Moment of Clarity

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

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

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

 aww kerry washington aw black people african american GIF

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

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

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

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

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

– Black Man, M.D.

Breathe In, Breathe Out.

I officially finished my Cardiology block last Monday!

Nick At Nite dance dancing celebrate backflip

It was a tough block, but I found the material to be interesting overall and contrary to a large portion of my classmates, I actually liked interpreting EKGs 😅. I took my Cardiology exam and I ended up doing pretty decent on it…I missed a few questions that I definitely shouldn’t have missed, but that’s neither here nor there. I feel comfortable with what I’ve learned in that block overall. I then found myself in Greensboro after the exam with some friends and had lunch at this pretty good burger restaurant, where I ate this massive burger that definitely didn’t help raise my HDL levels (good cholesterol) or lower my LDL levels (bad cholesterol). Talk about irony. We then ended up bar hopping for almost four hours…and since it was a Monday afternoon, you can imagine how empty the bars were. And no, I did not get drunk lol. To tell the truth, I was ready to leave after the second hour…but between playing Catchphrase at one bar and Shuffleboard at another, I did have a great time winding down with friends. Then that night, I proceeded to finally start watching Atlanta, which is Donald Glover’s very popular new show. So far, I absolutely love it. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t like to watch TV. I then had a free day of rest on Tuesday, where I got a lot of things outside of schoolwork done. Needless to say, it was awesome not having to open a book or read notes that day.

Then we started the Pulmonology block on Wednesday morning. I had heard very good things about both the course director of this block as well as about this subject in general, so I was ready to get going with it. The very first thing the Pulmonology course director did after we walked into class was read a wonderful poem for Tori and express his condolences to us. I immediately knew that I would like this guy as well as this block. And so far, I have very little to complain about in regards to subject material. Compared to the vast intricacies of the heart, the physiology of the lungs have seemed pretty straightforward to me. Then again, maybe that’s because I’ve already learned a ton about both the heart and the blood, both of which the lungs work very closely with. How cool is it that the more organ systems I learn about in the body, the easier it is to grasp the new ones I come across? It’s like a huge game of Pokemon or something; the more experience I have in learning how certain organs of the body function, the higher of an overall level I achieve! Just like the more experience your Pokemon get in battles, the more they level up. And the exams are like gym leaders that I have to battle in order to move on to the next block/the next gym leader! Lol, this analogy is actually so stupid. I’m mad I actually had the nerve to come up with it. I was such a Pokemon nerd growing up, can you tell? I was the guy who would play the games on the Game Boy, beat the game and restart the game just to beat it again. I was so damn proud of myself when I finally completed my PokeDex with the 150 original Pokemon…I don’t have Pokemon Go though. I admittedly was gonna download it when it first came out, but the servers were crashing…so I took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to have it because Lord knows I would have been looking like a fool trying to catch ’em all.

Okay I’m starting a new paragraph because I just went way off-topic for no good reason. I have my first Clinical Skills exam (CPX) this Wednesday, where I will be tested on a standardized patient encounter. I’ll be interviewing the patient as well as performing any necessary physical exam maneuvers on him/her. Here’s the catch though: I have to come up with my own interview questions and physical exam maneuvers. In the past, we were told what we had to do during the CPX, but now they’re loosening our leash quite a bit. I’ll also have to do a write-up of the patient and turn it in within 48 hours of the encounter. Oh the joy of being a second-year student. This is gonna be fun.

On a more serious note, I really can’t stand the fact that more and more black men are being murdered by law enforcement. It’s really sickening, to say the least. I could write down all my feelings about it, but that’s not going to do much of anything. I’d only be preaching to the choir for the most part. Plus, I’ve already penned most of my feelings about this issue back in my Chills post. The level of ignorance that is currently present in this country when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement just baffles me. The fact that many of the people who have much to say about Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem come up short of something to say when a black man is unjustly silenced by a bullet is painfully astounding. The fact that we have to protest and demand that our lives be seen just as equal and precious as the lives of other Americans is pretty damn sad. The poisonous mentality of seeing white as “Okay, let’s de-escalate the situation” and black as “UP TO NO GOOD” just reinforces the prejudice that certain groups of people have for Black people as a whole. That unfair bias is a HUGE part of the issue that we are facing today in terms of racial equality. The different shades of color and various cultures that make up the people of both this country and this world is what makes humanity so beautiful. Black lives matter just as much as the lives of any other human life in this world. So why are we being disproportionately killed off? Why is the killing of a black man by law enforcement becoming more and more desensitizing in this country? Why does it seem that hashtags of the slain have become a part of daily life in this country?

nightmare

WHEN WILL THIS NIGHTMARE END?

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.” – Ghandi

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I had a dream a couple nights ago where I was talking to Rihanna and she told me how much she loved reading my blog. Lol, a man can only dream, right? But they say dreams do come true…

Tori’s Spirit

This past week, I was painfully reminded about just how fragile life could be.

About half of my overall class and I were in the middle of our Health Systems & Policy (HSP) class early Monday afternoon. The other half of my overall class were in the Medicine and Patients in Society class (MAPS) at the same time. I had just come from a Kaplan lunch talk not too long before, where a representative was talking about how great the Kaplan Question Bank was in preparing students for Step 1. My thoughts were drifting back and forth between how I was going to use the Kaplan Question Bank to supplement my ongoing studies, how to make sure that I had the best fantasy football team in the class draft that I had just been invited to, and the financing & distribution of Medicaid in North Carolina, which is what we were currently being lectured to about. It was your typical, sunny Monday afternoon.

Then around 1:30 PM or so, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs opened the door of the classroom as the professor was in mid-sentence and motioned for him to come over to her with her finger. Puzzled, he looked at her for a couple of seconds and exited the classroom with her. All of us in the class were quiet for a few seconds, and then indistinct chatter started to fill the room. My friend and I started joking around about what the professor must have been thinking as the Associate Dean, of all people, abruptly interrupted his class. After about a couple of minutes, the professor walked back in looking pretty shocked, along with the Associate Dean and about five other faculty members. I suddenly did not like the look of what was happening. I heard my friend behind me whispering “Oh no, this doesn’t look good. This looks like bad news. This is going to be bad.” The Associate Dean got to the podium as the other faculty stood in line facing us and started to break the devastating news that our classmate, and my friend, Tori McLean, had just passed away due to complications from the bone marrow transplant that was supposed to have saved her from her diagnosis of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. As she said Tori’s name, my jaw dropped. I could hear gasps around the room. As the dean continued to speak, I began to hear my classmates sobbing across the room. A couple of my friends I was sitting at my table with began to sob as well. I was completely dumbfounded. My jaw just hung open for what felt like an eternity as I stared in disbelief at the dean. I don’t even remember most of what was said after hearing the initial news. Just before she finished speaking, she said we were free to take the afternoon off to collect our thoughts and to mourn. I then sat back in my chair and numbly stared at the ground. I had just entered one hell of a daze. I must have sat there like that for about five minutes or so as others around me packed up their belongings and left the room. I then somehow managed to get up, walk out of the classroom, and walk back to my apartment complex where I met up with a few friends in their apartment. I walked in the apartment, set my bag down on the floor, sunk in the couch, looked up at the ceiling and proceeded to stare blankly at it for almost an hour.

As I type this post almost a week later, I still find it hard to believe that she’s really passed on. Like, I’ll never see her on this Earth again. It’s an unreal feeling. I keep thinking about how her closest friends and her family must be taking the gravity of her loss. That thought alone saddens me. The fact that she won’t ever get the chance to become the incredible doctor that she had the potential to be, or to start her very own family, or to just continue with life in general as a 24-year old woman is very difficult to accept. She had been fighting so hard against this cancer that she has been diagnosed with since mid-March, right as we were about to take our first Neuroscience exam. It was so unfortunate, but we all figured, including her, that it was a terrible phase that she would get through before returning to her regular life. It’s terribly unfair that her life on Earth had to end this way, because she was such a great person…she went out of her way to make others feel better, even while she was fighting against the cancer wearing on her body. While I was checking in on her this past summer, she told me that she truly believed that I was not only wise beyond my years, but that she was confident that I would grow into an amazing doctor, especially now that she’s experienced the patient side of things. She said all this after stating how much it meant to her that I was reaching out to check on her when she could only imagine how busy I was. Lol, that was just how she was man, so humbling and appreciative of everything. I had to tell her that I was never too busy to check in on her and that I had been praying for her and her family every day. She also told me that she still had been reading my blog every week throughout her treatment, which really moved me. As a matter of fact, Tori had been a huge supporter of Black Man, M.D. since day one. She was always “liking” my blog posts on Facebook and had told me several times in the past how much she enjoyed reading it as well as how appreciative she was of the quotes I put up every week. When I spotted her at the school back in early August after school had started up again, I tore myself apart from the group I had been chatting with, shouted her name, and gave her such a big hug that I may have lowkey scared her now that I think back on it. My last interaction with her was when she wished me a Happy Birthday a few weeks ago and had hoped that my day was just as wonderful as I was. Man, I’m gonna miss her.

This past week has been a rough one, with losing Tori and simultaneously having to study for our Cardiology exam that we’re taking tomorrow. However, the school has been absolutely wonderful in responding to the tragedy. In a matter of less than five days, many emails were sent to our class from various faculty members, including from the Dean of the Medical Center himself, the medical class under us worked to console us by providing us snacks and a memory tree for Tori where we can write & hang our memories with Tori from the tree, a memory book for Tori’s family was purchased, and a memorial was planned to honor Tori’s life. This memorial service took place this past Friday in an auditorium at the former medical center next to the hospital. I’m happy to say that the auditorium was packed to the brim and that the service was phenomenal. Her whole family was present as well as many of the faculty, our classmates, and others that either knew her personally or knew of her. There were songs sung & played on the violin/cello/piano, prayers given, stories shared by her friends and family, tears dropped, and laughs shared between the people present. It’s incredible to realize that even after her time in this world had ended, she was able to bring so many people from all walks of life together in one place. I felt, and continue to feel, honored to have been friends with such an angel who has touched the lives of many.

There were many organizations on campus that Tori was a part of, but one thing she was absolutely passionate about was Project Teach, a program within the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) here at Wake where we help to tutor both middle and high-school students from the community around us on Tuesday nights. We had both been very involved in this program last year, but it was very obvious to me how important the program was to her. Her love for the kids shined so bright that she was made the Community Service Co-Chair alongside me so that she would have full control of how the program was run. Sadly, soon after obtaining that position, she received her diagnosis. She then reached out to me a couple of weeks after her diagnosis and asked for the “big favor” of temporarily assuming control over the program as she began to fight off the cancer threatening her life. Of course I obliged and began to do so alongside another friend who was also invested in the program who also happened to be the new Vice-President of SNMA. Her and Tori had been working to expand the program to high-school students in the community, for at that time only middle-school students were coming for tutoring. When this school year started, my friend and I continued to work on expanding the program and eventually got a nearby high school on board to participate. This past Tuesday was the very first day of Project Teach for the year and I’m happy to say that it was a phenomenal success! We had about 25-30 volunteers and just as many middle & high school students show up. And the number of students is expected to increase for this Tuesday as well! I really wish Tori was able to have seen how well the first day went and how much bigger the program is going to get this year. But I know she’s watching from high up above and smiling down proudly on all of us.

Life can be very rewarding and at times you may feel invincible. But life can also be just as fragile, for one moment you’re on top of the world and in the very next moment you can be on the ground suffering. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this unfortunate event and from medical school in general, it’s that nobody is invincible. Disease & Tragedy can strike any one of us at anytime, even if we mean well and do our best to stay healthy. However, as the late and great Maya Angelou once said, “people will never forget how you made them feel”. I’m sure that just about everyone who has been touched by Tori’s presence can comfortably say that they will never forget how she made them feel, and that although she’s physically gone, her spirit will continue to live on in them forever. Her spirit will surely continue to live on in me. We all only have one life to live, so let’s shape our lives the way we want to shape them. Believe it or not, we have the power to do so. And while we work on shaping it, let’s find a way to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. It can be as big as funding a full scholarship for somebody or as simple as genuinely telling someone that they are beautiful. Even something as small as giving someone a smile can do wonders for another person. You just never know.

Victoria “Tori” McLean

January 6, 1992 – September 12, 2016

May your phenomenal soul rest in eternal peace.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

– Black Man, M.D.

Hope On The Horizon

To think that it has been 15 years since over 3,000 people tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks that rocked the core of New York City, destroyed a massive part of the Pentagon, laid ruin to a rural field in Pennsylvania due to the efforts of some courageous passengers, and strengthened the resolve of the American people while simultaneously creating intense & deplorable Islamophobia in this country.

How crazy is that?

What’s just as crazy to me is the fact that there are teenagers alive today that weren’t even born when these catastrophic attacks took place. I still remember my young, wide-eyed 8-year-old self hearing about the tragedy over the intercom in my third-grade class right after having said the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t understand the full extent of the events that had just taken place, but I knew it wasn’t good because my teacher had gasped and looked like she was about to cry. As I type this post, I’m sitting here trying to imagine the horror that the people in D.C. and New York City must have felt on that morning, and the despair that the people on those four hijacked flights must have felt right before their lives were terribly snatched away from them. I’m also trying to imagine the anguish of the families and friends who lost their loved ones that day and the tremendous shock that was felt by the people in this country as well as in other countries across the world as the news of the tragedy reverberated across living rooms, offices, restaurants, and schools worldwide. It was a devastating day indeed, and it left millions of people scared to step foot on a plane for some time. But that day also brought our nation together not only in grief, but in strength and fortitude. Today is a day to honor all of those individuals who lost their lives in those atrocious events, and to remind ourselves never to forget what happened that day. May their souls rest in eternal peace. #NeverForget

On another note, I’ve had a pretty efficient week. In fact, it’s been so efficient that I’ve actually been able to finally get caught up on all my material! Visiting my girlfriend for Labor Day weekend turned out to be very fun and refreshing, even while I was studying for hours at a time during my stay down in Miami. I think both the dramatic change in my surroundings and having her as well as other old friends there really helped to reinvigorate my focus, thus allowing me to catch up on my lectures even as I spent time watching college football, movies and catching up with people and hanging out.

I only came back to Winston because I had my mandatory Clinical Skills class to attend on Thursday afternoon, where we worked as a group through a case where a patient presented with abrupt chest pain, practiced physical exam maneuvers on each other involving the HEENT (Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat) & upper extremities, and interviewed admitted patients on the wards in order to gather their History of Present Illness. Along with interviewing them, we were able to listen to their hearts and check their capillary filling pressure (checking to see how fast blood returns to their nail beds after applying pressure on them). After learning all about heart sounds and whatnot, I was able to appreciate the beats that the patient’s heart made and could verify that his heart was relatively healthy. Fun fact, the sounds you hear in a heartbeat is due to the closing of the valves in your heart. The first heartbeat is the closing of the mitral and tricuspid valves while the second heartbeat is the result of your aortic and pulmonary valves closing. Systole occurs when you push blood out of your left & right ventricles into your aorta & pulmonary artery while diastole occurs when blood flows from the left & right atria to the left & right ventricles, respectively. That’s an extremely basic overview of blood sounds and blood flow in the heart, but I figured it would be cool for you to know a little about the organ keeping you alive right now. After class, I had to do a whole write-up of the patient case we went through and turn it into my Clinical Skills coaches. That was fun. Felt the sarcasm there?

That same afternoon, I attended an Underrepresented Minority Meet-and-Greet event at the school that I had been invited to weeks before. It was pretty awesome. The unlimited appetizers were fantastic too lol. But besides that, I got the chance to meet quite a number of minority physicians working either at Wake or in the Winston-Salem community while at the same time having casual conversations with the new Chief Human Resources Officer (she’s such a nice woman…she happens to be Black too 😏) and the Dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It’s cool that the school hosts events like this; seeing people that look like me in high positions of power on a continual basis really has an empowering effect on my psyche. I’m happy that I was able to attend such an event. Representation really matters.

Well, time to get back to the grind. Gotta get through this last week of Cardiology before my test next Monday. Wait, this is my last week of Cardiology…..awww DAMN!! I swear we just started this unit. Our course director recently told us that a number of other schools study Cardio for 6-8 weeks, but we only get a little less than four weeks dedicated to this subject 😐. I guess that explains why I was struggling to keep up at first…

Make this week an exceptional one! Who’s stopping you?

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

– Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Pumping Against The Pressure

Bruh.

They doing the MOST with these Cardiology lectures.

Can someone explain to me how in the hell 23 lectures and 6 workshops managed to get packed into EIGHT school days?? (And I’m not even counting the other longitudinal classes we had to attend…) How are we supposed to manage all that in a little over a week? Like, we just started this block less than two weeks ago and we have more than enough information to be adequately tested on. This material isn’t easy either. What’s even wilder about this is that we have 24 more lectures to power through in the next two weeks before we get to our exam date for this block. 😭

TWENTY-FOUR MORE LECTURES!?!

And don’t let me forget about the workshops we have to attend in the same time span.

GIPHY Originals bored annoyed really done

You would think that I would be used to this lifestyle by now…and don’t get me wrong, I actually am. The block before this (Heme/Onc) was pretty busy too and I was doing alright. Neuroscience back in March was intense too, especially during the very first couple of weeks I was exposed to it. But Neuroscience was spread over three months. And Heme/Onc was relatively straight-forward once you sat down and played around with it for a while. But this Cardiology thing? It ain’t straight-forward at all. AT ALL. Plus, we only have a month to learn it all. The heart-body relationship seems simple at first glance, but it is so much more complex than you can imagine. Especially after you throw in Pressure-Volume Loops, Starling curves, Hypertension, EKG interpretations, Heart Failure, the multiple Alpha/Beta/Dopamine receptors, all the Cardiomyopathies, Sodium/Potassium/Calcium/BlahBlahBlah-ium channels, the Electrophysiology of the heart, and all the freakin’ drugs that can treat all kinds of heart conditions. And this is just what we’ve gone over so far. There’s a whole ‘nother storm of new material in this block that coming at us starting on Tuesday. Good God.

Funny thing is, this is probably the calmest I’ve felt all week long. Sounds crazy huh? I mean, I really was just ranting on how crazy this block has been so far. But now that I have this Labor Day weekend to study without having to think about another new lecture for a couple days, I can finally work on synthesizing all the material that has been assaulting me this past week and a half. You should’ve seen me earlier last week…I was struggling to keep up man. What got me the most was that I never really had time to actually learn the stuff I was taking in because there was always new information constantly coming at me. It came to a point where I would be sitting in lecture pissed off because I felt that I was wasting time by trying to listen to the lecturer when I could have been synthesizing the information I already learned. By Thursday of last week, I was getting headaches from just being in class. Tragic, ain’t it? Thank God for this Labor Day weekend. 🙏 I can chill out for a bit and now that I’m looking back on everything so far with the multiple resources I’m using, I can appreciate how manageable it all really is. So with that said, there’s no need to worry about my mental state lol. All I really need is God, my friends & family, and a positive mentality. I’ll be fine! 😄

I did get the opportunity to ultrasound my own heart during one of the workshops this past week though! I’ve done it before last year during anatomy, but now that I actually have a much better idea of what’s going on in the heart, I could appreciate it more this time around. I was told by one of the residents helping out with the workshop that I had a good heart. 😁 My group and I also got a clear view of my heartstrings, or chordae tendinae as we like to call it in the medical field. So in case you were wondering, that’s where the saying “pulling on your heartstrings” comes from. In addition, we got the opportunity to learn about the basics of health insurance in our Healthcare Systems & Policy class this past Monday, which I highly appreciated. I had been hoping for some kind of course on health insurance ever since last year because I actually know little to nothing on the subject, which is scary considering the fact that it will be a very crucial part of my future career. We started off with how health insurance is financed in America on a commercial level, which could be the subject of a whole other blog post. In later lectures, we’ll be getting into the many intricacies of health insurance and the extent to which money influences the many lives in this country that depend on insurance. All in all, I’m really looking forward to learning all about the topics that will be presented to us in that course. Granted, this means that I actually have to make time to look at that stuff outside of class…

Anywho, make sure to enjoy your Labor Day weekend! And do your best to carry that joy through the rest of this week!

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

Steady Beat of Life

YOOOO wanna hear something wild??

I’m turning 23 tomorrow!! TWENTY-THREE!!!

How crazy is that? I’m lowkey trippin’ about it…23 just sounds like a huge jump in age/maturity from 22, in my opinion. Like from 18-21, I just felt like a college kid overall even though I was technically an adult. When I turned 22, it felt a little different but not really…I could say I was 22 and still feel like a big-ass college kid who slowly was maturing into an actual young adult pursuing a Doctoral degree. But when I say “I’m 23”, it suddenly feels like I’m automatically 10x older. It just sounds so…you know….old. But hey, the older I get the better I get, right?

Speaking of my upcoming birthday, I had quite an awesome weekend to celebrate it. As a matter of fact, I’m just now getting settled from it lol. A few of my good friends and I went down to Charlotte and had a great time in that area playing games at Dave & Busters (I ended up winning a Dave & Busters shot glass 😅), clubbing, and eating a very late/very early breakfast at a 24-hour diner a couple hours before sunrise. We then crashed hard at a clutch friend of a friend’s spot. It was hella fun! I also went back home to handle some stuff and got to spend some quality time with my dad. That was real nice. In addition, earlier last week right after my Hematology/Oncology exam, I got convinced to go to the Summer Sixteen Drake/Future concert at the last minute with about 10-15 of my classmates and I must say, it was a spectacular concert. We all started the concert off in our regular $50, cheap 200-level seats that faced the side of the stage, but most of us ended up either on the floor or in the much closer 100-level seats by the time the concert ended. I myself ended up in a 100-level seat about halfway thru the concert that must’ve cost around $300….so it’s definitely safe to say I got my money’s worth, plus more! Hehehe.

The day before I took my Heme test, I attended a Family Medicine/Internal Medicine faculty & student mixer at a local restaurant (you know, keeping an open mind about my future and all…and free food). After mixing and mingling with the about 30 or so people there, we participated in a few activities that pertained to making sure that patients are able to comprehend what the doctor is saying as they’re being discharged and the vital importance of communication in general between the doctor and the patient. It was a pretty good time and the faculty there were very nice. We even got to-go boxes for the leftover hors d’ouerves! When’s the last time you were offered a to-go box from a mixer? Yeah, didn’t think so.

As for my actual Heme test, it went well overall. I passed decent enough and more importantly, I feel like I was able to grasp a well-enough understanding of the subject in order to apply aspects of it in my later studies of other organ systems. Better yet, because I studied the material to comprehend it rather than to pass the test via straight memorization, I think that I’ll be able to recall info from that block at a faster rate when it comes time to Step studying. The very next morning after the test, we started the Cardiology block. I’ve had three days of lecture from this block and so far, the volume of information has been unforgiving. I literally can’t fall behind in this block. But it’s also been highly interesting to me. I don’t know why, but the heart really intrigues me in ways that some other parts of the body don’t. Even back in Anatomy when we were first learning about the heart and its compartments, I was really struck with awe as I first held the incredible battery that allows each of us to live by endlessly pumping blood throughout our bodies throughout our lifetimes. The heart really is amazing. It’s also very complex in how it works in concert with the body, thus making it a complicated organ to study…but I’m determined in completely understanding how it functions because the pathology of the cardiovascular system is directly linked to the HUGE health problems that many people of this country suffer with. When I encounter a patient (or anyone in general) with a condition like atherosclerosis or hypertension in the future, I want to be able to not only explain what is happening in their bodies but to also provide cost-effective ways in combating and managing their condition before it gets even worse.

One last thing…my class participated in a couple of Cardiology-based interactive workshops where we learned how to read cardiorespiratory monitors & pulse oximetry measurements as well as how to place leads on a patient in order to perform an ECG/EKG (Electrocardiogram). Needless to say, it was very interesting. I even got an EKG performed on me! Nothing like getting an EKG and getting it interpreted by a Cardiologist, all for free. (Let’s not talk about my tuition payments.)

IMG_3840

My heart lookin’ good, don’t you agree?

As always, I hope that you have a sensational week!

“Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are both usually right.” – Confucius

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The VMAs are coming on tonight and it reminded me of when I wrote my third-ever post on this blog as I was watching the VMAs last year…you know, the one where Kanye decided to run for president 😂. This also means that I’ve technically been blogging for over a year…wild.

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.