Workin’ Day & Night

Man, it has been a STRUGGLE trying to switch my body from my night shift schedule back to my regular daytime schedule.

I finished my last night shift of the week yesterday morning and headed straight for my bed to crash, only to wake up four hours later to get ready for my flight to Pittsburgh. Packing on four hours of sleep is not the best idea, just so you know. I had to force myself to stay awake the rest of the day as I got to the airport, got through security (there was literally nobody in line…it was just me. Had me feeling like some sort of celebrity¬†ūüėé), ate a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s, flew to Pittsburgh (the view of the city at night is niiiiice), got picked up by some friends from college, went out to dinner with them, came back to their place, did some quick reviewing of the pediatrics residency program at Pittsburgh, FaceTimed my girlfriend and finally got ready to go back to sleep around midnight. I’m glad I decided to go through the torture of staying awake though, because I was knocked out about five seconds after my head hit the pillow lol. Then my stubborn circadian rhythm kicked in and I found myself up and awake in the middle of the night for about an hour for no good reason. I finally crashed once more and woke up¬†much later than I would have liked. It’s all good though, I definitely needed the rest.¬†I just got back from a diversity brunch that the pediatrics program here in Pittsburgh hosted, and will be going to a pre-interview dinner later on this evening that should help prepare me for my interview tomorrow. It should be a great time! ūüėĄ

As you can see, my interview season is starting to shift into high gear. After tomorrow’s interview, I have one at VCU next Monday, followed by a flurry of interviews taking place in the following weeks at Emory, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, UNC, Duke, UVA, EVMS, MUSC and the University of Maryland. There’s going to be a lot of money spent on gas and plane tickets, that’s for sure. Good thing I decided to get a new credit card for this season; I’m tryna make some money off of all these expenses lol. It’s going to be fun to get to see all these different programs and to meet all sorts of people, but I also feel like my tank will be on close to empty by the time this interview trail comes to an end. Then I’ll be chillin’ for real!

But before I fully shift into high gear, I have to focus on completing my last week of my rotation at CHOP. It’s crazy that I’ve finally made it to this last week! I’ve experienced a surge of growth and newfound confidence in my clinical skills these past three weeks, a surge that I know will continue as I blaze through this final week. I’m grateful for having been able to rotate through this hospital and am also very grateful that after a five-month long stretch of back-to-back rotations, I’ll FINALLY be enjoying a hard-earned break from clinical responsibilities! I remember looking at my fall semester schedule back in June and being like, “Dang, this is about to be a hell of a ride ūüėÖ”. Back then, November had seemed so far away…but look at us now! WE MADE IT!!!

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Before I forget, let me go on and tell you about my week of nights.

First off, it was strange having to be asleep in the daytime and being up all night (reminded me of my long nights during my Ob-Gyn rotation). I really felt like I was missing out on the events going on around me in the world. And at night when I was wide-awake, my phone was pretty much a brick in my pocket because everyone else was fast asleep while I was busy running around the floor admitting patients. It wasn’t like I had a lot of time to be on my phone anyway; I really was busy most of the night every shift. The team consisted of my senior resident, the intern covering the floor, and me. Yeah, just the three of us. Managing a floor that could fill up to a cap of 22 patients.

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If we weren’t managing the care of patients who had already been admitted to the floor, we were working on admitting new patients onto the floor. Most of the time, we would be doing both of those things at the same time. In the rare event that we had some off-time where we weren’t being called for something, we would either be engaging in active learning with our senior resident, reading up on some information that we wanted to learn more about, monitoring our patients’ charts for any changes in their current statuses, or just talking about our respective lives. By the time the morning came around, I would be exhausted. Yet, I would have to stick around a couple extra hours most days to present patients that I helped admit overnight. I honestly don’t even know how I was able to get through those presentations…I sincerely felt like I was babbling nonsense due to fatigue, but I apparently wasn’t because everyone seemed to get the picture I was trying to paint with each of my presentations.

Overall, I actually enjoyed my night shifts! The whole flipping-my-schedule-upside-down thing sucked but once I adjusted to that, I could really begin to appreciate the laid-back, flexible nature of working at night. Oh, and shoutout to the cafeteria being open from 1-4 AM! That was extremely clutch, but it sure was tragic that it was closed from 7:30 PM till 1 AM ūüėē. I had even more independence at night than I did in the daytime, which is saying a lot because I already felt like I had a ton of independence during my day shifts. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have the time constraints that come with pre-rounding and rounding, which allowed me more time to have some touching conversations with my patients, read about things that I found interesting, learn how to be more effective in putting in the correct orders, and write some high-quality notes about the patients I admitted. I also practiced managing multiple patients overnight by splitting the patient list with the overnight intern, meaning that I took responsibility (with oversight of course) of the care of some of the patients on the list. I was really out there feeling like a doctor, and it was pretty cool!

I had a great experience on nights, but it sure does feel good to be back on a regular schedule again. It’s too bad that I won’t get to wear scrubs during the daytime and I’ll be having to wake up real early again, but at least I won’t be messing around with my sleep schedule! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be looking fresh at the hospital with my bowtie game on 100%!

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That’s it from me today! I hope that you have a fantastic week!

Cheers to my last week of clinical responsibilities in 2018! And Happy Veterans Day! A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who have served this country!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I FINALLY got my absentee ballot the day before Election Day. I had to sacrifice some sleep to get it sent out but it was well worth it, even though the House representative I voted for ended up not winning the election. After my harrowing voting experience, hearing an unsettling amount of horror stories from friends who have tried to vote, and witnessing dangerous levels of corruption and irregularities in the voting system, I’m committed to helping make some very necessary changes in the way elections work in this country. Don’t ask me how I’m going to help make a change, because I don’t know yet…but I’m going to think of something and become more engaged in voter registration and reform in the overall voting system. Hopefully the results of this election will serve to restore some sort of order and sanity in the government. Shoutout to all the elected newcomers to Congress who were inspired to run because they were absolutely sick of the current state of affairs in the country!

P.P.S. – I was able to check out Philly for a bit last Sunday in my severely limited free time! I got to run up the Rocky steps, had brunch at a Lebanese restaurant, had a photo-op with the LOVE structure at Love Park, walked around downtown Philly and visited the Barnes Foundation to look at a ton of original, expensive paintings that I don’t really care about. But it was free to go, and the value of all the art in the museum is estimated to be at about $25 billion, so I had nothing to lose by checking it out!

Life After Step II

After a solid month or so of strenuous preparation for my nine-hour long Step 2 CK board exam, I can finally say that I’m OFFICIALLY DONE with that test!!

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As you may or may not have read last week, I had started to get sick of constantly answering and reviewing questions. My motivation to study was rapidly declining, I was achieving scores in a range that I was comfortable with, and I felt like there were some things that I was starting to forget simply because I had last reviewed those details weeks ago. Although I was very comfortable staying with my girlfriend (who had been making the study block a MUCH more tolerable experience), having to use the majority of my day to complete study questions and review concepts was getting really annoying. I was so ready to take the test and move on with my life, which I finally did last Friday.

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In the days leading up to the test, I actually toned down my studying quite a bit. As a matter of fact, the last question blocks I completed and reviewed were on Tuesday. I did a light, final review on Wednesday and by mid-afternoon, I was completely done with my preparation. A part of me wanted to go back and look at some more stuff later on that evening as well as on Thursday, but I wouldn’t let myself. Okay, I cheated for a few minutes on Thursday morning and let myself look at a few things that I thought I was a little shaky on before realizing that doing so was a waste of time. Plus, I didn’t want to throw myself into a panicked frenzy the day before the exam. That’s just ridiculous. Deep down, I knew that I had already looked at everything worth looking at and I knew that I was ready to go in and take the exam. But even so, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that I may have either missed some small details or failed to study a concept all the way through. That feeling will probably never go away, which is why it’s important to just simply trust that you prepared yourself adequately and that you know the necessary information to perform well on the test, even if you have to end up working through questions that you’re unsure about.

I spent my Thursday getting snacks for the day-long exam, sending out emails, getting some other parts of my life together and watching Netflix. It was a pretty relaxing day, to say the least. By the time I had to go to sleep, I was pretty worn out. Just to be safe, I took a little ZzzQuil because trying to sleep before huge exams has historically been a very irritating issue for me. But even with that added help, I had some trouble falling asleep for about an hour or so. Thankfully, I eventually fell asleep after some tossing & turning and ended up feeling pretty well rested the next morning.¬†ūüėä

The routine on test day was pretty similar to when I took Step 1 last year. I got to the testing center, packed my stuff up into a small locker, verified my identity and proceeded to begin the exam. I must admit, my heart started racing a bit as I answered the first few questions of my first block. However, after answering some more questions, I quickly fell into the routine that I had been following for the past month. Each of the eight blocks ended up flying by pretty quickly and I found that although I was beginning to become mentally fatigued in the later blocks, I was faring better than I had been when I hit the last couple of blocks during my Step 1 exam. It was great to see how much more endurance I had this time around. I also noticed that I felt relatively calmer overall throughout this test, mainly because I had been taking Shelf exams all year long and I also already knew what taking a day-long test felt like. And unlike last year, my computer didn’t turn off in the middle of a question block, which is always a plus!

If you were to ask me how I felt the test went, I would say that “I think I did okay overall, but then again you never really know with these kinds of tests.” There were a good amount of questions that I felt sure that I got right, but there were also quite a few that I wasn’t entirely sure about even though I could whittle down the answer choices to increase my chances of picking the right one. And of course, there were a couple of dumb questions that I had to straight-up guess on because I literally did not know where to begin picking the right answer. I felt relatively comfortable with my performance on almost all of the question blocks. I say almost all because there was one block specifically that threw me for a hell of a loop. I pray that that block was full of questions that are going to be thrown out because I was unsure of about half of the answers that I picked in that section. But like I said, you just never know how things will end up going until you finally get your score back, which won’t be for another month or so.¬†ūüėÖ

Now that Step 2 CK is behind me, I have a week to relax and get my life together before heading into my second rotation of fourth year, which will require me to work as a medical volunteer/camp counselor at a summer camp for kids with chronic illnesses. I’m really looking forward to this experience and am pumped to meet the team at the camp as well as all the kids that I’ll end up interacting with! Until then, I’m gonna just chill and give my mind a break. I’m over at Hilton Head Island right now and will be here until Tuesday. It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to relax on a beach…so excuse me as I finish up this post and continue to bathe in this radiating sun while taking the time to appreciate the warm sand and ocean ripples around me.¬†ūüėé

Make sure to have an incredible week! Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you amazing fathers out there! And Incredibles 2 was a much better movie than I expected it to be! Go check it out when you have time to!

“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

– Black Man, M.D.

Way Too Fast

This week flew by so fast man…like I was just in a plane typing up last week’s post. Then I blinked and now here I am typing up this post. I really couldn’t tell you where the time went. However, whenever I’m busy studying for an upcoming exam, time has the cruel tendency to speed up in an exponential fashion. So with that said, it makes sense as to why I feel like the hours in the day have been carelessly flying by. I’ve been getting a TON of necessary studying in via question format and have spent a lot of time reviewing the questions that I’ve answered. If you didn’t already know, there is SOOO much information to review in Family Medicine but because I’ve already seen about 95% of this specialty’s content in all of my previous rotations, it’s really not as overwhelming as it has the potential to be. To put it simply, this rotation is pretty much a crash course of everything that I’ve already learned. This is one of the huge pluses to having this rotation near the end of my third year!

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But even after having said this, I am very well aware of how hard the shelf can potentially be. I’m going to be tested on literally anything that I’ve learned all year long, almost as if it were a mini-Step 2 exam. This is why I’ve already powered through and reviewed 500+ questions, and will continue to power through and review a couple hundred more this week up until exam time on Friday afternoon. This test is NOT about to catch me slipping. If it ends up slapping me sideways anyway, at least I know that I put 100% of my effort in preparing for it. Let’s hope that the outcome is the other way around though lol.

Although I spent the vast majority of my free time this past week studying, I did have the time to participate in some clinical activities. I had an evening shift one night, a few day shifts, and a focused observed patient assessment where I was observed by a clinical coach via video recording as I interacted with a standardized patient. I also had the opportunity to meet with a clinical operations manager in order to learn more about the business side of healthcare and how money influences what goes on in this industry. As a result of this conversation, I got a better understanding of how salary payments are broken down in both an academic setting and a private practice setting, although I still don’t think I could fully explain it to someone else. At the very least, I made a friend who made herself available to me whenever I want to learn more about the financial operations of a hospital or clinic. I’ll surely be hitting her up more in the future!

And last but certainly not least, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the multiple noon conferences that the Family Medicine department hosts. The topics have been some very educational ones, but admittedly the best part of the lectures has been the phenomenal catering. Bruh, the free food that I’ve been able to enjoy in this rotation has been nothing short of spectacular. Like, where else would you get Jason’s Deli, pulled pork & beans with potato salad and grilled chicken, chicken noodle soup, and full house salads all in one week? And those are just the lunches that I can remember at the moment! There have been other awesome dishes that I have taken delightful joy in consuming. I’m definitely going to miss this about this rotation…

Speaking of, I don’t even understand how my time in Family Medicine is already almost up. It honestly wasn’t that long ago that I took my Surgery shelf exam. I’ve had such an awesome time with the residents and attendings here as well as the nurses, the certified medical assistants, and everyone in between. Everyone has been so genuine and kind, which has given me the confidence to take the extra mile to improve upon my history-taking skills as well as my physical exam maneuvers and my presentation technique. For example, I’ve been taking a minimal amount of notes, if any, while in the patient room and then presenting all of my findings to my preceptor from memory. By doing this, I’ve forced myself to not only organize my thoughts in a succinct and presentable fashion in my head but to also be fully engaged with the patient while interviewing him or her. In addition, by presentating information from the dome, I’m learning how to trust myself more and am building the necessary clinical confidence that will help carry me into fourth year and beyond. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I believe that it will help work wonders once I become proficient in this skill. Besides, I feel like this clerkship is a better time to practice something like this than any other time in third year!

Alright I gotta get back to studying like always. This is about to be a very busy week in terms of studying, and my clinic schedule this week isn’t the friendliest relatively speaking (got a couple of evening shifts, a full day of clinic and a half day), but there’s no way in hell I’m going to complain about it, especially if I think about what my days in Surgical Oncology looked like a couple of months ago. Good God.

Thanks for reading and I hope that your week is a fantastic one!

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I was invited to be on a panel during an interdisciplinary symposium taking place at Wake Forest this Saturday titled, “Narrative Medicine: Resilience, Professionalism and Self-Care” because of the fact that I’ve been blogging about my experiences in medical school for almost three years now. The session that I’m going to be serving as a panelist on specifically focuses on how to integrate narrative medicine into one’s life, something that I had already been doing without realizing it! I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences in narrative medicine with the participants of the conference!

Time Is Slipping Away…

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you actually need it to slow down for once, but the days ironically just keep flying by even faster?

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Like, I knew that I would be busy this past week, but man! I’ve barely been able to keep up with studying for the Shelf exam that I’ll be taking in less than three weeks, thanks to the three presentations that I’ve been working on all week. Yeah, three separate PowerPoint presentations. And I had to get them all done last week because I’m going to be presenting all three of them this week, pretty much back-to-back-to-back. It’s gonna be fun.

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Not only had I been working on those presentations, I had also been preparing for my Surgery Oral Exam all week long that I eventually took on Friday. Until last Friday, the last time that I had taken an official oral exam was during my college days, where I took them routinely (and painfully) in my Spanish classes. I didn’t like them then, and my feelings about them hadn’t changed much over the years. It also didn’t help that I had completely forgotten that I had an oral exam scheduled until a good friend reminded me about it a week before the exam date.

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Thankfully, we had been given a list of possible topics that the oral exam was going to be on, so my preparation was pretty focused on those topics. Even with my adequate preparation and reassurance from the clerkship director a few days before, I still was a bit anxious as I walked into my oral exam. I did my best to color my performance with pure confidence and attempted to prove to the director that I was indeed knowledgeable of the material that she was asking me about. After completing the 12-minute exam though, I had no idea what kind of grade I was going to get. Throughout my whole performace she hadn’t given away any hints of what her thoughts were, leaving me grasping for air as I tried to read her. As a result, although I felt like I answered the questions to the best of my knowledge, I left the room feeling like I could have done better in some way, shape or form. I surprisingly ended up getting my grade back later on in the afternoon and I must say, I was floored when I saw my grade. The grade that I recieved was much higher than I had anticipated! I guess I really did know what I was talking about!

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Needless to say, the rest of my day was made lol. Confidence is a very powerful thing y’all. A very powerful thing.

Outside of preparing for my presentations and my oral exam, I also participated in a patient interview session with a clinical coach who ended up giving me some very useful advice about assessing a patient’s environment and presenting patients in a more structured form, attended a meeting where advice about applying to residency programs was given (I’m really about to be applying to residency y’all¬†ūüėģ), and attended Wake’s annual BOUNCE event that I’ve gone to in years past to listen to stories from faculty members and residents about times where they’ve had to exhibit resilience and courage in their respective fields of medicine. (Check out Stepping Into Step and/or¬†Growth, Control & Breaking Stereotypes if you’re interested in what I wrote about this event in the past.) As always, it was a fantastic event with a good amount of emotion involved and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to listen to the incredible stories shared there.

In regards to the second week of my experience on the Ophthalmology service, it has been pretty good overall. I’m continuing to learn more about various ocular pathologies and have gotten the chance to follow attendings who specialize in glaucoma, the cornea, the retina and oculoplastics. Like I said last week, there are a ton of things that can go wrong with the eye and so many different procedures that can be done on this small organ as well! I was even able to observe a Lasik procedure for the first time! That was quite fascinating, to say the least. I also had an encounter with a young man in clinic who seemed to be absolutely amazed with the way the eye works. He first asked me what dilating the eye meant, and then proceeded to unleash a barrage of questions on me after I piqued his interest with my answer. I surprisingly ended up giving him a mini-lesson about the eye, in which I told him about the eye’s basic layers, showed him what a retina looked like, discussed with him how we use tools such as the direct ophthalmoscope to look at someone’s retina, taught him what refractive error was, and answered whatever other questions he had for me before the resident came in to complete his assessment of the patient. It was pretty cool to be able to teach him basic things that I had come to take for granted, and I found myself becoming quite enthusiastic as I answered the many questions he had for me. Who knew teaching could be so fun?

Alright, back to the grind for me. Hopefully I can actually make time to adequately study for my shelf exam this week. As a matter of fact, I absolutely need to make time to study because crunch time is coming soon…very, very soon.

Wish me luck on my presentations! And make sure to march through this week in a spectacular fashion!¬†ūüėĄ

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

– Black Man, M.D.

Unbroken.

Do you remember the quote I posted last week?

You know, the one that read, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.“?

Turns out that it was ironically the PERFECT quote for me this past week. But before I get into all that, let’s talk real quick about my most recent shelf exam, my relaxing weekend and my upcoming Pediatrics rotation that starts tomorrow morning. The Ob/Gyn shelf exam still ended up being tough, even after all the long hours of studying I put into preparing for it. Smh. But that was to be expected. Of course there were going to be a few questions asking about minutia that I never even considered putting to memory. For those questions, I mostly just used process of elimination before throwing hail marys and moving on. ¬†For the most part though, I was able to breeze through a good number of the questions that asked about important topics that I had drilled into my head. I was even able to finish the test and review some of the questions I was previously unsure about before time ran out, something that I had way less time to do on my previous Internal Medicine shelf exam. Overall, I think I did better this time around than I did on the IM shelf due to the increased emphasis I put on preparing for it and the fact that I had a better understanding of how to take a shelf exam….I just hope my grade shows proof of that.¬†ūüėÖ

In other news, I’m honestly pretty excited about my Pediatrics rotations coming up! Six weeks of caring for children and teenagers is going to be a unique challenge, especially since I’ll have to learn how to efficiently interact with their families in a direct manner. Although it’ll be cool to help care for kids with their relative innocence and all, I feel like it’ll also be quite depressing to see them in the hospital stricken with debilitating conditions that they do not deserve to have. That will most likely provide me with an even stronger resolve to try and help them in any way I can. With the outpatient component of this rotation, I’ll be working in a sub-specialty clinic, a newborn nursery and an ambulatory clinic, each for a duration of one week. It’ll be quite interesting, to say the least. I’m also 96% sure that I’ll catch a cold at some point during this rotation.

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In regards to this weekend, I spent it relaxing back home in VA with both my family and my girlfriend. As always, it was a pleasure to be back there spending time with them! We all ended up chatting merrily with one another and having a great time grilling with our neighbors while enjoying the pleasant weather that was gifted upon us. It was a much-needed decompression, especially after this past week. Speaking of this past week…

Let me start off by saying that I learned a LOT about the female pelvis and about many of the reconstructive surgeries that can be done in that area. Also, the field of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery is just about as cool as it sounds; you literally assess the pelvis and perform various operations on the defect(s) that the patient is complaining about. Over the course of the week, I participated in clinic work and assisted in multiple surgeries, those of which included a sacral colpopexy, a colpocleisis and a bilateral oophorectomy, among a few others. Now you may be reading this and asking yourself why I went ahead and said that last week’s quote was the PERFECT quote for me while I was on this service this past week. Up until now, it pretty much sounds like I had the typical great experience that I’ve been having so far in my third year, does it not?

Well, everything about the experience was actually pretty great if you take out the critical fact that, throughout the week, I honestly felt like I was being treated in a manner that could have made it incredibly easy to doubt my own intelligence. Keywords,¬†could have. Thankfully, I’ve acquired the ability to take criticism, warranted or not, with a graceful stride. Plus, I’ve already been working on developing confidence in my growing medical knowledge and after writing what I wrote near the end of my last post, it only felt right to keep all thoughts of self-doubt at bay as I was pummeled with endless, highly specific questions about pelvic surgeries throughout the week, half of those I simply did not know the answer to. I was also torn apart after fumbling through a patient presentation that I had been given very short notice about, was told that I had to shadow during my day in the clinic to learn more about interviewing patients since I had not given a good impression so far (it was Tuesday) and was given the impression that I needed to do some serious improvement if I were to perform adequately as a third-year student.

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However, I was given the opportunity to present another patient near the end of the week and did a “fantastic” job after having been able to prepare for it, and was able to answer more of the questions directed towards me by the end of my time on that service after putting more work in understanding the pelvic surgeries that I was assisting in, none of which were tested on in my shelf exam. Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy week for me. For the first time in my third-year (and probably in all of medical school), I was unhappy with what I was going into each day. Sure, there had been times as a medical student where I looked forward to a week being over in anticipation for an exciting event during the weekend or where I looked at an upcoming situation with typical anxiety. But never had I gone to sleep at night absolutely dreading the next day. It was not a good feeling. I felt intimidated, frustrated and annoyed all at the same time. The atmosphere I encountered while on that service was also unsettling to me. While I did appreciate the knowledge that was shared with me (usually after having been burned) and all of the learning opportunities that I took advantage of in the clinic and the operating room, I feel like the experience had the potential to be more enjoyable overall. Thank God for my thick skin.

Whew! It feels great to have gotten that off my chest! I gotta be genuine at all times man; I would be doing you and me both a disservice if I strayed from doing so!

Cheers to an exceptional week ahead of us!

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” –¬†Lao Tzu

– Black Man, M.D.

Switch Up

I’m on the home stretch of my second rotation of third-year! Which means that I get to show “the powers that be” how much knowledge I’ve accumulated while on this rotation via my Shelf exam this Friday! How exciting is that?? Like, when else will I get the amazing opportunity to impress upon myself how much I’ve learned in Obstetrics & Gynecology? There’s no better way to do it than to take a standardized 110-question exam within a 2-hour-and-45-minute time window on a Friday afternoon! I just feel like¬†‚ÄĒ okay, I’ll cut the BS¬†ūüėā.

Yeah, my Ob/Gyn shelf exam is this Friday and yes, I’ve been feeling the pressure of it as of late. I really want to perform as well as I know I can, especially since the exam plays a large role in my grade for the overall rotation. I learned that first-hand in my Internal Medicine clerkship where I did okay on my shelf exam but not as well as I would have liked, which ultimately impacted my overall clerkship grade that ‚ÄĒ in a way ‚ÄĒ contradicted the positive feedback I received from my evaluators. It really proved to me that shelf exams will play a determining role in my grades, no matter how well I may perform in the clinic. So with that said, I’ve been working particularly hard on studying for this upcoming exam from day one of this current clerkship. I’ve also been using the whole reframing mindset that I’ve practiced in the past, where I’ve been working on viewing this exam as a welcoming challenge to overcome as opposed to a stressful barrier on my path that is stopping me from achieving my goals. It’s gotten me this far, why stop now? And honestly, the fewer unwelcome surprises that are thrown at me on the exam, the better. They can miss me with all that. With all that in mind, I’m just going to keep working hard on reviewing my material this week and perform to the absolute best of my abilities on Friday!

I was quite studious this past weekend, only breaking away from my studies to hang out at Melissa Harris-Perry’s house for her annual homecoming celebration and to further celebrate Wake’s homecoming with other alumni & friends at a nearby venue. Before the weekend started though, I journeyed through another week full of unforgettable experiences at the hospital! I continued to work the night shifts that I told y’all about in my previous post¬†up until Wednesday morning. During those nights, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver some more placentas, bringing my placenta count up to five! I also tagged along with interns and residents in managing patients in the Emergency Department, checking in on laboring patients, and interviewing patients coming in to the triage unit. There were also stretches of time during the shifts where things slowed down, so I was able to (thankfully) get quite a bit of studying done. Ultimately, I managed to witness and assist in the live births of 14 newborns during my time on the Labor & Delivery service! But, unfortunately, I was not able to deliver any one of them with my own hands¬†ūüėĒ. It was an overall great experience nonetheless!

Just when I was starting to get used to the night schedule, I had to switch up my circadian rhythm yet again in order to start my experience on the Gynecology surgery service this past Thursday. In the two days that I was on that service I scrubbed into multiple procedures, those of which included a vaginal hysterectomy, an abdominal hysterectomy, a bilateral oopherectomy and ROBOTIC removal of endometriosis lesions. Yes, ROBOTIC. It really looked like the physician was playing a video game on the machine…except that the stakes were massively higher. And in case you were wondering, hysterectomy = removal of the uterus, oopherectomy = removal of the ovaries, and endometriosis = endometrial tissue found in areas outside of your uterus.¬†The procedures were very interesting to watch and assist in. I also found myself asking a thousand questions while observing the procedures, those of which were answered by the very patient surgeons.

During one of the operations, I found myself thinking about just how much I still don’t know about the human body and medicine in general even after studying it in detail for the past two years. It both astonished me and bummed me out at the same time…but then I quickly reminded myself about how much more I actually do know compared to my college self and even my first-year med student self. I’ve learned an unbelievable amount of information in these past couple of years and it’s important I keep reminding myself that I’m more knowledgable than I perceive myself to be, because I have a strong feeling that I’ll continue to experience these skeptical thoughts about my knowledge base throughout my medical education and even during my residency years. This is why having friends outside the medical field is essential; you realize how smart you actually are when you see that they have no idea what you’re talking about lol. It also works well for them, because when they talk to you about their area of expertise, you’ll most likely look at them with utter, hopeless confusion. I say all this to say that it is of the utmost importance that I have confidence in my abilites and my growing knowledge, because without confidence I’ve already defeated myself. With confidence however, I’ll be much more likely to obtain better results, enjoy more opportunities of quality learning, and provide higher quality patient care which will in turn lead to safer patient care! If you’re a fellow health professional student reading this, please take this advice to heart and recognize that you’re more powerful than you may allow yourself to realize! If you’re reading this and are not a student in healthcare, please take this message and apply it to your life as well! Don’t unnecessarily put yourself down if you know that you’ve been working hard towards your goals!

I’m finishing this rotation up on the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery service, which I sincerely hope is just as cool as it sounds! Please feel free to wish me luck on this last week and on my shelf exam!¬†ūüėĀ

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –¬†Eleanor Roosevelt

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Into The Light

THIS IS IT! 

It has ALL come down to this!!

Liberation Day is finally upon us!!! (Well, upon me that is.)

My performance on tomorrow’s 8-hour long, 280 question exam will be the result of all the endless studying I’ve committed damn near all of my waking hours to these past five weeks. Even more so, it’ll be a reflection of all the knowledge that I’ve gained ever since I first stepped foot into medical school almost two years ago. I sincerely hope that¬†my performance tomorrow accurately depicts¬†just how hard I’ve worked for this exam…I haven’t studied this intensely for any other test in my entire life. When I tell you I’ve sacrificed almost every waking hour these past five weeks for this test, I literally mean it. I’m talking about waking up at around 7:15 AM each morning, doing practice questions and reviewing answers until lunchtime, then studying whatever material I needed to get through for the day up until like 10:30 PM. Then I would be asleep a little after 11 PM. Granted, I definitely took breaks here and there for various things like the gym, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. But for the most part, I’ve been grinding. There were times where I didn’t even know what day it was, because I was literally doing the same thing every single day. It was like I was in my own little world…I would sometimes forget that life was happening all around me as I continued to study the endless droves of material in front of me. I even got pranked on April Fools’ Day because I forgot it was April Fools’ Day! And I’m never one to fall so hard for a prank. SMH. Hell, a¬†season literally changed while I was in my study block! I didn’t realize it was officially Spring until like a week ago. It’s crazy how fast time can move when you’re intensely focused on one thing.

But alas, my Step Study Block is officially coming to an end! It honestly wasn’t horrible or anything overall, but I sure am glad that I’ll be able to move on with my life very soon! And I couldn’t be more excited! Okay I’m lying. I’m not even excited right now. I actually have a stale face on as I’m typing this sentence. I’m not allowing myself to come even close to excitement until I leave the testing center tomorrow afternoon. Right now, I’m fiercely focused on the mission, which is to give it my all plus some¬†on Step 1. As I’ve said before, I’m going to attack the exam with 110% effort and as long as I know I’ve done my absolute best, I’ll be comfortable knowing¬†that the score I’ll eventually receive is the score I was meant to have. Only after I walk out of the Prometric Center tomorrow will I do heel-clicks and screams of praise and all that. But until then, concentration is key.

With that said, I’m going to end this post and relax for the rest of the day. I spent all morning reviewing the last-minute material that I believed was relevant, so I’m now at peace with resting my mind for tomorrow. Trying to continue studying at this point would be futile, because¬†then I would just go on a never-ending cycle of trying to review things I’ve already reviewed 156 times. I have complete faith that I’ve learned everything that I need to know at this point. If, by any chance, I come across something tomorrow that I’m not too familiar with, I’m confident that the test-taking skills I’ve been¬†sharpening throughout this study period will help guide me towards the best answer choice. I’m also glad that I took the time a couple days ago to actually drive¬†over to the testing center in order to get a feel for the place. Knowing exactly what to expect when I arrive at the center tomorrow morning has helped put me at even greater ease¬†about taking this exam.

Okay, I’m actually ending this post now. Wish me luck!

And thank you for all of your prayers, I GREATLY appreciate each of you!!

Have a spectacular week! Lord knows I’m about to have one!

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock

– Black Man, M.D.

Facing the End

Welp.

I’m facing the final week of the Motivation program that I’ve been working in for the past six weeks of my summer vacation. I don’t know how I feel about this…I’ve been having a great time down here¬†ūüė•. Actually, I’m lying. I¬†know exactly how I feel. I’m shocked at how fast time slid by. I’m sad that this program is coming to an end and that I’ll have to change up my daily routine once again. I’m very happy for the students that will be taking their final exams this week to finish off the program, but I’ll also miss all of them because who knows when I’ll ever see any of them again after this week. I’m internally sobbing¬†because after these next two paychecks, I’ll be living in the government’s pockets again (with interest). I’m excited to start the school year up in two weeks, yet apprehensive about not having as much free time as I currently am enjoying right now. I feel very well rested and recharged, but I’m not ready to give my last summer break up just yet.

disney cartoons & comics max frustrated sigh

Oh well. Such is life. Talking about how I feel isn’t gonna turn back time or anything. I¬†can certainly say that I’ve had¬†a great time this summer though. It got even better earlier today when I jet-skied for the first time in Bayside near Miami Beach! That was another incredible experience…the view of the city was stunning¬†360¬į¬†around me as I was gleefully¬†speeding across the boundless¬†waters of the bay. When I say I was gleeful, I really mean it lol. I was grinning from cheek to cheek, screaming “WWWOOOOO!!” like Rick Flair (or Pusha T, take your pick), fully taking in the scene around me, singing random lyrics at the top of my lungs and happily praising God for allowing me that awesome experience.¬†I would have taken a video of myself skiing along the waters, but I wasn’t trying to donate¬†to “Bayside’s Underwater Apple Store”, as one of the jet-ski workers put it. What I look like, losing my phone for a damn snap…boyyy I woulda done my mama a favor and slapped myself. So with that said, the only pictures I got of the experience are the ones¬†locked in my memory. That’ll have to do. If you’ve never been jet-skiing before, I highly recommend trying it at least once! It’s nowhere near as crazy as jumping out of a plane, I’ll be the first to tell you that. There’s also a low chance of you actually falling off…you’ve gotta¬†be acting reckless to fling yourself off your jet-ski.

For last week’s Dinner & Discussion (our final one ūüė≠), we had a first-year intern fresh out of medical school come in and speak with us about her life. She actually turned out to be an old friend of mine, who graduated from UM when I was just finishing my freshman year there. Isn’t that cool or what? But before she came in, the director of the program allowed for some students to express how they felt about the program overall since it was all coming to an end soon. I knew the students appreciated the program and all, but I was pretty¬†surprised to see how emotional some of them got when they shared their feelings about their summer experience. I could see that they really took so much out of the program and that it has been a necessary catalyst to their growth. One student talked about how she was able to find herself in the program while another talked about the great familial atmosphere that the program encouraged. Yet another student spoke on how she had a low amount of confidence soon after starting the program, but then received a considerable amount of motivation from the group after realizing how willing everyone was to build each other up as opposed to¬†tearing each other down. My co-TA and I even got some shoutouts of praise from the students. ūüėĀ It was awesome to see how influential the program has been for them, both on an individual basis and as a whole. Now after¬†the intern entered and introduced herself, she started to speak on how much she loved her medical school and how she had to adjust from her hometown of Miami to the overall climate and culture of D.C. She then got deep and talked about how important it was to not compare yourself to other people in your class due to the wide variety of life experiences that others possess. I personally agree with that viewpoint…trying to compare yourself to someone else (especially in medical school) is one of the quickest ways to launch¬†yourself into a depression, because you’ll always be wrongly doubting yourself and your capabilities. She continued the discussion by touching on how necessary it is to be honest with yourself at all times, how she finds herself being conscious of how people perceive her as a black Haitian woman in medicine, and on the incredible importance of confidence and how one needs to use it in order to fight any self-defeating thoughts that may lurk in one’s head. Overall, it was¬†another fantastic discussion, just like all the other ones have been this summer. Needless to say, I’m extremely proud of her and what she has been able to accomplish so far!

A couple of last notes. First, I just finished a sad, yet incredible book written by a top-notch neurosurgeon who actually just passed away last year at the young age of 37 from Stage IV lung cancer. This highly established man was in his final years of his neurosurgery residency program at Stanford when he was diagnosed and lived just long enough to be able to graduate from his program. In his book, When Breath Becomes Air, he eloquently describes his upbringing, his many experiences from college to residency¬†and how his life came full-circle when he was forced to face death square in the eyes. This book had me really appreciating life and how mortal we all are in this world. Be sure to check it out if you ever have a chance. Finally, I’ve added a new section to the blog called LifeSavers. This page describes many of the general resources that medical students typically use in the first couple years of school as well as a number of resources that I personally used during my first year. I hope that it’ll be helpful for any of you out there that are either currently looking, or will be looking, for resources applicable to health careers. I’ll be updating it as I continue to advance through school! In addition to this new page, I was recently granted a video interview with Ms. Ashley Roxanne from¬†Daily Medicine¬†Blog¬†where I talked about life as a med student at Wake, some of the biggest lessons that I learned in my first year, the mistakes I felt that I made as a pre-med student, how to find a mentor along with¬†a number of other subjects.¬†The link can be found on the “About Black Man, M.D.” page of this blog. You can also click here if you would like to check it out! I apologize in advance for its length and my fast, sometimes-hard-to-understand speech. (Learning how to speak slower and clearer is an ongoing process for me!)

That’s it! Please stay optimistic and safe in this unstable world!

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” – Tony Robbins

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. –¬†R.I.P. to the 84 people who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attack that took place on La F√™te Nationale (Bastille Day) in Nice last week. R.I.P. to the three officers who were tragically and unjustifiably murdered in Baton Rouge this weekend. May God be with all of their families and loved ones. There’s too much senseless violence in the world man. Every day there’s¬†a new tragedy on the news. It’s depressing as hell. Violence isn’t the answer to our problems. Peace, Love and Happiness is all we need man. Peace, Love and Happiness.¬†

Beginning Of The End

Dude…

I only have three weeks left until I finish my first year of med school.

This is crazy yo. I’ll literally be a second-year student by the end of this month! It’s exciting and a bit spooky at the same time. Time is only moving forward. I’m getting older. More responsibility will be placed on me. I’ll be taking Step 1 soon. There will be new first-years in a few months.

Wow.

It’s just weird because it’s one of those things that you always know it’s coming but you always tell yourself it’s in the far future, you know? Like, I knew first-year would eventually end, but I always thought about it as ending “sometime later in the future”. Well that “later” is three short weeks away. At the end of the day though, I feel ready to move on up in the medical school totem pole. I’ve been at the bottom long enough. I won’t lie tho, I’ll miss both the naiveness as well as the relative comfortability of first-year. I’ll also miss having minimal responsibilities outside of studying and volunteering. Ah well, c’est la vie.

Now about my second Neuroscience test I took last week…that ish was looong! We had 3 hours and 40 minutes to answer 129 questions. I haven’t taken a test that long in quite a while. Now some of those questions were simple and straightforward (bless those professors that picked those questions) but others were unnecessarily difficult. But I expected that…some professors never fail to pick ridiculous questions. Turns out that six questions on the test happened to be bonus questions and several others were dropped. Thing that gets me is, why do ridiculous questions continue to be picked on these exams?¬†Some of these questions don’t have to be that hard man…but then again, I’m not about to complain¬†that we got free points lol. Shiiii, if you wanna keep picking bad questions and dropping them/making them bonus points, be my guest. I left the test overall feeling better about it then I felt about my first test, but you never know with these kind of exams. I got my grade back a couple of days later and I can happily say that it was one of my better performances of the year.¬†ūüėä Guess I was doing something right in the four weeks leading up to the exam! I also believe that my confidence was well-placed. I wasn’t cocky or anything, but I was comfortable enough to control my performance on the test and not let anxiety take over me. Gotta believe in yourself to achieve success!

Speaking of anxiety, this section of material we’re currently in is mainly based in psychology. So far, we’ve talked about personality disorders, anxiety + drugs to deal with anxiety, learning theory, mood disorders, psychotherapy and somatoform disorders. We have several other interesting topics to touch on in the near future, including but not limited to,¬†childhood development, antidepressants, eating disorders, alcohol and marijuana usage. Turns out my psychology minor is being put to good use after all ūüėé. This section has been so straightforward so far and easy to digest. Plus, it’s very interesting. Too bad our next block test is next Friday. And that we have a medical ethics final the Monday after that. And that I have a clinical skills test (my fourth CPX) this Wednesday. And that we have a cumulative Neuroscience test the Friday after next.

In other news, I had my last CCL (Case-Centered Learning) class last Tuesday!¬†ūüė≠ūüė≠ūüė≠ That was one of my favorite classes this¬†year because it was such a cool concept and my facilitators & group members were sooo chill. I was here thinking that we would have the same CCL facilitators and groups next year but it turns out that they’re changing up the course in ways I have no knowledge of yet. One of the doctors even brought us bananas and some good-ass homemade peanut-butter/chocolate brownies for our last day! Mannn ima miss them. Also, I learned what a Seder dinner was last week and even participated in one with a bunch of my classmates for the first time. For those of you not familiar, Seder is an annual Jewish ritual feast that celebrates the beginning of Passover. It was filled with songs, stories, food, some really good (& a little too sweet) red wine, and fellowship. It was cool that the school funded something like this; it definitely helped me further appreciate a culture that was outside of my own, which I believe was the overall reason that the school helped fund it. Understanding where different people come from and what rituals they practice in their culture or religion is not only instrumental in being an effective physician, but is also a cornerstone in destroying ignorance in the world while promoting unity in humankind. Plus, it’s fun to¬†expose yourself to things that you aren’t familiar with!¬†I guarantee that you’ll learn many new things that you were¬†unaware¬†of¬†before.

Well that’s all folks! Be sure to have a dazzling week!

No matter where you are in life, celebrate it. It‚Äôs either a product of your growth or a place that will help you grow. –¬†Unknown

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Shaking Up The Status Quo

WELLLLLPPP….it’s about that time again.

I’m taking my oh-so-lovely¬†2nd¬†Neuro exam in less than 24 hours. (Testing My Brain On A Test On The Brain…..Take #2!) I want to believe I’m ready for it, but I also felt ready before the last exam I took and I ended up being left pretty bamboozled, to say the least.¬†However, I now¬†have a better feeling of what kind of questions to expect going into this upcoming test and I¬†feel like I’ve been studying¬†harder/smarter than I did for the first exam. Plus, I’ve prepared myself the best I could¬†to handle any potential foolery¬†that may be thrown at me during the test. Sooo even though I may have been hoodwinked last time, ¬†I won’t let it negatively impact the way I approach this exam tomorrow. I honestly do believe I’m ready. I’m also ready to get it over with in order to move on to the next section of material, and to the end of the semester in general. Confidence is key y’all. Without it, you’ve already lost. Believe it to achieve it!

A few days ago during dinner, I got the pleasure to listen to Dr. Manisha Sharma speak on what it’s like to be a family medicine doctor that practices social medicine (social, not socialized)¬†while engaging¬†in “disruptive healthcare”. She defined “disruptive healthcare” as¬†innovations in healthcare¬†that challenge the status quo in the establishment and make quality healthcare more attainable and affordable to all.¬†I’m so glad I decided to attend the talk. She was freakin’ awesome y’all. And hilarious. Coming from¬†the Bronx, she described herself as a Puerto Rican girl trapped in an Indian girl’s body. ūüėā It was a small amount of us there listening to her speak, but she took advantage of that by engaging all of us, making it an intimate conversation. She even took the chance of trying to learn each of our names (she said my name right…ON THE FIRST TRY!). It was,¬†by far, one of the best talks I’ve been to since I’ve been here. After having dinner with some of the attendees, she began the conversation by telling us she never intended to be a doctor and was actually very interested in music, which really upset her Indian parents. They didn’t get any happier when she enrolled in music school after high school and got hired later on as a backup dancer for Prince. Yes, THE Prince (R.I.P.). She was all good until she was hit by a car in her early 20s by a¬†careless¬†driver, who childishly fled the scene. After going through surgery and racking up hospital bills, she learned that insurance wouldn’t cover her because a “3rd party was involved in the accident”. So here she was, a 22-year old music school graduate that could no longer dance, slapped with hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills because of a situation that wasn’t her fault. She said that’s when she started to get involved in health equity and in working to change how the healthcare industry worked. After some time, she realized that she would get further in her passion for health equity¬†and policy change by becoming a doctor, so she enrolled at St. George’s University School of Medicine in the Caribbean, much to the delight of her parents. While she was there she became deeply passionate¬†in getting to know¬†the community surrounding her campus and¬†she also became highly involved in community efforts by working heavily with Doctors for America. After finishing medical school, she took a break and focused on her work with Doctors for America (she was plugging hard for this organization lol), where she got the chance to even open up for President Obama at one point! She then completed her residency with a focus in Social Medicine and is now in Maryland working with the Surgeon General on policy change while at the same time teaching classes at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and treating patients in an innovative¬†& integrative¬†patient-centered environment (google Iora Health). Didn’t I tell you she was freakin’ awesome?

Throughout the whole presentation, she talked about how important it was to not only network on a continuous basis, but to also have a sense of community responsibility, or in her own words, “street cred”. She developed “street cred” with her patients by actually living in the communities she served and by learning where the people in the community went in their everyday lives (churches, grocery stores, parks, etc.). She also made a huge point of talking WITH the patients you’re treating, not talking DOWN on them. Treating your patients with dignity and respect will cultivate an environment of trust and will further build up your “street cred”. Another thing she stressed on was how¬†crucial¬†the “why” was when it comes to doing your job. She repeatedly stated that she has been able to successfully do everything she’s done so far by focusing on why she’s doing it all. Her passion truly guides her as well as drives her. What impressed me even more about her presentation (how is that even possible) was that although her PowerPoint was full of random & simple pictures, she was able to connect each of those pictures to her overall presentation in personal ways, which made her presentation all the more entertaining. She has a very powerful way of expressing her beliefs…she had me captivated throughout the whole presentation, even with the cold she had! Boooyyy she really made a career in Family Medicine sound good. Because Family Medicine is so flexible, she’s been free to pursue her passion of health equity in various ways. She keeps herself busy, but it’s very obvious that she loves what she does. I’m still riding strong for Ophthalmology, but like I’ve said before, I’m keeping my options open…

Okay lemme stop typing in wondrous awe and actually review some more for my test tomorrow. My ol’ ūüėćūüėćūüėć lookin ahhh…

Have a blessed week! And remember, you gotta believe it to achieve it!

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. ‚Äď Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

– Black Man, M.D.