IT’S SPRING BREAK BYYOTCHHH!!!
And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Okay it actually maybe would have been a bit better if it came a week later, which means it would have then lined up with the spring break of most universities that I know of…but no complaints here. I’ll take what I can get. This week I’m only focused on relaxing, having an unforgettable time down here in Miami, and recharging for the final block of my first year, which starts next week. 😳 I’m honestly feeling a mix of both excitement and astonishment at the same time at the fact that after this next block, it will be summer…meaning that I will officially be a 2nd year medical student. Wow. They say time flies by in medical school….well they weren’t lying. Better yet, it damn near flashes by. I’ve learned so much and although it feels like anatomy was a lifetime ago, it also feels as if I graduated from college last week. I actually still feel like a college kid at times that just happened to make it to the next level by the grace of God. I’ve already accepted that it will take a good while for me to fully mature into more of an adult mentality, so I’m content with happily living out my days as a youngin’.
Now about my Community Practice Experience last week. Lenoir, Lenoir, Lenoir. I’m not even sure where to start. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, to say the least. The clinical exposure I received at the pediatrics clinic was amazing, and I’ll be happy to go back for my second and final week later in October. The nursing staff was fabulous, the doctors were very willing to teach students and the patients were suprisingly overwhelmingly willing to allow me to interview them as well as physically examine them. As for the actual town of Lenoir…..let’s just say that it makes Winston-Salem look like a metropolis. I swear I saw black cows roaming around the front lawn of a house at one point while driving to the clinic. No offense to anyone that loves the countryside but in my opinion, the town looked kind of depressing… and the fact that it rained all throughout my first two days there didn’t help much at all. The rain also showed me the epic driving skills of Lenoir residents. Someone hydroplaned and rear-ended into my rental car at one point, and on another occasion somebody in front of me was really begging to get T-boned by another car. Jeez. (It was a minor dent in my car and I got everything taken care of in regards to insurance. Thank God for Trip Protection. 😊) I also just want to add that one of the officers that helped to take care of the rear-end collision assumed that I was a ball player from Wake. Typical. I politely corrected him and told him that I was actually a medical student that was on a week-long clinical rotation in Lenoir, which really surprised and impressed him. I love the responses I get whenever I completely flip a stereotype on someone. In Lenoir, a highway literally cuts through the town and the roads are typically full of trucks. (I absolutely HATE driving anywhere near trucks.) The town also went nighty-night around 9 PM at the latest and from what I experienced first-hand, there was an amazingly low amount of diversity. As a matter of fact, my classmates/roommates that were placed in Lenoir with me and I walked into a brewery at one point to get some 50-cent wings and to taste some of the local beer there. My group consisted of two Asian guys, an Indian guy, and two black Africans, including me. We literally WERE the diverse element in the brewery that had about 50 people in it at the time. I’m not kidding. Everyone else was white. We got a few stares as we walked in. 😐 It was kind of strange to me because I’ve always been in diverse environments, so being in an environment like that made me slightly uncomfortable. I won’t lie though, those wings were definitely bomb as hell. Plus the waitress served us with some good ol’ southern hospitality, so I had no complaints about that dinner. Also my classmates and I ended up having an interesting convo about race and how people decide to classify themselves/how society pressures all of us to check boxes of race in order to categorize all of us accordingly. It definitely proved to be an interesting conversation. Alas, I can’t talk about the finger-lickin’ wings without talking about the barbeque restaurant we went to a couple days later. My dinner there consisted of pulled pork with barbeque and specially made hot sauce, baked apples, mac & cheese and a roll. It was simply AMAZING. Plus the staff was the definition of southern hospitality. We will definitely be hitting that spot again in October.
In regards to my actual experience in the pediatrics clinic, I’ve really surprised myself on how comfortable I’ve become in obtaining an accurate history. I still tend to miss small things here and there, but I’ve also noticed how often patients conveniently tend to leave out vital information in an interview even after I specifically ask them for it. 😒 By the end of the week, I was literally interviewing every patient that came to the clinic to see my 2nd preceptor. Talk about practice. Backing up to the first couple days of my clinical experience, I quickly saw both the value of the clinic to the community and the closeness of the community as a whole. So many patients came in on a regular basis to maintain their health and the vast majority of them had some kind of relationship with both my first and second preceptors. I thought that it was pretty cool to witness how much the people in the community depended on the expertise of the doctors in the clinic and how vulnerable they were willing to be in order to maintain their quality of life. However, I’m not a doctor, nor do I look like one. So when I started interviewing patients on my first day, I made sure to wipe off the look of surprise on their faces by reassuring them that I wasn’t posing as a doctor or anything and that I was simply there to practice my interviewing skills with them. After that whole spiel, they tended to be more relaxed with me in the room. I also quickly realized how different it was to interview the guardian of a patient that couldn’t talk, like a baby. I had to shift my questions around a bit because I couldn’t ask the patient directly about how he/she felt. That was definitely a new and vital experience for me. My 1st preceptor made sure to ingrain in me that whenever I interview a patient, I should not be merely checking off a checklist. I should be able to walk out of the room understanding who the patient is and how he/she is suffering from their reduced quality of life. He also allowed for me to perform simple physical exam maneuvers on his patients, like the HEENT exam (Head, Eyes, Ears, Neck & Throat) and the respiratory exam. Note to self: Babies HATE having their ears looked into. To add to my unique experience, I saw circumcisions performed for the first time in my life while I was there. That…was….unexpected. My preceptor didn’t even warn me man. He just took the baby into a room with his mother and by the time I realized what was about to happen, it was far too late to brace myself. It looked hella painful. Poor kid.
My 1st preceptor was a pretty cool guy from Canada who bought me lunch and answered my many questions about medicine and the difference between the Canadian and the American healthcare systems. But he had to leave midway through my experience so I got paired up with another preceptor for my last couple of days who had a more grandmotherly approach to interacting with patients. She was very nice and willing to work with me, but she also did not hesitate to work me. She had me interviewing all of her patients and reporting to her their history before we would both walk in and see the patient again. I probably took a medical history of close to 25 patients in those last two days alone. Being exposed to these children so much also meant being exposed to various illnesses. 😰 I was constantly praying that I wouldn’t catch something from any of these kids who came in with illnesses ranging from a common cold to strep throat. Best believe, I was using hand sanitizer religiously and drinking massive amounts of orange juice. I’d be damned if I caught strep as soon as spring break started. There was one occasion where I was interviewing a little black girl and her mother about a condition the girl had. The girl really seemed to like me and was shy, but was also smiling and chirping answers to my questions whenever she wanted to. She was pretty fun to interact with. After that interview, my 2nd preceptor told me that I was a valuable asset to the clinic because she constantly sees little black children come into the clinic who neither have a positive male role model to look up to that looks like them nor has even been exposed to one. I wasn’t really expecting that statement from her at that moment, but it really moved me. Looking back on it, there’s a good chance that this little girl had never seen a black man in a doctor-like role before, and that maybe because of this brief exposure she was able to perhaps subconsciously attribute that she too could grow up to be in a similar role of success. I’m probably stretching it a bit, but it’s real awesome to ponder on.
All in all, I realized how chill the pediatric clinic lifestyle was. It was very low-stress and fun to work in. But just because it was chill didn’t mean that it wasn’t busy. It sure was busy most of the time. And the days were remarkably long. I would be in the office from around 8 AM to around 5:30 PM. That was a struggle to adjust to at first, but I adjusted a bit better as the week went on. Also, I haven’t heard so many babies cry in such a short span of time ever since those communal Cameroonian meetings I used to go to as a kid with my family. Bruh, I heard children screaming in my head as I lay my head to sleep at night on two separate occasions. That’s not normal.
I definitely had a very interesting week in Lenoir. But I was happy to leave in order to start my spring break, and I wasted no time in coming down to Florida to spend it. So with that said, please have a remarkable week!!
The greatest mistake in life is being afraid to make one.
– Black Man, M.D.