Fresh Start

It looks like the New Year is starting off on a strong note for me!

Well, nothing major has actually really happened this past week…but it’s been a great week nonetheless. I spent the rest of my winter break at home in VA with my family, neighbors and girlfriend, where I was able to bring the New Year in! After the whole celebration that came with New Year’s Day, I had to drive right on back to Winston that same day in order to start my Anesthesia Sub-Internship the very next day. Yeah I know, it kinda sucks to have to start back up the day after New Year’s, but I can’t really complain after having had no clinical responsibilities since my last day of my Sub-Internship at CHOP back before Thanksgiving break. I’ve literally spent the last 6 1/2 weeks doing a whole lot of traveling, interviewing and sleeping with nothing much going on in between. Okay I’m lying, I definitely had plenty of SNMA administrative work to take care of, especially making sure that we kept our social media presence strong this past month. Also, I’ve been actively trying to decide where I want to spend the next three years of my life, which honestly isn’t the worst problem to have….but still, it’s a tough decision to make. I would rather be in this scenario than be in the scenario I was in when I was applying to medical schools, essentially begging for a school to give me a chance at earning a medical degree and to put me in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt along the way.

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The whole point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had a great time using my time the way that I’ve wanted to use it this past month and a half. Having to go back to a clinical schedule wasn’t that smooth of a transition, but the nature of my current rotation has made it relatively painless. I started it this past Wednesday with a brief orientation, where I swiftly learned that I was going to have to take a midterm exam, a final exam, and a mock OR simulation exam.

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I went into the rotation knowing that I would have to unfortunately take a final exam, but A MIDTERM AND A SIMULATION EXAM?? THREE WHOLE EXAMS??? IN ONE MONTH??? JEEEESUS *in my most authentic Cameroonian accent*

I almost forgot to mention that I have assigned readings from a giant textbook each night, which is where the material I will be tested on will be coming from. Oh, and I’ve repeatedly heard that the tests were incredibly difficult.

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And to top it all off, I’m going to have to present a topic of my choice to my peers and an attending at some point in the next couple of weeks.

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So yeah, the requirements are ass, but it’s all relatively offset by the fact that everyone in the department seems to be really chill. Plus I get to pretty much design my own schedule when I’m in the OR, meaning that I can pick whatever cases I want to go to, with breaks included in my schedule. And while I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 AM, my workday is pretty much over by 3:00 PM, unless I decide to stick around for another hour for the residents’ lecture. So yeah, no complaints there. My first few days have  been great, and I feel that my day-to-day experience throughout the rotation will be engaging, informative and fulfilling. I did forget to mention that each medical student on the rotation has to do one long call shift each week (6AM – 10 PM), so I got that delightful experience to look forward to. 😊😊😊😊😊

Outside of the hospital, I got the opportunity to interview some more medical school applicants, which was pretty cool. Because I had already gone through this experience once before, I was privy to what was expected of me and the applicants as I interviewed each of them. It’s very interesting to watch how one standard prompt can be processed in so many different ways. You would be amazed at what the applicants come up with. All I’m going to say is that if thinking on your feet is a requirement to get into med school, the competition is only getting tougher and tougher. The morning also seemed to fly by faster because I was fully aware of how things flowed. I have a couple more interview days that I will be helping out on, and I’m looking forward to serving as an interviewer on those days!

That’s really all I have to say today. I have my FINAL residency interview this Tuesday at UVA, which is the one that I may or may not have mentioned in an earlier post that I couldn’t attend because of a snowstorm last month and thus had to reschedule. I honestly wish that I didn’t have to do any more interviews now that I’m back in school and all, but it’s for the best. After this one, I’m all done with interviews and I can officially begin working on my rank list! 😄🙈

I hope that your New Year has been off to a spectacular start! Let’s make this week a fantastic one! 😁

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you…..If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.” – Timothy Ferriss

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Now that the House of Representatives has offically switched power as of last week, I really am starting to feel those invgorating jolts of hope that were shattered soon after the shocking and disastrous 2016 elections. It’s a feeling that I’ve sorely missed these past couple of years. Shoutout to the new, diverse wave of Democrats in the House!!! 🙌🏿🙌🏿🙌🏿

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Blazing The Trail

First things first. I got my car back! 😄😄😄

If you happened to check out my last post, you probably remember me talking about how I had to leave my car back in Virginia to get some issues fixed while I drove around in a rental car. To be honest, my rental car was cool and all…..but its MPG was TRASH. Had me spending so much bread last week as I drove all across Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Smh. On the bright side though, I’ve been racking up a good amount of credit card points due to all the gas I had to buy throughout the week! Okay not a whole lot, but it’s better than not getting anything at all by using a debit card. I went back home yesterday, finally returned the rental car, picked up my car (whose MPG I’ve missed sooo much) and drove back to NC today where I’ll be prepping for my UNC and Duke interviews taking place this week. It’ll be nice to sit still in one place for a while after all of the ridiculous amount of driving I’ve been doing for the past two weeks.

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As I just said, I spent the week traveling across four different states in order to complete my interviews at Emory (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) and Atrium Health (Levine Children’s Hospital) in Charlotte. I had a great time learning about each of those residency programs while also getting to know some of the residents and faculty members at both of those institutions. And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the free meals that were graciously given to us lol. As I was completing these past couple of interviews, I came to realize that I have gotten pretty comfortable with the overall flow of the interview process. From my interactions with other applicants, residents and faculty to the answers that I gave during the actual interviews themselves, it felt almost as if things were coming second-nature to me. I guess that’s bound to happen after being on the interview trail for almost two months. 🙃

Also, having two interviews in the same week wasn’t really as exhausting as I had initially thought it was going to be. Sure the drives were annoying (Shoutout to Michelle Obama’s audiobook for making the time fly by), but the actual interview days themselves haven’t really been draining at all. That’s a huge plus in interviewing at Peds programs; people are amazingly kind and, for the most part, the interviews are very conversational. Only thing that’s really been draining as of late is the money from my bank account…but let’s not talk about that because I’m in a good mood right now. With seven interviews now complete, I’m fully prepared to take on the next two I have scheduled this week and to finish off my interview season by knocking out my last two interviews next week! 😄 (I previously had two more scheduled in January, but I’m canceling them because I feel comfortable with the number of interviews I currently have and I really like the places I’ve interviewed at so far. Plus, traveling to those institutions wouldn’t be friendly to my bank account 😅)

One other thing I did in between my two interviews this past week was to actually serve as an interviewer for Wake medical school applicants. Yeah, pretty crazy ain’t it? I literally went from interviewee to interviewer back to interviewee in the span of four days.

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As I sat in the room waiting for my first interviewee to enter on Wednesday morning, I couldn’t help but feel amazed at the fact that things had really come full circle for me. I recalled the pleasant interview experience I had with a fourth-year medical student back when I was interviewing for a spot at Wake’s medical school and remember feeling like it would take forever to get to where he was at in his medical journey. I also remember thinking how awesome it was that a medical student was getting the opportunity to participate in the admissions process and how cool it would be if I was given the opportunity to do the same for applicants in the future. Sitting alone in that room, I quickly came to the realization that now was that “future” I had been thinking about. I was getting the golden opportunity to interview pre-medical students who were hoping to gain access to the medical education that they had been working so tirelessly for. Granted, this MMI format that I was participating in was very different from the traditional 20-minute interviews I was engaged in when I interviewed at Wake, but the overall premise was the same: I get to have one-on-one conversations with medical school applicants and my evaluations of those conversations have a direct influence on whether the applicants receive an acceptance or not. It sure is an empowering feeling, to say the least. It is an absolute honor and privilege to be able to participate in the admissions process this year and I’m looking forward to interviewing more prospective medical students next semester, a.k.a my final semester of medical school!!

That’s all I have for you today! I hope that you have a blessed week!

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama

– Black Man, M.D.

Where Has The Time Gone???

Bruhhhh my little brother turns 19 tomorrow…😳😧😰

Where has the time gone?? I still distinctively remember when I was 19, living out my sophomore year of college without a care in the world. Okayyy I cared a little. Had to keep up my GPA to keep my scholarship…and to make sure I became a doctor…but still, I was having an awesome time. I remember telling myself how grown I was…which means my little brother is pumping himself up on how grown he is. Thing is, he’s actually a man now…that’s crazy to me.

What happened to the good old days man?? Back when my biggest stressor was deciding what starter Pokemon I should pick on my Game Boy Advance? Or what character I should choose to whup my brother’s ass in any given Dragonball Z game on PS2? Or even missing most of my Saturday morning shows because my mom STAYED making us clean the house from top to bottom? Shiii, I wouldn’t mind relieving some of my childhood experiences for a day or two…life was so easy back then. I wasn’t worried about trying to differentiate between the tensor tympani and tensor veli palatini muscles or about trying to figure out the innervation of the 12 cranial nerves and its a-thousand-and-one branches. Only branches I knew back then were the ones I used to climb on…*deep sigh* 😔

Well I’m now 22 and I got my third anatomy test this Friday. Talk about a stressor. However, now that I know that anatomy grades don’t really matter in the long run and aren’t even high-yield for the Step 1 Board Exams, I’m not really trippin’. But anatomy still isn’t something you can just glaze over and BS. You do that and you’ll fail. Quick. So I might as well keep doing the best I can do since it’s been working for me so far. But ima be real…as of right now, I ain’t ready for test at all lol. But I do know that I’ll be good come Thursday night, because when you keep telling yourself failing is never an option, you eventually end up believing it and you tend to find ways to make things go the way you want it to. Sooo I’m not ready, but I simply refuse to fail, so I’ll find a way to not only pass, but do better than I did last test, Lord willing.

I’ve also come to realize that there’s a general pattern to this anatomy BS. We go in the first day of a new block and our lecturers throw hella info at us, expecting us to whine and pull our hairs out about it while they (most likely) smirk in their offices. That whole first week of the block, a majority of us are complaining to each other about how completely lost in the sauce we are. I’m usually asking myself “how the hell am I gonna learn all this??” Then I laugh to myself in a delusional manner and hit the gym. Second week comes around and I’m starting to very slowly piece certain things together while going thru all the lectures and labs getting hurled at us. I’m still pretty lost at the beginning of this week, but I’m lost in a more confident and upbeat way. By the end of the second week, I feel like I have a little more than a basic understanding of the material because I realize that although we continue to get new lectures, there is a lot of repetitive information that ends up getting drilled in my head. Then the third week (exam week) hits and we STILL learning new material, but by this point I’m screaming to myself, “only ___ more days until my free weekend!!” Then Thursday night I have a nice chat with the Father before going to sleep earlier than usual. On Friday morning, I throw another Hail Mary prayer before I click Start on my exam. By Friday afternoon, I feel like Diddy. Then by Sunday night of the same weekend, I’m silently weeping myself to sleep about starting the cycle all over again the next day.

It’s all good though, because after this upcoming test I’ll have one more block of anatomy!!! 😄

Then Biochemistry starts and I’ll have to start listening to three-hour lectures while taking notes on 100+ Powerpoint slides.

Honestly, other than having made some incredible friends here and having an enormous amount of support from old friends and family, only reason I’m getting thru all of this with a smile on my face is the fact that I continue to put time aside to volunteer for various things. It reminds me that the world is very much alive outside of the four walls that tend to trap me more often than I would like. I actually started participating in a once-a-week tutoring initiative this past week called Project TEACH through the SNMA (Student National Medical Association) group at Wake. I went in last Tuesday thinking that I would be helping out underrepresented high school kids that were having trouble with their school assignments….but I quickly found out as I walked in my first session that we would actually be helping out not-so-underrepresented gifted middle school children. I admit, I was a bit confused because I did expect quite a bit more diversity, and the kid I ended up getting paired with was smart as hell. He’s actually a pretty funny kid with a very thick Southern accent that loves to fish and hunt, both of which I have actually never done 😅. It was a good time though, we vibed for a while after I helped him a bit with his homework. I have a feeling that tutoring him is going to be a blast. I also get to be a role model for a young guy that doesn’t look like me, which I find to be a pretty cool and unique experience. I would also love if we could add some color to the mix of students, because I know that if I had come, as a young black middle school kid, to a nice tutoring facility and saw some medical students that looked like me trying to achieve great things with their lives while taking the time to make sure I was doing alright in school, I would highly appreciate it. I would even internalize it. Who knows, it could potentially spark a flame of ambition in my young mind.

Another thing that’s been keeping a smile on my face is hearing all the good news about friends that have already gotten interviews and even acceptances from medical schools around the country! CONGRATS to all of you already hearing back from medical schools, y’all highly deserve it!! It really makes my day every time I hear about someone I know getting either an interview or an acceptance because Lord knows I know the feeling. Especially that feeling of your first acceptance. It’s amazing to think that I was applying to schools as well as painfully waiting for replies around this time a year ago. At that time, I had absolutely no idea what my future would look like, much less where I would end up. Hell, I didn’t know until six months ago if I would even be going to medical school this fall. (The MCAT can go to hell. t(-_-t) ) So to all of you that may be painfully waiting right now to hear back from schools and may be painfully waiting for the next few weeks or even months ahead, keep your head up. Anything can happen at any given moment. And congratulations on having the drive to get thru the MCAT and the application cycle, that in itself is a feat to be proud of. Not everyone is blessed with that gift.

And to all of you going on interviews, honestly just be yourself. It’s cliché as hell but it’s cliché for a reason. It works. You already know all the answers to the questions they’re gonna ask you because you’re the only person that’s lived your life. If they’re putting time aside to talk to you, they want you at their school. All they need you to do is talk about yourself, and ask them questions about their job and institution. Think about how hard it is to screw that up. So don’t stress about it, just do it! Plus there’s plenty of stress to choose from after you make it into your school.

With that said, GOOD LUCK to all of you applying to medical schools! Patience and persistence is key!

Y’all be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.