No Time For Baby Steps

Shoutout to Daylight Savings Time for completely disorienting me this morning.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning real confused after my alarm went off…then I remembered that we sprung forward an hour, meaning that I lost an hour of sleep. Smh. So in my half-asleep state, I decided to be nice to myself and give myself at least an extra 30 minutes of shut-eye. I turned off my alarm and completely forgot to reset it because, well you know, I was half-asleep. I blinked and it was 8:55 AM. Had me like:

waking up

So that’s how I started my day. I’ve been doing practice questions and going over my answers ever since then. As a matter of fact, doing absurd numbers of practice questions and reviewing them has literally taken over my life ever since I took my final exam last Tuesday. I’ve actually been answering numerous Step-style questions every day since then. It’s been an annoying, yet fruitful experience so far. Annoying because these questions are hard as hell and are making me feel inadequate and whatnot. (Boooyyy do I have room for improvement.) But on the flip side, it has been fruitful because I’ve been learning and re-learning SO MUCH information while reviewing these questions. I can feel my knowledge expanding exponentially with each day that passes, and I just hope that my efforts in retaining all of this knowledge for test day prove to be beneficial. But yeah, this is what my life is going to look like for the next several weeks, so don’t go and set your expectations high for my next few posts. I can almost guarantee that I’ll fall short of the standards that you may have already set for my content. C’est la vie.

kanye west shrug shrugging kanye shrug

Lol I don’t really have much else to say right now. I actually would like to get back to reviewing my questions…but before I go, I do want to shout out the fact that Winston-Salem is recognizing the work that a group of us medical students are putting in for the S.Y.S.T.E.M. program that I talked about with y’all a few weeks back! Us and our mentees were featured on the local news last Friday afternoon, which was really cool! I’m real happy that I was asked to be a part of this program and I hope that our exposure reinforces the importance of mentorship and representation to the public.

Aight, I’m outta here. Make sure to have a fantastic week! And to all of you who are on Spring Break right now, just know that I TOTALLY envy you.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” – Robert F. Kennedy

– 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.

Springing On Forward

Do you know how nice it is to finally be able to study outside again? It’s glorious. I can go over PowerPoint slides while enjoying a nice, slightly brisk breeze that works to cool me from the radiant rays of the sun. I can listen to birds chirp some jokes to each other and watch the clouds glide graciously across the smooth, icy blue sky. This is nature’s way of telling me that spring is here. Better times are coming. No more having to suffer in winter’s blistering cold or its short daylight hours. No more having to stay trapped indoors as the winter winds cackle at me. No more having to stare outside my window longing for warmer temperatures as the winter sun plays deceptive tricks by making it look nice and warm outside when it’s really 22 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can see, I’m not a fan of the winter season.

This past week has been the warmest week we’ve had since like October maybe. We were steadily in the 70s and I actually didn’t have to wear a sweater outside for once. And since we sprung an hour forward today with Daylight Savings, I have longer daylight hours to look forward to. 😄 In other news, I just finished my first week of the Neuroscience block, and I actually am enjoying it so far! Sure there’s an ungodly amount of information coming at me at a supersonic rate, but it’s highly relevant to our everyday lives and super interesting to me. Plus, the information that we’re learning is going to be continuously reinforced to us throughout these 10 weeks of the block so we’re going to see much of what we learned already again and again. I’ve also realized how many resources there are for learning this material…this is going to be a great block. I’m speaking it into existence. Looking back though, it really is insane how much I learned this past week alone. There are soooo many little intricacies in the brain that many people wouldn’t even begin to know how to comprehend. Our brains are a masterpiece man. Now every time I make an action or think about doing something, I find myself trying to make out what structures in my brain is working at that time. Slightly annoying, but cool at the same time. However, nobody told me we were going to the anatomy lab again…I found myself up there at 8 in the morning last Friday examining a brain. Not the way I wanted to spend my Friday morning…but I think that’s the only time we’re going to be going back up there this block. Works for me.

On another note, there’s a national SNMA (Student National Medical Association) conference coming up in a couple of weeks in Austin, TX…and I CAN’T GO! 😭😭😭 I REALLY wanted to network with a ton of medical students around the country and experience what the conference had to offer. But airfare to Austin is expensive as hell. Not to mention finding a place to sleep. And apart from all that, I have my first Neuroscience test the Monday after the conference weekend. It’s soooo unfortunate man. Sigh. I guess I got another three years to possibly go. However, I did get to go to a scholarship gala last Friday night and it was pretty damn fancy. A ton of scholarship donors showed up and it was real nice being able to talk to some of them about their experiences in medical school and what they are doing now in their lives. The food was real good too. Especially the salmon. They said it was all buffet-style…but I swear they took up those food trays so fast, there was no chance in hell anyone could go up for a second plate. Also I know I’ve said this before, but a major goal in my life is to be well off enough to create meaningful scholarships for students in the future. It’s so necessary yo, I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the scholarships I was so graciously gifted with. I’m really going to do it one day, I’m speaking this into existence as well!

Have a spectacular week y’all!

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.

Still Chugging Along

Shoutout to this extra hour we got today!

Because of this extra hour, I was able to get through this past Friday’s lecture, get my laundry done, cook my lasagna, write this post, and STILL have time to continue studying tonight. And the best part is, I woke up at noon! 😏

One thing that always annoyed me about Daylight Savings is the fact that it gets dark so early…but now that I’m always up by 7 AM, it will actually be nice to have the sun halfway out by the time my alarm slaps me out of my dreams. I usually study my afternoons and nights away regardless, so it doesn’t really matter to me anymore that it’s going to get dark early. Plus it’s getting cold outside so you won’t catch me enjoying nature after class or anything. So again, shoutouts to this extra hour!

Also, about that MIRACULOUS final play of the UM vs. Duke game last night…yooooooooo I’m still trippin’ over it. I damn near lost my voice watching it because I was mad that they started lateral passing….I was yelling at my screen because I really thought it was gonna all end on some BS…but then I was like, “this could ACTUALLY work”….and then by the time Elder started sprinting to the endzone to score, I had lost my mind. It didn’t help that I already had a bit of Ciroc in my system (s/o to Diddy). The best part of it all was that I was watching it with a couple Duke fans that were talking hella mess right before the kick return because they were up by one point with eight seconds left. The football team really needed that win, considering the insane week they’ve been having. (R.I.P. Dana Smith). It’ll also give them the confidence they need to smash UVA this weekend at Homecoming. (I’m still hella salty I’m missing Homecoming this year…but there’s always next year. SMH.) But anyways, that whole scenario definitely made my night, even if it was a hella controversial call. If y’all wanna talk controversy, let’s talk about why we don’t have six national titles…

That win made my already great weekend that much better. Between being Trinidad James (LMAO) at the Halloween party that Wake threw and going to WSSU’s (Winston-Salem State University) homecoming party, it ended up being one of the better weekends I’ve had so far in good ol’ Winston-Salem. You would be surprised at how much free time you can make for yourself in your first-year of med school if you schedule your studies and commitments right lol. Too bad I probably won’t have that much fun on a weekend again here until who knows when. *Sigh.*

I’m glad to say that I have 17 days of anatomy left until I’m finally done with it all. It has been a rich experience and I’m happy to say I’ve learned a ton of useful information…..but I’m over it. I like learning in lab and all too, but I’m also over going to mandatory labs to dissect. Shiii, I just need a little break from medical school in general. Thank God for Thanksgiving. I’m so ready to go home and chill for a little while. It’s taking all I have to get through this last section of anatomy. As for the test on the head & neck region that I took a little over a week ago, it ended up being by far my best test as of yet! Turns out those brain lesion artery questions and the nerves on the practical didn’t end up tanking me. 😎 So that makes my personal record 2-for-2 now, I’m keeping the streak alive!! Let’s see if I can top this score on my next test… 😅

Well, that’s all I got today. Gotta get back to studying, it’s gonna be another long week since the faculty wanted to pack our schedules with afternoon classes (again) along with lectures and labs on the arms, and eventually legs. However, I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor I got paired up with at a faculty/student mixer later on this week, so that’ll be nice. Even though I know what my interests are in and what I’ll need to do in order to get where I want to be, it will be nice having an ophthalmologist dedicated to my personal and professional growth in medicine.

Lastly, to everyone going through the application cycle for medical school, STAY STRONG!!! Trust yourself, you’ve already made it this far!

Y’all have an awesome week! Thanks for reading!

– Black Man, M.D.