Straight Grindin’

Alright I knew I would be hitting the ground running when I got back to school…

BUT DAMN!!! *in my best Chris Tucker voice*

I don’t think I’ve really been able to catch much of a break since getting back from Atlanta last Monday. I started class Tuesday morning with four lectures of Renal Pathology (that I FINALLY finished getting through yesterday), followed by another four lectures the next day that I’m still working on getting through. (Yes, I’ve been playing the catch-up game again. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊) And I have about ten or so lectures this week before my Renal Pathology exam on Friday. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But you would think I would have been able to get through my eight lectures from last week by now. You know why I haven’t been able to? I’ll gladly tell you. Because I had another Clinical Skills Exam (“affectionately” called CPX for those of you not familiar with it) this past Wednesday where I not only had to go in and interview a standardized patient before performing a focused physical exam on her, but also had to document our encounter as well as provide an assessment and plan for her care. That took quite a chunk of my Wednesday overall. In my opinion, it may have been my best performance yet, but you never know these days. I’m just gonna hold my breath and hope that I don’t get another email stating that the history-taking portion of my encounter was “Unsatisfactory” and that I will need to “remediate my history-taking skills”. I don’t even wanna hear the word ‘remediate’ anymore. I’m tired of remediating my history-taking dammit. Lol.

I then tried to get through some more of Tuesday’s lectures after finishing my standardized patient documentation, but I didn’t get very far. Plus I was tired and wanted to get some sleep in order to attend a Case-Centered Learning (CCL) session early the next morning. Thursday turned out to be a pretty long day as well. I attended the CCL lecture and then attempted to study some more before having to go to my actual Clinical Skills class, which ended up taking up most of my afternoon. The class was especially interesting this time around though, for we learned a practical and helpful method to go about breaking bad news to patients as well as how to take a “SOAP Note”, which is a quick daily progress note of a patient that includes an evaluation of how the patient is doing from both a subjective and an objective perspective, a current assessment of the current health of the patient and a plan of care for the patient based on the overall evaluation and assessment of him/her. We also learned how to access patient files, which comes with a HUGE amount of responsibility and actually made me feel more like a healthcare provider instead of a second-year med student tryna stay afloat in this choppy sea of lectures and exams. It was pretty cool, to say the least.

After getting back from Clinical Skills, I played the catch-up game a bit more before having to attend a meeting for the annual “Share the Health Fair” taking place this Saturday. I’m going to be working as a station leader at the glaucoma screening station at the health fair all day, so I had to make sure I knew what the set-up was going to look like as well as make sure the volunteers working at the station that day knew what to expect. On top of all this going on that day was the fact that it was my Founders’ Day, so of course I had to celebrate for a bit with some other fraternity brothers in the area. I finally got back to my place later that night, studied for a bit and then crashed in order to attend a review session the next morning because Lord knows I definitely needed that. I attended the review session and then was able to get some more studying in after that, but my studying was cut short (yet again) by a mandatory presentation I had to attend where my class was formally introduced to the scheduling procedures for our third-year clinical rotations. By the way, this presentation further proved to me how freakin’ close third-year is. The fact that I’ll have patients in the near future that I’m somewhat responsible for is mind-blowing man. In addition, clinical rotation schedules are strict AF. I’ll have to be at the hospital damn near every waking hour of my week, although I’ll get weekends off on some rotations. So that means I’ll have much, much less control of my time. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride, that’s for sure.

Right after leaving that presentation, I made my way to Charlotte in order to fly to Irving, Texas (it’s near Dallas) for the SNMA National Leadership Institute. First off, I traveled back in time. That’s just cool to say. Also, it was ’bout cold as fuhhh over there! You would think Texas would be hot or whatever. But nah. It was 22 degrees when I landed. And it stayed cold the whole weekend. I wasn’t reaaadyyyyy! *in my Kevin Hart voice* But it IS January, so I guess I should have known better lol. The conference was fantastic overall though! I was able to interact with regional and national leaders in the organization from all over the country while representing my school. I also learned quite a bit from the sessions that I attended, including tips on how to efficiently plan your goals, why understanding the business side of medicine is particularly important, the importance of understanding the value of a personal brand, how to verbally communicate with people in a proficient manner in under a minute, and how to take advantage of the plethora of post-career opportunities available for medical school graduates. In addition, there was a SNMA Leadership Panel presented to us, which was made up of prior SNMA leaders who are now practicing physicians and the Dean of Texas Christian University’s future medical school came to talk to us about the innovative curriculum that they’re working to provide to their future students. Finally, we were given a talk during dinner last night that focused on the vital importance of voting in all government elections and being leaders in our respective communities. All in all, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and I feel that I’ll be making use of many of the connections that I made here, as well as many of the lessons that I learned here, in the future.

So now I’m back in Winston, where it actually snowed quite a bit while I was gone! Now all I need is to throw a snowball at someone and to drink some hot cocoa to be perfectly content. I’m lying, I won’t be content because I still gotta get through these lectures.

confused hand robert downey jr frustrated sigh

I hope you’ve started off the New Year on a phenomenal note! Keep on working towards your goals and powering through your resolutions! Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are usually both right!

Be the one who says they can!

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston  Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

The Power of Discussions

That extra hour of sleep was very, very clutch.

But this also means that it’s going to get darker earlier, which is annoying.

eye roll atlanta come on atlanta fx paper boi

Winter is officially coming. And you know what else is coming?

ELECTION DAY. 😭😭😭😭😭

I don’t want the Obamas to have to leave the White House!! President Obama is the coolest & chillest president we’ve ever had man. I remember watching him the night he got elected into office 8 years ago…I also remember that stunning black & red dress the FLOTUS was wearing that night too lol. I had actually (unnecessarily) recorded President Obama’s whole acceptance speech on my family camera, and I remember thinking to myself: “If he stays in office for 8 years, I’ll be 23 by the time he has to leave! He’s going to be president forever!! YES!!!”

Well.

I’m 23.

crying tears oprah emotional

This election season has been an insane one…very truly an insane one. We all know that, so I don’t even need to begin to explain how I feel about it. Just please, please, PLEASE exercise your right to vote if you haven’t already! Let’s keep America on track towards progress, and not rewind ourselves back towards our troubling history.

*Sigh.*

I’m gonna need a couple drinks Tuesday night.

On another note, the SNMA chapter at my school just finished hosting the annual Regional Medical Education Conference! It was an awesome experience, even though I had to miss UMiami’s Homecoming for it 😓. (There’s always next year, right?) Being able to not only watch, but participate in the sessions that I personally helped plan for was a great and rewarding feeling. The conference started off Friday night with registration and a welcome reception where SNMA students from around the region came and mingled with faculty members here at Wake. It was nice to meet some minority residents who worked here at Wake Baptist and to see the Dean again, who I had the pleasure of chatting with the previous night at the Twin City’s Medical Society Mentorship Program reception. I then had a chill night with some of the other medical students, where we played card games and taboo and whatnot lol.

The next morning started off early with a light breakfast at the school, picture-taking, and more registration. We then had a plenary session about Racial Disparities in Receiving Mental Health Care, which was facilitated by Dr. Rahn Bailey, the current Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. In his talk, he discussed various issues including the dangers of implicit bias in health providers against minority populations, the fears that people with a lower education level have when it comes to talking with their health providers, the importance of value-based metrics as a future payment method, what the ACA has the potential to do for patients, and the stigma of mental health in the cultures of minority populations, especially in African-American populations. Next came a session involving the topic of Harm Reduction and how it can be used to treat drug addiction. The speaker was a man who had actually dealt with homelessness and drug addiction in his past, but has now been clean for over 10 years due to the powers of harm reduction, which he described as the “middle ground between addiction and sobriety”. He discussed how drug users who participate in harm reduction are 5x more likely to seek help in order to quit as well as how harm reduction works to reduce costs for future potential treatments for people using drugs. He also stressed how important it was to stay patient with patients when trying to wean them off drugs and to try and not get jaded about it, for seeing positive results in patients trying to achieve sobriety can take a very long time.

Following that session was another one based on the importance of Mentorship in Medical Education, where a faculty member from this institution stressed how vital it was to seek out mentors in order to maximize our opportunities in medical school. He also touched on the Twin City Medical Society Mentorship program here, where an advisee is paired with an advisor who is in the field that the advisee is interested in. Soon after that session was one that was based on the topic of Microaggressions, led by one of the co-presidents of the SNMA chapter here. In this session, we participated in an activity where we were presented with a couple of scenarios and chose our own path within the scenario by deciding what we wanted to do after a question was posed to us. It was pretty cool and it opened the floor for us to discuss various instances where we experienced microaggressions from either peers, faculty or other people while living out our lives. Then after that one came a suturing clinic, where I finally learned how to perform a basic suture! My first couple of stitches were rough, but I got a little better as I continued to work on it 😁.

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Next came lunch and a short talk given by a representative from Be The Match where she discussed the importance of signing up for the bone marrow registry and the potential opportunities that we have when it comes to saving a life. (Rest in Peace Tori.) Then came the next session, which was a panel discussion focused on the topic of Gun Violence, Police Brutality and the Mental/Public Health Effects they have on minority populations. I happened to be the moderator of that discussion and thus facilitated the discussion between the three panelists and the audience. We talked about what we as medical students could possibly do when it comes to effectively addressing these issues, the power of the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact that police brutality and gun violence has on the health of the populations they target, just to name a few points. It turned out to be a great conversation overall! After this panel discussion were two more sessions based on Financial Planning for Millennials and Addressing the Health Needs of East Winston-Salem, an area of the city that has a high number of low-income residents. We then all took a bunch of pictures together, checked out the exhibitor’s fair and attended a business meeting for the region to discuss, well, business. By the time that meeting ended, it was 5:00 PM.

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Some of the RMEC Attendees!

But my day wasn’t over just yet.

We all ended up at a country club nearby where we attended a banquet to close out the conference. It was the fancy type of banquet where we had 3 forks, 2 spoons and 2 knives or something like that. Plus, the whole four-course meal was served to us as we sat at our tables. The featured speaker at the banquet was Mr. Cornell P. Wright, who serves as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. He touched on many things in this discussion, a few of which were, of course, the state of minority health in North Carolina, the infuriating truths that the 13th documentary brings up to the surface and the critical importance of health equity for all. He was also a really funny and interactive guy! It was an awesome ending to an awesome conference. I was so tired though, so I was looking forward to crashing in my bed…which I got to do only after hosting a kickback at my apartment complex for the SNMA medical students, which was a great time too. Like I said earlier, that extra hour proved to be REALLY clutch.

Jeez, I didn’t think I was going to write this much about the conference. I have one more unrelated thing I wanna say before closing off this post though. So bear with me!

As you may or may not know, I took my clinical skills exam about a month ago and I felt decent about my performance overall. Turns out my evaluators thought so too for just about every part of the standardized patient encounter…except for the history-taking portion of the encounter.

The freakin’ history-taking portion.

I swear I thought I did okay when it came to taking an HPI, Family/Social/Past Medical History, and Review of Symptoms. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t think I was going to get an unsatisfactory with my history-taking. It also didn’t help that the standardized patient was confusing me with her two different conditions (she made it seem like she had three different problems). Boiiiii you shoulda seen my face when I got the email about having to fill out a form requiring me to meet with my coaches in order to work on taking a more effective history.

done steve harvey over it family feud give up

Like, C’MON MAN!!

I’ve been working on this ever since I pretty much got told to do better on taking a history early on in my first year. However, we weren’t given any type of template this time around like in past clinical skills exams, so we had to reason our way through the interview and ask questions we felt were pertinent to the task at hand. I guess I did fine from a first-year med student point-of-view, because I pretty much asked the same open-ended questions that I’ve been taught to ask for the past year. However, the criticism came from the fact that I didn’t ask enough closed-ended questions, which are questions that are meant to pinpoint specific symptoms in order to formulate a working diagnosis in my head. After watching the recording of my encounter and viewing the evaluation form that my evaluators used, I began to realize how apparent the holes in my history-taking were. But even though I passed the exam overall, I still couldn’t really wrap my head around the fact that I really got an unsatisfactory on that part of the exam until I finally met with one of my coaches a couple of days ago to go over it with her.

After viewing the recording of my performance again with her and thoroughly discussing how I did, I truly then began to realize where my true problem lay. It wasn’t that I was necessarily bad at history-taking; I was actually very much calm and in control throughout the whole interview. It’s that, up to this point, I have been thinking of the questions I had to ask as a checklist that I had to fill out, even though I had been fighting to not think of it as that. It’s just that over time, it just became easier to think of it as a checklist as opposed to actually trying to think critically about what was going on with the patient, something I hadn’t even really realized I was doing until I had this discussion with my coach. It was a much-needed learning experience I didn’t realize I needed and that I honestly didn’t even want to accept at first because I had grown comfortable to my style of questioning. It also became vividly apparent to me that we didn’t get a template of questions this time around because we need to be able to critically think about the patient on the spot, something I honestly wasn’t doing well enough. Although I was extremely annoyed when I first got my evaluation back, I’m now very grateful about the feedback I’ve been given, which will work to make me that much better of a physician in the future. I also have a good feeling that there will be many more instances like this as I go about my training in the coming years…so I just can’t ever get too comfortable with anything.

Aiiight, I gotta get back to studying guts and butts, a.k.a. the GI system.

Hope you have an amazing week!

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams

– Black Man, M.D.

I See Freedom Around The Corner

I want to start off my post by wishing all the amazing mothers out there a

Happy Mothers’ Day!!!

You Africans out there know what’s good! Sweeet Mooothaaaa!!!

Being a mother is a very difficult 24/7 job that hands out no paychecks, but it’s one of the most precious jobs that we have in our society. I know firsthand how hard my own mother has worked all these years in raising me & my clan of siblings…it wasn’t easy. At all. So I appreciate her strength and sacrifices each and every day. I once told her that I would never know how to pay her back to show how much I appreciated her…she told me to finish school, become a doctor, look after my siblings and to buy her a Mercedes-Benz for her and my dad so that they can ride all around Cameroon when they retire. Guess I gotta follow through now huh? 😂 If you’re fortunate enough to have someone you can call your mother, please value her and try not to take everything she does for granted. More likely than not, she has made tremendous sacrifices for you that you may or may not know about.

As for me, I feel like I just wrote my previous post a couple of days ago. This past week really flew on by. Now I just have a couple more days of lecture and three tests standing in my way between now and the end of my first year! Gotta power on through to the finish line! I knocked out my last Clinical Skills exam of the year last week and I gotta say, I’ve come a hell of a long way from my very first one back in October. I couldn’t even take a proper HPI (History of Present Illness) back then…now I can breeze through the entire interview (HPI, Review of Systems, Past Medical History, Family History, Social History, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual History) with relative comfort. 😁 I handled my interview during my exam pretty well and managed to remember most of the components of the Neurological physical exam too. It was a lot to remember man. I actually almost ran out of time (45 minutes) for once lol. I did forget to do a few minor things, and had a hiccup when I forgot how to turn on the fundoscope 😂😂😂. A fundoscope is a handheld instrument that you can use to look into the back of a person’s eye (the retina). I stood there in the dimly lit room for almost 30 seconds trying to turn on the light on that freakin’ thing while trying to dissolve any awkwardness by maintaining a conversation with my standardized patient. I never did figure out how to turn it on on my own. My grader, who was on the other side of the one-sided glass/mirror, had to speak through the microphone to tell me to hit the switch on the wall the fundoscope was connected to in order to turn it on….😅. Boy did I feel stupid. Overall, I felt pretty comfortable with the patient encounter and my grader told me that I did a very good job! So that means that I can basically be your doctor…..just don’t come to me when you actually get sick or hurt. All I’m gonna do is take a history and maybe a physical exam then look at you like:

Lol, but seriously, don’t call me for any medical questions or advice. I’m not the one 😂. I’m just a med student tryna make it, go and get your actual doctor on the phone.

Remember that one ophthalmologist I talked about back in January in my Knowledge is Power post? The one who I went to have a meeting with in his office and ended up having me ask my questions to him in the operating room where he was operating on the retina of a newborn baby? Well I ended up shadowing him again a couple of days ago, and all I can say is that this man is a BOSS. I spent all morning with him power walking (And I thought that I walked fast…) around the clinic to see patients and to watch him give eye injections to certain patients. We must have seen about 25-30 patients in that short time period…it felt like we saw 60.While he was attending to each patient, he was doing like 10 other things, not to mention informing me of what he was doing and answering my questions as the morning went on. He was extremely busy, but what really struck me was how calm and collected he was throughout the whole morning. It was obvious to each patient that he was very busy, but they were all pleased with the time he spent with them because he never rushed the patient and he made sure to answer any questions the patient may have had. We even spent about 25 minutes with one elderly patient who was worried about getting an eye injection that she needed. She was actually 98 years old, but she looked like she was just hitting 70! She was walking on her own and everything too! Black don’t crack y’all lol. It took her niece, her son on the phone and the doctor to finally convince her to go through with the treatment. Throughout it all, the doctor never rushed anyone although he was starting to really fall behind schedule. So that just meant more power walking for us after he finished with that patient. All in all, it was a fabulous experience and I can really see myself doing what he was doing in the future.

That’s all I gotta say today. Make sure to have a wonderful Mother’s Day and a sensational week!

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.” – Amy Rees Anderson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Congratulations to all of you that are graduating from college this month! A special congrats to the Class of 2016 from the University of Miami!!! I wish I could have been there to watch you all walk the stage! It’s wild to think that I graduated from there on this date a year ago…

Halfway thru Anatomy!

I can’t believe that I’m already halfway done with anatomy…

We literally started anatomy six weeks ago. The weeks have flown by like crazy…like I would go to sleep Monday night and before I knew it, I was waking up on Friday morning. But at the same time, I feel like our first day of anatomy (August 24) was a lifetime ago. Six weeks have passed but I feel like I’ve mentally aged about five years. It’s like I’m in some kind of time-warp shit, like I’m in the Matrix and I’m Neo. Or like I’m in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for any DBZ fans out there.

Okay that sounds kinda stupid. Just know that it feels weird.

Although I have half of the anatomy block under my belt, I still have another six weeks to go…which means two more tests plus a final CUMULATIVE exam.Â đŸ˜€đŸ”« Oh yeah and the final exam is FIVE DAYS after my fourth exam. That’s just cold yo. But that’s another topic for another day. I’m finding that my least favorite part about anatomy (other than repeatedly figuring out that damn near half of the structures in anatomy has multiple names 😒)  is the fact that I always have to gear up for another brutal three weeks of a different region of the body right after taking a test for the previous topic the previous Friday. It sucks because my favorite part about anatomy is finishing up a body region and the free weekend I have right after taking a test. So it just ends up becoming a cycle of straight bull. Also, this upcoming region we’re about to delve into is the head & neck. Maannn do you know how much crap is in the head alone?? The fact that we have a whole test dedicated to just the head & neck is baffling. The brain damn near controls everything. I don’t even wanna think about all the little bones, muscles and NERVES that we’re going to have to memorize…

On a dimly brighter note, the test that I took on the abdomen/pelvic/perineum region this past Friday was not as tough as the one I took three weeks ago, in my opinion. Well at least the written portion wasn’t. The practical portion, where we have to identify structures in different cadavers and on CT scans/tissue samples/bones, wasn’t too pleasant this time around, just like last time. But I felt like I answered more questions confidently this time around on the written portion than I did on the first test. I was so shocked that I spent another 20 minutes going over each of the 123 questions I had to answer. It was also weird because a number of my peers felt that it was really hard and I usually tend to agree with them since I have already gotten used to getting my ass constantly handed to me in medical school. But it was different this time around. I don’t think the content got any easier, and the questioning style didn’t change much from the first test either. Maybe my no-stress strategy is actually working? Maybe I’m actually learning how to study smarter???

I must admit, I focused my attention much more on overall concepts like how nerves actually work and the routes of blood flow, specifically what arteries supply which organs. I also made myself think more in terms of spatial relationships, which I think really helped for this test. Regardless of how I feel about the test, I’ll find out how I really did sometime this week when I get my grade back. I could be talking up all this hype and end up finding out that I barely passed. That’s tends to be a trend in med school.

Another thing to look forward to this week is the Clinical Practice Assessment Exam we have to take. To put it simply, it’s an assessment of how well we can interview a patient and perform a physical examination on him/her. I find it pretty cool that Wake has us learning how to interact with patients early on in our first year. Problem is, ain’t no way in hell I’m ready to perform any type of physical exam on a patient. I still have trouble getting an accurate blood pressure…but thank God it’s not a graded exam this time around. It’s more of an assessment of what we need to work on, so I’m about to get hella constructive criticism by the doctors observing me. I’m cool with it though, because I really want to be the best doctor I can be which means I need to get the patient interview and physical exam down cold. It’s just crazy how hard it is to get the process right and I really don’t want to mess up even if this is a formative assessment. You would think talking to a patient was easy…turns out there is a whole interview technique that we learn to adopt when it comes to talking to a patient and my biggest problem is trying to remember to do everything in that technique while actively listening with empathy and not looking like I’m actually trying to remember what I’m supposed to say. I’ve had to really swallow my pride and allow myself to screw up during our clinical skills sessions, and I’ll have to keep doing so for a long time until I actually perfect this skill. I’ve never been graded in this way before, so it’s a whole new adjustment to me and I’m probably psyching myself out about it more than I need to. Idk, i just like getting things down fast, especially a skill that I absolutely need for my future profession.

But hey, every failure is a chance to improve right? As a matter of fact, now that I’m reflecting on my thoughts, I’m reminded of one of my mantras:

The greatest mistake in life is being too afraid to make one.

So with that said, I’ll stop complaining. I’ll be fine.

One last thought. I’m coming to dreadfully notice that the more things I learn in medical school, the more things I realize I don’t actually know. I’ve learned a ton of info, but I’m also finding that I’m only left with more questions. Even after anatomy is all over, I still won’t know how exactly everything works in unison, much less how to fix things when something in the body goes wrong. Hell, everything I’m learning in lecture is based off a perfect body…something nobody has. It’s amazing to see how many of us live our everyday lives without actually knowing what our bodies are made of and how our bodies really work. I’ve really began to appreciate the human body and all its wonders and I wish that everyone actually knew what their bodies were capable of. But then everyone would be studying medicine and in debt. That being said, I’m still very much grateful that Wake Forest gave me a chance to pursue my passion. As much as I may roll my eyes at country-ass Winston-Salem and at the fact that I study damn near 24/7, I’m very much glad and honored to be in the position I’m in. Many would give anything to be where I’m at and I realize that. That’s why I try to not complain whenever things aren’t going my way, even when everyone around me feels like throwing shade on their experiences here. Ultimately, I made a promise to myself a while ago that I will make the most of my blessing and do what I can to help those that want a chance to prove themselves in medical school or in any other profession get that chance.

Okay I’m done.

Hope y’all have an outstanding week! Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S:  Black Man in a White Coat is really proving to be an interesting read!