Two Blocks Down!

I can breathe.

In this past week, I managed to get through a 100-question test based on everything I’ve learned in the past few weeks as well as a cumulative 166-question test based on everything I’ve learned since Anatomy ended back in November. That’s 266 questions homie. Best part is, only three days separated these two tests apart. That’s 72 hours bih. You know what it feels like to have to go through that many questions in such a short time span? So believe me when I say once again,

I CAN BREATHE!!!

It felt so damn good to walk out of the testing room last Friday knowing that I was done with the CSP block and that I didn’t have to even think about studying for anything for the next two weeks. With my Community Practice Experience (CPE) coming up this week and Spring Break the week after, I’m SO ready to chill out for a while.

With the end of the Cellular & Subcellular Processes block comes the end of the basic sciences curriculum…and the end of the block I was the most knowledgeable about coming into medical school. From here on out, we will be learning about the body in a systems-based approach starting with Neuroscience. Then we will get into other systems next year like cardiology, renal, pulmonology…you get the idea. This style of learning will carry us up until we start studying for our USMLE Step 1 exam next year. Still not quite looking forward to that challenge yet. 😅 To tell the truth, I have NO idea what to expect going into Neuroscience after spring break. It’s definitely going to be a different feel from what I’ve been experiencing so far, but I also think it’s going to be quite interesting as well. Not to say that the material we’ve been learning so far isn’t relevant, but by learning in this new approach I feel that we will be really delving into material that will be very practical to us as practicing physicians in the future. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually begin to feel like a mini-doctor. Ehhh on second thought, maybe not. I’m cool with my minimal responsibilities as a first-year student for now. Ain’t no rush in becoming a doctor.

Now about this CPE I’m undertaking this week…it should be an interesting experience to say the least. As I’ve said in an earlier post, I was placed in Lenoir, NC, which is a pretty small town about 90 minutes west of Winston-Salem. Don’t even bother asking me what’s out there. I was also placed with a pediatrician, so I’ll get the opportunity to work with kids, something that I’m really looking forward to. Christel (sometimes) luhhh the kids! Apart from working with my preceptor and completing assignments, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with whatever free time I’ll have set aside. I guess I could catch up on reading or watching Netflix or even a Ted Talk or two. Maybe I could check the town out and see what Lenoir has to offer. I may just end up not finding much of anything but I’ll give the place a fair shot. Don’t disappoint me Lenoir! On a sidenote, it took me forever to pronounce that town right. I was pronouncing it like it was some fancy French museum at first and after getting laughed at and made fun of, someone else told me that it was pronounced “Lennar”. So I started pronouncing it like that and when I told some of my classmates from NC that I was going to “Lennar” for CPE, they looked at me funny and told me that it was pronounced, “Len-nore”. So Len-nore it is. I personally liked the French-flavored “Lenoir” a lot better; it made it seem like I was going somewhere elegant and foreign.

So all in all, I’m chillin’ for the next couple of weeks and I’m already taking full advantage of my free time. Before I finish up this entry, I wanna give a shout-out to a new blog that’s being created with a great friend of mine that’s also in medical school and her friend that’s an incoming law student. It’s called MD & Esquire and its main purpose is to create a space for students of color looking for information about getting, staying and being in graduate school. It also will serve as an inspirational blog that will work to encourage women of color as they work to pursue a professional career in a field of their choosing. I’m personally looking forward to checking it out and am excited that they’re entering the blogging world in order to inspire others! Here’s the link to MD & Esquire’s Facebook page:

 

I hope you each have an outstanding week and that you work to make the best out of any situation that you may currently be in. Always keep in mind that:

Everything is Energy. Your thoughts begin it, your emotions amplify it, and your actions increase its momentum. 

Stay blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

 

P.S. Congrats to all the new Iron Arrow members that were tapped into the Tribe this semester back at UM!

Therapy & Service.

Well, it’s one of those weeks again. I have two tests coming up: one on Tuesday that covers Viruses, Fungi, Autoimmunity, Hypersensitivity & Parasites and a cumulative final on Friday that covers everything from Biochemistry to what I just finished learning now. So that means everything I’ve learned since I finished Anatomy back in November.

Needless to say, I’ve been forced to excessively grind in my studies for the past week. And I’ll be continuing to grind for the next couple days. If I can at least do just as good as I did last test, I’ll be perfectly happy. As for the final, well…we’ll see what happens. After this week though, I’ve got a couple weeks off until my next big block of material, which will be Neuroscience. I don’t really even know what to expect going into that block…but I’ve decided not to think about it until the end of my Spring Break. 😊

While I was studying for this upcoming test, I came across a concept that I thought was cool as hell. I’m gonna warn you though, I’m about to sound like a straight-up nerd. But anyway while I was learning about therapies for tumors, I came across this technology that has the potential to become revolutionary when it comes to cancer treatment. This new approach, Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell Therapy, literally takes your immune cells and makes them attack tumor cells in your body. How, you may ask? Well, your T-cells (one of the fighters in your immune system) are first collected from your blood and then engineered to produce unique receptors on their surface (CARs) that allows the T-cell to bind to whatever antigen or protein that we want it to bind to. After letting them multiply excessively in a lab, the CAR T-cells are returned to you and continue to multiply in your body while recognizing and killing cancer cells that have the antigens that match the CAR on your T-cell. So to put it simply, tumor cells have some things that normal cells don’t have. So after being trained to look for these little differences, your fighter cells go and kill these tumor cells without hurting any of your normal cells. Isn’t that incredible? I think it is! The whole treatment is still in its early days and is being tested in clinical trials, but results so far have looked promising for those people that didn’t respond well to chemotherapy and don’t have any other choices. Side effects are being studied as well and have been managed so far with steroids. Scientists have said that more research is needed before it can become an option to the general public, but what they’ve seen so far is promising. With time, the therapy can only improve and hopefully eventually expand to treat all types of cancer. For any of you that have been officially mind-blown and are interested in learning more about this therapy, here’s a link describing it in better detail:

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/car-t-cells

Turn up for cancer research!

On another note, I’ve officially started volunteering for the Ronald McDonald House. You know, I used to see them around here and there growing up, but I never knew what they were. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know what the purpose of the house was until only a couple of months ago. If you don’t already know, the RMH serves as a home away from home for those out-of-town families that have children that are staying in the hospital for an extended period of time. The house provides food, shelter, and community bonding between families that find themselves housed there while keeping the families close to their loved ones in the hospital. Here at Wake’s hospital, there is a RMH Family Room on the pediatrics floor where family members can stop by and grab snacks or coffee, and just rest for a while. That’s where I’ve been placed and I had my first day last Friday. I saw first-hand how appreciative the parents of the sick children were of me being there that morning, for if there isn’t a volunteer available for any given 3-hour shift, the room is closed for that time period. I’m just happy that I can be of useful service to a population of people that are going through a tough time, and am grateful that I am able to interact with families in a perspective different from the one I will be trained to have when I become an actual doctor. I’m hoping that this experience will help influence the way I think about patients and their families in the future so that I can become that much more caring as a doctor.

That’s it for today! I’ll leave you with this:

No matter how bad you may think you have it, someone else in the world has it WORSE than you. Remember that.

Have a splendid week! And Happy Valentine’s Day! Special s/o to my valentine 😉.

 

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. S/o to the First Couple!

http://ellentube.com/videos/0_wh2ip495

 

Growth, Control & Breaking Stereotypes.

February is already looking like its going to fly by very quick. But then again, when has time not flown by since I started medical school back in late July? It’s damn near impossible to fathom how fast I’m approaching my second year of medical school…almost nerve-wracking. I don’t feel that much different from when I graduated college back in May, but at the same time I’ve been exposed to an entirely new mentality as well as a raging waterfall of information that persistently tries to drown me on a constant basis. But truth be told, I’ve so far been faring a lot better than I had imagined I would be. Back before I even got accepted into a medical school I had imagined that whenever I started studying medicine, my life as I knew it would be over. I thought that I would be endlessly memorizing facts and studying during most of my waking hours while hopelessly watching my social life fade away from me like Michael Jackson moonwalking into a misty graveyard. I also believed that no matter how hard I tried, I would fall short of the grades that I managed to obtain while in undergrad. The thought of attempting to take on extracurricular activities, much less leadership positions while in medical school was a joke to me and I believed that although I would enjoy what I was learning, I would be silently miserable at the same time.

Well, that’s how you tend to imagine med school after asking the majority of the people you know about what means to be there. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Okay, sort-of wrong. I sure as hell am studying during most of my waking hours and endlessly memorizing facts, but so are all of my peers. So it doesn’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. Plus I’m in Winston-Salem. So I know for sure I’m not missing out on anything spectacular. The social life I knew changed as soon as I left Miami, but it never faded away…it simply transformed. I definitely have had a great time with the friends I’ve made here and am far from miserable. I’ve even been able to participate in different extracurricular activities such as service learning opportunities and SNMA. As for obtaining the grades that I had back in undergrad…..yeah I’m falling shorter than a muhhh. I’ve had like one or two tests where I’ve reached the grades that I was used to making back then, but other than that, it’s been an uphill struggle trying to achieve high grades. But I haven’t been doing bad either so that’s okay. The Pass/Fail grading system truly is a beauty. I guess what I’m trying to say is, just like with anything in life, medical school is what you make it. If you want it to be a miserable experience, it definitely will grant your wish. If you want to have an awesome experience while studying medicine, you can definitely make it happen. It’s your decision. I chose the latter. I won’t lie though, the city I’m in has also made it undoubtedly easier to stay focused on school. 😅

Looking back on my CPX (Clinical Practice Assesment Exam) I told you about last week, I ended up doing fairly well. My ever-expanding interview skills didn’t fail me, and I actually took a correct blood pressure reading on my own for the first time! Hella embarrassing I know, but up until that point I had been faking my way through that portion since we don’t have to report vital signs at this stage in our careers…we just have to go through the motions. But I actually heard the thump, thump of the pulse in the brachial artery that I’m supposed to hear and got a decent systolic/diastolic blood pressure for the first time. That was probably the most exciting part of my exam haha. I also performed the physical exam maneuvers decent enough, so I ended up passing. I forgot that I was supposed to use a drape for my standardized patient though…..I had seen it, but I just threw it aside. 😂 Still passed thooo!!!

I also met and interviewed a patient that was suffering from ulcerative colitis last week during my clinical skills rotation. Needless to say, this patient was in pretty severe pain. I almost felt bad asking him about his pain, but he was pretty engaged in our conversation and happy to help me practice my interviewing skills on him. Seeing how far those skills have come from when I first started amazes me. There was a point where I didn’t even know how to properly ask a patient to describe their pain. Now obtaining an HPI has almost become second nature to me, although I have to now start learning how to obtain it in a quicker and more efficient manner. My clinical skills coach also had me and my small group present our patients to her (which I absolutely suck at) and develop a write-up of our patients in order to critique us (which she is absolutely stunning at). Good thing I won’t have to truly utilize these skills until my third year, but it’s real nice that we get this early clinical exposure so that we are comfortable with doing all that when it comes time to put these skills to good use. Right after my clinical skills class, there was an event where a few members of the Wake Forest School of Medicine faculty talked about times where they felt like they failed and how they bounced back from those failures in order to become better and stronger people. I just thought that it was an amazing event and I felt like the lessons that these faculty learned through their struggles are lessons that could benefit not only us as medical students, but you, the reader, as well. These lessons included:

  • Recognizing that you are in control of building your life the way you want to after hitting rock bottom
  • Seizing the moment and doing something nice for yourself each day
  • Not letting your grades nor comments, criticisms or negativity from other people define who you are
  • Communicating your needs while setting standards for yourself that is consistent with your values

 

Okay I know I’m talking a lot, but I just thought about an encounter I had with my barber a little over a week ago that I forgot to put in last week’s entry. This is my last story for today, I swear lol. I was at the barber shop getting a line-up for Wake’s medical school prom a couple of Fridays ago and I had my Wake Forest School of Medicine hoodie on. When it was my turn to get my line-up, the barber introduced himself and everything and we had a light convo as he was getting all his supplies ready. Then as he began lining me up, he asked me, “You play ball for Wake Forest?”

I guess he didn’t get the ‘School of Medicine’ memo on my hoodie. I was like, “Nah, I’m a first-year medical student at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.”

He abruptly picked up his razor off of my head, looked at me and was like, “Oh word? For real? That’s what’s up man. You must get that question a lot huh?”

I laughed and replied, “Yeah man, more times than I can remember. I may look like a ball player but funny thing is, I’m trash at basketball. So I just stuck to what I knew best, which was the books. I really just want to help break the stereotype that has been cast on us as young, black men.”

He laughed, himself an older black man, and said, “Well that’s great man, I’m happy for you.” As he started to return to his task, he went on, “You know, the media really does try and stick us all in a box. They expect us to be rappers, basketball players, football players, you name it. The news also covers all the bad things that black people do but does little to highlight our accomplishments. Like for example, the news will never tell you who the second richest black person in America is (Robert F. Smith) because he isn’t an athlete or an entertainer. He’s a business man. You’re doing a great thing man, don’t let up. Young black men are always trying to find the fastest way to becoming rich, which is why we fall in the stereotype trap, but the road you’re taking is definitely worth it in the end. You just gotta do your thing and own your own practice and show other young black men that they’re capable of what you’re doing.”

I wasn’t expecting a TED Talk from my barber, but I deeply appreciated what he had told me. All I could say was, “Thanks man, I really appreciate that. That’s a big reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

He then said it was no problem and went on to talk about how diabetes and glaucoma had affected his family as a whole and why he decided to change the way he ate and lived so that he wouldn’t suffer the same consequences that some of his loved ones did. It ended up being one of my more memorable barber experiences and needless to say, I ended up tipping him a good amount after the cut. I think I’ve finally found my new favorite barber in Winston-Salem.

Alright that was a lot. But the more I typed, the more I realized how much more I wanted to say. I hope you enjoyed this post and that you perhaps took something out of it. As for today’s positive memo:

You may not always have control of your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. Don’t let your circumstances control you.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!!!

 

– Black Man, M.D.

Ready For February.

I hope y’all had a great weekend! I know I did 😁. I ended up spending it with a special person, who also came with me dressed hella nice to Wake’s medical school prom. By the way, the prom was a good time, and the open wine bar was a fabulous (and dangerous 😳) addition. So with that plus having a fun time with my girlfriend and Netflix, I ended up doing absolutely nothing productive this weekend. Now that real life has hit me square in the chin once again, I guess I need to take the rest of today to get some work done and to prepare for my third Clinical Practice Assessment Exam (CPX) this week.

Now this clinical skills test (which I’m actually not mentally ready for yet by any means), will be testing us on the same skills that we were tested on last time. That includes taking a proper History of Present Illness, a complete Review of Systems, a Social and Family History, a Past Medical History and vital signs. However, we’re also now going to be taking a Sexual History and a musculoskeletal physical exam. That’s the little game that you play every time you go to the doctor for a checkup, you know, where the doctor tells you to push against his/her hands, tells you not to let him/her bring your arms down, etc. I used to think I was such a Hulk whenever my doctor performed that physical exam on me as a kid. She always had me feeling that I was stronger than I really was…but I digress. This CPX won’t really be bad or anything, I just have to get my mind straight and prepare for it. I did pretty well last time, so if I can repeat that performance, I’ll be fine.

On another note, my whole first-year class has our first Community Practice Experience coming up in a few weeks. This is where we each get paired up with a physician practicing family medicine in different parts of the state (mostly rural areas) and learn first-hand what it’s like to practice as a physician in primary care. The experience lasts about a week and in that week, we’ll be shadowing the doctor and doing whatever tasks he/she needs to be completed. Now I want you to go ahead and guess where I got placed in North Carolina.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you guessed Charlotte, you’d be wrong.

Greensboro? Nahhh.

High Point? Raleigh? Winston-Salem??

Nope, Uh-uh, No.

Try Lenoir. Never heard of it? You and me both. It’s some small town of about 20,000 people that lies about an hour and a half west of Winston-Salem, somewhat close to the Tennessee border. Near the mountains and whatnot. And I thought Winston-Salem was in the middle of nowhere. Lenoir makes Winston-Salem look like a metropolis. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well it is. It should prove to be an interesting experience, that’s for sure. After that week though, we got our Spring Break!

Spring Break is gonna be dope, I just gotta figure out what exactly I’m gonna do and finalize those plans…sooner rather than later. I got DC and Miami in mind…but it all depends on the state of my finances 😅. Speaking of finances, if anyone has several thousand dollars that they’re just DYING to get rid of, feel free to send it my way. I’ll promise I’ll put it to excellent use! Sending a car over to me works too 😄. Haha I’ll take whatever donations I can get.

Before I finish off this entry, I want to share something that was shared with me this weekend. I personally found it pretty encouraging as well as rejuvenating. To sum it up, it’s a short video that features Dr. Curtiss Moore, a cardiology fellow, giving a motivational message about being a Black Man, M.D. (Hehehe I’m clever). Hope it helps you in some sort of way!

Black Men In White Coats – Dr. Curtiss Moore, UT Southwester Medical Center

And finally, I’ve decided to start sharing inspirational messages with you each week. If you didn’t already know, I’m a firm believer in the tremendous value of positive energy. I believe that you can change not only your daily experiences, but your life overall just by changing the way you think. It may sound crazy, but it’s gotten me this far, so why stop now? In the words of one of my old high school friends, “I aspire to inspire.” With that in mind, I would love to help provide some sort of inspiration to someone out there in order to help him/her catalyze a better perspective of life.

Having said all that, today’s positive memo is simple:

Change in your life only comes from a change within yourself.

Stay Blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

Study Block

Sooo we have our third Cellular & Subcellular Processes (CSP) test tomorrow. It’s going to have concepts from Immunology and all types of bacteria, ranging from the morphologies of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria to what specific antibiotics treat each of them. Mechanisms of action, mechanisms of resistance, somatic hypermutation, STI’s, Amoxicillin, Tazobactum, Klebsiella pneumoniae, you name it. It’s all fair game for this test.

But if you know me or have been following this blog for a while, you already know that it takes quite a lot to faze me. Simply put, I’m not really fazed by this test. Better yet, I’m actually ready to get it over with and move on to learning about viruses, parasites, fungi and immunodeficiencies…..just so I can repeat the whole cycle of studying for the fourth CSP test. 😓

Sigh. 

You ever reach that point where after studying and reviewing day and night for so long, you find yourself looking forward to test day just so you can feel sort-of free and have one less thing on your mind? I can already hear you going, “Hell nah fool, you cwwwazy.” And you may very well be right, but that’s just where I’m at now. I’m having to force myself to review more practice questions for tomorrow’s test. I literally was watching a movie last night and as this man was crawling through soil and mud in the wilderness with open cuts, all I could think about was how high-risk he was for a Clostridium bacterial infection. Like, c’mon man. I can’t watch a movie or even cook a meal without thinking about bacterial infections and the proper way to diagnose them. It’s almost like when I couldn’t fall asleep back in the good ol’ Anatomy days without mentally naming the origins and insertions of the Cranial Nerves. Lol. I’ve grown to learn that whenever I begin to incorporate what I’m studying into my everyday thought processes, I’m more than ready for a test. I guess that’s what happens when you stay glued in your apartment to your notes, First Aid book and laptop for a week. And can’t forget about SketchyMicro. Lord knows that’s how I’m getting through the rest of CSP.

With all that said, just because I say I’m ready doesn’t mean the test isn’t gonna be hard. I felt ready for the last test I took before winter break and they hit me with the okie-doke with some ridiculous questions. Had me feeling some type of way going into winter break, smh. But on the other hand, if you aren’t confident in your abilities, you’ve already lost before you’ve even started. And I don’t like to lose. 😜

I honestly don’t really have much to say today, only thing on my mind is getting a good score on this exam. And what I’m wearing to Wake’s Med School Prom this Friday. Yeah, we have a prom for medical students. 😎 And oh yeah, what the hell I’m doing for the summer. I’ve been doing some extensive browsing on summer research opportunities and I have a few that I’m willing to take a shot at. My options are ranging from diabetes to cancer to eye research. However, the worst part about applying for summer programs is that you don’t hear back from them till like March or even April, which makes it hard to plan out any other options in the chance that I don’t get accepted into the programs that I’m applying to. Talk about annoying. Well regardless, I’m going to be doing something productive this summer. I’m not giving myself a choice.

Y’all have a splendid week!!

 

– Black Man, M.D.

Working Smarter > Working Harder

I woke up to snow this morning.

I literally haven’t seen snow fall since high school…it was a pretty neat scene. But then my amazement quickly spiraled into horror when I remembered I had to walk my friend’s dog. Try to imagine my face when I took my first step outside in those freezing white flurries.

SMH.

What’s even crazier is that the snow abruptly stopped a couple hours later and the sun came out like any other ordinary day. Looking outside now, it’s as if the snow flurries never existed; as if they were a part of some weird winter wonderland dream. But I assure you, the snow that coldly stung my face this morning was very real. And COLD.

I want to take a moment to shoutout to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for everything he did for this country & the world in general. I want him to thank him for his Dream and for helping pave the way to equality and success for people that look like me. I also want to thank him for this three-day weekend that I desperately needed. You see, we started learning about the different bacteria that cause infections in people last week and maannnn let me tell you, there are a TON of bacteria all around us at all times. There are so many different types of bacteria that have so many different ways to help us as well as attack us, and we’re expected to retain all this information. Not only do we have to know every kind of bacteria out there, but we also have to know how to identify them via the disease processes the body exhibits and we need to know how to treat each infection.

I learned about most of these pathogens in college, but memorizing (and pronouncing) everything this time around hasn’t been any easier.Well I should say hadn’t been any easier, because I started using this Godsend called SketchyMicro last Thursday…and it’s changed my life! For any medical students out there that either are studying Microbiology right now or are beginning to study for the Step 1 exam and for some reason haven’t heard about this miracle yet, PLEASE check it out. Hell, even undergrads could use it, although it’s quite a bit more detailed than is necessary for undergrad Microbio classes. Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with SketchyMicro, the creators literally took just about every concept and organism that we need to know in the world of Microbiology and sketched a story out of it. So instead of having to dryly memorize so many facts word for word, you literally watch a story unfold with pictures used to trigger certain elements in the concept you’re trying to learn. It sounds hella weird I know, but it’s extremely creative and it’s working wonders for me so far! People were recommending it to me for so long and I can clearly see why. I’ve been binge-watching it this past weekend, and will continue to binge-watch up until my exam next Monday. SO needless to say, I’ve been pretty much a lame all weekend. But we all gotta make sacrifices to be great, right?

Also, I’m getting the opportunity to house a Wake interviewee for a night this week so that he has a place to stay for free before his interview on Thursday morning. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to do this, especially since it was done for me when I had my interview here almost exactly a year ago. Having a secure place to stay before my interview day and getting to talk to current medical students at the time definitely made my interview experience a hell of lot less stressful. I feel that it’s only right that I give that opportunity to another potential student. I’m slick excited to meet this guy and help him de-stress before his interview; he’s already called me up about any advice I had for him lol.

So with that said, if you’re currently interviewing for medical schools or any other graduate school in general, keep your head up and good luck! Always remember that if you’re being asked in for an interview, you’re already winning the battle. All you have to do is give them a good reason to pick you, which means being confident, being true to yourself and genuinely answering any question they throw at you. And smiling. Definitely smile.

Have a great week!

 

– Black Man, M.D.

 

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.

 

 

Back At It.

Well.

I’m back in Winston-Salem.

School starts back up tomorrow with three morning lectures and an afternoon discussion session, which isn’t too bad. As a matter of fact, this week isn’t looking bad at all, its mainly just morning microbiology lectures and free afternoons that we can use to digest the new material given to us. However, next week is a packed week with both morning and afternoon classes. It’s all good though, I’m ready for just about anything. Although I’ve been resting and relaxing for the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been mentally preparing myself for this semester…and I’m happy to say that with a semester of medical school under my belt, I have no fears coming into this next semester. You see, I’ve come to realize that it’s pointless to be afraid or nervous of what lies ahead in medical school. Whether it be future exams or being thrown in a brand new environment with minimal skills, there’s really no point in worrying about the potential hardships the future might bring. That’s because it’s only gonna get harder later on in my career, and I’ll just be looking back at my first year wondering what the hell I was so anxious about when I had it so easy. Also, there simply is nothing I can do about the future except prepare for it. Worrying is such a waste of energy. So I might as well enjoy the ride and actively learn as much from it as I can. I have Dr. Damon Tweedy to thank for helping me reach that conclusion, for I was reading his book this past week (Yeah I know, I’m taking forever to get through it) and as I was reading through his experiences in his first year of residency, I started to fully realize that I really do have it easy in comparison. I mean, all I really have to do is study for exams and absorb as much material as I can throughout these four years of medical school. Third and fourth years are clinical years and I will have more responsibilities as a result, but I still don’t have the full responsibilities an actual doctor has. Plus, I’ll be closely supervised anyway. Sure I’ll have screw-ups along the way, but when was the last time I was scared of screwing up? Failures are stepping stones to success. Kanye said it himself, “N-Now th-that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger.” Residency will be by far more challenging than what I’m currently experiencing now, but by the time I get there, I’ll have the skillset needed to be a full medical doctor. Sure it’ll be probably one of the hardest adjustments I’ll ever have to make and I probably won’t feel ready to make decisions for the well-being of my patients, but I’ll survive and get through it. As Marcus Aurelius once said, “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. ” That goes for anything that you may be going through in life; just trust yourself and you’ll find a way to get through your struggles.

In other news, this past week in Atlanta was an awesome experience! It was such a diverse city man; I saw all kinds of people when I was down there. While I was there, I got to see all kinds of aquatic wildlife in the Georgia Aquarium, which by the way was so freakin’ huge. I’ve never seen an aquarium that big…and that expensive 😒. It was worth it though, my girl and I got our money’s worth and toured just about everything in that place. I also rode the new (and random) Ferris Wheel in the Centennial Olympic Park, shopped in Lenox Mall, drove through Buckhead and dabbed with the Coke Bear at the World of Coke. I also can’t forget about the great food I had at Atlanta’s restaurants and all the fun I had on New Years Day. Great times, great times. Definitely gotta make another trip back at some point in the future.

I hope each of you are starting your New Year right and on a positive note! Don’t let the one life you have be infested with negativity and worry; let it shine radiant with happiness and confidence! Sounds corny, but life’s better when you’re happy and aren’t chronically worried, trust me.

Stay blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

Breezing Thru Break

I’ve forgotten how easy life could be sometimes. This past week has been the chillest week I’ve had since summer break, and it has felt amazing. Just being able to wake up and not having to plan out where and how I’m going to study has been a blessing in itself. The free and authentic food I’ve had this past week has been a BIG plus too. I’ve been having a pretty great time sharing laughs with my family and friends here in VA and just relaxing in general. From playing video games to sleeping in to reminiscing on childhood with my siblings, there hasn’t been a dull moment being home from school. I gotta say, both my life and the people in it are surely blessings that I’m truly thankful to have. Growing up and understanding the true meaning of Christmas and the holiday season in general has made each subsequent holiday break I’ve experienced that much more meaningful and enjoyable. It’s come to the point where I don’t expect anything for Christmas anymore…I’m just happy to be able to come home to a strong and healthy family that is continuously being blessed by God. Seeing my siblings and parents happy and doing well is a good enough gift for me. The pajamas and wheat bran flakes I got for Christmas are just a bonus. 😂

I still have another good week of relaxation before school starts back up again, but I’m well aware that when school starts, IT’S GONNA START. With that said, I’ve been doing some real planning on what I’m going to be doing this next semester as well as this upcoming summer in order to become a more effective student. Not only that, but I feel that it’s about time that I start seriously considering how I’m going to approach the USMLE Step 1 exam that I’m taking in less than two years, since my score on that exam pretty much seals my fate. People keep telling me it’s never too early to start studying/reviewing for that test, so I’ll take their word for it. Lord knows I can’t screw up on that exam. I think the best thing I can do is get some Step 1 review books and review high-yield material in them while I’m learning the actual material in class. Much easier said than done I know, but I gotta start somewhere right? Also, I’m thinking about doing research possibly in regenerative medicine next semester because that field has really piqued my interest. It’s so freakin’ cool to me that cells are being engineered to grow into tissues and organs that can replace damaged ones. It’s almost like science fiction, except it’s real life. Regenerative medicine really looks like it’s going to be a big part in the future of medicine, so why not take a peek at how it works? But besides that, I’m thinking of also doing some research in ophthalmology or something relating to that field of medicine for the summer. I apparently need some kind of backbone in research to be seen as “competitive” when it comes to an ophthalmology residency, so I figured this upcoming summer would be as good of a time as any to get involved with that. And if research doesn’t work out for me in the summer, then I’ll maybe do some volunteer work abroad. I’ve been looking at this opportunity called Unite for Sight, where you can go to one of three countries (Ghana, Honduras, India) for as long as you want and help break down patient barriers to healthcare by educating the population about the importance of healthcare, performing glaucoma screenings, performing eye exams, testing visual acuity, observing eye surgeries, and doing many other things. Regardless of what ends up happening, I know for a fact that I’ll be using my summer in a productive manner. I’m not really giving myself a choice.

Well that’s really all I got to say today. See you in the New Year and enjoy the rest of the holidays with the company you plan on celebrating them with! Stay happy and true to yourself!

Bless up! (Shoutout to DJ Khaled 😂)

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (1/8) M.D.

 

Aye….guess what?

 

I JUST SPRINTED THRU THE FINISH LINE!!!

MY FIRST SEMESTER OF MEDICAL SCHOOL IS OVER!!!

 

 

 

The morning of July 27th almost feels like a lifetime ago…but at the same time, it’s incredible that we’re already in the middle of December. I really had to pause for a minute and reflect that it has really been 21 weeks since my first day of Orientation. 21 weeks. If we wanna count days, that’s 145 days starting from 9:00 A.M that July morning (7/27) up until last Friday (12/18) at noon.

145 days.

Bruh, that’s 3,459 hours.

Better yet, that’s 207,540 minutes.

I’ve been an official medical student for 207, 540+ minutes. Sheesh.

I’m so glad to be on this two-week break. SO GLAD. Like, I don’t know if you fully understand. These days of relaxation and celebration ahead of me are making me very, VERY ecstatic. I’ve been looking forward to them for a very, VERY long time. I had been looking forward to Thanksgiving too, but I had to worry about an impending Biochemistry exam. With this winter break, there are no impending exams. As a matter of fact, we don’t take our next test until the end of January. Turn uhhhhhh!!

Speaking of tests, let me tell you about this Genetics/Pharmacology exam that we took this past Friday. It was supposed to be very straightforward and relatively easier compared to the tests we have taken this semester. Our professors had implicitly assured us that we would be 100% prepared for the exam.

“You just have to know the overall concept,” they said.

“I won’t test you on specific details,” they said.

Of course, when a teacher says don’t worry about a particular thing in their notes, I still glance at it and make mental notes…but I definitely didn’t commit a majority of what they said not to worry about to memory. Also, the questions about the concepts that we needed to know were made quite a bit harder than I anticipated. That’s why my jaw had dropped so hard to the floor by the time I hit the 10th question. You know it’s gonna be a long test when you spend a good 25 minutes on the first ten questions…and mark near half of them to come back for review. There were only 66 questions on the test too, so each question had a good amount of weight on it, which made it all the more important to get as few wrong as possible. I had come into the test feeling so prepared, just KNOWING that I had a shot at getting a score in the 90’s for once, maybe even…….a perfect score?? 👀 👀 👀 But it turns out that the professors had ulterior motives. I went from shooting for a score in the 90’s on question 1 to just tryna make it through the test by question 45. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some pretty straightforward questions on the test that were easy to get through…but there were also quite a few complex, wordy questions with weirdly descriptive answers. We were basically bamboozled into thinking that it was going to be an easy test. But of course, it was made a lot harder than it needed to be. It was sad yo. And the whole experience was made even more dreadful with the crashing of the testing system in the middle of the examination period. I had already answered all my questions and was 10 questions away from completing my exam review when it crashed on me. When it crashed, a white screen popped up with a small sentence that stated that the system crashed and that I needed to restart my test.

Bruh, I was so scared that I lost all my answers. I literally stared at that white screen for a couple of minutes before realizing that half the people in my testing room had the same issue. The exam proctors were stuck with trying to figure out how to fix this issue while keeping a room full of highly annoyed medical students calm. Thankfully, they helped us in getting the issue resolved and I didn’t lose any of my answers…but not before having to sit there for an additional 30 minutes in that room when I had been literally 5 minutes away from submitting my exam. But oh well, such is life. Like I’ve said with my tests in the past, I’m sure I passed it…I just don’t know by how much.

Whaaaaatever, it’s done with and I’m chillin’ now. I’m going to have a blast spending Christmas with my family here in VA and then spending New Years’ with my girlfriend down in ATL. I don’t even wanna think about medicine right now. Thing is, I repeatedly find myself not only accidentally using medical terms when talking with my family, but also thinking about the mechanisms of the most random things. Sigh. I suppose this is what my life is becoming. I guess it isn’t so bad. Could very easily be a 100,000x worse.

I’m currently catching the itis because I just had some amazing iHop, so all I want to do is nap…but my brothers are begging to get their asses beat at FIFA, so now I gotta go and serve them the fixings. So I’ll leave with wishing each of you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy Holidays!

Please be safe and enjoy your loved ones! 

Be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.