Life In A Cheat Code

Yeah, yeah I know it’s Saturday. You probably weren’t expecting a post today but since I’m going back to camp tonight to start my third week there, there’s no telling when I’ll have time to type something up tomorrow. My schedule has been in a bit of disarray as of late with the SNMA conference last weekend and with camp and all, but I’ve been able to keep on top of things…for the most part. So with that said, posting today is part of me keeping on top of things and making sure that I have something to update you with.

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The end of this week marks the halfway point of my time at Victory Junction. Yeah I know, it’s like I just started right? At least that’s how I feel. I’ve been getting into the groove of camp life and I’ve been having such a good time that I sometimes forget that I’m on a rotation. I can’t lie, I feel like I’m living in a cheat code lol. Although it kind of feels like I’m on a summer vacation, I’ve been gaining a ton of perspective these past two weeks as a camp counselor. Not only have I been able to put things into perspective while interacting with the kids here, but I’ve also developed useful skills on how to effectively communicate with them. These skills have been especially useful this past week, where my cabin counselors and I were tasked with caring for seven teens with various neurological & developmental disorders. While these teens were overall a calmer bunch of campers than the little kids from the previous week, they definitely came with their own unique set of challenges. To start off, the personalities of the campers in this group were very different from one another. Like, VERY different. As a matter of fact, they were so vastly different that the campers didn’t even have any conflicts with one another. To be honest, they all seem to be in their own little worlds. Their respective conditions also varied widely on a scale from relatively mild developmental delay to extreme developmental delay. And to top it all off, a couple of them liked to wander off on their own, with one kid having the tendency to spontaneously take off in a full sprint away from the group.

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It was a pretty interesting week, to say the least. The campers were fun to be around though, and I personally had a wonderful time getting to know them while they were at camp. I had a couple of inside jokes with a few of them and one of the campers even made a special handshake with me! 😄 (He only used it for one day and then forgot about it, but that’s besides the point.) I also found out during the camp’s weekly stage day (talent show day) that one of the campers was pretty decent on the piano. That was dope to see!

This week was ultimately shortened due to the 4th of July holiday, so I’ve actually had an extra day and a half of rest outside of the camp. I was able to go to the 42nd USA vs. Japan College All-Star baseball game in Durham (didn’t know this was a thing) and viewed some fireworks with my girlfriend after that painfully low-scoring game. In addition to that, I’ve been putting in some serious work on my residency application, some work in the SNMA, and am working on updates to the blog. I also need to carve out some time to review some Step 2 Clinical Skills stuff, since I’ll be traveling to Atlanta at the end of this month to take that day-long exam and all. Speaking of, you remember that CPX I had to take back in May? You know, the same clinical exam that I was forced to remediate after my performance on the first one of my third-year back in October? You probably don’t, but that’s okay. Well, I finally got my results back and I’m happy to say that I passed it this time with flying colors!

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Turns out that the extensive remediation that I had to go through helped a lot lol. It also helped that I was much more familiar with the test setup, and I also didn’t skip whole sections in my write-ups like I accidentally did the first time. As you can imagine, this score report is a very welcome confidence boost for the Step 2 CS exam that I’ll be taking in a few weeks. While I’ll still take some time to review key concepts, I can walk into the testing center on July 27th with very minimal doubt in my abilities to think through and treat a chief complaint in a clinical setting while at the same time keeping my patient comfortable throughout the encounter.

That’s a wrap for this post! I hope that your week is a positive one! And be sure to appreciate the final games of the World Cup, because we won’t be getting this for another four years. 😭 I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end soon!

“There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Back Into Step

Well I must say, I like being a fourth-year so far.

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Yeah I know it’s only been a week and all, but man has it been chill. It has actually been one of the most relaxing weeks I’ve had in a while. I mean, I did have to go through my Procedures OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination), my final CPX (Clinical Practice Examination), and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training over the course of the week, but even with those things in place, it’s been a chill week overall. I haven’t had to study for another looming Shelf exam nor have I had to prepare myself for a shift in the ED/clinic/OR/wards. I literally have been able to calm all my nerves down and relax for a little while….sort of. I may not have another Shelf exam coming up, but I do have this little thing called Step 2 CK that I’m gonna have to pounce on in less than a month. With that said, I’ve had to mix my relaxation with the initial phase of my preparation for the exam. This means that I’ve been forcing myself to complete UWorld question blocks for the past few days while reviewing material that I’ve learned all throughout the year, just like I was doing for Step 1.

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In addition to beginning my Step Study Block, I’ve been having to make time to fulfill my duties as the External Affairs Committee Co-Chair for the SNMA. There’s quite a bit of work that goes into this position and I’m still grappling on how to be as efficient and effective in this role as possible while continuing to put forth my best efforts in my studies. I’m sure that as time passes, I’ll grow even more into this new role and I’ll also figure out ways to complete the things I need to do in a more efficient manner. There’s just so much paperwork that I need to keep straight but as long as I keep my organization game A1, I should be good. Plus with a Co-Chair as good as mine, I’m confident that our committee will be strong and healthy well before our quarterly National Leadership Institute, which is where the Board of Directors of the SNMA meet. This first one will be taking place at the end of June in Minnesota. I ain’t never been to Minnesota, nor did I think I would ever have to travel there. But then again, never in a million years did I think I would ever be blogging. Yet here I am. Just ty-ping my thoughts away.

So yeah, gist of this post is that I’m liking my final year of school so far, I’m still busy even when I’m not, I’m glad to be done with the testing I had to do this week (OSCE and ACLS went fine. This CPX was definitely my best performance yet, but even with that said I definitely screwed up a few things…and it wasn’t that easy of a test. I’m pretty sure I did alright on it overall…but I’m still gonna pray on it 🙏🏿) and I’m starting to crack down on this Step 2 studying. I’m so not looking forward to four straight weeks of question blocks and review…but whatever, it’s gotta be done. Plus, I’m going to be with my girlfriend most of the time so that should already make these next few weeks better than last year’s Step Study Block!

Alright, back to studying I go. I have a couple hours to get some in before I attend Wake Forest’s annual SNMA graudation banquet tonight. Wow! I’ll be a graduate in that banquet next year! 😆😆😆

Be sure to have an awesome week!

“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” – Mae Jemison

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Okay this is really random, but I got a professional massage for the first time in my life a couple days ago. Maaannn have I been missing out! And I also watched Deadpool 2; it’s freakin’ hilarious. You definitely gotta check it out. But be warned, there’s a lot of gruesome action scenes. And very crude humor. Lots of it. 😂

Rude Awakening

You know, it’s hilarious just how pumped and bright-eyed I ALWAYS seem to be right after a break from school, only to be brutally reminded about what’s really good when I get slammed with work to do as soon as my first week back starts. And I’m not even necessarily talking about the work I do in the hospital; yeah it was a very busy week and I was taking care of multiple patients with various neurologic conditions, but I’m used to all that. I’m more so talking about all the extraneous tasks I told myself that I had to complete within a certain time frame, getting my fourth-year schedule in order, having to study for the Shelf exam that I’m taking this Friday (I swear that test crept up on me SO fast), and finding the time (and energy) to do all of those things in the couple hours of free time I have each day after a 11+ hour shift at the hospital. Oh, and how can I forget about the oh-so-pleasant feeling of being SNATCHED out of sleep at 4:45 AM each morning? I was up and running on Monday morning with a pep in my step, but it only took until Tuesday morning for me to remember why waking up so early sucked so much. All I could do that morning was groan, lay there in bed for a couple of minutes, chuckle randomly, roll my eyes, take a deep breath and throw myself out of bed to start another day in my General Neurology inpatient week.

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The actual experience on the inpatient service was pretty dope, especially since everyone on my team were such great people! From the interns all the way up to the attendings, everyone was just so nice. There were plenty of good vibes to go around and I learned quite a bit through their fantastic teaching. We as a team also rounded on an interesting array of patients, some of which had rare enough conditions deserving of a case report. In addition, I was able to sit in on a family meeting with my team and further appreciate the humanity of this side of medicine. The time just seemed to fly by while in the hospital, especially in the mornings when we pre-rounded and rounded on patients before going off to lunch. My afternoons consisted of additional patient care, meetings and required lectures on multiple topics in neurology. I would leave around 5 PM each day and try to summon the strength to study and complete little tasks before eating dinner and crashing onto my bed…only to be abducted from my dreams again the next morning. Although the days were filled with long hours, the week seemed to fly by pretty quick overall!

Earlier, I mentioned having to get my fourth-year schedule in order. You may be like, “Wow, you’re scheduling your fourth-year already? Why? It’s only January!” Well yeah I agree, it is quite early. But then again, it’s not that early because if I’ve learned anything in med school, it’s that time literally flashes before your eyes on a constant basis. So with that said, some members of the current fourth-year class went out of their way to give us a presentation regarding fourth-year scheduling. God bless their hearts. Turns out that there is SO much that I have to figure out between now and the start of my final year of medical school in late May. This includes figuring out if I want to do away rotations or not, deciding which acting internships and ICU rotation I want to complete, what electives I want to take, what to do with my “flex” blocks, where I want to apply for residency, when I want to take both parts of Step 2 (I literally just registered this exam a couple days ago…here we go AGAIN 😒), who to ask for letters of recommendations, yadda, yadda, yadda. Decisions, decisions. And I gotta really start figuring this out sooner rather than later.

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Quite a bit of pressure, don’t you think? Luckily, I have a good amount of people to talk to, including an assigned career advising counselor, who can help me figure all of this out. And I’m most definitely going to be hitting them up, believe that.

Remember that meeting that I had to set up for my “Less Than Satisfactory” performance on the rapid-style CPX that I told you about back in my Stroke of Misfortune post? Well I finally had it a few days ago with the clinical skills course director and we talked about how I did and what I could do to improve my performance for the next CPX in May. The main thing that I need to work on is quickly coming up with an accurate assessment and plan while writing up the patient note in less than ten minutes. So with that said, I’ll be specifically focusing on that skill between now and May, because I’ll be damned if I can’t move onto fourth year due to another “Less Than Satisfactory” performance with some standardized patients. Also, I plan to ace the Step 2 Clinical Skills portion. Sooo yeah, I got some work to do in order to transform this temporary setback into a major comeback!

On that note, I’m gonna go ahead and sign off for today! Have a fantastic week and be sure to take some time to reflect on what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rest of the civil rights activists sacrificed in order to make our lives and this country a better place! And wish me luck on this Neurology shelf exam! 😄

“If you can’t fly, then run: if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

Stroke of Misfortune

Last week was absolutely one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while.

It was my first week of Neurology and I was on the Stroke service helping to care for patients who were suffering from symptoms concerning for, well you know, stroke. My classmate and I were put to work right away as soon as we came in at 6 A.M. for our first shift on Tuesday morning. (Monday was reserved for Neurology Orientation, where we were told what to expect from the rotation and what was expected of us. We were also given free Chick-Fil-A lunch and reflex hammers to borrow, which was nice. 😊) From then on, we were expected to closely follow the patients that were assigned to us (I was assigned about 7 or so patients throughout the week), pick up new patients as they came in, think through their problems & try to come up with solutions to them, try our best to read their MRI and CT scans, follow through with the tasks assigned to us by the residents on the team, go to the required lectures that the attending physicians were giving to us, and some other things I can’t think of off the top of my head. Sure, most of this stuff are things that I’ve already been doing in other rotations and aren’t new to me.

But the fact that I had been thrown in a very busy service in a specialty that I hadn’t had much exposure to ever since Step Study Period made it harder to keep up with everything I had to do. It didn’t help that the last time I had conducted a full Neurology exam was well over a year ago. 😅 My multiple gaps of knowledge were exposed by the questions that I was peppered with by my attending, who also was gracious enough to fill those same gaps with very valuable information regarding strokes and how to efficiently assess brain imaging. In addition, I saw firsthand how debilitating brain damage could be, how it can completely change how a person functions physicially and mentally, the unbelievable findings that can be elicited on a physical exam and how much it could affect the families of the patients who were suffering from the damage. I definitely learned a lot last week from the medical team and the patients on that service, and with all the tasks that I had to complete for my patients (who were all really friendly!), I really felt like an indispensible part of the team! Okaaayyy, I’m stretching it with indispensible. But I sure did feel useful!

On the other hand though, I barely had any time to study new neuro material. Clinical duties and attending lectures are heavily stressed on this rotation, so I was ending my shifts around 5 PM or so, and getting back home pretty tired. I got some studying in and reviewed the conditions that my patients had but then before I knew it, it was time for me to go to bed in order to start the process all over again the next day. It was like the inpatient units of Internal Medicine all over again…except that I’m more than halfway done with third-year at this point and it’s really freakin’ cold outside at 5:30 in the morning these days. I did do some studying of the lecture material this past couple days for this quiz we have tomorrow that is worth 30% of our grade. 😂😂😂 I had to laugh because I’ve never heard of a quiz being worth so much of someone’s grade before. It’s wild as hell…but it’s also not supposed to be a tough quiz. Plus, we have to complete a bedside clinical exam at some point during our rotation and we actually have the option to subsitute that grade for our quiz grade if we would like to. And the clinical bedside exam isn’t known to be a hard thing to do great on in this rotation. So hopefully, this 30% will work heavily in my favor and not the other way around!

By the way, y’all remember the Clinical Practice Exam I talked to you about back in my Back To Basics post in October? You know, the CPX where I had to zip through 6 patients in 15-minute intervals and write up clinic notes on them on the spot? Well I know I had said that I thought that I did alright on it and that my performance was far from perfect. I FINALLY got my evaluation back from it and turns out that my evaluators thought the same thing! Well, except for the “doing alright” part. They absolutely agreed that my overall performance was far from perfect. As a matter of fact, they believed that it was so far from it that it was “Less Than Satisfactory”.

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Well damn! Less than satisfactory though?!? Can’t say that I was expecting that kind of feedback. On the documentation side, they seemed to think my history-taking and physical examination skills were okay, but they did NOT seem to like what they saw when it came to my diagnoses and workup plans.

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As for my actual encounters with the standardized patients, they weren’t big fans of my history-taking and my physical examination skills.

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Confused? Yeah, me too. But hey on the bright side, I scored above average on my communication and interpersonal skills, so I did something right!! But overall, I didn’t do as well as they would have liked for me to do, so now I need to set up an appointment with the director of this clinical skills course in order to review my performance. Thankfully, it doesn’t have any impact on any of my grades and I’m glad that my flaws are being exposed now so that I have more than enough time to fix them before my second Clinical Practice Examination and Step 2 Clinical Skills comes about. And by looking at the averages and ranges of the class scores, I’m absolutely certain that I’m not the only one who’s performance was viewed as less than satisfactory. Plus, it was the first time that any one of us ever had a clinical exam in that format. Regardless though, it’s annoying as hell that I’m not considered up to par clinically. Looks like I still got a lot of work to do before Step 2 Clinical Skills rolls around.

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Well, that’s all I got for you today! I start outpatient clinic tomorrow at 8 A.M., which means I get to sleep in this week! Yay me! And after my night shift on Thursday night, I’m free for winter break!! TURN UUUPPPP!!!

Have a marvelous week and continue to enjoy the glory of the holiday season!

“You don’t need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfection.” – Wilson Kanadi

– Black Man, M.D.

Back To Basics

It’s hard to believe that I’m already a month into my Pediatrics rotation…but then again, I’m always finding things hard to believe. I’ve come to accept it as a recurring theme in my life lol. Having a month of Pediatrics behind me means that I only have two more weeks to soak this rotation all in before I go on to my next one, Psychiatry.

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I’m definitely not ready to end this experience any time soon; I’ve been having such a great time! I was afforded the opportunity to work in a private practice clinic last week, where I participated in handling the bread-and-butter of outpatient pediatrics: well-child visits, immunizations, upper respiratory infections and a WHOLE LOT of reassurance to worried parents. The clinic was very busy and the pediatrician I was working with was always darting from room to room, which meant I was getting a ton of steps in. But even with the speedy nature of the clinic, she was very willing to teach me many things about outpatient pediatrics that I never knew, allowed me to go into her patients’ rooms to gather histories & perform pertinent physical exams, and went out of her way to discuss important concepts that I needed to know for my shelf exam. I was also struck by how nice she was, and by how happy and kind everyone else in the clinic was as well. I really felt welcomed there from the minute I first walked in on Monday morning (after having showed up at the wrong clinic first 😂)! In addition, I truly appreciated the amazing level of rapport that she had for her patients and I could literally feel her passion for children radiating from her while she interacted with them. She would ask them what they were wearing for Halloween, joke around with them, hold and bounce the babies to calm them down, and let the little kids play with the toys she had in her handybag, just to name a few of the things she did. Overall, I had a fantastic experience at the clinic! It was only made better by the fact that I avoided getting sick 😄. Now excuse me as I proceed to knock on some wood and plead to God that I don’t catch a cold.

Because I was in an outpatient clinic last week, I had quite a bit more “free” time to work with than I had while I was on my inpatient weeks. Due to this, I got a ton of studying in and was able to fulfill a number of tasks that I had been pushing off for a while. Oh yeah, before I forget, lemme tell y’all about the clinical practice exam that I had to take on Monday afternoon. You know, the one I mentioned to you at the end of my last post. It was so different from the CPXs that I had participated in previously. Instead of focusing on one patient for 45 minutes and having a couple of days to write up a clinic note, I had to zip through six patients in 15-minute intervals and then write brief clinic notes on them, each of which I had only ten minutes to complete it in. It was a whirlwind of an exam, especially with the constraints of the time limits…but I think I did alright on it. I know that I could have done better for sure, but the GAG is that it was formative! Which means that it doesn’t have any impact on my grade at all!

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I sure am glad that we got the opportunity to experience this exam in a stress-free environment, because I know have an idea of what to expect when it comes time to take Step 2 Clinical Skills. We’re going to have to do this exam again at the end of the school year before taking Step 2, but with this reference point now in mind, I’ll feel more confident about my performance when it comes time to do so. However, I am very interested in hearing the feedback from my performance because Lord knows it was far from perfect 😅.

Before I finish this post, I want to share with you some very insightful advice I recently received from the course director of my clerkship. In my short meeting with him last week, I had explained how much I was liking Pediatrics so far and how I’ve begun to actually consider it as a career path alongside Ophthalmology. He smiled and then responded with saying that my main mission as a third-year student is to enjoy the ride while being aware of which specialties I mesh really well with…then as third-year comes to a close, I’ll have a lot more clarity than I have now and I’ll be better able to “find a specialty that feels like home”. This is all stuff that I’ve already known for some time, but for some reason his “home” comment really resonated with me. It was such a simple, yet profound message. It makes total sense that I should feel at home in whatever specialty I end up choosing to practice in. There are so many variables that go into picking a specialty, but if you don’t feel at home in it then you’re ultimately doing yourself a disservice that you may unfortunately regret. This is a message that I’ll hold on tight to and it’ll definitely play a huge factor into my decision when it comes time to choose my specialty.

Lol, what a great way to end this post. Next up in my Peds experience is the newborn nursery! Looks like this week is already shaping up to be another great one!

Y’all have a sensational week!

“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.” – Neal Boortz

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I finally got my Ob/Gyn course grade back this weekend…let’s just say that I done came up A LOT from my Internal Medicine rotation grade! I pray that I’m able to have a repeat performance with this rotation! 😅

P.P.S. – Miami is 6-0 baby!!! Let’s keep the momentum going!!!

How Did I End Up Here?

Y’all.

I’m in the middle of a crisis right now.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my future anymore.

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Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be reconsidering my “definite” decision of pursuing Ophthalmology as a career. I had been told numerous times that clinical rotations tended to steer people towards career paths that they never envisioned themselves in before, but I was always so sure that I had a steadfast hold on my goal of becoming an Ophthalmologist. Like, I used to have a quick answer every time someone asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to become. I definitely didn’t believe that I would be one of those who had the potential to be swayed into another specialty, especially because I had been interested in vision care ever since my early high-school years. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still interested in vision care and the field of Ophthalmology as a whole. But maaannn, the field of Pediatrics has been really tugging on me!

Like I said a couple weeks ago, a lot of my friends had said to me time and time again how they could see me becoming a wonderful Pediatrician. It always seemed crazy to me whenever I heard this because although I knew that I could tolerate kids and deal with them well, I just did not see myself ever deciding to become a doctor for kids…especially since I spent the majority of my childhood helping raise my five younger siblings, whether I wanted to or not. This is why it’s so unreal to me that I’ve been having so much fun on this rotation so far! From the people I’ve been working with to the families that I’ve been serving, my experience in this rotation has been a very interesting one. And I haven’t even started my outpatient experience yet! I’ve also noticed how much I’ve been enjoying the primary care aspect of this specialty, something I had not previously considered since I was all gung-ho about Ophthalmology up until recently. Man let me tell you, third-year is something else. Makes me wonder if I’ll run into another specialty that I find myself liking a whole lot…

You’ll probably hear me talking about my joy in this rotation about ten more times in the near future, so let me stop and actually tell you how my week went. I was on a service where I helped care for kids with chronic conditions relating to their GI (esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum), Cardiologic (heart) and Nephrologic (kidneys) systems, and I was able to learn a lot about their various conditions. Like, A LOT. Both the residents and the attendings on my team were very willing to teach me as much as I wanted to know about anything I asked them, and believe me, I wanted to know A LOT. They were also all just very nice and cool people to be around, which made my 11-hour shifts something to look forward to each night.  Wait a minute, looking forward to 11-hour shifts?? Did you read that right? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Lol well it is, which why this all seems unreal. The days really just flew by during the week and before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon. And with the end of that week came the end of my inpatient part of this rotation.

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While I was working in the hospital, I kept myself even busier (what a great idea) outside of the hospital by helping host a Mentor/Mentee mixer between the Twin City Medical Society Chapter of the National Medical Association & the Wake Forest Chapter of the SNMA, attending a discussion on keeping a humanistic perspective while working in clinical rotations, organizing a glaucoma screening within a health fair that was taking place in the community yesterday morning, and now volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Brenner’s Children Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Health. I could talk more about each of these events, but I tend to write novels when I get carried away with my thoughts. Plus, I’m lowkey running out of the time I gave myself to write this post 😅. To make long stories short, I’m really glad that I’ve been able to find the time to pursue other endeavors while on my clinical rotations. It’s been a bit tough to do so, but far from impossible. Participating in extra-curriculars also keeps me motivated as well as disciplined, and it allows me to continue being a well-rounded individual, something that has been an integral part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I feel like my life would probably be easier if I weren’t as involved in a number of things outside of my curriculum (including running an ever-expanding website), but I also know that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.  With that said, I would trade easy for happiness anytime, anywhere.

Alright, I gotta go on ahead and gear up for the outpatient part of my rotation, which starts tomorrow morning! I also have a CPX (Clinical Practice Examination) I have to complete tomorrow afternoon, where I’ll be interviewing six simulated patients (15 minutes each) and writing notes on them (10 minutes each) in succession. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? It kind of is, but it’s all in preparation for the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam that I’ll need to take after my third year is over. Step 2 though? Didn’t I just finish up Step 1 like not too long ago?? Smh. The tests never end fam. They never do.

I hope that each of you has a spectacular week! Also, please pray for the world. And then make it a point each day to do something, no matter how small or big, to make it a better place. There’s so much trouble in the world right now and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the craziness just in our country alone. Believe me, I know it’s hard…but try your best to not to let the negativity around you consume you!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart

– Black Man, M.D.

Crunch Time

So I’m still out here grindin’. But y’all already knew that.

This Endocrine/Reproductive exam that we have on Friday snuck up so fast on me man. March snuck up even faster! How we’ve already managed to get through February, I’ll never know. Also, with March comes Step Study Block. As a matter of fact, the study block starts NEXT WEEK.

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It’s so unreal that I’m actually about to start tackling this exam head on. But I’m honestly ready to get it over with and even more ready to blaze past this Endo/Repro exam on Friday as well as the cumulative final next Tuesday that’ll be testing us on everything that we’ve learned ever since we got back from Thanksgiving. Yes, I said Thanksgiving. And yes, I know that’s a hell of a lot of stuff to be tested on. But guess what else is gonna test us on a hell of a lot of stuff? *DING DING DING* You guessed it! Good ol’ Step.

Life after Step is gonna be strange and awesome at the same time. Strange because I’ve been having to work towards this exam ever since I first stepped foot into med school, so completing that checkpoint will be like closing a chapter of my experience here. With the closing of that chapter comes a new one, which is where the awesome part comes in. I’ll be in the hospital on a daily basis actually taking care of patients! It’ll be an experience completely different from what I’ve been accustomed to and I feel like I’ll be able to learn even better by actually going through the motions on the wards. Speaking of, we actually FINALLY got our third-year schedules a few days ago! I got my second-preference schedule, which I’m very happy about! I’ll start off in the summer with three months of Internal Medicine, followed by six weeks of OB/GYN, six weeks of Pediatrics, a month of Psychiatry, a month of Neurology, eight weeks of Surgery, a month of Family Medicine and lastly, a month of Emergency Medicine. It’s going to be a grueling, yet fulfilling year. I’m also just gonna have to get over the fact that my already shortened free time will be even more severely shortened. 😅😰😭

This past week, in between studying for my upcoming exams, I completed my final Clinical Skills exam (CPX) for the year, attended my last Clinical Skills class of the year and shadowed another ophthalmologist at the hospital. My performance in CPX was fine overall, but I forgot to ask my standardized patient a couple of critical questions that would have made the diagnosis very clear to me. As I was doing the write-up, I was kicking myself about missing those questions because not asking those easy yet critical questions made it harder to complete my write-up. But on the bright side, I’ll never forget to ask them again when I come across real patients in the future! It’s definitely better to screw up and learn from my mistakes now rather than later when I’ll actually be at least partially responsible for the lives of actual patients. Overall though, I’ve come a LONG way from my very first CPX, after which I was advised (forced) to get extra practice with my history-taking skills by interviewing patients in the wards. Thank God for growth lol. It was also crazy attending my last Clinical Skills class, because I had been with that same small group of people ever since I first started school. I learned so many practical skills in that class over the past year-and-a-half that will undoubtedly be critical to my success in the wards in a few short months.

Finally, my shadowing experience was pretty dope, as always. I was running in and out of various operating rooms with the ophthalmologist and the resident working with him, where they were performing some fascinating surgeries. The amount of procedures that you can do on the eye is pretty insane. One patient was getting laser treatment on her retina, another patient was getting her diabetic retinopathy treated and another one had an epiretinal membrane that she needed to get treated. There was also a patient with this condition called “morning glory syndrome“, a condition in which one’s optic disk fails to fully develop in utero. The field of ophthalmology just continues to fascinate me. It was a pleasure, as always, to be able to shadow that physician.

Alright, back to studying. Y’all have a great week! And keep the resistance up; never allow yourself and the goodness of humanity to be oppressed!

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

– Black Man, M.D.

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.

Growing Pains

Tell me why I went into this weekend TEN lectures behind in material.

TEN LECTURES BEHIND.

The sad part is, I was actively trying to keep up all last week. But between the SIXTEEN lengthy lectures given to us just last week, my three and-a-half hour clinical skills class, my Clinical Practice Assessment Exam (CPX) where I had to interview & perform a physical exam on a standardized patient and then complete a write-up which took me FOUR HOURS to finish, and all the other little things I did on the side this past week, it’s been one hell of a struggle trying to keep up. So much for Pulmonology being a chill block.

sad annoyed whatever done facepalm

But let’s backtrack to my CPX first. Why did it take me four hours to complete that write-up man? I’ll tell you why. It’s because not only did I have to summarize the patient’s History of Present Illness, Past Medical History, Review of Systems, Family History and Social History, but I also had to go on and describe her physical exam findings, write up an assessment of the patient, come up with a differential diagnosis of what I believed the patient had, and then describe in detail as to why I picked each of the conditions I believed she had. Ohhh but that’s not all folks. After describing my differential diagnosis, which took over an hour itself, I then needed to come up with a structured plan as to how I was going to move forward with this patient, which included my diagnostic work-up, the anticipatory guidance I was going to provide to the patient, my treatment recommendations, and my disposition of the patient (where I’m going to eventually send her). That’s an unbelievable amount of work yo. And to think that this will become a regular routine as I get further in my training and eventually work as a doctor…😥. Why do I get the feeling that the doctors out there reading this are chuckling to themselves? Maybe because writing patients up isn’t actually as big of a deal as I’m making it seem and I’m just being all dramatic about it. Or maybe I went way overboard with my assignment. Regardless, I put my best effort in it and it took me a really long time to finish it. I pray that no other write-up will take me as long to finish. But if I get this diagnosis right thoooo…..😏.

The actual encounter with the patient was straight though. I’ve really come a long way in my interview skills, but I can still be better. I kicked myself for missing a couple of questions that I would have liked to ask and as for the physical exam portion, I did just about everything I needed to do but forgot to do one or two maneuvers that just so happened to conveniently spring back into my mind right after I walked out of the exam room. It’s whatever though, I felt like it was my best CPX performance yet. Can’t wait to finally get some feedback this week from the doctor who was grading me. Also the standardized patient did a phenomenal job acting out her severe chest pain…I did get her to crack a few smiles though, hehehe.

A couple days prior to my CPX, I watched a documentary screening with other classmates who are in the Service Learning Scholars program like me. The documentary was called “Private Violence“, and it followed the lives of a few women who had tragically been in very abusive relationships. These women had been beaten very badly by their spouses on a constant basis, but were also finding it hard to leave their spouse for good due to the unhealthy psychological nature of their relationships. It also didn’t help that the varying state laws in place for domestic violence cases were flawed enough to not help the victims feel any safer from their spouse. One woman was severely beaten over and over again and when she finally mustered up the power to seek justice, her pictures of her bruised and bloody body didn’t meet some type of “standard” set by specific states’ laws, so the man accused would only have to go to jail for a maximum of 180 days. It’s insane. In some states, you sell weed and go to jail for years…but then you can beat up your partner on a constant basis and the most you’ll go to jail for is six months?? There are a lot of flawed laws out there that need to be changed. We then also had a discussion about the documentary as a group and touched on the challenges that physicians need to face as well as what needs to be done when dealing with the issue of domestic violence in their patients’ lives. It was a very interesting and necessary event to have overall. It also gave me a framework to keep in my head whenever I interact with patients in the future who are dealing with domestic violence issues. After attending that, I proceeded to go and watch the first presidential debate…mannnnn don’t get me started on that bull. Actually I’m not even gonna go into how I’m feeling about this “presidential race” right now. Just please go out and VOTE for the sake of not only you but this country as a whole.

One more thing, I officially applied for my Step 1 exam this past week. Let me repeat that. I’VE OFFICIALLY APPLIED FOR MY USMLE STEP 1 EXAM. This has gotten so real so fast. I registered to take it in mid-April so I got a good amount of time before then, but I’m well aware of how fast time can fly. I’m just gonna work my tail off until then and pray that I get the score that I feel I deserve. I’m already thinking about how my nerves the night before will probably keep me from being able to fall asleep…I’m gonna have to find a solution to that. Oh, and you wanna hear something ridiculous? The exam costs $605 to take! SIX HUNDRED AND FIVE MOTHERLOVIN’ DOLLARS!!! I very audibly gasped when I saw that amount and immediately closed my laptop. But then guess what I remembered? My school reimburses us for the cost of the exam! Wake is soooo clutch man! THE REAL MVP. So I deposited the check that Student Affairs gave me, applied for the exam, and gleefully checked my bank account to verify that the amount in my checking account was unchanged. And lo and behold, it was unchanged.

Geek & Sundry dancing happy dance kid president dance

Gotta get back to catching up to these lectures though, I only have three more to go before I’m all the way caught up again! I definitely don’t wanna be behind before facing the four lectures we have tomorrow morning along with the longitudinal classes that will be taking up my afternoon. Jeez.

Have a marvelous week! 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

– Black Man, M.D.