Sifting Through Chaos

Working overnight shifts are tough as hell man. I really don’t know how my mom did it all those years as a night-shift trauma RN. Thing is, it’s not even the actual shift that makes it hard. Once you’re working, it feels like any other shift that you would usually work. It’s the preparation and recovery from the shift that makes it challenging…I just woke up from a 5-hour recovery nap from my 11 PM – 7 AM shift last night/this morning and I’m still here sipping on some coffee to make sure I make it through the rest of my day. I also took a 4-hour nap before my shift which helped a ton, especially since I had spent half of my day yesterday helping mold the minds of young high school students. More on that later. Because of this shift, my weekend has been flipped upside-down, and my nap this morning could potentially affect my sleep tonight as well. It’s wild how much of an impact the timing of a shift can have on the days surrounding it. It reminds me of my overnight shifts during Ob/Gyn, where I had a four-day stretch of night shifts. Now THAT was hard. At least with this rotation I only have one night shift scheduled.

The night shift actually went by pretty fast though and I’m glad I got the opportunity to do one because I saw some WILD stuff bruh. The moment I arrived, we got hit with a couple of trauma cases and from there we sustained a level of activity in the ED that kept pretty much everyone busy. With the vast majority of the trauma patients we treated being victims of either gun violence or burns, it was hugely important that we treated them in a very efficient and effective manner. With so much movement and activity going on during these cases, I felt like I was in the way of everyone half of the time. But during the other half, I felt like I was peforming meaningful tasks for the patient, which was a great feeling. I almost felt like I was in one of those medical dramas lol. Although we were kept busy most of the night, there were a couple of lulls where the team could catch their breath and do some learning with the attending physician. I also got the opportunity to help repair a laceration right before my shift ended! Although I moved pretty slow, I think that I did a good job stitching up the patient’s wound. There’s always room for improvement though. 😅

The day before my shift, I got the opportunity to participate in a Trauma Simulation Lab at the school with EMS and Nurse volunteers. In this lab, my rotation group was split into two separate groups and we rotated through three different trauma scenarios while switching between the various roles of the trauma team (airway management, secondary survey, recorder, & team leader). The three roles I played were the recorder, the physician who performed the secondary survey of the patient, and the team leader. The team leader was by far the hardest role to play because with the limited knowledge I had about these situations, I was literally calling all of the shots in the scenario. It was pretty uncomfortable to say the least, but I feigned confidence and managed to get everyone through the scenario with some much appreciated help from the EM physician observing us. This simulation lab gave me the knowledge and insight to appreciate what was going on around me in the trauma cases last night. Talk about perfect timing. Instead of viewing everything as chaos, I was able to figure out what everyone’s role on the team was and why they were doing what they were doing. As chaotic as the trauma cases last night seemed, the communication and activity between the healthcare providers were actually very organized once you got down to the core of everything. Being able to dissect the organized chaos around me was pretty neat, to say the least.

With my only other shift this past week being an evening shift in the Pediatric ED, it was a light week in regards to shift work. However, I was kept very busy with lectures, bedside teaching sessions, simulation labs, meetings and studying. The Peds ED was a great learning experience overall, where I played an important part in both assessing the patients after gathering information about them and helping ease the many worries of the parents. In the other simulation lab I participated in earlier in the week, we learned how to perform Advanced Cardiac Life Support by running a code on a dummy patient. I helped perform CPR on the patient, which is EXHAUSTING if you didn’t already know. You gotta really press down hard to effectively pump blood from the heart to the rest of the body. No wonder people’s ribs get shattered during CPR.

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I also led one of the codes in this simulation, which was actually more uncomfortable than the simulation I led later in the week. But I figured that I might as well get this experience now, where screwing up would be much more forgiven than in a real-life scenario. I have to give props to the physicians who lead these situations man. Having to manage life-and-death situations on the spot produces such a significant amount of stress, which makes it all the more incredible how well the doctors I’ve seen lead these codes do so. But I was also told that leading these situations are never easy, no matter how experienced you are as a physician. That’s not hard to believe though; it’s literally a matter of life and death.

I mentioned earlier that I spent my Saturday helping mold the minds of young high school students. Now I bet you’re asking how did I go about doing that. Or maybe you’re not. Lol, I don’t really care. These students are a part of Wake Forest’s College LAUNCH program, a year-long program that introduces them to various career options and leadership activities via monthly Saturday summits while expanding their professional networks. The summit I was helping out with was one that introduced them to careers in the STEM field, with my session specifically talking about the roles that physicians play in effective patient care and how we navigate through the healthcare system on behalf of our patients. It was such an awesome experience to be able to meet these young, surprisingly inquisitive minds and to allow them to engage in conversation with the standardized patient and I about real issues that affect patients and their families on an everyday basis. I was also able to sit in on a panel with other healthcare professional students and answer the many questions that the high school students had about college and how we got to where we’re at. I’m honored to have been asked to help out with this initiative! 😁

Now that I’ve typed much more than I had anticipated in this post (as I frequently do smh), allow me to bring this post to a close as I focus on getting my life together before going to FINALLY watch Avengers: The Infinity War!!! I’m so pumped man!! 😄😆🤩

Have a MARVELOUS week!

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” – Arthur Ashe

– Black Man, M.D.

Everyday I’m Hustlin’

My experience in this Pediatrics rotation so far just continues to get better and better. I was on the night shift this past week and I had just as great of a team as I had the previous week! Not only that, the shifts only ran up until midnight, so I’ve had a good amount of time to study (Thank GOD) and get other things done during the day. I probably won’t have as much time to study this upcoming week due to the fact that I’ll be back to working 6AM-5PM shifts, so I really needed this past week to catch up on material that I still don’t feel like I’m caught up on. But on the other hand, I’m sure I’ll have some amazing learning experiences this week because I’ll be helping to care for patients with impairments in their Cardiologic, GI and Nephrologic systems.

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During my time on night shift, my team and I routinely checked in on currently admitted patients on the floors we were covering to make sure that those kids were doing alright. We also frequently went back and forth from our workroom to the Pediatrics Emergency Department to assess and/or admit new patients into the hospital. While in the ED, I helped admit a good number of patients who came in with a wide variety of symptoms that ranged from very benign to extremely serious. I was able to further hone my interviewing skills and to tweak them in a manner that was more amenable to pediatric patients while fully taking in the endlessly busy environment of the ED. Furthermore, I witnessed bad news being delivered to patients on a few occasions and acknowledged not only how the patient’s family took the information but also how the doctor delivering the unfortunate news phrased everything she was saying. Having to deliver news that you know is going to be devastating to a family is tough…but learning how to effectively do so while providing justified hope is an incredible skill to have in your toolkit, and one that I would definitely like to acquire. Overall, my time on Peds night shift was a memorable and enriching experience filled with encounters that will truly be unforgettable.

I’m keeping this post short because I actually have a thousand things to take care of at the moment, which brings me to my final point. As of late, I’ve been asking myself, “Why is it that the further along I get into my medical education, the busier I make myself outside of my studies?” It’s pretty backwards, to tell you the truth lol. You would think that I would participate in more extra-curricular stuff as a first or even second-year student due to the relatively higher amount of free time I had in those years. But I’m finding that I’ve been doing a lot more extra-curricular work this year than I had in years past…or at least it feels like it. Maybe it’s because I’m usually busy in the clinic or the hospital now, so my limited “free time” is spent studying and squeezing in time to fulfill the multiple responsibilites I currently have. Also when I look back, my first-year was a time of adjustment for me…so it was probably better that I stayed focused in my studies. Not having a car back then didn’t make things easier either. But now that I’m a third-year student, I’m a lot more comfortable in taking on multiple responsibilites while fulfilling my role as a medical student. It’s just ironic that I happened to want to become more active in areas that I’m passionate about while at the same time having to deal with an even more demanding workload from school.

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*Sigh*

Such is life.

Y’all make sure to have a wonderful week! It’s hard to believe that October is already in full swing! AND SHOUTOUT TO THEM CANES FOR BEATING FSWHO IN A DRAMATIC FASHION AT THEIR OWN STADIUM!!!

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“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford

– Black Man, M.D.

Life Comes At You Fast

Whoa.

I only have less than two weeks left of my OB/Gyn rotation.

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How did that happen?? It really wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even know there were different stages of labor, and I sure as hell couldn’t have described each stage for you. Orientation for this rotation doesn’t feel like it happened that long ago…because in reality, it didn’t. August 14th, the date we started this rotation, was less than a month ago. That just goes to show how rapid the turnaround of these rotations are, especially after the massive 12-week rotation of Internal Medicine; the rotation that literally ate up most of my summer. It’s almost absurd as to how much new information I’ve learned in these past four weeks, and it just as ridiculous as to how much I still need to cover before my shelf exam next Friday. Fortunately for me, I’ve been making the time to get some major studying done, especially after this past week where I worked one full day and three half-days at a nearby free clinic! But then I started my 4-day stretch of OB night shifts on Saturday night. Yeeaaah, life comes at you fast.

Let’s start with my time in the free clinic though. During my week there, I must’ve seen about 50 patients…it was so freakin’ busy man. But with that said, I was able to see and do a lot of different things in addition to interviewing the many patients that I came across. The vast majority of my patient interactions consisted of prenatal visits; a TON of prenatal visits. So I ended up getting a lot of experience in using the Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeats of fetuses and in measuring the fundal height of the uterus to see how big they were. In addition to playing a part in the prenatal care of patients, I was also able to participate in some pelvic and breast exams, assist in contraception counseling, observe both IUD and Nexplanon placements and removals, watch how Pap smears are performed, and help patients view their babies via ultrasound. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine how awkward things can potentially get if you aren’t prepared for what you’re going to see in an OB/Gyn clinic. Thankfully, my ability to ward off awkwardness in a clinical setting has vastly improved over the years right along with my ability to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations. There’s always room for improvement though!

With the free time I was afforded this past week, I was able to not only get a lot of studying done, but to also work on making the multiple responsibilites that I have as a student-leader flow smoothly with one another. At first glance, it looks like I have so much to do that it seems like I’ve unnecessarily overburdened myself. But once I took some time to simply list out and organize the things that I had to do, all of my seemingly looming tasks became much more easier to digest and carry out. I’m relieved that I took the time to do that when I had the chance, because my free time practically vanished as soon as my first night shift started. After having to labor through the process of completely flipping my sleep schedule, I began my first night shift strong. I ended up getting some pleasant surprises when I realized that some of the patients I saw earlier in the week in clinic were in labor at the hospital! Those families were actually happier to see me than I would have expected them to be, and one of the mothers even told me that she had just been telling her whole family about me the previous day! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised as well as honored about the fact that I was memorable enough to elicit praises from them. All I had really done was check those patients up during their prenatal visits, but based on their families’ reactions after seeing me, you would have thought that I was one of their beloved cousins that they hadn’t seen in years. It was pretty wild and awesome at the same time! Talk about continuity of care!

There was a good amount of excitement as well as some mild lulls during my first night shift. It was harder than I thought it would be to keep myself awake and alert the whole time, even with the huge amount of sleep I was able to enjoy before I ventured off to the hospital. (God bless the residents I worked with who were working 24-hour shifts.) I don’t know what it is about the night shift, but it just feels vastly different from the day shift, even though the hours are similar in length. Maybe it’s the fact that I automatically find myself wondering why the hell I’m still awake after seeing something like 3:16 AM when I look at the clock to check the time lol. I found myself eventually drinking a cup of coffee to keep myself going throughout the night and when I wasn’t actively triaging patients, checking on my assigned patients or following interns/residents around, I was working on answering questions from a question bank. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that it was a successful shift overall!

After trucking through the end of my shift, I returned home and started typing out the first paragraph of this post before my body decided to crash on me at around 8:00 AM. I then woke up around 1:30 PM still pretty tired but unable to go back to sleep, so I got up and chatted with my roommate and girlfriend before attempting to finish this post. I got to about half of the post before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it before going back to the hospital for my second night shift, which started at 5:00 PM (I felt like I had literally JUST left the hospital). So I made my way back to the hospital and spent my evening checking in on my assigned patients, helping triage patients and shadowing a nurse for a few hours. While shadowing the nurse, I assisted with the birth of a newborn by coaching a first-time mother in labor for a couple of hours. The birth was simply beautiful and the emotions of the new parents after laying eyes on their new addition to the family was unforgettable. Their eyes were filled with a dazzling mix of joy, excitement, disbelief and love as they caressed their newborn. Having the privilege to be a part of that wonderful moment was amazing. Now I’m sitting here FINALLY finishing this post during a lull in my current shift. I can’t believe that it literally took me all day to write this…but that’s what happens when your sleep schedule gets flipped-turned-upside down.

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Make your week a marvelous one! And I sincerely hope and pray that those of you affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are safe and sound. Sadly, the rebuilding process will be incredibly hard for some of you…but with assistance, strength and an incredible amount of perseverance, the job will get done.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – 9/11. Never Forget.

Shifting Setbacks

So you know how I was all like, “I’ll be working night shifts for the first time all of next week!” last week in my previous post? Meaning that this upcoming week would be the week where I would be working night shifts? Well, turns out that I was actually scheduled for nights LAST week.

Lol.

I didn’t realize this until I was at the hospital last Monday morning at 5:55 AM, all dressed up with my coffee mug, ready to start my first day in my General Medicine sub-rotation…only to learn from my other two classmates that I was in fact scheduled for nights that week.

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After double-checking my schedule (something that I should have done the day prior…), all I could do was burst out in laughter. I couldn’t believe that I had made such a ridiculous mistake. Instead of being in my bed enjoying my precious slumber, I was unnecessarily at the hospital at the butt-crack of dawn looking like a damn fool. After I met the intern and shared some laughs with my classmates, I went right back home and crashed on my bed, thanking God that I hadn’t drank any of my coffee yet.

Apart from my minor mishap that morning, I had a dope experience with the night team this past week! The atmosphere was relatively more chill than the daytime, and I got to wear scrubs all week as opposed to having to dress up in my shirt/bowtie/khakis combo. Only thing is, I did actually dress up when I came back on Monday night to my ACTUAL shift…only to learn that I had no need to do so. SMH. I was just racking up on L’s that day. Nevertheless, it was a great time overall! Throughout the week, all of us on the night team had very interesting conversations about our lives and on what our respective plans are for the future. In regards to what treating patients looked like during the night shift, it was very free-flowing. In the daytime, the structure of the day was pre-rounding, rounding, finishing notes, going to the daily morning report, going to the student lunch conference, checking up on patients, listening to a lecture from an upper-level or attending, studying material for the shelf exam and then going home. However, during the night shift we just observed as the intern, AI (acting intern = fourth-year medical student literally acting like an intern) and resident wrote up notes and answered pages about the patients that they were covering. We would follow them as they visited patients who needed to be checked on and admitted new patients who arrived in the Emergency Department. While following them, we would also ask multiple questions about what they were doing and why they made certain decisions. It was a neat and unique learning experience that was only made better by the great attitudes of the people on the team. And as a critical bonus, I got sooo much good sleep during the week! I was also able to get a lot of studying done and to take care of tasks that I had been pushing off for weeks. With all of that factored in, I have been in a very pleasant mood as of late. 😄

Before wrapping up this post, I suppose I should mention that I got some really good news last week that lifted my spirits even higher! I actually received this news on Monday morning, so I guess I didn’t take L’s that whole day lol. I got an email that morning stating that I had been selected as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows of the Student National Medical Association! Only ten medical students and ten pre-medical students throughout the nation are selected, so it was an absolute honor to have been given this unique opportunity to work with SNMA leadership on the national level and to further hone my leadership capabilities in this program. You know, it’s funny how life works…I ran for SNMA chapter president here at Wake last year and lost, I bombed my speech at AMEC a few months ago and, as a result, blew my chance on becoming the Regional Community Service Liaison for Region IV of the SNMA, but yet I was able to acquire this highly selective position on a national level. Patience, perseverance and persistence mannn, I tell you. You just keep shooting your shot and eventually you end up making a basket!

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Now that I’m all out of updates for you, I can officially wrap up this post.

Make sure to have a splendid week!

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

– Black Man, M.D.