City Boy Back In A Country World

As you can see from the title of this post, I was back in the good ol’ town of Lenoir, NC this past week. Unlike last time though, spring break isn’t starting…instead, I’m starting my Gastrointestinal block tomorrow. Le sigh. It’s okay though, this is the last block to get through before Thanksgiving break! And then after break there’s a week of Dermatology and two weeks of Renal before Winter break! ‘Tis the season of holidays 😄. Which also means it’s starting to get chilly…man I hate cold weather. But I also hate global warming. Just can’t win man, just can’t win. Honestly, I just need Summer ’16 to come back.

Before I get into my second, and final, Community Practice Experience that I participated in this past week, I just wanna touch on a few quick things. First, my Pulmonology test results. I passed comfortably. That’s good enough for me these days, although I felt like I studied hard enough to get an even higher score…but that’s neither here nor there. Y’all know I’ve been more concerned about learning the material for Step 1, which brings me to my next point. I’ve officially entered my testing location and date for that wicked exam. Unless I decide to change the date, I’m taking my USMLE Step 1 exam on Monday, April 10th, 2017. If it wasn’t real when I registered a couple of weeks ago, it sure is real now. I was actually going for April 12th, but all the spots in Greensboro were taken already. How they were already all booked, I will never know. But alas, I know I’ll be fine taking it a couple days prior, especially if I don’t have to drive an excess of 50+ miles on the morning of this fate-sealing exam to take it in another designated location other than Greensboro. Now I just gotta come up with an extensive study plan and stick to it.

crying andre johnson dre johnson blackish anthony anderson

Last thing, I powered through and finished the book Overcoming The Odds, written by Dr. Antonio Webb, yesterday. I had been reading this book for a little over a month and I must say, it was definitely a story worth reading. Extremely inspiring too…this man went from a kid in one of the hoods of Shreveport, Louisiana to becoming a resident in the Orthopedic Surgery program at the University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center. The story of how he got from Shreveport to San Antonio is incredible. This man had to go through an enormous amount of trials and tribulations to get to where he is currently at, including serving time in Iraq as a medical soldier and applying to medical school THREE times before becoming accepted. His story is absolutely one worth looking into. Right after finishing that book, I bought Dr. Sampson Davis’ book, Living and Dying in Brick City. I’m looking forward to reading that one!

Okkkayyy, now about my week-long experience in Lenoir.

First of all, I must say that I had a very positive experience overall! Because I had been there before, I knew exactly what to expect in the clinic and in the town in general. I wasn’t hit with any surprises and I was a lot more comfortable talking with patients and discussing their conditions with my preceptor than I may have been back in February. I also wasn’t rear-ended, stereotyped by an officer, baffled by a kid wearing confederate clothing in the clinic, or buffeted by rainstorms this time around. As a matter of fact, everyday was a hot, sunny day out there! However, I did spot the confederate flag on three separate occasions during the week (yes I was counting) while driving through the Lenoir area. I also spotted hella Trump/Pence signs as well as a few Pat McCrory signs (the current NC governor who’s spiraling NC into a mess) during the week.

barack obama annoyed serious grumpy not amused

I wasn’t surprised to see them though. My preceptor (who seems to be one of the few liberal folks in that town) and I had quite a few jokes to share when it came to this presidential election. I was a bit surprised to see a couple Jill Stein signs though. I also saw a grand total of ONE Hillary/Kaine sign, and that was when I was heading out of Lenoir Friday afternoon lol. Maaannn, y’all just go out and vote. Early voting has been rolling out across the country so make sure to get your voice heard! I’m going to cast my ballot this week!

As for my actual clinic experience, it was quite tiring and very enjoyable at the same time! Time always seemed to fly by there, especially when I was taking the time to interview patients. As you may or may not know, I was working in a pediatrics clinic, so I mainly saw babies, kids and teenagers at the practice. By the way, I heard the screaming babies again as I lay my head down to sleep every night. JESUS. Unlike last time though, there was a PA student working a five-week rotation with my preceptor as well, so we would talk and bounce ideas off one another whenever we got to a patient who needed a diagnosis. My preceptor allowed us to interview as many patients as we wanted and to do whatever necessary physical exams we saw fit before coming back to report the patient to him. So with that said, I got a ton of extra practice in taking histories and performing certain physical exams. I also now know why doctors traditionally have horrible handwriting; I was writing so damn fast while taking all those histories that reading my own handwriting became a puzzle-like game when it came time to report my findings to my preceptor. A few times, I was referred to as “the doctor” by the kid’s mother or father (or whoever the kid was with) and that always threw me off…I would be quick to correct them because I wasn’t about to be caught out there looking like another Dr. Love 😂.  Because there were two of us, the PA student and I took turns seeing the patients as they came in. Over the course of the week, I had about 40 separate patient encounters! A lot of them were well-check visits for babies as well as drug adjustments for kids with ADHD (I saw the same drugs over and over and over again…Vyvanse, Concerta, Ritalin, Focalin, Adderall, Clonidine, Quillivant etc.), but I also interacted with a number of other patients with problematic symptoms and conditions including fevers, exacerbated asthma, mysterious rashes, cerebral palsy, urinary tract infection, pilonidal abcess, constipation, and stomach pain, just to name a few. And because I’ve taken a few organ system courses such as Cardiology and Pulmonology, I knew exactly what to look for on those physical exam maneuvers. When we weren’t seeing patients, the three of us would have conversations about an endless array of topics in my preceptor’s office. Ultimately, I’m very happy to have had the doctor I was working with as my preceptor and I hope to continue a relationship with him even though I don’t have any more CPE’s ahead of me.

Time to get back to the grind! (Grind never ended though.)

Have an awesome week!

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” – Vince Lombardi 

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – My roommates and I hit up the same wing and BBQ spots we hit up last time we were in Lenoir. The food was just as finger-licking good. I also saw more diversity amongst the patients in the clinic this time around. That was refreshing!

Putting It All Together

Guess who’s all caught up with his lectures? THIS GUY. *points to self*

Guess who has an exam in five days? THIS GUY. *points to self again*

Guess who’s totally not ready for it? THIS GUY. *points to self yet again*

Thankfully, there won’t be any new material presented to us this week. We’ve pretty much already learned everything that is going to be on this upcoming exam, which is nice to know. Instead, we’ll be using the knowledge we’ve acquired over the past two-and-a-half weeks to solve patient cases in class. We will also have a class session on Wednesday where patients with respiratory problems will come in and talk to us about how they’re coping with their respective conditions. I always appreciate when patients take time out of their day to come and talk with us; it really brings a lot of what we learn to life, which makes it easier for me to remember certain things and also allows me to fully appreciate the fact that what I’m learning has the power to literally influence and save the lives of other people. A couple other things on our schedule this week include an Ultrasound Lab, a simulation lab with a dummy patient, a Jeopardy review game and a “field trip” to the hospital wards. Overall, I think that the integrative nature of this week will really help synthesize a lot of the subject material we’ve learned. Also, it’s awesome that we get a week just to review everything we’ve learned because I very much so need it. Like, very much so.

While I was playing catch-up with my lectures this past week, I got the chance to go to the annual Medical Student Research Poster Presentation Day at the old medical school next to the hospital, where a lot of my friends presented the research projects they worked on during the summer. There was such a diverse array of research topics that were undertaken by my classmates. It was so cool man. These research topics included: The Influence of Summer Camp Cooking Classes on Children, Assessing Cultural Awareness and Peer-Peer Microaggressions in Medical Education, The Mortality Gap in Black and White Breast Cancer Patients in Chicago and the Comparison of that Data to other US Cities, The Association Between End Stage Renal Disease and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, The Use of Information Technology Among a Diverse Sample of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes, Sustainability of CPAP in a Regional Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Accra, Lineage Tracing and Labeled Stem Cell Fate-Mapping in Murine Bladder Regeneration, and The Effects of Trauma on Reproductive Behaviors in HIV Populations. There were over 50 students presenting their posters, and they all looked splendid and professional while presenting their summer work. I was happy to show up and help support them! It also reminded me that I still have yet to perform some kind of meaningful research project, let alone present a research poster…

A few other things I ended up doing this past week included helping set up a Ophthalmology Interest Group lunch talk where we had an Ophthalmologist come in and talk to the audience all about her journey and what life is like in her career path, learning how to use respiratory support equipment by actually using them on dummies, going through a few patient case presentations with a facilitator and a small group of students, attending a lecture about healthcare disparities and how it relates to respiratory diseases, and talking with the Dean of the medical school about how my experiences here at Wake have been so far. Each of these events were great in their own way, and I was able to take away quite a bit from each experience. I could talk more about each of these experiences in detail, but I don’t feel like making this an unnecessarily long post. Plus, I need to go back to reviewing for this upcoming exam. 😭😒

Before I leave you though, I have one more thing to say. Guess who’s about to be back in Lenoir next week for his second and final week of his Community Practice Experience? THIS GUY. *points to self one more time*. I know some of you remember what my time was like the last time I was in the quiet town of Lenoir…if not, here’s a reminder. Last time was cool and all, but I have a feeling that this time will be even better because I know a bit more than I did before and I’m also a lot more confident in talking to patients than I was back in February. Plus, there’s good Southern food waiting for my roommates and I at the restaurants that we dined at last time. I’m sure it’ll be a fun time, especially since I don’t have to worry about really studying anything that whole week. I just gotta get mentally prepared for the severe lack of diversity that I’m about to walk into in that little country town…

Y’all have a great week!

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” – Bertrand Russell

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Yes, I’m VERY salty that Miami lost to FSU…BY ONE POINT. I missed most of the second half because I was at a birthday party, but best believe when I got the update of the final score on my phone, I was not pleased. Damn it Florida State…

Growing Pains

Tell me why I went into this weekend TEN lectures behind in material.

TEN LECTURES BEHIND.

The sad part is, I was actively trying to keep up all last week. But between the SIXTEEN lengthy lectures given to us just last week, my three and-a-half hour clinical skills class, my Clinical Practice Assessment Exam (CPX) where I had to interview & perform a physical exam on a standardized patient and then complete a write-up which took me FOUR HOURS to finish, and all the other little things I did on the side this past week, it’s been one hell of a struggle trying to keep up. So much for Pulmonology being a chill block.

sad annoyed whatever done facepalm

But let’s backtrack to my CPX first. Why did it take me four hours to complete that write-up man? I’ll tell you why. It’s because not only did I have to summarize the patient’s History of Present Illness, Past Medical History, Review of Systems, Family History and Social History, but I also had to go on and describe her physical exam findings, write up an assessment of the patient, come up with a differential diagnosis of what I believed the patient had, and then describe in detail as to why I picked each of the conditions I believed she had. Ohhh but that’s not all folks. After describing my differential diagnosis, which took over an hour itself, I then needed to come up with a structured plan as to how I was going to move forward with this patient, which included my diagnostic work-up, the anticipatory guidance I was going to provide to the patient, my treatment recommendations, and my disposition of the patient (where I’m going to eventually send her). That’s an unbelievable amount of work yo. And to think that this will become a regular routine as I get further in my training and eventually work as a doctor…😥. Why do I get the feeling that the doctors out there reading this are chuckling to themselves? Maybe because writing patients up isn’t actually as big of a deal as I’m making it seem and I’m just being all dramatic about it. Or maybe I went way overboard with my assignment. Regardless, I put my best effort in it and it took me a really long time to finish it. I pray that no other write-up will take me as long to finish. But if I get this diagnosis right thoooo…..😏.

The actual encounter with the patient was straight though. I’ve really come a long way in my interview skills, but I can still be better. I kicked myself for missing a couple of questions that I would have liked to ask and as for the physical exam portion, I did just about everything I needed to do but forgot to do one or two maneuvers that just so happened to conveniently spring back into my mind right after I walked out of the exam room. It’s whatever though, I felt like it was my best CPX performance yet. Can’t wait to finally get some feedback this week from the doctor who was grading me. Also the standardized patient did a phenomenal job acting out her severe chest pain…I did get her to crack a few smiles though, hehehe.

A couple days prior to my CPX, I watched a documentary screening with other classmates who are in the Service Learning Scholars program like me. The documentary was called “Private Violence“, and it followed the lives of a few women who had tragically been in very abusive relationships. These women had been beaten very badly by their spouses on a constant basis, but were also finding it hard to leave their spouse for good due to the unhealthy psychological nature of their relationships. It also didn’t help that the varying state laws in place for domestic violence cases were flawed enough to not help the victims feel any safer from their spouse. One woman was severely beaten over and over again and when she finally mustered up the power to seek justice, her pictures of her bruised and bloody body didn’t meet some type of “standard” set by specific states’ laws, so the man accused would only have to go to jail for a maximum of 180 days. It’s insane. In some states, you sell weed and go to jail for years…but then you can beat up your partner on a constant basis and the most you’ll go to jail for is six months?? There are a lot of flawed laws out there that need to be changed. We then also had a discussion about the documentary as a group and touched on the challenges that physicians need to face as well as what needs to be done when dealing with the issue of domestic violence in their patients’ lives. It was a very interesting and necessary event to have overall. It also gave me a framework to keep in my head whenever I interact with patients in the future who are dealing with domestic violence issues. After attending that, I proceeded to go and watch the first presidential debate…mannnnn don’t get me started on that bull. Actually I’m not even gonna go into how I’m feeling about this “presidential race” right now. Just please go out and VOTE for the sake of not only you but this country as a whole.

One more thing, I officially applied for my Step 1 exam this past week. Let me repeat that. I’VE OFFICIALLY APPLIED FOR MY USMLE STEP 1 EXAM. This has gotten so real so fast. I registered to take it in mid-April so I got a good amount of time before then, but I’m well aware of how fast time can fly. I’m just gonna work my tail off until then and pray that I get the score that I feel I deserve. I’m already thinking about how my nerves the night before will probably keep me from being able to fall asleep…I’m gonna have to find a solution to that. Oh, and you wanna hear something ridiculous? The exam costs $605 to take! SIX HUNDRED AND FIVE MOTHERLOVIN’ DOLLARS!!! I very audibly gasped when I saw that amount and immediately closed my laptop. But then guess what I remembered? My school reimburses us for the cost of the exam! Wake is soooo clutch man! THE REAL MVP. So I deposited the check that Student Affairs gave me, applied for the exam, and gleefully checked my bank account to verify that the amount in my checking account was unchanged. And lo and behold, it was unchanged.

Geek & Sundry dancing happy dance kid president dance

Gotta get back to catching up to these lectures though, I only have three more to go before I’m all the way caught up again! I definitely don’t wanna be behind before facing the four lectures we have tomorrow morning along with the longitudinal classes that will be taking up my afternoon. Jeez.

Have a marvelous week! 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

– Black Man, M.D.

Tori’s Spirit

This past week, I was painfully reminded about just how fragile life could be.

About half of my overall class and I were in the middle of our Health Systems & Policy (HSP) class early Monday afternoon. The other half of my overall class were in the Medicine and Patients in Society class (MAPS) at the same time. I had just come from a Kaplan lunch talk not too long before, where a representative was talking about how great the Kaplan Question Bank was in preparing students for Step 1. My thoughts were drifting back and forth between how I was going to use the Kaplan Question Bank to supplement my ongoing studies, how to make sure that I had the best fantasy football team in the class draft that I had just been invited to, and the financing & distribution of Medicaid in North Carolina, which is what we were currently being lectured to about. It was your typical, sunny Monday afternoon.

Then around 1:30 PM or so, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs opened the door of the classroom as the professor was in mid-sentence and motioned for him to come over to her with her finger. Puzzled, he looked at her for a couple of seconds and exited the classroom with her. All of us in the class were quiet for a few seconds, and then indistinct chatter started to fill the room. My friend and I started joking around about what the professor must have been thinking as the Associate Dean, of all people, abruptly interrupted his class. After about a couple of minutes, the professor walked back in looking pretty shocked, along with the Associate Dean and about five other faculty members. I suddenly did not like the look of what was happening. I heard my friend behind me whispering “Oh no, this doesn’t look good. This looks like bad news. This is going to be bad.” The Associate Dean got to the podium as the other faculty stood in line facing us and started to break the devastating news that our classmate, and my friend, Tori McLean, had just passed away due to complications from the bone marrow transplant that was supposed to have saved her from her diagnosis of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. As she said Tori’s name, my jaw dropped. I could hear gasps around the room. As the dean continued to speak, I began to hear my classmates sobbing across the room. A couple of my friends I was sitting at my table with began to sob as well. I was completely dumbfounded. My jaw just hung open for what felt like an eternity as I stared in disbelief at the dean. I don’t even remember most of what was said after hearing the initial news. Just before she finished speaking, she said we were free to take the afternoon off to collect our thoughts and to mourn. I then sat back in my chair and numbly stared at the ground. I had just entered one hell of a daze. I must have sat there like that for about five minutes or so as others around me packed up their belongings and left the room. I then somehow managed to get up, walk out of the classroom, and walk back to my apartment complex where I met up with a few friends in their apartment. I walked in the apartment, set my bag down on the floor, sunk in the couch, looked up at the ceiling and proceeded to stare blankly at it for almost an hour.

As I type this post almost a week later, I still find it hard to believe that she’s really passed on. Like, I’ll never see her on this Earth again. It’s an unreal feeling. I keep thinking about how her closest friends and her family must be taking the gravity of her loss. That thought alone saddens me. The fact that she won’t ever get the chance to become the incredible doctor that she had the potential to be, or to start her very own family, or to just continue with life in general as a 24-year old woman is very difficult to accept. She had been fighting so hard against this cancer that she has been diagnosed with since mid-March, right as we were about to take our first Neuroscience exam. It was so unfortunate, but we all figured, including her, that it was a terrible phase that she would get through before returning to her regular life. It’s terribly unfair that her life on Earth had to end this way, because she was such a great person…she went out of her way to make others feel better, even while she was fighting against the cancer wearing on her body. While I was checking in on her this past summer, she told me that she truly believed that I was not only wise beyond my years, but that she was confident that I would grow into an amazing doctor, especially now that she’s experienced the patient side of things. She said all this after stating how much it meant to her that I was reaching out to check on her when she could only imagine how busy I was. Lol, that was just how she was man, so humbling and appreciative of everything. I had to tell her that I was never too busy to check in on her and that I had been praying for her and her family every day. She also told me that she still had been reading my blog every week throughout her treatment, which really moved me. As a matter of fact, Tori had been a huge supporter of Black Man, M.D. since day one. She was always “liking” my blog posts on Facebook and had told me several times in the past how much she enjoyed reading it as well as how appreciative she was of the quotes I put up every week. When I spotted her at the school back in early August after school had started up again, I tore myself apart from the group I had been chatting with, shouted her name, and gave her such a big hug that I may have lowkey scared her now that I think back on it. My last interaction with her was when she wished me a Happy Birthday a few weeks ago and had hoped that my day was just as wonderful as I was. Man, I’m gonna miss her.

This past week has been a rough one, with losing Tori and simultaneously having to study for our Cardiology exam that we’re taking tomorrow. However, the school has been absolutely wonderful in responding to the tragedy. In a matter of less than five days, many emails were sent to our class from various faculty members, including from the Dean of the Medical Center himself, the medical class under us worked to console us by providing us snacks and a memory tree for Tori where we can write & hang our memories with Tori from the tree, a memory book for Tori’s family was purchased, and a memorial was planned to honor Tori’s life. This memorial service took place this past Friday in an auditorium at the former medical center next to the hospital. I’m happy to say that the auditorium was packed to the brim and that the service was phenomenal. Her whole family was present as well as many of the faculty, our classmates, and others that either knew her personally or knew of her. There were songs sung & played on the violin/cello/piano, prayers given, stories shared by her friends and family, tears dropped, and laughs shared between the people present. It’s incredible to realize that even after her time in this world had ended, she was able to bring so many people from all walks of life together in one place. I felt, and continue to feel, honored to have been friends with such an angel who has touched the lives of many.

There were many organizations on campus that Tori was a part of, but one thing she was absolutely passionate about was Project Teach, a program within the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) here at Wake where we help to tutor both middle and high-school students from the community around us on Tuesday nights. We had both been very involved in this program last year, but it was very obvious to me how important the program was to her. Her love for the kids shined so bright that she was made the Community Service Co-Chair alongside me so that she would have full control of how the program was run. Sadly, soon after obtaining that position, she received her diagnosis. She then reached out to me a couple of weeks after her diagnosis and asked for the “big favor” of temporarily assuming control over the program as she began to fight off the cancer threatening her life. Of course I obliged and began to do so alongside another friend who was also invested in the program who also happened to be the new Vice-President of SNMA. Her and Tori had been working to expand the program to high-school students in the community, for at that time only middle-school students were coming for tutoring. When this school year started, my friend and I continued to work on expanding the program and eventually got a nearby high school on board to participate. This past Tuesday was the very first day of Project Teach for the year and I’m happy to say that it was a phenomenal success! We had about 25-30 volunteers and just as many middle & high school students show up. And the number of students is expected to increase for this Tuesday as well! I really wish Tori was able to have seen how well the first day went and how much bigger the program is going to get this year. But I know she’s watching from high up above and smiling down proudly on all of us.

Life can be very rewarding and at times you may feel invincible. But life can also be just as fragile, for one moment you’re on top of the world and in the very next moment you can be on the ground suffering. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this unfortunate event and from medical school in general, it’s that nobody is invincible. Disease & Tragedy can strike any one of us at anytime, even if we mean well and do our best to stay healthy. However, as the late and great Maya Angelou once said, “people will never forget how you made them feel”. I’m sure that just about everyone who has been touched by Tori’s presence can comfortably say that they will never forget how she made them feel, and that although she’s physically gone, her spirit will continue to live on in them forever. Her spirit will surely continue to live on in me. We all only have one life to live, so let’s shape our lives the way we want to shape them. Believe it or not, we have the power to do so. And while we work on shaping it, let’s find a way to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. It can be as big as funding a full scholarship for somebody or as simple as genuinely telling someone that they are beautiful. Even something as small as giving someone a smile can do wonders for another person. You just never know.

Victoria “Tori” McLean

January 6, 1992 – September 12, 2016

May your phenomenal soul rest in eternal peace.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

– Black Man, M.D.

Hope On The Horizon

To think that it has been 15 years since over 3,000 people tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks that rocked the core of New York City, destroyed a massive part of the Pentagon, laid ruin to a rural field in Pennsylvania due to the efforts of some courageous passengers, and strengthened the resolve of the American people while simultaneously creating intense & deplorable Islamophobia in this country.

How crazy is that?

What’s just as crazy to me is the fact that there are teenagers alive today that weren’t even born when these catastrophic attacks took place. I still remember my young, wide-eyed 8-year-old self hearing about the tragedy over the intercom in my third-grade class right after having said the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t understand the full extent of the events that had just taken place, but I knew it wasn’t good because my teacher had gasped and looked like she was about to cry. As I type this post, I’m sitting here trying to imagine the horror that the people in D.C. and New York City must have felt on that morning, and the despair that the people on those four hijacked flights must have felt right before their lives were terribly snatched away from them. I’m also trying to imagine the anguish of the families and friends who lost their loved ones that day and the tremendous shock that was felt by the people in this country as well as in other countries across the world as the news of the tragedy reverberated across living rooms, offices, restaurants, and schools worldwide. It was a devastating day indeed, and it left millions of people scared to step foot on a plane for some time. But that day also brought our nation together not only in grief, but in strength and fortitude. Today is a day to honor all of those individuals who lost their lives in those atrocious events, and to remind ourselves never to forget what happened that day. May their souls rest in eternal peace. #NeverForget

On another note, I’ve had a pretty efficient week. In fact, it’s been so efficient that I’ve actually been able to finally get caught up on all my material! Visiting my girlfriend for Labor Day weekend turned out to be very fun and refreshing, even while I was studying for hours at a time during my stay down in Miami. I think both the dramatic change in my surroundings and having her as well as other old friends there really helped to reinvigorate my focus, thus allowing me to catch up on my lectures even as I spent time watching college football, movies and catching up with people and hanging out.

I only came back to Winston because I had my mandatory Clinical Skills class to attend on Thursday afternoon, where we worked as a group through a case where a patient presented with abrupt chest pain, practiced physical exam maneuvers on each other involving the HEENT (Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat) & upper extremities, and interviewed admitted patients on the wards in order to gather their History of Present Illness. Along with interviewing them, we were able to listen to their hearts and check their capillary filling pressure (checking to see how fast blood returns to their nail beds after applying pressure on them). After learning all about heart sounds and whatnot, I was able to appreciate the beats that the patient’s heart made and could verify that his heart was relatively healthy. Fun fact, the sounds you hear in a heartbeat is due to the closing of the valves in your heart. The first heartbeat is the closing of the mitral and tricuspid valves while the second heartbeat is the result of your aortic and pulmonary valves closing. Systole occurs when you push blood out of your left & right ventricles into your aorta & pulmonary artery while diastole occurs when blood flows from the left & right atria to the left & right ventricles, respectively. That’s an extremely basic overview of blood sounds and blood flow in the heart, but I figured it would be cool for you to know a little about the organ keeping you alive right now. After class, I had to do a whole write-up of the patient case we went through and turn it into my Clinical Skills coaches. That was fun. Felt the sarcasm there?

That same afternoon, I attended an Underrepresented Minority Meet-and-Greet event at the school that I had been invited to weeks before. It was pretty awesome. The unlimited appetizers were fantastic too lol. But besides that, I got the chance to meet quite a number of minority physicians working either at Wake or in the Winston-Salem community while at the same time having casual conversations with the new Chief Human Resources Officer (she’s such a nice woman…she happens to be Black too 😏) and the Dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It’s cool that the school hosts events like this; seeing people that look like me in high positions of power on a continual basis really has an empowering effect on my psyche. I’m happy that I was able to attend such an event. Representation really matters.

Well, time to get back to the grind. Gotta get through this last week of Cardiology before my test next Monday. Wait, this is my last week of Cardiology…..awww DAMN!! I swear we just started this unit. Our course director recently told us that a number of other schools study Cardio for 6-8 weeks, but we only get a little less than four weeks dedicated to this subject 😐. I guess that explains why I was struggling to keep up at first…

Make this week an exceptional one! Who’s stopping you?

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

– Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Pumping Against The Pressure

Bruh.

They doing the MOST with these Cardiology lectures.

Can someone explain to me how in the hell 23 lectures and 6 workshops managed to get packed into EIGHT school days?? (And I’m not even counting the other longitudinal classes we had to attend…) How are we supposed to manage all that in a little over a week? Like, we just started this block less than two weeks ago and we have more than enough information to be adequately tested on. This material isn’t easy either. What’s even wilder about this is that we have 24 more lectures to power through in the next two weeks before we get to our exam date for this block. 😭

TWENTY-FOUR MORE LECTURES!?!

And don’t let me forget about the workshops we have to attend in the same time span.

GIPHY Originals bored annoyed really done

You would think that I would be used to this lifestyle by now…and don’t get me wrong, I actually am. The block before this (Heme/Onc) was pretty busy too and I was doing alright. Neuroscience back in March was intense too, especially during the very first couple of weeks I was exposed to it. But Neuroscience was spread over three months. And Heme/Onc was relatively straight-forward once you sat down and played around with it for a while. But this Cardiology thing? It ain’t straight-forward at all. AT ALL. Plus, we only have a month to learn it all. The heart-body relationship seems simple at first glance, but it is so much more complex than you can imagine. Especially after you throw in Pressure-Volume Loops, Starling curves, Hypertension, EKG interpretations, Heart Failure, the multiple Alpha/Beta/Dopamine receptors, all the Cardiomyopathies, Sodium/Potassium/Calcium/BlahBlahBlah-ium channels, the Electrophysiology of the heart, and all the freakin’ drugs that can treat all kinds of heart conditions. And this is just what we’ve gone over so far. There’s a whole ‘nother storm of new material in this block that coming at us starting on Tuesday. Good God.

Funny thing is, this is probably the calmest I’ve felt all week long. Sounds crazy huh? I mean, I really was just ranting on how crazy this block has been so far. But now that I have this Labor Day weekend to study without having to think about another new lecture for a couple days, I can finally work on synthesizing all the material that has been assaulting me this past week and a half. You should’ve seen me earlier last week…I was struggling to keep up man. What got me the most was that I never really had time to actually learn the stuff I was taking in because there was always new information constantly coming at me. It came to a point where I would be sitting in lecture pissed off because I felt that I was wasting time by trying to listen to the lecturer when I could have been synthesizing the information I already learned. By Thursday of last week, I was getting headaches from just being in class. Tragic, ain’t it? Thank God for this Labor Day weekend. 🙏 I can chill out for a bit and now that I’m looking back on everything so far with the multiple resources I’m using, I can appreciate how manageable it all really is. So with that said, there’s no need to worry about my mental state lol. All I really need is God, my friends & family, and a positive mentality. I’ll be fine! 😄

I did get the opportunity to ultrasound my own heart during one of the workshops this past week though! I’ve done it before last year during anatomy, but now that I actually have a much better idea of what’s going on in the heart, I could appreciate it more this time around. I was told by one of the residents helping out with the workshop that I had a good heart. 😁 My group and I also got a clear view of my heartstrings, or chordae tendinae as we like to call it in the medical field. So in case you were wondering, that’s where the saying “pulling on your heartstrings” comes from. In addition, we got the opportunity to learn about the basics of health insurance in our Healthcare Systems & Policy class this past Monday, which I highly appreciated. I had been hoping for some kind of course on health insurance ever since last year because I actually know little to nothing on the subject, which is scary considering the fact that it will be a very crucial part of my future career. We started off with how health insurance is financed in America on a commercial level, which could be the subject of a whole other blog post. In later lectures, we’ll be getting into the many intricacies of health insurance and the extent to which money influences the many lives in this country that depend on insurance. All in all, I’m really looking forward to learning all about the topics that will be presented to us in that course. Granted, this means that I actually have to make time to look at that stuff outside of class…

Anywho, make sure to enjoy your Labor Day weekend! And do your best to carry that joy through the rest of this week!

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

Steady Beat of Life

YOOOO wanna hear something wild??

I’m turning 23 tomorrow!! TWENTY-THREE!!!

How crazy is that? I’m lowkey trippin’ about it…23 just sounds like a huge jump in age/maturity from 22, in my opinion. Like from 18-21, I just felt like a college kid overall even though I was technically an adult. When I turned 22, it felt a little different but not really…I could say I was 22 and still feel like a big-ass college kid who slowly was maturing into an actual young adult pursuing a Doctoral degree. But when I say “I’m 23”, it suddenly feels like I’m automatically 10x older. It just sounds so…you know….old. But hey, the older I get the better I get, right?

Speaking of my upcoming birthday, I had quite an awesome weekend to celebrate it. As a matter of fact, I’m just now getting settled from it lol. A few of my good friends and I went down to Charlotte and had a great time in that area playing games at Dave & Busters (I ended up winning a Dave & Busters shot glass 😅), clubbing, and eating a very late/very early breakfast at a 24-hour diner a couple hours before sunrise. We then crashed hard at a clutch friend of a friend’s spot. It was hella fun! I also went back home to handle some stuff and got to spend some quality time with my dad. That was real nice. In addition, earlier last week right after my Hematology/Oncology exam, I got convinced to go to the Summer Sixteen Drake/Future concert at the last minute with about 10-15 of my classmates and I must say, it was a spectacular concert. We all started the concert off in our regular $50, cheap 200-level seats that faced the side of the stage, but most of us ended up either on the floor or in the much closer 100-level seats by the time the concert ended. I myself ended up in a 100-level seat about halfway thru the concert that must’ve cost around $300….so it’s definitely safe to say I got my money’s worth, plus more! Hehehe.

The day before I took my Heme test, I attended a Family Medicine/Internal Medicine faculty & student mixer at a local restaurant (you know, keeping an open mind about my future and all…and free food). After mixing and mingling with the about 30 or so people there, we participated in a few activities that pertained to making sure that patients are able to comprehend what the doctor is saying as they’re being discharged and the vital importance of communication in general between the doctor and the patient. It was a pretty good time and the faculty there were very nice. We even got to-go boxes for the leftover hors d’ouerves! When’s the last time you were offered a to-go box from a mixer? Yeah, didn’t think so.

As for my actual Heme test, it went well overall. I passed decent enough and more importantly, I feel like I was able to grasp a well-enough understanding of the subject in order to apply aspects of it in my later studies of other organ systems. Better yet, because I studied the material to comprehend it rather than to pass the test via straight memorization, I think that I’ll be able to recall info from that block at a faster rate when it comes time to Step studying. The very next morning after the test, we started the Cardiology block. I’ve had three days of lecture from this block and so far, the volume of information has been unforgiving. I literally can’t fall behind in this block. But it’s also been highly interesting to me. I don’t know why, but the heart really intrigues me in ways that some other parts of the body don’t. Even back in Anatomy when we were first learning about the heart and its compartments, I was really struck with awe as I first held the incredible battery that allows each of us to live by endlessly pumping blood throughout our bodies throughout our lifetimes. The heart really is amazing. It’s also very complex in how it works in concert with the body, thus making it a complicated organ to study…but I’m determined in completely understanding how it functions because the pathology of the cardiovascular system is directly linked to the HUGE health problems that many people of this country suffer with. When I encounter a patient (or anyone in general) with a condition like atherosclerosis or hypertension in the future, I want to be able to not only explain what is happening in their bodies but to also provide cost-effective ways in combating and managing their condition before it gets even worse.

One last thing…my class participated in a couple of Cardiology-based interactive workshops where we learned how to read cardiorespiratory monitors & pulse oximetry measurements as well as how to place leads on a patient in order to perform an ECG/EKG (Electrocardiogram). Needless to say, it was very interesting. I even got an EKG performed on me! Nothing like getting an EKG and getting it interpreted by a Cardiologist, all for free. (Let’s not talk about my tuition payments.)

IMG_3840

My heart lookin’ good, don’t you agree?

As always, I hope that you have a sensational week!

“Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are both usually right.” – Confucius

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The VMAs are coming on tonight and it reminded me of when I wrote my third-ever post on this blog as I was watching the VMAs last year…you know, the one where Kanye decided to run for president 😂. This also means that I’ve technically been blogging for over a year…wild.

Rejuvenated.

My summer vacation is officially over.

I’m sitting here back in Winston-Salem wondering how fast time can fly by as I prepare myself to start my second year tomorrow. My summer vacation was very relaxing, thrilling and rewarding to say the least. I enjoyed every minute of it. As a matter of fact, my summer break was so great that I feel completely rejuvenated! I’m actually very excited to begin this new chapter in my medical career! Everything we will be learning this year will be absolutely critical to know if we want to blossom into effective doctors. It will also just so happen to be vital information for our impending Step 1 exam, which is my #1 priority this school year. (The fact that I’m taking it in less than a year though…) This year, we’ll be focusing on organ systems and learning about the physiology and pathophysiology of each one, starting with Hematology/Oncology (Blood & Cancer) tomorrow. Studying the organ systems and how they make the body work is what I thought I would be doing when I first embarked on the pre-med track in college…instead, I got bombarded mercilessly with multiple years of Evolutionary Biology, Organic Chemistry, Physics, etc. So being finally able to actually learn about how the human body functions on a day-to-day basis sure does invigorate me! Plus, the medical school building moved to a new building downtown…which just so happens to be literally next door to my apartment 😁. I can actually make it from my bed to the classroom in less than 5 minutes if I really wanted to! So needless to say, this is going to be a hell of a convenient year.

Before getting back to the good ol’ Dash city, I spent a week at home with family and friends. I didn’t really do much except hang with my little brothers, run errands for my mom, watch the Democratic National Convention (I just might drop a few tears when President Obama leaves office 😢😭), chill with some of my cousins, catch up with childhood friends, and play FIFA/Mortal Kombat/Monopoly. It was such a chill final week of summer. Oh and guess what?

I FINALLY FINISHED BLACK MAN IN A WHITE COAT.

Martin laughing cheering cheer 2x01

Took me almost a year to get through it, but I did it! It really shouldn’t have taken me that long to read through it…but on the other hand, in that long span of time, I was able to fully absorb Dr. Tweedy’s story chapter-for-chapter. There are so many topics in the book that could potentially used for great discussions, that’s for sure. Lol, I could literally write a series of posts concerning several of the many topics brought up in the book.

On a side-note, before I left home to come back here, I visited an older cousin who works as a Nurse Practitioner and her two kids. While I was there, we had an interesting conversation about how different the mentality of receiving healthcare is in Cameroon and other countries like it. I don’t even know how we came up on the topic…but we ended up talking about it for almost an hour. She was telling me how a good number of people in Cameroon would rather pray or look for other sources of “traditional” care whenever them or one of their loved ones became ill and because of this resistant mentality against Westernized medicine, the nation of Cameroon as a whole has a lower life expectancy and people there tend to wait until the last minute to receive adequate care. She also talked about how certain conditions are stigmatized there, with an example being epilepsy. The craziest thing about it all is that if any one of us from America were to go there to help inform them about the benefits of Western medicine as well as the inherent dangers of some aspects of their traditional mentality, we would most likely be seen as “know-it-alls” and viewed as if we thought we were in some way “better than them”. It just goes to show how powerful a mentality can be, especially when it comes to giving and receiving healthcare. This is very important to keep in mind if you are going to be providing healthcare to people of various populations. Hell, it’s important to keep in mind in general. Trying to understand where someone else is coming from can really help you reach a compromise when it comes to solving issues.

Man, I lowkey can’t believe I’m about to start up my study routine again. Yes, I’m ready, but at the same time this really is the last day of my vacation. So I suppose I’ll go and enjoy it now before having to start classes at 8 AM tomorrow. But before I do, I just need to shoutout the students I worked with in the Motivation Program this summer one more time. They actually made an appreciation video where each of them expressed their gratitude to the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs for their experiences in the program. Click here to view the video that warmed our hearts!

Here’s to a spectacular start to this new school year! Shoutouts to all the new medical students around the nation starting off their medical school careers!

Make sure you have a resplendent week! You have the power to do so!

“When someone tells you it can’t be done, it’s more a reflection of their limitations, not yours.”

– Black Man, M.D.

Family Time

Well…

Week 2 of summer vacation has been just as relaxing as Week 1 was.

I could get used to this. 😎

My week back home in VA was comforting, to say the least. I spent a good amount of time with my siblings, who were all ready to play some Monopoly as soon as I got back home. (I started running the game after a slow start and knocked out a few people….but then the dice turned on me and I literally landed either in jail or on one of my brother’s overpriced-ass hotels every time I rolled. I turned into a broke boy with mortgaged properties before my brother ruthlessly slayed me. 😐) I also played a ton of FIFA with my youngest brother and beat him a few times. Unfortunately for my pride, he beat me more than a few times….and he talked hella trash throughout each game. Lol, I wanted to slap him with the back of my hand man. He really has finally hit my level in the one game that I used to consistently crush him in when he was younger. I played a couple of one-on-one basketball games with this same boy and with another crushing blow to my pride, he beat me both times. (We did have a one-point difference with our second game tho…) In my defense, this boy is about 6’1 and balls routinely. I also do admit I’m trash at hooping. 😅 It’s just wild to see my little brothers not only grow into young adults, but to also beat me in things that I used to destroy them in. SMH.

Most of my siblings and I also went laser tagging with some cousins and friends, mostly because I’m a big kid at heart and really wanted to go. That was a ton of fun! And I can’t forget about being able to go to my baby sister’s Student of the Month ice cream celebration that she was so excited for me to come to; she really was happy that I came to her school for that. 😊 I got to spend some quality time with my parents as well. I found it pretty freakin’ cool that I could talk with both of my parents about medical things now that I’ve finished my first year. My dad and I were talking about a number of different drugs on various occasions throughout my stay at home while I was able to assist my mom with a case in some of her doctorate level work. Oh, and the free homemade dinners made by my mom and one of my sisters were soooo clutch. Can never take free food for granted these days man.

Good times, good times.

You really can’t replace family man.

One more thing, I was asked by one of my former optometrists (who actually also keeps up with this blog, shoutout to her!) to visit her and her family when I got in town. So I did along with my brother (not the youngest one) and she introduced me to her stepdaughter who is currently in college and is deciding on what health track she wants to pursue. We all ended up talking for a couple of hours about the possibilities she could pursue, about what medical school was like, how her classes are treating her, and much more. It eventually became clear that she likes dentistry more than any of the other options she has, so she may be checking your teeth out at some point in the future! You better be flossing up! I was real happy to be able to talk with her and to help her in some way with her decision. I was even more touched that my optometrist reached out to me to do so. She even provided Wingstop for lunch! What a kind, kind woman. 😄

So now I’m back in Miami, geared up and ready to start this Motivation summer program. We’re checking in the students today and will officially start the program with Orientation tomorrow. I’ve been looking forward to meeting these twenty-three students and I’m sure that they’ve been looking forward to starting this program for a while now. Time to see what these students are made of! 😈

Hope that you have a brilliant week! Positive vibes over negative vibes!

“The more you are thankful, the more you attract things to be thankful for.”

– Black Man, M.D.

Summer Vibes

I gotta say, I’m absolutely loving my time off from school so far.

It feels good to be back home in the 757 with friends and family after having to make a pit stop (more like a week-long stop) in Miami to attend two orientations for the program I’m working with this summer. I also randomly ended up at a concluding breakfast for an annual conference for the Association of Black Psychologists soon after arriving in Florida…but that’s besides the point 😅. The orientations I had to attend were spaced out three days apart with the first one being on Monday and the second one being on Friday. How convenient. The one on Friday was very useful and it directly related to the summer program. It got me even more excited to work with the students in the program. Free Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera didn’t hurt either. 😏 I only went to the one on Monday because the university made me. The info given to us in that SIX-HOUR long new-hire orientation session did not relate to me in terms of my summer employment. Being a current medical student and an alumni of the university, I was already familiar with the information that they presented, which ranged from university history to HIPAA, safety procedures and everything in between. Simply put, I really did not need to be there. But alas, I am a mere speck of paint in the spectacular mural that is the University of Miami. I also needed my name to be on summer payroll. So I silently suffered through it with my co-workers.

I guess I should elaborate a bit more on this program I’m working with huh? I’ve name-dropped it a few times but there are a few of you out there that probably aren’t too familiar with it…my bad! As I mentioned in a previous post (Testing My Brain on a Test on the Brain), the program is called the Minority Students In Health Careers Motivation Program, which is run by the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. This seven-week, tuition-free program is one of the three summer programs run by the office with the other two being the High School Careers in Medicine Program and the MCAT Preparation Program. The Motivation program is designed to resemble a “mini” medical school experience where the selected students (ranging from college sophomores to recent college graduates) take a sample of classes such as Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, & Histology. There is also an opportunity every week to participate in a discussion on a selected topic with a featured speaker while enjoying a free, catered dinner. Not only that, but the students are exposed to Health Equity Research, have the chance to attend supplemental workshops and have the opportunity to shadow physicians every week on clinical rotations. As if all that wasn’t good enough, housing & meals as well as metro transportation between campuses are all free for the selected students! What a program! The overall goal of this program is to promote diversity in the health field by providing students from underrepresented backgrounds an opportunity to develop skills that will increase their competitiveness when it comes time to apply to medical school. As a Teaching Assistant of the program, I’ll work with my co-Teaching Assistant and the Executive Director in facilitating the overall experience of the students in the program. I’ll be in the classroom each day with them and will assist the faculty in executing lectures and activities. I’ll also serve as a useful resource for the students by answering the various questions they will have and I’ll be able to share my experiences in medical school with them. Needless to say, I’m hyped about being able to work with the program!

In between going to the orientations, I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t enjoying my free time. From taking time to continue reading Black Man in a White Coat (I KNOW I’M TAKING FOREVER TO FINISH IT, DON’T JUDGE ME) to chillin’ at the beautiful Venetian pool with some great friends, I’ve been doing a lot of not-studying. It’s been glorious. I’m only gonna continue this period of relaxation, at least until I start the program next week.

I freakin’ love Summer!!!

I definitely can’t close out this post without shouting out the big homie and Doctorate of Education student, Mr. Donovan Livingston, for his incredible graduation speech (#LiftOff) at Harvard last week! You’re a clear example of a positive force and are an inspiration to many bro! I also appreciate you for being a supporter of this blog from the very beginning and keeping up with it weekly! Thanks for being an awesome friend and a great human being in general!!

As you may or may have not noticed, I don’t usually name-drop people in my blog for various reasons…but since he already done broke the internet and all, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal this time around. If you haven’t heard his speech by now, you can click on the link below to check it out. I know you have five minutes to spare…so go ahead and click on it. You won’t regret it.

 

Have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend! My appreciation runs deep for all those men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect this country! Remember that this country stands because of the bravery and courage they exuded!!

Don’t chase people. Be you. Do your own thing and work hard. The right people who belong in your life will come find you and stay. – Will Smith

– Black Man, M.D.