Evolution.

That extra hour that Daylight Savings gave me today was a glorious gift.

I got to “sleep in” and I still got up at a very reasonable time to take full advantage of my day off!

happy fun GIF

It feels great to wake up refreshed and know that you have the full day to do whatever you want with it. My last day off from work was last Sunday, unless you want to count my interview day at CHOP that took place on Tuesday since I didn’t have to work that day either, though I was at the hospital most of the day learning about CHOP and interacting with residents and faculty members. Speaking of, I think interview day went well overall! I got great vibes from the faculty members I interviewed with and it was wonderful to meet both the Residency Program Director as well as the Chair of Pediatrics and Physician-In-Chief of the hospital system. I now have three interviews down, and quite a few more to go! My next one is taking place next Monday in Pittsburgh and just so you know, Pittsburgh and Philly are on OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE STATE. Don’t be a dummy like me and assume that they are close to one another just because they are both cities in Pennsylvania. I had to get a flight because with my tight schedule, I just couldn’t afford to drive 5+ hours to get there and another 5+ hours to get back. SMH. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before though, so it should be a cool experience!

Back to my second week of my sub-internship at CHOP. I’ve definitely adjusted to the flow of things a lot more since my first couple of days here, and I’ve become more comfortable with my team as time has passed on. With that being said, I’ve come to realize how much this place can humble you. I’ve been consistently challenged to think independently, to provide quality care as the primary “physician” for my patients, and to adjust my performance based on the constant feedback that I’ve been receiving. In these past two weeks, I’ve learned so much not only about medicine and the reality of patient care in an inpatient setting, but also about myself and my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve come to realize that while I may know more than I previously thought I did about certain things, there are also quite a few things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know, if that makes sense.

confused tom cruise GIF

I’m starting to consistently think about and do important things that I had only intermittently thought about or done in the past, such as providing discharge criteria for admitted patients, referencing evidence-based research in my patient presentations, committing to specific plans for specific problems that my patients have, prioritizing important tasks to be completed earlier in the day (discharges, consults, etc.), becoming familiar with the dosing and time intervals of medication administration, coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team, giving concise & high-quality handoffs to interns starting their shift, completing concise discharge summaries, putting in orders; the list goes on and on. I’m literally doing intern-level work with the only difference being that I have a lighter patient load than the interns do, I have less experience than they do (it literally takes me twice as long to do just about anything that they do), and I have some additional support from the senior residents on my team.

While my days have been long and exhausting, my learning experience has been spectacular. There’s nothing like throwing yourself into a sub-internship position in a brand-new city at one of the top children’s hospitals in the world. Some may call it insane, but I call it yanking yourself out of your comfort zone and embarking upon a challenging experience that forces you to evolve and become comfortable being uncomfortable. Okay yeah, I admit it’s pretty insane. It’s actually not what I initially asked for when applying to this visiting clerkship program. However, when this was the only option given to me, I ultimately accepted it because I wanted to experience what working at a hospital like CHOP would be like, I wanted to expand my network by meeting brand-new people and mentors, and I wanted to make the most out of my fourth-year of medical school by diversifying my experiences as much as possible. Plus, it is all being paid for, so why not? 🤷🏿‍♂️

get your billion back make it rain GIF by Billion Back Records

It has been a tough two weeks for sure, but I can literally feel myself becoming a better clinician as a result of this experience. This has definitely been a very necessary experience for my growth, and it’s great to get this insight as to what intern year will most likely look like. Of course now that I’ve started to get into my groove, my schedule is being flipped-turned-upside down and I’m going to be working a week of nights this week, starting tomorrow night.

oh no johnny rose GIF by Schitt's Creek

I’m not sure how this is going to go, but what I do know is that I’m going to continue to do my best and maximize my learning opportunities during my night shifts! I’ll surely be admitting a ton of patients, which will give me great practice in completing the admission process and writing great H&P (History & Physical) notes. Because the night team is much smaller than the day team, I’ll get the opportunity to get more one-on-one time with my senior resident, which will give me more opportunities to elicit feedback in order to continue improving my skills. Only thing that’s really gonna suck is the fact that my sleep schedule is going to be all screwed up, especially the first couple of days. I’m sitting here trying to plot on how to alter my sleep schedule today knowing damn well that I’m going to be tired on my first night shift, no matter what I try to do to prevent it. My circadian rhythm is just that strong. *Siiiiiiiigh*

On that note, I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my day off! I’m sad that I missed both Howard’s homecoming last weekend and UMiami’s homecoming this weekend due to my rotation schedule…they both looked like a lot of fun. Too bad the ‘Canes aren’t doing so hot this year on the football field. Welp, there’s always next year….😪😪😪

Have an amazing week!

ELECTION DAY IS FINALLY UPON US!!! GO VOTE!!!

“One finds limits by pushing them.” – Herbert Simon

– Black Man, M.D.

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.

Hitting My Stride

How am I already halfway done with my rotation here at Children’s National?

confused good luck charlie GIF

Those first two weeks flew by so fast man, I swear. I feel like I’ve just started to get comfortable with the flow of things, only to have to start preparing for my next away rotation in Philly that will start in a couple of weeks. The traffic here still sucks, but I’ve been able to manage it more efficiently than I did the first week, especially since there wasn’t a torrential downpour every day like there was the first week. I’ve become acclimated to the workflow in both the allergy and immunology clinics and have done the best I can to help all the providers out by interviewing patients, presenting them, and writing notes on them. I’ve also continued to increase my knowledge base on the presentation of various allergic & immunologic conditions as well as the management of them. (Netherton syndrome will forever be ingrained in my memory. So will Eosinophilic Esophagitis.) And of course, I can’t forget to mention the amazing degree of diversity that I’ve witnessed in the clinic. It feels like I’m meeting someone from a different country every day! I’ve also been seeing patients from just about all levels of socioeconomic status. Overall, I feel like I’ve been getting a great sample of America’s diverse population these past two weeks.

Clinic has been keeping be really busy, but I’ve absolutely loved being able to interact with the kids who come to clinic. Some of them are hilarious man. One kid got super excited when I told him that I found Mickey Mouse in his ear and Pluto in the other ear. When I told him I heard Donald Duck quacking in his stomach, he about lost it. 😂Another little kid who was hesitant about performing an oral food challenge warmed up to me after we bonded about Power Rangers and Spider-Man lol. He also got excited when I told him I saw the red power ranger in his ear. I don’t know why kids love having things found in their ears…what they need to be finding is a way to remove all the wax they like to make in there. 🙃

Not only do I like to play with the little kids, I like talking with the older ones too. There aren’t as many older children who come to clinic, but I just about always have a great interaction with them when they’re there. They tend to be very knowledgable about their condition, and I’ve found that some of them are much more mature than their age. There was one patient who was literally teaching me about her rare condition and how she has managed to live with it her whole life. The way she was talking, I kept forgetting that she was over a decade younger than me. God bless her.

Outside of clinic, I got the chance to attend a Grand Rounds discussion that touched on the topics of informed consent, social media, and effectively interacting with parents who try to take over their child’s medical care. I was also invited to an underrepresented minority dinner where residents and faculty discussed the subject of burnout and how it tends to negatively affect minority and women medical students & physicians at a higher rate than other populations. The chief medical officer was also in attendance and it was awesome to see not only how well-respected she was by everyone, but also how willing she was to take feedback in order to improve the experiences of the minority residents and faculty members at the hospital. Burnout is so real, and I’ve been very fortunate in that I haven’t really experienced it so far. At least I don’t think I have. 🤔 I have God, my mindset, my girlfriend, friends, family, mentors, mentees and my blog to thank for that. It takes a village y’all, always remember that. Nobody can go through a process like this alone, it’ll eat you alive.

Overall, D.C. has been a great time so far (I’ve already been to brunch a couple of times and have quickly realized that I can NOT afford to keep doing that 😅) and I’m excited to make the most out of my next couple of weeks here! I’m going to be sooo busy though; I have A TON of one-on-one meetings to attend as a requirement of the program I’m currently in. However, I’m really looking forward to them because they are all with various leaders of the hospital! I’m also starting my residency interview trail this week, with my first interview being back at my home institution! This means I need to hop on a quick flight back to Winston on Tuesday evening, only to return back up here Wednesday evening. That’s going to be fun lol. Oh and I’m also going to have the opportunity to go on a field trip to Capitol Hill on Friday with the other students in my program (they’re all my friends now 😊), where we will meet with the Legislative Assistant to Senator Cory Booker to talk about legislative advocacy and health! I’m really looking forward to that experience!

That’s it from me! Here’s to another week of the grind!

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The Canes are really trying to make a statement out here with that win against FSU! The game shouldn’t have been that hard, but a win is a win! Too bad it was also overshadowed by Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, even after fierce, legitimized opposition. Jesus. This country needs to be saved.

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! 😎😜

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.