How Did I End Up Here?

Y’all.

I’m in the middle of a crisis right now.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my future anymore.

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Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be reconsidering my “definite” decision of pursuing Ophthalmology as a career. I had been told numerous times that clinical rotations tended to steer people towards career paths that they never envisioned themselves in before, but I was always so sure that I had a steadfast hold on my goal of becoming an Ophthalmologist. Like, I used to have a quick answer every time someone asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to become. I definitely didn’t believe that I would be one of those who had the potential to be swayed into another specialty, especially because I had been interested in vision care ever since my early high-school years. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still interested in vision care and the field of Ophthalmology as a whole. But maaannn, the field of Pediatrics has been really tugging on me!

Like I said a couple weeks ago, a lot of my friends had said to me time and time again how they could see me becoming a wonderful Pediatrician. It always seemed crazy to me whenever I heard this because although I knew that I could tolerate kids and deal with them well, I just did not see myself ever deciding to become a doctor for kids…especially since I spent the majority of my childhood helping raise my five younger siblings, whether I wanted to or not. This is why it’s so unreal to me that I’ve been having so much fun on this rotation so far! From the people I’ve been working with to the families that I’ve been serving, my experience in this rotation has been a very interesting one. And I haven’t even started my outpatient experience yet! I’ve also noticed how much I’ve been enjoying the primary care aspect of this specialty, something I had not previously considered since I was all gung-ho about Ophthalmology up until recently. Man let me tell you, third-year is something else. Makes me wonder if I’ll run into another specialty that I find myself liking a whole lot…

You’ll probably hear me talking about my joy in this rotation about ten more times in the near future, so let me stop and actually tell you how my week went. I was on a service where I helped care for kids with chronic conditions relating to their GI (esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum), Cardiologic (heart) and Nephrologic (kidneys) systems, and I was able to learn a lot about their various conditions. Like, A LOT. Both the residents and the attendings on my team were very willing to teach me as much as I wanted to know about anything I asked them, and believe me, I wanted to know A LOT. They were also all just very nice and cool people to be around, which made my 11-hour shifts something to look forward to each night.  Wait a minute, looking forward to 11-hour shifts?? Did you read that right? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Lol well it is, which why this all seems unreal. The days really just flew by during the week and before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon. And with the end of that week came the end of my inpatient part of this rotation.

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While I was working in the hospital, I kept myself even busier (what a great idea) outside of the hospital by helping host a Mentor/Mentee mixer between the Twin City Medical Society Chapter of the National Medical Association & the Wake Forest Chapter of the SNMA, attending a discussion on keeping a humanistic perspective while working in clinical rotations, organizing a glaucoma screening within a health fair that was taking place in the community yesterday morning, and now volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Brenner’s Children Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Health. I could talk more about each of these events, but I tend to write novels when I get carried away with my thoughts. Plus, I’m lowkey running out of the time I gave myself to write this post 😅. To make long stories short, I’m really glad that I’ve been able to find the time to pursue other endeavors while on my clinical rotations. It’s been a bit tough to do so, but far from impossible. Participating in extra-curriculars also keeps me motivated as well as disciplined, and it allows me to continue being a well-rounded individual, something that has been an integral part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I feel like my life would probably be easier if I weren’t as involved in a number of things outside of my curriculum (including running an ever-expanding website), but I also know that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.  With that said, I would trade easy for happiness anytime, anywhere.

Alright, I gotta go on ahead and gear up for the outpatient part of my rotation, which starts tomorrow morning! I also have a CPX (Clinical Practice Examination) I have to complete tomorrow afternoon, where I’ll be interviewing six simulated patients (15 minutes each) and writing notes on them (10 minutes each) in succession. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? It kind of is, but it’s all in preparation for the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam that I’ll need to take after my third year is over. Step 2 though? Didn’t I just finish up Step 1 like not too long ago?? Smh. The tests never end fam. They never do.

I hope that each of you has a spectacular week! Also, please pray for the world. And then make it a point each day to do something, no matter how small or big, to make it a better place. There’s so much trouble in the world right now and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the craziness just in our country alone. Believe me, I know it’s hard…but try your best to not to let the negativity around you consume you!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart

– Black Man, M.D.

Focusing On The Vision

I miraculously found the time to write this post today while participating at this conference in Philly, so excuse me for a second as I proceed to congratulate myself by giving myself a pat on the back.

*Pats self on back*

The conference that I’m speaking of is the annual conference held by the National Medical Association, and this one just so happens to be the 115th meeting! Talk about a legacy. I was unexpectedly invited to this conference via the Rabb-Venable Excellence in Resarch Program, a program whose purpose is to further the academic mission of the NMA’s Ophthalmology Section by celebrating the research achievements of medical students, residents and fellows and allowing them to interact with the members of the NMA in both a professional and social atmosphere. I was invited to be an “Observer” of the program, which pretty much means that I’m here to literally observe the research projects being presented by the participants, the information being shared by various speakers in the sessions and to interact with whoever I want here at the conference. And here’s the best part of all of this — everything was paid for! So I’ve been allowed this incredible experience at no cost to me!

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I was able to recieve this opportunity by going to the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference back in April, where I met an Ophthalmology resident who ended up telling the coordinators in the Rabb-Venable program that I was interested in this field, who in turn emailed me to invite me to the conference, all-expense paid. Go ahead and try to imagine the look of absolute surprise and obvious glee I expressed as I read the email. Mannn I tell you, connections really are a MAJOR key to success. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll begin to run into incredible opportunities! Boy am I glad I made the effort to go to AMEC this year, and best believe I’ll be going next year as well! If you’re a medical student, post-baccalaueate or undergrad student interested in the field of medicine (especially if you are part of an underrepresented population) , I STRONGLY encourage you to try and make the trip to AMEC at your earliest convenience!

I’ve been really enjoying my experience here in Philadelphia so far and have been making new friends & connections left and right. I’ve also been slipping people my newly made “Black Man, M.D.” business cards whenever I got the chance to do so, which have been getting mad love! (I decided to make them last week since I was coming to a conference, because why not? Not like I have much to lose lol.) Ever since I’ve arrived here last Friday night, I’ve been able to attend very informative sessions about various research topics in the field of Ophthalmology as well as about financial planning, the history & future of Ophthalmology, communication skills, minimizing risk and exposure while practicing medicine, and other interesting topics while at the same time learning about the lives, career goals and achievements of other program participants and physicians. I’ve also been able to walk around and appreciate some of the wonders that Philly has to offer, although I haven’t really had the time to check out some of the city’s popular tourist destinations. And since I’m going to be leaving tomorrow morning in order to finish off the last week of my Internal Medicine clerkship, there’s a good chance that I won’t be able to check them out in the near future. 😥 But there’s always next time! Except that I don’t know when I’ll be in Philly again…

Speaking of my clerkship, can you believe that I’m about to finish it?? Because I sure can’t! Twelve weeks really done flew by, meaning that this summer has been flying by at a similar speed. Finishing off this clerkship also means that I’ll be taking my first shelf exam this Friday, which is, believe it or not, the first exam that I’ve had to encounter ever since taking Step 1.

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In addition, it has been said that the shelf exams are typically just as hard as Step was.

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If THAT wasn’t enough, the Internal Medicine shelf is notoriously one of the most difficult shelf exams due to the vast amount of material that one needs to understand in order to perform well on it.

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So yeah, I’m not too thrilled about having to take on this test. But I’m also not worried about it either. After having rammed through Step 1, I’m certain that I can take on just about any exam thrown at me. After I power through some more practice questions and watch a few more review videos this week, I’ll be set! In regards to how my most recent week went on the wards, it was good overall. I kept up-to-date with my patients and took the opportunity to really bond with them and their families. I was also reminded of how critical it is to remember just how important each procedure is to each patient, because although ordering procedures is an everyday thing to the healthcare team and is highly important in treating the patient, these same procedures are easily seen in a different light by the patients. They are the ones who have to go through having various things done to their bodies. So although they may understand that these measures are necessary for the betterment of their health, they may still disdain or worry about having to go through a particular procedure due to the discomfort or pain that they may experience. Viewing situations in the perspective of others is very important in administering effective healthcare and highly instrumental in being an excellent physician.

That’s all I have for ya! I’ll probably go outside and walk around for a bit before going to the dinner sponsored by the program I’m with. Or I may just do practice questions. That would be the smarter move. Yeah, that’s what I think I’ll do. Then dinner. Because I’m hungry. Very hungry.

I hope you have a blessed week!

“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

– Black Man, M.D.