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:

 reaction sad crying will smith dramatic GIF

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.

Halfway thru Anatomy!

I can’t believe that I’m already halfway done with anatomy…

We literally started anatomy six weeks ago. The weeks have flown by like crazy…like I would go to sleep Monday night and before I knew it, I was waking up on Friday morning. But at the same time, I feel like our first day of anatomy (August 24) was a lifetime ago. Six weeks have passed but I feel like I’ve mentally aged about five years. It’s like I’m in some kind of time-warp shit, like I’m in the Matrix and I’m Neo. Or like I’m in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for any DBZ fans out there.

Okay that sounds kinda stupid. Just know that it feels weird.

Although I have half of the anatomy block under my belt, I still have another six weeks to go…which means two more tests plus a final CUMULATIVE exam. 😀🔫 Oh yeah and the final exam is FIVE DAYS after my fourth exam. That’s just cold yo. But that’s another topic for another day. I’m finding that my least favorite part about anatomy (other than repeatedly figuring out that damn near half of the structures in anatomy has multiple names 😒)  is the fact that I always have to gear up for another brutal three weeks of a different region of the body right after taking a test for the previous topic the previous Friday. It sucks because my favorite part about anatomy is finishing up a body region and the free weekend I have right after taking a test. So it just ends up becoming a cycle of straight bull. Also, this upcoming region we’re about to delve into is the head & neck. Maannn do you know how much crap is in the head alone?? The fact that we have a whole test dedicated to just the head & neck is baffling. The brain damn near controls everything. I don’t even wanna think about all the little bones, muscles and NERVES that we’re going to have to memorize…

On a dimly brighter note, the test that I took on the abdomen/pelvic/perineum region this past Friday was not as tough as the one I took three weeks ago, in my opinion. Well at least the written portion wasn’t. The practical portion, where we have to identify structures in different cadavers and on CT scans/tissue samples/bones, wasn’t too pleasant this time around, just like last time. But I felt like I answered more questions confidently this time around on the written portion than I did on the first test. I was so shocked that I spent another 20 minutes going over each of the 123 questions I had to answer. It was also weird because a number of my peers felt that it was really hard and I usually tend to agree with them since I have already gotten used to getting my ass constantly handed to me in medical school. But it was different this time around. I don’t think the content got any easier, and the questioning style didn’t change much from the first test either. Maybe my no-stress strategy is actually working? Maybe I’m actually learning how to study smarter???

I must admit, I focused my attention much more on overall concepts like how nerves actually work and the routes of blood flow, specifically what arteries supply which organs. I also made myself think more in terms of spatial relationships, which I think really helped for this test. Regardless of how I feel about the test, I’ll find out how I really did sometime this week when I get my grade back. I could be talking up all this hype and end up finding out that I barely passed. That’s tends to be a trend in med school.

Another thing to look forward to this week is the Clinical Practice Assessment Exam we have to take. To put it simply, it’s an assessment of how well we can interview a patient and perform a physical examination on him/her. I find it pretty cool that Wake has us learning how to interact with patients early on in our first year. Problem is, ain’t no way in hell I’m ready to perform any type of physical exam on a patient. I still have trouble getting an accurate blood pressure…but thank God it’s not a graded exam this time around. It’s more of an assessment of what we need to work on, so I’m about to get hella constructive criticism by the doctors observing me. I’m cool with it though, because I really want to be the best doctor I can be which means I need to get the patient interview and physical exam down cold. It’s just crazy how hard it is to get the process right and I really don’t want to mess up even if this is a formative assessment. You would think talking to a patient was easy…turns out there is a whole interview technique that we learn to adopt when it comes to talking to a patient and my biggest problem is trying to remember to do everything in that technique while actively listening with empathy and not looking like I’m actually trying to remember what I’m supposed to say. I’ve had to really swallow my pride and allow myself to screw up during our clinical skills sessions, and I’ll have to keep doing so for a long time until I actually perfect this skill. I’ve never been graded in this way before, so it’s a whole new adjustment to me and I’m probably psyching myself out about it more than I need to. Idk, i just like getting things down fast, especially a skill that I absolutely need for my future profession.

But hey, every failure is a chance to improve right? As a matter of fact, now that I’m reflecting on my thoughts, I’m reminded of one of my mantras:

The greatest mistake in life is being too afraid to make one.

So with that said, I’ll stop complaining. I’ll be fine.

One last thought. I’m coming to dreadfully notice that the more things I learn in medical school, the more things I realize I don’t actually know. I’ve learned a ton of info, but I’m also finding that I’m only left with more questions. Even after anatomy is all over, I still won’t know how exactly everything works in unison, much less how to fix things when something in the body goes wrong. Hell, everything I’m learning in lecture is based off a perfect body…something nobody has. It’s amazing to see how many of us live our everyday lives without actually knowing what our bodies are made of and how our bodies really work. I’ve really began to appreciate the human body and all its wonders and I wish that everyone actually knew what their bodies were capable of. But then everyone would be studying medicine and in debt. That being said, I’m still very much grateful that Wake Forest gave me a chance to pursue my passion. As much as I may roll my eyes at country-ass Winston-Salem and at the fact that I study damn near 24/7, I’m very much glad and honored to be in the position I’m in. Many would give anything to be where I’m at and I realize that. That’s why I try to not complain whenever things aren’t going my way, even when everyone around me feels like throwing shade on their experiences here. Ultimately, I made a promise to myself a while ago that I will make the most of my blessing and do what I can to help those that want a chance to prove themselves in medical school or in any other profession get that chance.

Okay I’m done.

Hope y’all have an outstanding week! Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S:  Black Man in a White Coat is really proving to be an interesting read!