One Last Ride

I had to stop and take a moment this morning to fully take in the fact that my Step 2 CK scheduled exam date is exactly two months from today. TWO MONTHS. I actually didn’t realize how close we were to June, partly because up until about a week ago it had been so damn cold here. But now that it looks like spring is finally here to stay, I’m more acutely aware of how soon summer will be here, which means that I’ll be taking both parts of Step 2 pretty soon as well as starting my fourth-year electives and working on my residency applications.

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Man, that’s a lot to think about right now. I don’t think I’m prepared to be in Step Study Mode yet…it took so much out of me the first time around. But it just has to be done. I just gotta get myself mentally prepared for it. I just really hope that my decision to end my third year on the broad subjects of Family and Emergency Medicine ultimately pays off. 😅

Speaking of which, I’m really about to start my final rotation of third year tomorrow! Emergency Medicine is another four-week rotation and I have a strong feeling that these next four weeks will fly by just as fast as the month in Family Medicine did. I’ve heard only great things about this rotation, including the incredible amount of independence we as students enjoy while rotating in the Emergency Department. At this point in my medical school career, I’m beyond ready to take on patients on my own in order to assess their condition and to come up with a treatment plan for them. I’m looking forward to the wild experiences that I’m sure to come across in the ED, even though the pace is going to be vastly different from the relatively much calmer pace I enjoyed in the clinic this past month. My schedule looks pretty wild though. I have a bunch of evening shifts sprinkled sporadically throughout the month (my weekend days were not spared), a few day shifts, a good number of morning lectures, a couple of clinical coaching experiences, a Saturday overnight shift, and some other things that I’m going to learn more about in orientation tomorrow. I’ve heard that I can change shift days around though, which has been unheard of in other rotations. I might have to go on and look into doing that with some of my shifts, because I have a feeling that I’ll have a couple of time conflicts with other pre-scheduled events…we’ll see though.

As for my most recent shelf exam…I THINK I did okay overall. That mess was pretty challenging, even after all of that preparation I put into it. Even though I was uncertain about more questions than I would have liked, I believe it’s safe to say that it did NOT slap me sideways as I had feared! I finished the exam with some time to spare, allowing me to go over most of the questions that I didn’t feel too sure about. Hopefully I did better on it than I did on my Surgery shelf. That Surgery exam disrespected the hell outta me. Smh. And while I’m on the topic of Surgery, I finally got my rotation grade a couple of days ago. Not gonna lie, I wasn’t impressed with it. I actually was a bit bummed out because I had fallen short of the goal I had set for myself in that rotation, even after all the grueling hours I put into making sure that I performed well. I must say, the shelf exam didn’t really help me reach my goal either. But alas, what’s done is done. I did my best. All I can do is move on and use the lessons I learned along with the feedback I recieved to make me a better medical student and future physician. And besides, I have no desire to be a surgeon. So there’s that.

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I had a few clinic shifts to work leading up to exam day, including a couple of evening shifts. One of them was the Community Care Clinic, where I interviewed and assessed like five or six patients back to back. I definitely got a lot of practice in history-taking, patient presentation and document write-up there. The other shift was at the Delivering Equal Access to Care (DEAC) Free Clinic, where I was paired up with a first-year medical student in order to assess patients together. His main task was to gather a focused history from the patient while mine was to chart the patient and follow-up with any additional questions that I deemed necessary before going on to the physical exam. I was also responsible for presenting the patient to the attending physician. As I worked with the first-year that night, I was suddenly reminded of how far I’ve come as a medical student. I found myself casually using terms that he hadn’t learned yet, asking the patient very focused questions after the student gathered a great history in a style that I remember learning as a first-year, speaking with the attending about various medications and dosages to give to the patient, and teaching the student various things as we worked together through the shift. Although I’ve been aware of my overall growth as a student, I was still quite surprised at how much information I knew while I worked with him, and was even more surprised when the student commended me for being so knowledgeable. It was really cool to be in a position to teach him concepts that are now second-nature to me and to fully appreciate my exponential growth as a student in terms of knowledge base and comfortability in assessing patients.

The last things I’m going to talk about in this post are the two panels that I was invited to be a part of this past week. The first one was a MAPS panel at UNCG, where myself and a few other students from Wake and Duke talked to college students about our experiences in medical school. They were very appreciative of our honesty and that we all came from different backgrounds with different paths to medical school. I always love doing things like this, because seeing us talk about our experiences really helps to motivate them and shows them that they really can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Also, it humbles me and allows me to remember what it was like to be a college student striving to get into medical school.

The other panel was at a Narrative Medicine Symposium at Wake Forest yesterday and it involved me talking about how I use narrative medicine in my everyday life as a student in the field of healthcare. I sat on the panel with two other physicians and we all talked about the various ways we cope with the stresses of our lives. I mainly talked about why I started this blog in the first place, how I’ve been able to incorporate it into my everyday life and how I’ve expanded the platform overtime. I also touched on where my love for writing first started, how I’ve had to learn how to navigate writing about my clinical experiences without potentially violating the privacy of the patients that I encountered, and I even shared a few of the posts that I’ve written in the past with the audience! I’m so glad that I was invited to speak on the panel and that I was introduced to the notion of Narrative Medicine. It’s really wild to think about how many opportunities I’ve been able to capitalize on simply because I created this blog! And thanks to the support of each of you, I’ve been able to maintain this platform for as long as I have!

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Alright, I’m done word-vomiting. I’ve had a sort-of chill weekend but now I gotta gear back up and get ready for this last rotation of the school year. I also gotta get in on a couple of conference calls tonight for the SNMA. The grind never stops! I hope that your week is a delightful one! 😄

“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar 

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – If you want to learn more about the disastrous situation in Syria, check out the “Cries From Syria” HBO documentary. I watched it last night and it really shook me. The atrocities happening to the Syrian citizens are absolutely horrendous. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot about the crisis and will also have a better understanding of the implications that their civil war will have on our immediate future. Just to warn you though, the documentary is very graphic.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (3/8) M.D.

Winter Break is Here!!!

And you already know what that means…

I’m three semesters deep into my MD program!!!

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After next semester, I’ll be halfway done with medical school! Isn’t that insane? And soon after next semester, I’ll be starting my clinical rotations in the hospital! I can hardly believe it. The closer I get towards obtaining my medical degree, the more surreal it all feels. Rounding in the hospital as a third-year medical student still seems like a foreign world to me…yet I’m going to be be doing just that in five short months. And then before I know it, I’ll be graduating from medical school with my M.D. I’ll officially be a physician. A relatively inexperienced physician, but a physician nonetheless. Incredible.

But before I get to third-year, I have to get through my final semester of basic science classwork and through the USMLE Step 1 checkpoint. That test is really creeping up on me yo. Winter Break is gonna come and go and then January and February will fly by. Then it’ll be March, which is when I start my Step Study Period. Then April 10th will come and BOOM. I’ll be taking one of the most important tests of my life. Boy am I ready to get that test over with. Too bad I’m nowhere near prepared to take it. It’s all good though, I’ll get a study schedule ready and will commit to it when the time comes.

Enough about all that though.

I felt that the renal physiology exam I took this past Friday went pretty good. It was a short test (60 questions), but the questions were really detailed so I had to take quite a bit of time with about half the questions. However, I felt confident about the vast majority of my answers overall. But as we all know, we never know how well we truly did until we get those scores back. So there’s that. When school starts back up again in January, we’ll be tackling renal pathology, which I hear is a bit easier than it’s physiology counterpart. That’s always a good thing to hear, although I actually didn’t mind renal physiology at all. Don’t get me wrong though, it was definitely tough as hell to wrap my head around at first.

A couple days before the test, I took a study break by volunteering at the DEAC free clinic run by Wake’s medical students and practiced my patient interview skills there with an older lady who needed to check her bloodwork. She had been advised to start a healthier diet a few months back after it was discovered that her triglyceride (molecule of fat) levels were really high. She took on the healthier diet challenge, so she was excited to see the results of her hard work, and also expressed interest in smoking cessation after being a smoker for 34 years. She also came with complaints of a sinus infection, which has afflicted her a few times a year for the past 30+ years. It was nice just being out in the community and helping solve real medical issues that real people were having instead of being hunched over a desk answering practice questions about the physiology of the kidneys. I helped gather her information, was able to practice my presentation skills to an experienced physician, took her to the lab so her blood could be taken, and helped decide what medications we were going to give her. I always tend to have a nice experience every time I volunteer at the DEAC free clinic…I should really go more often.

Finally, I was given the opportunity to assist in giving a presentation to Black high-schoolers interested in health professions yesterday morning at a local YMCA. The 50+ group of high schoolers were actually called the Young Black Achievers. Pretty dope name, in my opinion. As one of the three presenters, I talked with them about my journey and how it shaped me to be where I’m at today. They were high-school students, so you can imagine their restlessness as they sat there for a couple hours as we talked. But it was a great experience overall, and I’m glad to have been able to talk with them as well as to help answer all the questions they had. I also learned quite a bit about the other two presenters, both of whom were my classmates/friends. Representation is so key y’all. It really matters!

I have a great feeling that this Winter Break is going to be an awesome one! I have a ton planned for it, including spending quality time with my family, traveling to Atlanta to visit my girlfriend and her family, and flying down to Miami to attend a wedding. I’m looking forward to it all!

I hope you have an unforgettable and a happy holiday season! Be sure to count your blessings!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Special shoutout to my girlfriend because today is her birthday!! Happy Birthday Babe! 😁