War On Ignorance

The grind has been real mayyyne.

Between keeping up with my classes, gearing up for the Step Study Period, transitioning between leadership roles in multiple organizations and taking care of necessary errands in between all that, it’s been a very, very busy week. This upcoming week is only about to be busier due to the fact that I’ll have to continue doing all that in addition to completing my final Clinical Skills exam for the year and participating in my last shadowing opportunity before I begin to study for Step.

Mashable meme what surprised huh

Although I spent like 93% of my waking hours last week studying at a desk of some sort, there were in fact some very interesting aspects of my week. To start off, I learned how to conduct a pelvic and rectal exam in my Clinical Skills class last week…picture that. I was also taught how to perform a Pap smear, which I had never actually seen performed before. We practiced each of these maneuvers on plastic dummies (THANK GAWWD) and it safe to say that I definitely learned quite a lot in that session. Also, I can only imagine how uncomfortable getting a Pap smear must be…that speculum is huge AF!! I know I said it last week but ima say it again; y’all ladies out there are the REAL MVPs. There’s just so much that y’all gotta go through that a lot of guys just aren’t aware of lol. It’s so wild. Y’all deserve so much respect.

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In an effort to prevent myself from Drake-ing the rest of this post, I’ll now briefly talk about my experience while volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital this past Saturday. Well, before my shift there was a refresher meeting at the actual Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem that a bunch of other Family Room volunteers, including myself, had to attend. It was a very light atmosphere in which we were reminded about why we do what we do and about the rules that are to be enforced in the room. We were also given a free Chick-Fil-A breakfast and played icebreaker games to learn more about the other volunteers in the room. It was real cool to actually meet and interact with other volunteers of different backgrounds and ages! As for my actual shift that day, I was reminded how important it was for many stressed families that the room was kept open. A few family members came up to me to express their deep gratitude for the Family Room and one person even asked me how he could donate to the Ronald McDonald House! Also during my shift, I watched as different families interacted with one another and I witnessed connections being weaved as they discussed diseases and conditions afflicting their loved ones that I had either never heard of, or had only seen in books and lectures. Listening to how a disease affects a family is very different from having to learn about it in a didactic nature; their conversations emphasized the critically important human side of medicine, which I really appreciated.

Lastly, I got the incredible opportunity to attend a session that featured the Co-Chairs (Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez & Linda Sarsour) of the massive Women’s March that took place this past month. The session, named “Reckoning and Resistance: A Discussion of What’s Next”, was moderated by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and was a very well attended discussion that pinpointed many various issues in this current political climate. I knew that it would be a good event overall, but what surprised me was just how electric the co-chairs were! They touched on so many necessary topics, some of which included:

  • How being personally impacted has caused great numbers of the “silent majority” to speak up and fight against concerning issues, something that marginalized populations have been having to do for a LONG time
  • The vital importance of communities standing up for one another
  • How we often underestimate our power as individuals
  • Emphasizing the fact that many of the distressing issues currently being broadcast on a larger stage have been distressing issues long before the Trump administration showed up
  • The undeniable fact that Trump and his administration were able to come to power because they reflect the unnerving beliefs of an unsettling amount of Americans
  • Being patriotic about our country but refusing to be blinded by the injustices in this country
  • Working towards the liberation of Black people in this country in order to help the liberation of other marginalized people here
  • The danger of the “silent majority” (well-intentioned people who turn a blind eye to issues that don’t affect them) and how the spirit of knowing people and sticking up for others being affected by certain issues can make us stronger as a country
  • The endless distractions that Trump is making in the media
  • The way that the media negatively portrays marginalized populations without covering why we’re in the various situations that we’re in
  • What White people can do to counter Trump’s agenda
    • Have courageous conversations with people who voted for Trump
    • Donate money to organizations looking to move this country in a progressive direction
    • Stand up for something that gets you out of your comfort zone; Show up for issues that affects others
    • Being CONSISTENTLY public and actively contacting Congressional leaders
    • Truly understanding the notions of White privilege and “White tears”
    • Being aware that they could be unknowingly benefiting from the oppression of other people, which could help them truly realize the pain that marginalized populations feel
  • The vital importance of taking back Congressional seats in 2018
  • Having to get uncomfortable due to the fact that the world as a whole is quickly becoming an uncomfortable place
  • The importance of having difficult conversations, for the lack of them helped propel Trump to the presidency

It was a fantastic discussion that surpassed my expectations and I’m real glad that the crowd that was present was able to hear what they had to say. I’m happy that I made the time to attend!

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Now that I’ve spilled my mind into this post, it’s time for me to get back to studying. I have so much to do man. Smh. Have a productive week and be sure to keep your head up!

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

– Black Man, M.D.

Strange Love

Whoa…when did we get to mid-February?? I swear it was just February 1st like two days ago…but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised at how fast time flies at this point. But being in mid-February means that I’ll be starting my dedicated Step Study Period in about three weeks. Which then means that I’ll be taking Step very, very soon. Sheesh. Can’t wait to finally get that exam over with! I’m already sick of talking about it.

Meanwhile, I’m getting through this last new block of new material and I actually love this stuff! It’s strange, I really didn’t picture myself having fun learning about hormone regulation and reproductive systems. Maybe it’s because when I “learned” it while studying for the MCAT, I really had no physiology foundation to build from so it was very hard for me to grasp back then. Ever since then, I had dreaded learning about the menstrual cycle again (shoutout to y’all ladies out there…y’all the real MVPs for having to live through that every single month) as well as about reproduction and hormone feedback systems. But now it’s all clicking so well for me and I’m having a blast lol. I’ve learned a while ago that I love thinking through systems and concepts as opposed to strict memorization, and that’s exactly what this block of endocrinology and reproductive systems emphasizes. You have to map out how different organs interact with one another and what the consequences are as a result of those interactions, which is really interesting. It’s a long block however, which means we about to be taking a long test in early March…but I’m definitely enjoying the ride so far!

Last week was pretty chill, apart from the Cabinet nominees who got confirmed and the continuing flood of BS our country is going through. Smh. Miami was fun though, although my girl, along with a sizable portion of the nation, took the dramatic Falcons loss pretty hard. Nevertheless, having dinner with her and bunch of friends at a sports bar while watching the game was a great time. I was also able to see more people on campus before I left, which was fantastic. After getting back to Winston, I proceeded to power through classwork while baking a cake for the annual bakeoff my school had. Lol yes, I said I baked a cake. Wanna see?

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Presenting to you, Christel’s Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake!

I didn’t win the bakeoff or anything, but it tasted really good so I’m proud of myself for that. 😊 Shoutout to the Tasty cookbook! I also got the chance to participate on yet another medical school panel down at Davidson College last Friday, where they were having a Pre-Health Professions Symposium. That was pretty cool! It’s always a pleasure being invited to talk to young students who are vying to become a healthcare professional. And last but not least, I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House’s Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital yesterday afternoon for the first time in a couple of months. Gotta do better about that lol.

That’s all I got today! Have a lovely Valentine’s Day (Or Single Awareness Day, however you wanna look at it) and keep up the good fight against this imposing administration!

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

Makin’ Moves

So this is very random, but I figured that I had to start of by saying that I just googled “Black Man, M.D.” for fun and this blog is actually one of the first things that pop up as a search result! Ayyyeeee!!! And then I googled “black medical student blog” and I’m also on the first page!!

We movin’ on up!!!

dancing drake

In other news, Test #1 of my second year is coming up in a couple of days…and to tell the truth, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I feel like I’ve sufficiently been able to take in almost everything that has been dished out to me, mainly because this block was effectively taught. Like, the course director of this block has been absolutely phenomenal. Because of her love for teaching, she has gone above and beyond for us in making sure that we understand hematology. It’s been such a good block that I’ve physically gone just to about every class this month, something I didn’t do as much in the past couple of blocks. (It also helps that I can skedaddle from my kitchen to school in under two minutes.) As I’ve said before, this material has been very interesting and applicable to the clinical setting, which has helped in digesting everything. I can effectively read a complete blood count (CBC) now and, for the most part, decipher what’s going on in the patient’s blood! I also understand how blood clots are formed as well as the mechanisms of a large number of cancer drugs. It’s all been really cool and although the piles of lectures I had to face looked quite daunting during the first week of classes, I can happily say that I’ve blazed through them all and it hasn’t been that bad!

The morning after Tuesday’s test, we start our Cardiology block. I have a fascination with how the heart works, so I’m pumped to get to that unit…but I’ve heard that: 1) it’s not easy at all and 2) it’s nowhere near as effectively taught as the heme block. Ehhh, nothing’s really easy in med school so I’m fine with that, but if the teaching isn’t effective then I’ll just find other ways to take it all in. That’s never stopped me in learning what I have to learn. I still gotta pay my tuition either way. Then I gotta become a doctor and scrape myself out of this negative-net-worth hole that I’ve been free-falling in. So, yeah.

Apart from my test, I was able to attend an Emergency Medicine lunch talk last Monday and was also able to help host a lunch talk with the Doctors In Training program with SNMA on Wednesday. I enjoyed both of the talks. The doctor giving the EM talk was a very good presenter and it was blatantly obvious that he absolutely loved his occupation. He made Emergency Medicine look so exciting and fulfilling; I’m sure he enthralled a number of the first-years that were present. I have absolutely no interest in EM, but I must say, he did present the occupation as if it were one of the best jobs in the world. As for the Doctors In Training lunch talk, I served as a campus representative for them and as such, I was able to connect the representatives from the program to the first and second-year students here. They mainly talked about how we could use their program to study for Step 1 and how well students that use their program do on average. (They said that their most recent data states that students using DIT score an average of 233. That’s a pretty decent score.) They also gave out free shirts, some pretty good lunch from Jason’s Deli and they even raffled a free full program to a lucky student. Oh yeah, can’t forget the most important part…they served us free chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A earlier that morning. That’s real yo.

This past Friday, our course director of Hematology brought in some of her patients to talk to us in order to give us a patient perspective on the diseases that we’ve been learning about. One of the patients was afflicted with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria, another one was afflicted with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and the last one had been afflicted with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It was amazing being able to listen to their experiences with their illnesses and how they’ve worked to combat them alongside our course director. They told us how vital it was to listen with your heart as well as with your ears when talking to patients and to keep in mind that patients are pretty nervous, if not scared when we interact with them. What could be another normal, everyday encounter for us could be a pivotal and life-changing moment in the patient’s life. They also pointed out that medical students play a much larger role in patient care than we realize. Medical students tend to spend more time with the patient than the residents or doctors do, so they get to know the patient more, which the patients really appreciate for the most part. I never really personally thought of it that way…I just assumed I would be running around as a third-year, being useful for errands but being useless at the same time when it came to actually helping diagnose and treat the patient. Guess I was wrong, thankfully. Finally, they extensively talked about how critical it was for them to have support systems as they were fighting off their illnesses and how it was important for the health care provider to know that each patient has a full life to live outside of the hospital, just like the provider. All in all, it was a really cool presentation. I love it when we get to interact with patients that have had first-hand experiences with the conditions that we are learning; it humanizes the diseases and allows me to appreciate learning about them more.

A couple more things, and then I’m done. I promise. 😉

I’m participating in this initiative called the Melanin, M.D. Mentorship Project, where medical students and residents of color get paired with pre-med students of color nationwide and work to serve as a mentor for those students. I finally got to meet my mentee last night and he seems to be a pretty cool guy overall. He’s an upcoming sophomore and he’s working to get into medical school in order to become a physician. This whole project is pretty awesome and necessary and I’m just excited to be able to directly impact someone else’s life in a positive way in this fashion, especially another young, black man trying to get to the position that I’m blessed to be in.

Finally, I’ve been volunteering at the Brenner’s Family Room on the Pediatric unit of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for the past several months now and my experiences there have allowed me to witness another side of medicine. The Brenner’s Family Room, which is an adjunct to the Ronald McDonald House across the street, serves as a safe haven for families whose children are being treated in the hospital. The room has couches to relax on, snacks and coffee for anyone that needs it, and both telephones and computers for the families to use. The best part about all of this is that it’s all free. Because the room is on the same floor as the Pediatric unit, it’s very convenient for the families to utilize it and I’ve found that they are extremely appreciative of it. The thing is, in order for the room to be open, there must be a volunteer present. This isn’t much of an issue on the weekdays, but when it comes to the weekends, the room struggles to stay open. Because of this, I’ve volunteered early in the afternoon these past two Saturdays and it has amazed me how many people have showed up within both of my three-hour shifts. The people that have come in during my shifts have been so thankful and appreciative that the room was open, which always makes it hard for me to tell them that no one is coming after me when my shift is over, since I’m usually the only one volunteering to come in on Saturdays. I remember one man telling me I have the most chill job in the world and after I told him that I don’t get paid for this, he was so surprised and sincerely thanked me for being there. Another woman expressed her support of the room to me and told me how she has benefited from the room although she lives down the street from the hospital. She said that she couldn’t imagine how valuable it must be for families that are from out of town. Because these families are so appreciative of the service, I want to be able to do more to keep the room open on a consistent basis during the weekends. As a matter of fact, I’m going to try and find a way to make it happen. I got the power to do so, so why not?

With that said, y’all have an incredible week! You have the power to make it a great one!

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

– Black Man, M.D.