MATCH MADNESS: The Outcome

WOW.

WHAT. A. WEEK.

I don’t even really know where to start. This whirlwind of a week has been such a memorable one. Well, really Monday and this past weekend to be specific. The time between when I officially matched on Monday (PRAISE THE LORD 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿) and where I found out where exactly I matched at on Friday was spent doing various things like watching Captain Marvel, watching Netflix, attending a financial aid talk about investing in residency, doing SNMA work and spending quality time with my girlfriend and friends so that I could keep my mind off of Match Day. Nevertheless, I would find my mind drifting off and fixating on what Match Day would be like. I even dreamed about it once or twice during the week! 😂 (My girlfriend told me she had a Match Day dream too lol. God bless her, she has been going through the struggle right by my side day in and day out.) I knew that Match Day was going to be a day full of emotion, excitement, support and love, especially since I had witnessed all of that when I went to the past few Match Days at my school. And just as I expected, the day was full of all of that plus more!

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I woke up on Friday morning with an energized spirit and an aura of tranquility. As I said in my last post, I had full faith that I would end up matching at the place I was destined to train at, even if I had no idea where that location would be. It also helped that I had purposefully designed my rank list so that my top five picks (with heavy emphasis on my top three) were places that I could envision myself being particularly happy training at, although I would have honestly even been okay with my last choice on the list. Pediatrics is just that great of a specialty. 😊 So with all of that said, I didn’t share the same gut-wrenching anxiety that a lot of my classmates may have experienced in the days leading up to Match Day. Hell, even my girlfriend was much more anxious about it than I was. I feel that my firm belief in the fact that I would make the most out of any residency program I ended up training at also helped keep me calm. Regardless of where I trained, I knew that any one of the programs I interviewed at would transform me into a strong and capable Pediatrician. 😁

Okay, back to Friday.

I spent most of the morning getting ready for all the festivities of the day. I was really excited that I was about to finally find out where I would be spending the next three years of my life. After my mother and my two younger sisters arrived to Winston, we all headed over to the school to meet up with the rest of my classmates. As soon as we arrived at the school, I was instantly struck with an intense energy that had already enveloped the atrium full of future doctors and their respective friends and family. The energy was mainly a medley of excitement, nervousness, awe, pride and love. It was wonderful to see this outpouring of happiness, love and support all across the atrium. We all took a ton of pictures, talked with one another in pure excitement, met each other’s loved ones, and waited in anticipation as noon drew closer and closer. We all eventually made our way up to the fifth floor of the school, to the room where we would all be learning what our respective fates for the immediate future were.

awkward nervous GIF by DeRay Davis

Once we all made it to the room, the already intense energy I had felt in the atrium grew even stronger. Because the room we were now in was smaller than the spacious atrium we had just left, it now felt like this place that was packed with people was about to explode with this buzzing energy. By this point, I had been entirely consumed by this same energy, was bristling with it, and I was more than ready to snatch my envelope off the table at the front of the room, tear it off my match letter and read where my next destination in life would be.

happy kid GIF by AT&T

Forty seconds after hitting 11:59 AM, we began to countdown to noon. As we approached the last second before noon, our voices all got louder and louder. All my classmates and I braced ourselves more and more.

The energy in the room was incredible.

Man I’m telling you, WE WERE SOOO READY.

FIVE!

FOUR!!

THREE!!!

TWO!!!!

ONE!!!!!

black friday thanksgiving GIF by NBC

I wish I could have seen what the scene looked like from a bird’s-eye view of the room as we all madly dashed to the tables to retrieve our stylish envelopes, all of which had our names elegantly enscribed on them in cursive. Luckily, I had gotten myself to the front of the crowd before the countdown, so all I had to do was take a few quick strides to get to my envelope. I snatched it from the table, snaked my way back through the crowd to get to my loved ones, gathered them all together once I finally reached them, and:

 

WOW!!

I was taking my talents to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill!!

jumping college basketball GIF by UNC Tar Heels

I felt a wave of relief, surprise, and excitement all at the same time after reading aloud the location that would be responsible for molding me into an independent, inspiring, and extremely effective Pediatrician. It was both humbling and lifting to have been granted the opportunity to train at one of my top choices for residency! Not only will I recieve superb training at that institution with some awesome people, but I will also be working on the same campus as my girlfriend for the first time in four years!! Getting the chance to be in such close proximity to her for the next three years of my life is simply incredible and honestly almost feels unreal. It feels so right, almost like this was what was always meant to happen. 😉

 

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Everything that happened next is such a blur to me now. I remember high-fiving multiple people, giving and getting a ton of hugs, well wishes and congratulations, taking MANY pictures and a few videos, learning where other people ended up matching at, witnessing a spectrum of emotions as I periodically scanned the room, going downstairs to take a class photo of all of us in our white coats, and traveling a few blocks downtown in the rain to get to the location where our Match Day luncheon would be taking place. The luncheon was wonderful, elegant and emotional as most of my classmates walked up to the stage one-by-one (two-by-two for all the couples who matched together) to announce to everyone where they matched. My experience at the luncheon got even better when I received a congratulatory call from my soon-to-be Chief Resident. It made the whole experience feel that much more concrete.

I’ve really matched.

I was really going to be a resident.

WOW. I WAS REALLY GOING TO BE SOMEONE’S DOCTOR.

The rest of the luncheon went very well, after which my girlfriend, my mom and my two sisters went back to my apartment to chill for a bit. That’s when I finally had some time to reflect on everything that had just happened. Shortly after my reflection time, posting the incredible moment on my social media, and talking with my mom, her and my two sisters got ready to hit the road to drive back home. I saw them off, and then proceeded to get dinner with my girl before heading off to the evening festivities planned for my class to celebrate our collective achievements.

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All in all, Match Day was an awesome day. The excitement of the day spilled over into the weekend as I celebrated on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday in Charlotte in conjunction with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl that takes place in the city each year. (Perfect timing, if I do say so myself.) I also spent all of yesterday in the same city with friends, where we hopped around various areas of the city to entertain ourselves. Now that the weekend is over, I can really begin to think about my immediate future and make concrete plans as I begin to transition into the next phase of my life. I can also start working on some of the things that I had pushed to the side all weekend as I was celebrating. 😅

Man, that was a whirlwind of a post! I’m glad I finally had some time to sit and share all of this with you. I’ve been getting so much love from so many people this past week, all of which I very much appreciate!! I’m still working on answering everyone on my social media, which is a task that will take quite some time lol.

Congratulations to all the fourth-year medical students across the nation!! Whether you matched or not, we all have hit a very important milestone in our medical careers and have reached a point that very few people (relatively speaking) ever reach! We all have great things destined for us; all we have to do is believe it, have full faith in that truth, and work to achieve what lays in store for us in the future!!! 🙌🏿💪🏿✊🏿

I hope that you all have a phenomenal week!!!

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than your comfort zone.” – Billy Cox

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Y’all better get your brackets reaaadddyyyy!!! It’s that time of the year again!!! 😈#MARCHMADNESS

MATCH MADNESS: The Anticipation

IT’S HERE.

The week that I’ve been waiting almost four years for has FINALLY arrived.

Yes, I’m talking about MATCH WEEK!!!

lebron james yes GIF by NBA

Three years ago, as a first-year student, I experienced the magic of Match Day for the first time in my life. (You can read the post I wrote about the experience by clicking this link!) I remember being blown away by the incredible array of emotions that were being displayed by all the people in the room at the same time. I remember feeling so proud of my friends who had just matched into the specialties that they had worked so hard to earn the opportunity to train in, and also a bit sad that I wouldn’t be seeing some of them again for a while since they would be leaving to train at residency programs at other institutions in the country.

I remember feeling inspired about the fact that I would one day be a fourth-year medical student who would be actively participating in the Match Day festivities by geting the golden chance to open my envelope, read where I would be spending my residency years at, and hopefully be celebrating my accomplishment with my friends and family. I also remember feeling like I had such a long way to go before I even reached that point in my life; I was deep into my first-year curriculum, was primarily looking forward to my summer vacation, and my biggest concern at the time was facing the Step 1 exam. At the time, I sincerely believed that I would be going into Ophthalmology….so I would have been absolutely astounded if you had told me that I would actually be in the position that I’m currently in; an excited and motivated fourth-year student hoping to match into a Pediatrics residency in order to take the vision I have of my career and transform it into reality.

Three years later, here I am, about to begin the monumental week that will culminate on Friday with an event that will provide me the clarity that I’ve been searching all year for. It is going to be exhilarating to finally find out where my journey in medicine will lead me to next, not only because I will finally learn where I’ll spend the next few years of my life as a newly-minted physician, but also because I will FINALLY be able to start actively preparing for the immediate future. Right now, I feel like a sitting duck who can’t make really make any necessary preparations because I have no certainties of where I’m going to end up training at. But all of that will change on Friday when I, at long last, will be granted the answer that I’ve spent SO MUCH TIME searching for.

its about time drama GIF by BBC

While playing this whole waiting game can get quite nervewracking and anxiety producing, I’ve been relatively calmed by the fact that I will end up matching at the place that I was meant to train at. I strategically picked my top five places (top three especially) to be programs where I absolutely wouldn’t mind training at, so chances are that I’ll end up at one of those five places, which I would be totally fine with. Plus, the decision is all out of my control now since I already submitted my rank list a couple weeks ago and can no longer make any changes to the list I sent out. The residency programs across the nation have already submitted their lists as well, so it’s really up to the match process to determine who will be going where……maaannn let’s just pray for the best! 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

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I’ll be sure to let you know where I ended up matching at in my next post! However, I’ve talked about the anticipation of Match Day long enough, so allow me to switch gears and give you some updates about my life that doesn’t concern the one day that I can’t stop thinking about. 😅

I spent the past week engaging in a variety of activities, mainly outside of my Radiology elective (which has been just as chill as it was my first week of the rotation). I got the chance to have dinner with the majority of the Clinical Skills group that I spent the first two years of medical school learning applicable clinical skills with and our two Clinical Skills coaches. It was nice to be able to catch up with all of them and to talk about how far we’ve come from being wide-eyed first-year students who were all too eager to put on a white coat and talk to patients on the wards, only to realize that we were quite awkward with our initial patient encounters. Okay I won’t speak for them, I certainly was one of those students who awkwardly fumbled through the first few patient encounters at the beginning of the year. Boooooyyy have I come such a long way since then…I sometimes cringe at how pitiful I once was at gathering an HPI. 😂

On the annual Global Health night (a dinner session designed for rising fourth-year students interested in rotating through a global health elective), some of my classmates and I were given the opportunity to share our experiences from our respective global health rotations with the soon-to-be fourth-years. No, I didn’t travel anywhere for my global health rotation, in case you were starting to get confused. My most recent rotation (Immigrant Health/Public Health) qualifies as a global health elective even though it was stationed in Winston-Salem, so my friend and I shared the wonderful experiences we had during that rotation. You can read more about those experiences by visiting some of my prior posts! 😊

Later on in the week, I met up with my MACHE Bowl teammates to discuss how we were going to go about answering the questions that were assigned to us by the MACHE Bowl Committee. Lol, I can almost hear you asking yourself what the heck the MACHE Bowl is and why I mentioned it like I’ve already talked about it before or something. Well to put it simply, the MACHE Bowl is a competition designed to bring students from various disciplines together to work on solving a complex health disparity case in front of a live audience. It is meant to be a unique, interdisclipinary experience where we are supposed to experience the strengths of working in a collaborative team. The event is taking place on Saturday, March 23rd, which gives us a little under two weeks to finalize the presentation of our answers to the first round of questions provided to us. We’ll get a second round of questions on the day of the event, which will be interesting, to say the least. After meeting up with my team and having some great conversations about how we can go about tackling this case, I have faith that we will end up performing pretty well on the day of the event!

I spent the end of the week attending the #WakeUpWinston2019 Open Mic and Poetry Slam event, where I watched numerous performers from the community express their experiences and feelings through a variety of artistic expressions such as spoken word, various forms of music and storytelling. The event was designed to serve as a safe space for a celebration of diversity, inclusion and equity in the community, while at the same time empowering and uniting advocates and allies to engage in constructive dialogue and in providing awareness to others of the injustices and inequities present both in medicine and in the world around us so that we could all rise above those painful experiences together. I had missed it last year, so I was really happy to be able to experience it this time around.

And lastly, I spent part of the weekend at Chapel Hill to watch the UNC-Duke basketball game at an exciting watch party. As we all know, UNC ended up winning, which meant that my friends and I ended up rushing Franklin Street for the first (and potentially only) time in my life lol. It was a pretty wild experience, but not as insane as I had pictured it being. However, the whole experience got me even more hyped up for March Madness, which is going to be officially starting next week!!! 😄😄😄

excited college basketball GIF by UNC Tar Heels

Sheeeeeesh, that was a lot I just unloaded on you. Once I started typing, I simply couldn’t stop 😅. My head is a bit clearer now that I typed this whole post up, so thanks for bearing with me! I’m excited about this upcoming week, especially since my class is hosting events every night in anticipation of Match Day! Also, my mom and my two little sisters are coming into town to celebrate the day with my girlfriend and I, which I’m also looking forward to! And then after Match Day, I’ll be in Charlotte for an extended Match Day/St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so I also have that to look forward to as well! It’s going to be a dope week, I can already feel it!! 🙌🏿🙌🏿🙌🏿

sweating cam newton GIF by Gatorade

I hope that you all have a sensational week! And shoutout to all the fourth-years across the country hoping to match into your desired specialties!! BEST OF LUCK TO US!!!

– Black Man, M.D.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

P.S. – I knew that today was going to be Daylight Savings, but I still wasn’t totally prepared to lose an hour of sleep last night lol. That being said, I’m loving the fact that the days are about to last longer, which means that the weather is about to get warmer, which means that SPRING IS COMING!!! 😁😄😁😜🙃

Knowledge is Power.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting medical school back in July, it’s that it really has a way of humbling you. I knew when I started med school that I didn’t know much about medicine and that I would have a lot to learn…but looking back now, it’s scary to see how very little I knew about the field I was trying to start a career in. Aside from Immunology, Biochemistry and the basics of Biology, I really didn’t know a damn thing about the medical field the day I graduated from the University of Miami. The limited scientific knowledge I had did not make Anatomy any easier and the whole Biochemistry course only lasted a couple of weeks here. I’m happy to say my major in Microbiology & Immunology is making my life a bit easier during this Microbiology/Immunology block, but I’m well aware that my safety net will not last long. Even to this day, it’s incredible how much I still do not know about medicine and what it means to become an overall effective physician. It’s like the more I learn, the more I realize how much I haven’t learned. I’m also finding that with an increasing knowledge base, I have so many more questions to ask and answers to find. Every time I begin to understand a concept, there’s suddenly 100 new questions that I need answered in order to feel like I legitimately understand it. I’m literally on a never-ending quest to catch smoke with my bare hands. It’s like an undying thirst for knowledge; an insatiable appetite.

But it’s eerily entertaining.

I actually enjoy being able to ask questions about new concepts, because it only increases my knowledge base on the subject. Figuring out how certain mechanisms work and why they work the way they do is so cool to me and allows me to appreciate the human body that much more. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can finally connect something you learned about a system in the body to a disease process such as diabetes. It’s an even better feeling when you begin to understand the mechanism of the disease process and how it shows the symptoms that everyone is familiar with, like why people with sickle-cell anemia are more likely to suffer from frequent bacterial infections and sepsis, or why people with untreated diabetes can go blind via diabetic retinopathy.

I know, I know…..I’m a nerd. I’ve always been this way…I can’t help it. 😅

I guess the medical field just tends to attract people that find pleasure in figuring puzzles out. Guess I’m in the right place.

On another note, I have a question I want you to answer. Can you tell me how in the hell a 20-minute meeting about my summer research plans ended up turning into an almost-3-hour long shadowing experience? Not that I’m complaining…I was actually very excited! It was just crazy though…I had walked into the ophthalmology department expecting to meet an ophthalmologist in his office so that he could help direct me in what I should be doing this summer. 30 minutes later, I was scrubbed up and having casual conversation with the doctor in the (really hot) Operating Room while he was performing retinal-laser surgery on a premature baby in order to save her vision.

The retina is in the back of the eye, by the way.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. This doctor was literally having a full-blown conversation with me while LITERALLY saving a kid’s vision with a laser machine attached to his head, a magnifying glass, a few metal tools and some eye drops. The fact that this guy really made the time to talk with me about my future goals while on the job really struck a chord with me. Hell, I’m still in absolute awe. I didn’t even want to say anything at first in fear that I would distract him from his meticulous task, but he kept telling me to ask him any questions I had on my mind. So I unloaded my barrage of questions ranging from why he decided to become an ophthalmologist to what disease he was working to fix on this baby. I almost forgot to ask him about my research interests, which was why I was there in the first place. Even after all my questions, he let me not only continue to watch him finish the surgery; he invited me to follow him around the ophthalmology floor as he continued about his day, meeting new patients he had to perform surgery on and discussing details with his fellow. (A fellow is a doctor that has finished residency, but is in training to specialize in a specific area of his/her field of medicine.) It was an awesome experience, to say the least. Doctors like him really make me appreciate studying medicine here at Wake Forest.

Overall, my first week back from break has been one of the calmest, if not the calmest, school weeks I’ve had since starting Anatomy back in August. The combo of having very little afternoon classes and actually having a background in what we’re currently studying has been reassuring. I was even able to find time yesterday morning to volunteer at Wake’s annual Share The Health Fair, where I got the opportunity to help screen patients in the community for glaucoma. Granted, I’ve been studying pretty much all weekend because it’s still a ton of material to cover…but I’ve felt a lot better going over this material as opposed to the Biochemistry and Genetics rush I had before winter break. This upcoming week though…it’s looking like there’s about to be a lot more activity going on. I’m ready though, I ain’t worried ’bout nothin’!!

Y’all be blessed!

 

– Black Man, M.D.