The Spirit of Ambition

Throughout my third-year, my classmates and friends had been telling me how great and wonderful the Family Medicine rotation was. After having heard all of these glorious praises on a continuous basis, I found myself itching to begin this rotation to see why everyone had loved it so much. Now that I’ve been in Family Medicine for a week, I can absolutely confirm how awesome this rotation is! The residents and attendings are incredibly kind, they get along extraordinarily well with the other members of the healthcare team (who have also been very friendly towards me), the work hours are very med student-friendly (thanks to the outpatient nature of the specialty), there is built-in study time in our schedule (LOOK AT GOD), all of the noon conferences have quality lunches, the student lectures have been interesting & informative, we’ve been able to receive faculty feedback from non-graded patient encounters, and there is unlimited free coffee in the lounge for us to drink! And those are just the things that I could think of off the top of my head!

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In addition, I’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunities I have to further improve my focused history-taking and physical exam skills as well as my assessment and plan-making abilities. I’ve received great feedback so far that has allowed me to understand what I’ve been doing really well and what I could continue to improve upon. (I apparently have the habit of filling mid-conversational silence with random words like “Great, great….awesome…” or “Okay, okay…nice…” while I’m talking to patients. Lol, I’ve never thought about that…) I welcome all the high-quality feedback that I can get because as you know, I’m actively working to become the best physician that I can be. I want to be beyond good at what I do; I want to be excellent at my craft. Far-reaching goals such as this have forced me to push myself harder than I would necessarily need to otherwise, and I’m, in most ways, proud of that.

However, I’ve also come to realize that because of my ambitious nature, I can be overly (and probably unnecessarily) critical of myself at times. Even though I know that I’m doing alright in the whole process of gathering data from a patient, coming up with an assessment, differential diagnosis and plan, and presenting the information to someone else in oral and written format, I just feel like I could be doing so much better. I know my skills will continue to improve with practice and time and all, but I guess I just want to already have the skillset and knowledge that the attendings around me have. I have to keep reminding myself that they were once in my shoes and that it took them a long time to get to where they’re at currently. Hell, they probably had the same thoughts that I’m having about badly wanting to better themselves and wanting to be as knowledgeable as their own attendings and upper-levels. With that said, I’m just gonna have to keep grinding and improving while making sure that I don’t criticize myself to the point where I become demoralized. I didn’t make it all the way to this point just to kick myself down…the fact that I’m a medical student continues to be an achievement in itself, and I must never forget that.

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Overall, it’s been a real chill week in the clinic and I love the positive vibes that I’ve been feeling in the air! Like, I was assigned an evening clinic shift and a Saturday morning clinic shift this past week and not only did I enjoy the time I spent with the residents, attending and patients there, but I actually found that I had stayed a little later than I needed to both times! I swear man, the people you work with can seriously make or break your experiences in any given rotation.

I have a few more things to say before I end this post but I also don’t want to spend the next hour typing when I could be studying for this notoriously difficult shelf exam (I feel like I’ve been saying that about every shelf exam I’ve ever taken) that’s coming up in less than three weeks. So in order to compromise both of my desires, I’m just going to quickly word vomit what I wanna say.

I attended a global health session where current fourth-year students talked about their experiences in various global health electives. I had gone to the session because I’m interested in taking a newly-formed immigrant health elective next year and the student who was in the trial run of the elective this year was going to speak about her experience in it. However, after listening to the experiences of the other students who went to countries such as Japan, Costa Rica, South Africa and Spain in order to complete a rotation in a specialty of their choice, I’m now more amenable to pursuing an elective in another country at some point next year! But then again, I may not. Who knows?

There was another session where the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine came to talk to us medical students on this rotation about health policy and advocacy. In our discussion, he talked about the incredible importance of being involved in legislature as healthcare providers due to the fact that there is very little representation of us in the government. He also touched on being an advocate for primary care and we discussed reasons as to why medical students may or may not choose to go into primary care. It was a thought-provoking conversation and made me more aware of the influence that we as medical students and future physicians can potentially have on decisions made in the government.

Okay, I’m pretty much done now. I’m excited to start another week of Family Medicine and to FINALLY fly over to California on Wednesday to attend AMEC!! I’ll be finishing up my remaining responsibilities as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows and will be assuming my position as a Co-Chair of the External Affairs Committee of the SNMA, a position that I was appointed to just last Monday! It’s LIT!! 😄😎🔥

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what (s)he has already achieved, but at what (s)he aspires to do.” – Kahlil Gibran

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I got my Surgery shelf exam score back and although it wasn’t a bad score, it wasn’t as great of a performance as I would have liked, considering the fact that I poured a TON of energy into preparing for it. Sigh. C’est la vie.

Gotta Keep Pushing…

So I took a morning stroll today to CVS. It was a nice, brisk morning, not too hot and not too cold…it was pretty chill. It was also a very slow morning. Winston-Salem is the kind of city that has traffic lights on every corner because it wants to act like it’s poppin’…thing is, I saw like three cars on the road this morning. And it was 11 AM. But anyway, the walk to CVS and back gave me time to do some reflection and goal-setting while appreciating my surroundings. It reminded me of when I used to take walks to Sunset down in Miami, minus the drowning in my own sweat under Miami’s unforgivable sun.

I actually don’t have a good reason as to why I wrote that. I just figured I’d tell y’all I had a nice walk this morning. You tend to walk a lot when you don’t have a car…you’d be surprised at how far your two legs can take you.

In other news…

I’ve been dealing with Anatomy for seven weeks now. It’s not getting any easier, but it’s not getting much harder either. It’s just a steady monsoon of information thrown at us every day…it’s actually starting to get old. Learning about the body is cool and all but I’m starting to get tired of these lectures and labs. It’s just the same thing every day, go to lecture, go to lab, fall behind all week and catch up on the weekends. I don’t hate anatomy or anything, I actually like dissecting in anatomy lab. Maybe it’s not actually anatomy I’m getting tired of…maybe it’s just this repetitive cycle of doing the same damn thing over and over again that’s wearing me down. Maybe it’s also the fact that I haven’t left this area since moving down here in July. I’m used to being up and about, but I haven’t done much of that since I’ve been here because Uber and my two legs can only take me so far. Shiiiii if it wasn’t for great friends that offered me rides on a constant basis, I probably would never leave my apartment. And that’s just a sad life man.

Screw what I said earlier, I’m definitely getting sick of learning new anatomy on a constant basis. I’m so ready for the next block of material, which happens to be Cellular & Sub-cellular Processes (AKA Biochemistry). Never thought I would be saying that since it was the BANE of my existence my senior year of college, but at least I have a background in it…which means I won’t be lost and gasping for help every time I go to lecture…

But that’s weeks away. Gotta deal with things one day at a time. These weeks tend to fly by anyway whether I would like for them to or not. I did get to play doctor last week for that clinical experience “exam” I was talking about last post! It was kinda cool, I had a patient interview and then literally performed a 20-minute physical examination that included the lungs, heart, abdomen and extremities. I’m amazed I didn’t forget any part of the physical exam…makes you appreciate how much your doctor has to remember whenever you go in for a checkup. The best part about the whole experience was that I didn’t have a damn clue as to what I was doing. I was just literally going thru the motions that I was taught and feeling for pulses like I could actually tell my patient about his health or something. But that was good enough for my evaluator, who said I did a great job with the exam and the interview 😅. He made a strong point about liking my personality too, and told me to feel good about myself. So I did.

Turns out he was just warming me up for those burning flames of criticism.

RIght after he pumped me up about how personable of a doctor I will become, he hit me with that “HOWEVER.” He then proceeded to very nicely rip me apart on my history-taking skills. Good thing I’m not sensitive and that I’m one to fully appreciate feedback, because he was very much sonning my ass on how to take a good history from a patient during the patient interview. I actually learned a lot from what he told me and am glad he gave me ways to improve on that. And it turned out that I got to use his advice when I played doctor again a couple days later while taking a real patient’s family and social history in the hospital wards. It was a lot easier than I expected, because she was actually very happy to talk to me and she also literally spilled her life story on me. Taking notes while she was talking was a hassle though, I could barely keep up! I’ve finally come to realize that patient interviewing is not just simply talking to patients…it’s a complex process that takes hella practice. But it’s all good, I got a good four years to work on it, not to mention the fact that I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life. 😄

This past Saturday, I got the chance to do glaucoma screenings at a church. I was performing visual field, visual acuity and eye pressure tests on a number of people and was having a great time doing it! I tried sharing my enthusiasm with the patients I was testing. Thing is, they all spoke Spanish. I just ended up looking stupid trying to have conversations in broken Spanish, so I stopped trying after my second patient. Thank God for my translator. That lady was my savior for the three hours I was there. It was a great time though, and so was the dinner I had on Friday night with a number of upperclassmen of color. Talking with them gave me a much-needed reality check of my future in med school. Something that really stuck with me was the way they were talking about the USMLE Step 1 Board Exam. I already knew how important it was, but its still shocking how vital that test is. Like, that shit dictates your destiny. Your score can literally cut you off from a specialty that you want to pursue if you don’t score high enough. Worst part is, you can only take it once. There isn’t a round 2. You take it once and that’s it. One and done. Had me like:

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As if getting into medical school and surviving the bull wasn’t stressful enough. But aye, can’t waste energy and time worrying about that right? Being afraid of the test will only make it even worse than it has to be…fear is a mind-killer. So I’ll deal with that challenge when I get there, I still have well over a year until I take that test. Just never thought that there was something potentially worse out there than the MCAT…or more challenging, depending how you wanna look at it. Matter of fact, I’ll start calling it a challenge, it kind of turns it into a game that I want to beat. Doing that will also help me stay positive about it, because I don’t got time for negativity or worrying. I just gotta trust I’ll be ready when the time comes. For now, I just gotta pass my next exam in a couple of weeks so I can hurry up and get closer to finishing anatomy.

So with that said, here I go with the start of another week.

Hope y’all start your week off strong! I also appreciate all the support y’all continue to give me! All those calls and texts I get from people checking up on me really mean more than you can imagine…they keep me optimistic and driven!

Stay blessed!!!

– Black Man, M.D.