk about their experiences with error and learn how it has impacted the way they practice medicine as well as their own personal lives. As much as I want to believe otherwise, I know that there will come a time in my life where I’ll unfortunately make a medical error. When that time comes, I’ll be able to draw from the experiences of these professionals to help me cope with the emotions and consequences that I’ll face. Especially after having attended that session, I believe that it is incredibly important to be in an environment where you feel comfortable enough to share experiences like this with others without feeling judged. Medical professionals have to deal with this unrelenting pressure of having to be perfect, which is unrealistic because we are all human. Because of this pressure, people in healthcare are naturally afraid of admitting mistakes, which can ultimately have negative consequences for the patients. By admitting errors, working to resolve them, and making sure that they don’t happen again in the future, medical professionals will ultimately be delivering healthcare in a safer manner. It is also worth mentioning that it is much better for your mental health if you feel that you can be open and honest about your mistakes with others. I’m really glad that I was able to attend and learn from this session!

Alright, gotta go now. I hope that you start your week off on a positive note!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – That finals match in the U.S. Open between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was WILD. Definitely one of the craziest tennis matches I’ve ever seen. Oh, and Drake and Meek are friends again. I just figured that was worth noting lol.

Life Can Be So Unfair

Do you know someone who was diagnosed with cancer? Chances are that you do. Or at the very least, you may know someone who knows someone who was diagnosed. If you answered yes to the previous question, were you in the same room with them when they first found out?

There have been various people in my life who have had to struggle with this evil disease, but never did I once stop and think about the emotions they must have felt when they were first diagnosed. As they actively fought their diagnosis, each of these courageous people seemed to always keep a positive demeanor about them whenever I interacted with them. However, behind this positive spirit lies the pain and despair that consumed them in the moment they first learned about their diagnosis; a pain that was palpable in the rooms of the two patients that my team ended up diagnosing with cancer last week.

Before last week, I had only witnessed one person being diagnosed with cancer. This event had occurred last year during my Pediatrics rotation, and the sorrow that filled the atmosphere in the room was very similar to the sorrow I had felt last week as I watched the family members process the tough news that cancer had unfairly waged a war against their loved one. It was as if time had stood still. Although I could feel their sorrow and despair as they took in the information, there’s no way for me to even begin to describe what it must feel like to hear that your child has cancer. The fact that nobody knows what causes it in otherwise healthy children makes the news that much harder to process.

The good news is that the types of cancer that these patients have are very treatable and are associated with high remission rates. With that being said, the journey towards recovery will not be an easy one. The main treatment has to be given in a hospital setting, so they’ll be in and out of the hospital for a while. This, in turn, will have a direct impact on their everyday lives. They’ll have to complete schoolwork in the hospital, be very cognizant of avoiding infections, and learn how to deal with the many side-effects that the medications come with. It’s so sad and unfair for a child to have to go through something like this. Attempting to live as normal of a life as possible while having to actively battle for it at the same time is such a monumental task. However, the positive attitudes of the patients, coupled with the amazing amount of love and support that has been pouring out from the families and my team, gives me tremendous hope that they will both be able to battle this disease and effectively conquer it, regardless of the hardships that will come along the way.

While on service last week, I got the opportunity to not only watch a lumbar puncture, but to also watch my attending perform two bone marrow biopsies and bone marrow aspirations. It was the first time I had ever seen someone access bone marrow. It looked as painful as I had imagined it would be, but thankfully the patients who underwent these procedures were anesthetized the whole time. In addition, I took the initiative to learn more about neutropenic fever and ended up giving a short and informal lecture about it to my team. I’m glad I decided to do that because: 1) I could never seem to get this concept to stick in my head and 2) we actually ended up getting a real-life example of a patient with neutropenic fever later on in the week.

In the midst of the busy whirlwind of activity and events last week, I just so happened to age yet another year. Although I pretty much worked throughout my birthday, I did get the chance to have a delicious dinner at the home of one of my scholarship donors. He and his wife had graciously invited both my girlfriend and I to their home in order to get to know us better and to celebrate my birthday with dinner and dessert. We ultimately had a wonderful evening with them and I got to learn a lot about the interesting lives they lived. I further celebrated my birthday this past weekend in Charlotte, where I played various games at a bar, had a pleasant dinner at a fancy restaurant, had a night out at the Epicenter, enjoyed brunch, appreciated the Levine Museum of the New South, played some FIFA, rode on the Funny Bus in Charlotte (it was funny how unfunny the bus was) and watched UMiami’s first football game of the season in horror as we proceeded to get obliterated by LSU. Jesus Christ. It was bad. Not the best way to start off a season…but hopefully this loss sets the team straight and motivates them to do better from here on out. But on another note, I got the chance to go to Carowinds for the first time! It had been a long time since I had rode a roller coaster, but it was just as thrilling as I had remembered it being. And shoutout to the fast lane pass for allowing us to fly past the long lines and getting us to the rides in less than five minutes! 😎😜

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With my birthday behind me and Labor Day weekend now coming to an end, I’m ready to refocus my attention on both my rotation and on finally finishing up my ERAS application once and for all. I’m also ready for all of the events, activities and responsibilities that will be facing me this fall as I continue to trek through my final year of school. I hope that your weekend was a fun one, and that it adequately energized you for this upcoming week!

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein

– Black Man, M.D.

The Little Things In Life

Ayyyeeeee ya boy is turning 25 this week!!

dance dancing GIF

The big 2-5. Lol, some of you reading this may chuckle at the fact that this is such a big deal to me. You’re probably reading this like:

“Boy, 25 ain’t nothing. You ain’t grown at all, you still a youngin!” 

Others of you may gasp after reading this and be like:

“Daaannng, you 25?? Bro, you old as hell!”

Yet, others of you reading this probably don’t really care at all and are like:

“Okkkaayyy? And? The sky is still blue, the grass is still green and Kanye’s still crazy. You got older, whoooop-tee-doo.”

Whatever the case, just know that as I sit here and type this, I’m seriously thinking about just how much life I’ve already lived and how much more (Lord willing) lies ahead of me. I don’t care what you all say, turing 25 is a big deal to me lol. I’m pretty much in my mid-20s. Mid-20s!! I can clearly remember entering my 20s and feeling like I was all grown. And you couldn’t tell me NOTHING when I finally turned 21. But man, I’m about to turn 25 and I’m in awe. This year is going to be life-changing for sure. Like, I’m going to be recieving my medical degree and starting residency at this age! I also get the feeling that within this next year, I’m going to be enjoying some of the greatest life experiences that I’ll ever have.

ready viola davis GIF by Team Coco

Man, I’m ready for 25 and am excited to celebrate my birthday this upcoming Labor Day weekend with my girl! Not only will I be going to Carowinds for the first time and enjoying some of the other things that Charlotte has to offer, but I’ll also be cheering on my ‘Canes when they play their first game of the season against LSU on Sunday! That’s right, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY!!!

college football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

I’m really hoping that we can capitalize off of our success from last season and really shake things up this year!

Okay, let me actually start talking about stuff that you care about. 😂

My first week on the Peds Heme/Onc service was a fantastic one! Although there was an abnormally low number of patients on the service this week, I was able to maximize my learning opportunities with the patients I was caring for by studying their charts, ferociously googling and reviewing chemotherapies like a madman, asking endless questions to the members of my team, and engaging in the attending’s educational discussions throughout the week. Because we had such a low number of patients for our abnormally huge team, I had ample time to get adequately acclimated to the service. The fact that the team was so chill and easy to work with made the week that much better. In addition, I had the opportunity to spend extra time with some of the patients on the service in order to form memorable relationships with them that I hope impacted their lives as much as they impacted mine. It was awesome to be able to sit and have a lengthy conversation with one of the teens on the service about regular teenager stuff. He helped me realize just how out-of-touch I was with current trends 😭. I also had a ton of fun getting crushed repeatedly in thumb-wrestling matches and staring contests by one of my younger patients throughout the week. She would make it a point to remind me to come back in the afternoon to play with her and she would ask people where I was if I hadn’t come to visit her yet during the day. She really liked to talk with me and beat me in her lil’ games 😂. I loved going to visit her in the afternoons; she was so precious!

I’m definitely looking forward to another week on this service and I’ll be more than ready to carry more patients in the event that things get busier. I’ve already learned a lot about managing patients with various blood disorders and types of cancer, and I’m sure that I’ll have the opportunity to learn much more as I spend more time on this service in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, I’ve already encountered patients with some really tough diagnoses and I anticipate that I’ll be encountering more soon enough. Cancer is such an evil disease man. If there’s anything that I’ve taken away so far though, it’s that these kids and their families have an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I’m absolutely honored to be able to serve as a health provider for them.

I spent the weekend at Chapel Hill in order to attend UNC’s First Look, a free program designed to give medical students the opportunity to check out some of the residency programs that the institution has to offer. There was a fun reception on Friday night, where I got the chance to meet students from various institutions as well as faculty at UNC. I also unexpectedly ran into some old friends and got the chance to catch up with them, which was an awesome surprise. The program continued on Saturday, where we listened to resident and faculty panels who answered the many questions that the audience posed and shared some of the experiences that they’ve had at UNC. We were then split into groups based on our specialty interest and had lunch with residents and faculty members who worked in the specialty we were interested in. After that, we listened to the keynote speaker, who happened to be the Chair of the Family Medicine Department at UNC and then I went on a tour of the facility with the Pediatrics residency program director and some other medical students interested in Pediatrics. After the tour, we came back to the main room and the program officially came to a close. That’s the quick synopsis you’re getting, because I’m getting tired of typing lol. Overall, I’m really glad I decided to attend because I felt like I got an even better idea of what resident life at UNC would be like and I learned some useful information about both the application cycle and residency in general. Plus, it’s always great to meet new people and to catch up with old friends! And I can’t forget about all the free “UNC swag” that I got just by being there 😎. (Shoutout to the new UNC coffee tumbler gifted to me! I was supposed to have bought one a week ago, but I kept putting it off. This is one of those rare times in my life that procrastination actually worked in my favor 😄)

Okay, I’m all done for today! I hope that you have a spectacular week! I definitely plan on having one! 😜

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

– Black Man, M.D.

Golden Opportunities

With my time in the NICU having now come to an end, I am now one less block away from finally receiving my M.D. in May!

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My next rotation will be on the Hematology/Oncology service, where I’ll be completing my first Acting Internship (AI). For those of you not familiar with the concept of an AI, it’s a rotation where you literally act like you’re an intern (first-year resident) on the service. You have additional responsibilites that aren’t typically expected of medical students and it’s supposed to be one of your tougher rotations as a fourth-year student because of the fact that there is more expected out of you. At my institution, we’re required to do two of these AIs as well as an ICU month. After selecting those required rotations, you are free to fill the rest of your schedule with any electives you want. In addition, we can’t select two AIs in the same specialty here…so my other AI in January is currently in Anesthesiology. I also unexpectedly got hit with another AI rotation for my away rotation in Philly, bringing me to a total of three AIs for the year. I had initially selected an elective for that away rotation, but there weren’t any other spots left in the preferences I selected…so I’m just gonna have to go and perform my best in my AI up there!

But yeah, back to the Heme/Onc service I’m starting tomorrow.

I’m actually really excited about starting this rotation, because I had heard such great things about the learning opportunities present as well as about the faculty on this service. To be honest, I actually don’t think I’ve heard one person say that they had an unpleasant experience on this rotation. This is one of the sub-specialties that I’ve developed a bit of an interest in, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s all about. However, I am also very aware of how emotionally draining this experience could potentially be. There will likely be many ups and downs throughout this month, so it’ll be important to remain emotionally healthy as I do my best to provide adequate care to these patients.

My last week in the NICU was a great one, just like the other weeks have been. I got some sort of closure for one of my patients that I had been following the entire month that I had been on service and I also got to do more things than I had done in past weeks, such as watching the birth of twins via C-Section. That was a beauty that I hadn’t seen since my Ob/Gyn rotation last summer. (Fun fact: the last time I saw a birth of twins was on my 24th birthday 😄) In the delivery room, my team and I were responsible for APGAR scoring the twins (I quickly learned how stressful resuscitating an infant can be 😰) and transporting them to the NICU for further evaluation. Because the father wasn’t in the room at the time, I was given the opportunity to cut the cord of one of the twins and I must admit, I had a bit of a moment. 😂

Flattered Happy Tears GIF by America's Got Talent

In addition to participating in the birth of twins, I also got the chance to place an umbilical vein catheter (UVC) into an infant! This catheter literally goes into the umbilical vein of the baby in order to allow for access to the central venous system so that we can administer IV fluids, nutrition, antibiotics, etc. It was a pretty simple task, but because the fellow and I had to get all gowned up and sterile, it felt like a huge deal lol. I ended up placing it EXACTLY where it needed to be and got some praise from both the fellow and attending on service 😄. And lastly, I gave an informative presentation on Epidermolysis Bullosa to my team, which was well-received. If you aren’t aware of this rare condition, just know that it’s a terrible disease to live with. I added a download link to my PowerPoint if you care to learn more about it! You could also just Google it too. Or just keep reading the rest of my post.

Man I can’t believe we’re already coming up on the end of August…I don’t want summer to end!! Once my birthday comes up on the 29th, summer is pretty much over and the weather will begin to cool off again. Well actually, with this North Carolina weather, that definitely isn’t a given. It may stay hot until we get slapped in the face with a random 40 degree wind chill in October. I’ll make sure to enjoy the rest of the summer as much as I can though. Also with the end of August comes the submission of my residency application and the nearing of my first away rotation in D.C.

Yikes.

Things suddenly seem to be moving faster than I anticipated. 😅

I’m done for now. Make sure to have a blessed week! And just as a heads up, the SNMA is partnering with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in getting people to pledge to vote in the midterm elections! Visit the #MedOutTheVote website to learn more about this movement!

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” – Benjamin Franklin

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Ready Or Not

Y’all, I have about a month until my residency application is due. A month. That’s like no time at all, especially if you live in my world where time insists on zipping by like a shooting star. I remember first learning about the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service)  and the whole timeline of fourth-year like it was yesterday. I also remember feeling like I had so much time left during that fourth-year information session back in the late fall of last year. Back then, I was more concerned about powering on through my Psychiatry and Neurology rotations so that I could get to winter break. Fourth year seemed like a mile away…..but here I am now, about to start the last week of my third rotation of my final year of medical school, only about a month out until the application is due.

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Luckily for me, my school ensures that we are prepared to submit our application well in advance by not only making us go to information sessions throughout the year, but also allowing us to pair with residency advisors during the summer in order to review the various elements of our application. Because I had to have drafts of my personal statement, CV and MSPE characteristics completed before my advisor meeting, I’ve already done all the hard work. I’ve even gotten a few people to review my personal statement already. All I need to do now to complete my application is to finish revising my personal statement, ensure that the people I’ve asked to write a letter of recommendation for me do so before the deadline, and complete the other fill-in-the-blank sections of my application. Then I’ll be pretty much set to submit! Oh wait, I also have to come to a final decision on which programs I’m actually going to apply to. 😅 Whittling my list down to about twenty-or-so programs is still a work in progress and is actually harder than I had anticipated, especially when there are so many fantastic pediatric programs across the East Coast. But I assure you, it’s getting done!

This past week was another one that went by in a blur. I woke up on Monday morning ready to start my week and before I knew it, I was leaving the hospital on Thursday afternoon wondering how the heck I was already approaching Friday. Carrying up to four patients at a time most of the week kept me pretty busy, which at the same time also helped make time fly by. By being responsible for this many patients, I felt like I was getting a taste of what being an intern was going to be like. I was writing notes for my patients, presenting them on rounds, assisting in coming up with plans of care for them, assisting in procedures (I helped perform a couple more of those 15-minute head taps that I wrote about last week lol) and even helping write orders for them. I really was feeling like the doctor that I’m going to become in less than a year!

Barack Obama Swag GIF

Overall, this past week in the NICU was another solid one. I even had a baby smile at me multiple times as I played with him! 😄 That about made my week, especially because of the straight-up sad nature of the NICU. These babies are literally the sickest infants that I’ve ever seen. Some of them fortunately end up getting better and going home, but many of them have been there for an extended period of time, with some of them having spent their entire lives in the hospital. It’s pretty depressing man. As a healthcare provider for these infants though, it’s extremely important that you don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment, no matter how sad and unfortunate the patients’ circumstances are. Of course you need to be able to emphasize with these patients and their families, but you also have to ensure that you’re not letting their circumstances affect your life in a negative and destructive way. It’s a much harder rule of thumb to follow than you may expect. Or maybe you actually do expect it to be a hard thing to do because, well you know, sick babies are naturally a sad sight to see.

While I feel like I’ve been able to emphasize with the patients and their families in an appropriate manner, I’ve found my mind frequently drifting off to what this experience in the NICU must be like for the families that come to visit their loved ones. Whereas each day in the NICU is just another day of school to me, it’s surely an emotional and unforgettable experience for each of the parents whose children are recieving care there. During these times of reflection, I tend to be brought back to the times I volunteered in the Ronald McDonald House’s Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital (located on the same floor as the PICU and the NICU), which is a place where families of the hospital’s pediatric patients can get together in a comfortable place close to their loved ones and rest while having access to free food and coffee. I remember witnessing how distressed and hopeful these families were about their loved ones, and being reminded that there was another world outside of the hospital that was full of the worried relatives and friends of each patient. It’s pretty terrifying how easy it is to go about your daily routine in the NICU without even taking a moment to seriously consider the perspective of the families who are scared to death about their loved ones. I hope to continue this habit of making time to consider the perspectives of others so that I can be that much more of an empathetic, caring and effective physician.

Well that’s it for today! Go on and live your best life this week!

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

– Black Man, M.D.