High Noon

Okay, crunch time is officially here.

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I have 11 days until my Surgery shelf exam, and I’m going to be losing an hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time next Sunday. Believe it or not, 11 days is not a lot of time to review all the material that I still need to get through in order to be comfortable enough to take that shelf exam. Although I’ve already completed a large portion of the questions that I need to get through, I still need to study the answers to them and further review the concepts that I don’t totally understand yet. In addition, I have to begin preparing for my cross-country trip to the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference at the end of this month, where I’ll be playing a much larger role (thanks to my status as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows and as one of the members of the National Community Service Committee) than I did when I went for the first time last year. The conference will be taking place in San Francisco this year, which I’m very excited for because I have never been to Cali before!

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There are also emails that I need to send out and respond to (I’ve accepted the fact that this is going to be a never-ending problem), projects that I need to continue to coordinate, assignments that I need to complete and things I need to figure out as I continue to prepare for applying to residency programs and for my final year of medical school. There just always seems to be a cascade of things to do at any given moment and because of this, my mind has developed this habit of racing through tasks while at the same time calculating my next moves. Even as I type this post, I’m thinking about the many things that I need to get done before I go to sleep tonight while at the same time plotting out my plan of attack in preparing for my upcoming exam. It’s honestly remarkable how on most nights, I’m able to calm my mind down enough to go to sleep.

Speaking of, starting tonight, I’m going to have to go back to going to sleep real early because I have to be at the hospital by 6 AM tomorrow morning to begin the Anesthesiology portion of my Surgery rotation. I knew that these early mornings were coming back to rear their ugly heads, so I’ve been mentally preparing myself for it for weeks lol. But in any case, this service is going to be an interesting one and I’m certain that I’ll learn a lot of good information during these next two weeks as I rotate through this specialty. I’m apparently going to be in different places on different days in order to rotate through as many of the sub-specialty areas of Anesthesiology as I possibly can, so I gotta make sure that I have my schedule straight at all times. I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time on several occasions, and it’s certainly NOT a fun thing to have to go through. I’m also ready to start on this service because I have yet to meet an Anesthesiologist here at Wake who isn’t a chill person! The atmosphere that I’ve sensed from the physicians in this department so far gives me reason to look forward to working on this service for the next couple of weeks.

With the start of my last service on my Surgery rotation comes the end of my fascinating experience in the Ophthalmology department. During my last week on this service, I had the opportunity to work with Ophthalmologists who specialized in the cornea, the retina and the pediatric population. In addition, I was able to work with a resident who answered consults throughout the hospital, allowing me the opportunity to observe all kinds of patients who had some unique findings in their eyes that I had never seen before. I appreciated the things that I was able to see and do during this week, but something specific that I took note of was how the Pediatric Ophthalmologist interacted with his patients. He had the challenging task of examining and diagnosing children with ocular disorders, which meant that he had to ensure that these kids stayed patient enough to follow the specific directions that he gave them while he assessed them. It was incredible to watch how he used the tricks that he had up his sleeves to retrieve important information from his patients, and to realize just how knowledgeable he was about ophthalmology. I’m definitely going to have to borrow some of his clever tricks and use them with my own patients in the future!

All in all, even though the patient presentation that I was supposed to give during Grand Rounds last week got pushed to this week, I had a great and intellectually stimulating experience while on this service. There were times where I was tempted to reconsider pursuing this specialty again, but at this point I’m comfortable enough to say that I’m committed to a career in Pediatrics. Where this road will take me, I have absolutely no idea. But I do know that I’ve developed a very real passion about this specialty that I can’t shake off, and the opportunities that a career in Pediatrics presents truly excite me to no end. Who knew that it would have ever come to this? Apparently just about everyone but me 😅. They weren’t lying when they said that crazy things can happen during your clinical rotations!

Alright, gotta go now. Be sure to start your month off on a positive note! And remember to get yourself ready for the insanity that is March Madness…

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“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” – Pat Riley

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The two presentations that I gave last week went well for the most part! Well, one of them went sort-of-well in my opinion, and I ended up doing a much better job with my other one!

Time Is Slipping Away…

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you actually need it to slow down for once, but the days ironically just keep flying by even faster?

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Like, I knew that I would be busy this past week, but man! I’ve barely been able to keep up with studying for the Shelf exam that I’ll be taking in less than three weeks, thanks to the three presentations that I’ve been working on all week. Yeah, three separate PowerPoint presentations. And I had to get them all done last week because I’m going to be presenting all three of them this week, pretty much back-to-back-to-back. It’s gonna be fun.

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Not only had I been working on those presentations, I had also been preparing for my Surgery Oral Exam all week long that I eventually took on Friday. Until last Friday, the last time that I had taken an official oral exam was during my college days, where I took them routinely (and painfully) in my Spanish classes. I didn’t like them then, and my feelings about them hadn’t changed much over the years. It also didn’t help that I had completely forgotten that I had an oral exam scheduled until a good friend reminded me about it a week before the exam date.

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Thankfully, we had been given a list of possible topics that the oral exam was going to be on, so my preparation was pretty focused on those topics. Even with my adequate preparation and reassurance from the clerkship director a few days before, I still was a bit anxious as I walked into my oral exam. I did my best to color my performance with pure confidence and attempted to prove to the director that I was indeed knowledgeable of the material that she was asking me about. After completing the 12-minute exam though, I had no idea what kind of grade I was going to get. Throughout my whole performace she hadn’t given away any hints of what her thoughts were, leaving me grasping for air as I tried to read her. As a result, although I felt like I answered the questions to the best of my knowledge, I left the room feeling like I could have done better in some way, shape or form. I surprisingly ended up getting my grade back later on in the afternoon and I must say, I was floored when I saw my grade. The grade that I recieved was much higher than I had anticipated! I guess I really did know what I was talking about!

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Needless to say, the rest of my day was made lol. Confidence is a very powerful thing y’all. A very powerful thing.

Outside of preparing for my presentations and my oral exam, I also participated in a patient interview session with a clinical coach who ended up giving me some very useful advice about assessing a patient’s environment and presenting patients in a more structured form, attended a meeting where advice about applying to residency programs was given (I’m really about to be applying to residency y’all 😮), and attended Wake’s annual BOUNCE event that I’ve gone to in years past to listen to stories from faculty members and residents about times where they’ve had to exhibit resilience and courage in their respective fields of medicine. (Check out Stepping Into Step and/or Growth, Control & Breaking Stereotypes if you’re interested in what I wrote about this event in the past.) As always, it was a fantastic event with a good amount of emotion involved and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to listen to the incredible stories shared there.

In regards to the second week of my experience on the Ophthalmology service, it has been pretty good overall. I’m continuing to learn more about various ocular pathologies and have gotten the chance to follow attendings who specialize in glaucoma, the cornea, the retina and oculoplastics. Like I said last week, there are a ton of things that can go wrong with the eye and so many different procedures that can be done on this small organ as well! I was even able to observe a Lasik procedure for the first time! That was quite fascinating, to say the least. I also had an encounter with a young man in clinic who seemed to be absolutely amazed with the way the eye works. He first asked me what dilating the eye meant, and then proceeded to unleash a barrage of questions on me after I piqued his interest with my answer. I surprisingly ended up giving him a mini-lesson about the eye, in which I told him about the eye’s basic layers, showed him what a retina looked like, discussed with him how we use tools such as the direct ophthalmoscope to look at someone’s retina, taught him what refractive error was, and answered whatever other questions he had for me before the resident came in to complete his assessment of the patient. It was pretty cool to be able to teach him basic things that I had come to take for granted, and I found myself becoming quite enthusiastic as I answered the many questions he had for me. Who knew teaching could be so fun?

Alright, back to the grind for me. Hopefully I can actually make time to adequately study for my shelf exam this week. As a matter of fact, I absolutely need to make time to study because crunch time is coming soon…very, very soon.

Wish me luck on my presentations! And make sure to march through this week in a spectacular fashion! 😄

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

– Black Man, M.D.

Reshaping The Vision

First things first. If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you’re missing out on a real treat! I went to go see it last night and I gotta say, IT WAS SO DOPE!! It had me geeked literally from start to finish, and when the movie ended I couldn’t believe that I had been sitting there watching it for 2+ hours. Time really had flown by while I was appreciating not only the battle scenes, surperb acting, and advanced world of Wakanda, but also the multiple layers & dimensions that the movie unveiled via the engaging dialogue that the characters participated in. Also, for the first time in my life, I intentionally dressed up in a specific way for a movie outing. I just couldn’t help it, I had to show my support for my Wakandan brethren!

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Plus, it’s not everyday that I get to wear my traditional Cameroonian clothing lol. Judging by all the social media posts I saw this weekend, I expected about half of the people in the movie theater to be sporting dashikis in pride. So I’m sure you can understand just how surprised I was when I only counted a grand total of two people in traditional African clothing at the theater, including me. Go on and take a wild guess at who the other person was. Chances are you’re absolutely right. But that didn’t stop me from proudly walking around like a King from an advanced African nation! 😤 Lol but in all actuality, it’s not all too common that I watch a movie that really lives up to its hype plus more. It’s even less common that I’m able to deeply relate to a movie as successful as this one has already been. It hasn’t even been out for a full weekend and it’s already making history. This movie better get a rack of Academy Awards next year!

Okay now that I’ve gotten all that fandom off my chest, let’s talk more about the other updates of my life, including my first week on the Ophthalmology service. To start off, the difference between the working hours of this service and the previous one I was on is literally like night and day. With 8 AM start times on most days this past week and end times around 5 PM, I’ve been afforded quite a bit more free time in which I’ve been able to attend to other matters in my life and to study more for the upcoming Shelf exam. The amount of sleep I’ve been getting has been glorious, to say the least. In addition, I’ve already learned so many cool things about the eye and have also learned useful physical exam techniques when it comes to examining this organ. I’ve been able to get a lot of practice with using the slit-lamp on patients, assessing eye pressure via tonometry, and checking retinas via direct ophthalmoscopy. I even learned how to figure out one’s refractive error (a.k.a. glasses prescription) using retinoscopy!

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Although I’ve spent the majority of my time in the clinic so far, I did get the opporunity to scrub in for a day in the Operating Room, where I assisted (watered the cornea; it’s an extremely important job, don’t debate me) with multiple cataract surgeries. I never did get tired of watching the surgeon perform these operations. I also got the opportunity to go over to Greensboro for a day to volunteer with a vision van screening being held in conjunction with a health fair at UNCG! That was a great time, especially since I really got the opportunity to independently work on my ophthalmic skills. And lastly, I was able to sit in on an interesting guest lecture concering pediatric ophthalmology and the various pathologies that can be found in the eyes of younger populations. Let me just say, there are a LOT of things that can go wrong with your eyes/eyelids. Like, it’s baffling.

My experience in Ophthalmology overall has been a very positive one so far, and I’m definitely looking forward to these next two weeks on this service. It really is cool to be able to rotate through this specialty, because it’s allowing me to not only learn some important pathologies to watch out for as well as some great physical exam techniques to use in my future career as a Pediatrician, but to also get some closure after having spent a good number of years chasing down a career in this specialty. It’s still kind of wild how I ended up adjusting my career path; I’m actually still not used to saying that I’m going into Pediatrics. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked by multiple Ophthalmologists this past week if I was interested in ophthalmology and I find it pretty ironic that I’m now telling the people in the very specialty that I’ve been gunning for all this time that although I still do like this field, I have interests in establishing a career in a different specialty. Some of them were understandably surprised to hear me say this, because they’ve known me for a while now. But regardless, the people in this department have been very willing to help integrate my interests while on this rotation by allowing me to work with a pediatric ophthalmologist and teaching me things about the eye that will be useful to me in my career. For that, I am very grateful.

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Alright now that I’ve said everything that I needed to say, it’s time for me to get back to studying, sending emails, and working on these presentations that I have to give next week. I hope that you have a marvelous week!

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – For Valentine’s Day, my girlfriend got me a coupon book full of “coupons” she made up that I can use to get her to do specific tasks for me. How creative is that?? I just wanted to share that because it was such a great gift lol.

P.P.S. – I also wanted to say how much of a shame it is that on the same day as Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, a terrorist/murderer decided to shoot up a school in a peaceful neighborhood in Parkland, Florida and take the lives of 17 innocent individuals while injuring a number of others. It’s just so sad and disgraceful how stubborn some of our government officials are when it comes to enforcing stricter gun control laws, even when so many lives have been unjustly taken by these terrorists. There’s just so much going wrong with this country, it’s almost impossible to wrap our heads around it all. Calling reps doesn’t seem to do anything, at least not in North Carolina. My donations are probably helping a bit, but not much at all to do anything substantial. I’m exercising my power to vote on a continual basis. I would march more and whatnot, but I’m in the hospital pretty much all the time. I can speak out on social media, but that only gets me so far. Trying to get the people currently in power to listen is like yelling at a brick wall. What a time. Maybe this latest mass shooting will spark some change, especially with the activism of the students at the school. But it’s looking like the only that will bring about any real change is removing the people that are hindering this country’s progress from office. Although it’s exhausting and can feel purposeless at times, I’ll keep doing my part and I hope you keep doing yours.

Setting Sights On Free Time

After three long, grueling, educational and interesting weeks, I’ve finally completed my experience on the Surgical Oncology service!

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The hours that I worked while on that service were some of the longest that I’ve ever worked while in medical school. However, I also saw some of the most intriguing things that I’ve ever witnessed during my time as a medical student and assisted with some of the operations in ways that I never thought I would be ever able to do as a student. Like, I was literally burning off connective tissue from the intestines at one point! (With guidance of course 😄) The operations that I got the opportunity to participate in ranged from simple and quick 30-minute procedures to complex and arduous 9-hour marathons. It was quite amazing to be able to cut open the body of a living person and appreciate the organs that keep all of us healthy on an everyday basis. Some of the tools that we would use during the surgeries were pretty cool too, almost extravagant even. I never knew there were so many surgical tools out there made specifically to burn flesh! Also, it never failed to blow my mind whenever we would see someone we performed a major operation on awake and speaking to us the very next day, as if we weren’t inside their body less than 24 hours prior. Of course they had to stay in the hospital for some time in order to recover, but it was still pretty wild to have full conversations with them shortly after having literally touched their guts.

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Overall, these past three weeks were hard yet fulfilling, and I experienced so much during my time on this service. The team I worked with this past week were filled with excellent people who allowed me to do more than I could’ve ever anticipated. I also felt like I had really gotten into the groove of things by the time Friday rolled around, and I could really feel just how much I had grown from when I first started Surg-Onc. For example, when one of my classmates joined me on the service early last week, I found myself informing her of how the service was run, how to perform tasks and present patients in a way that the team would appreciate, and the things that she could do to maximize her experience during her time in Surg-Onc. I surprised myself at how much I knew while I was talking with her, because I literally hadn’t known anything about Surgical Oncology when I first started just a couple weeks prior to our conversations. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this experience and am even more happy that it was the first service of my Surgery rotation, because now I can look forward to having some more free time to study and get other stuff done. That’s right, no more 4:15 AM alarms!! Well, only until I get to the Anesthesia service in three weeks. I’ll have to be at the hospital at 6 AM at that time, which means I’ll be back to waking up around 4:45 AM lol. But that’s still 30 more golden minutes of sleep than having to wake up at 4:15!

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Now that I’ve completed my Surgical Oncology experience, I can look forward to starting Ophthalmology tomorrow! I’m pretty pumped about these next three weeks because as you may or may not know, I’ve had a particular interest in vision care for a long time now. Although I’m now pretty set on a career in Pediatrics, I’m excited to be able to work alongside various Ophthalmologists and to fully immerse myself in a field that I had previously been pursuing for years. I’ll also have more free time on this service to adequately study for the Surgery shelf exam that I’ll be taking a little over a month from now. Now you might go and say, “Christel, that’s so far away! Are you really pressed about studying for that test now??” And my response to that would be, “Yeah I know it’s not coming up soon…but past experience in my previous rotations tells me that it’ll be here before I know it! Plus, I’ve barely had time to even think about it these past three weeks, let alone study for it!” I’ll definitely need all the free time I can get to prepare for it. I’ll also need this newfound free time to work on SNMA stuff in preparation for the Annual Medical Education Conference next month (I can’t believe AMEC is only a month away!!), to work on my fourth-year schedule, to work on this blog and to do other tasks that I’ve recently been forced to put off. I’ve already been able to use some free time this weekend to participate on a student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference that my school’s SNMA chapter organizes each year, and as with every panel I’ve ever participated on, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was reminded of how blessed I am to be where I’m at! Oh, and I’m definitely going to be using some of my free time to make up for the sleep that I lost these past few weeks! I have a feeling that these next few weeks will prove to be ones that were worth looking forward to! *knocks on wood*

That’s all I got for you today! Be sure to have a fantastic week and an affectionate Valentine’s/Single Awareness Day! And I don’t know about you, but I’m HYPED to go see Black Panther this upcoming weekend! Got my outfit planned and everything…😏

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

– Black Man, M.D.

A Different World

The completion of my Neurology shelf last Friday marked the end of the fifth block of my third-year.

Wild huh?

If that isn’t wild enough, I’m about to start my 8-week long Surgery rotation this week, which is, from what I hear, a very different world than what I’ve been used to. The services that I was granted the opportunity to work on are Surgical Oncology, Ophthalmology and Anesthesia. That’s not a bad lineup at all, if I do say so myself. I’m excited about being one of those selected to rotate through Ophthalmology because as you know, I have had a strong interest in it for years now. It will be cool to get to work side-by-side with the residents and attendings in this specialty for three weeks straight, and I’m sure that I will get to learn so much about vision care and treating various conditions of the eye in general! Although I’m pretty much set on a career in Pediatrics at this point, I’m still planning on going into the Ophthalmology service with an open mind and will allow myself to really appreciate everything that this service has to offer. I will absorb as much knowledge as I can from everyone that I encounter and will deeply engage myself with the patients that I will be helping care for.

I will, of course, keep this mentality throughout my time on the other two services. I haven’t really had any experience in Anesthesia before, so I’m really interested to see what that service has to offer. And as for Surgical Oncology, which is the service that I’ll be spending the next three weeks working in, I don’t even really know what I’m about to walk into. All I know is that I’ll be in the Operating Room all day every day learning a ton about how to remove tumors from people while being constantly refreshed *cough* PIMPED *cough cough* on human anatomy. I’ve also heard that the days in this service can be very long. I’m talking about 5 AM – 7 PM type days. And here I was, thinking that starting at 6 AM was early. I’m not gonna lie, although it’s really dope that I’m getting the chance to engage in this learning opportunity, I’m a bit apprehensive about the fact that I’ll potentially have almost no time at all to do anything else outside of school these next three weeks. I’m also not sure how I’ll fare in the surgical cases that will run for 5+ hours at a time. It takes a ton of willpower and discipline to be able to concentrate on something for that long while standing up and remaining sterile. Plus, if you start to get really hungry, tired or you suddenly have the urge to use the bathroom, things can get really uncomfortable really fast. Aside from those two concerns though, I feel that my experience on the Surg-Onc service will be a dynamic and positive one. In regards to my Surgery rotation as a whole, I’m quite intrigued as to how everything will end up playing out!

In contrast to two weeks ago, where I didn’t have time to do much of anything outside of the hospital, I had an ample amount of free time last week due to the combination of MLK Day, shelf day and all the snow that got dumped on the region. I actually only worked three half-days throughout the week, and a good amount of patients ended up not showing up to their appointments due to the weather. However, I did get to interact with patients that were recovering from strokes and with patients who were dealing with conditions such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and muscular dystrophy. I also was able to get a lot of studying in for the shelf exam (shoutout to being trapped in the snow) and participated in a lumbar puncture simulation, where we practiced performing an LP on dummies. I must say, I was successful on my first attempt. 😊 Please don’t ask me to perform one on a real patient though…I don’t think I’m ready to take that next step yet lol.

Neurology was a fantastic rotation overall, and I learned so much while rotating through it. I’ve vastly improved on my Neuro physical exam and even developed a system so that it would be hard for me to forget how to perform the exam. I saw a ton of neurological conditions in person that I had previously only read about, I had some unforgettable interactions with some of my patients and I got the opportunity to work with and learn from some phenomenal physicians. I sincerely hope that they realize how much their teaching is appreciated. I also hope that I had a great performance on my shelf exam. Although I feel like I did fine, you never really know with these standardized exams until you get your actual score back. At the end of the day though, this exam was only worth 10% of my overall grade, so I’m not too pressed about it. 😄

Make sure to have a spectacular week! And I’ll let you know how my first week of Surgery goes in my next post!

“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” – Arianna Huffington

– Black Man, M.D.

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 Research 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.