A Different Angle

I’m only a week into my Immigrant Health/Public Health elective and I already love it! This unique rotation has been unlike any other I’ve had in medical school thus far. While I’ve been able to spend some time in clinics with various patients afflicted with conditions like HIV and Hepatitis, I’ve also gotten the chance to spend some time at the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, where I toured the facility and their in-house laboratory,  and learned about many of the resources that the county has to offer to its residents. I especially learned a lot more about the ubiquitous WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, which I appreciated because although I knew what it was, I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on the details of the program as I should have as a future Pediatrician. 😅

I spent another day tagging along with Community Paramedicine Emergency Medical Services, where I got the opportunity to learn about the special role that these medical professionals have in the community. These medical professionals were seasoned paramedics, but their role as a community paramedicine EMS responder was quite different from what you and I would expect when we hear the acronym “EMS”. Instead of riding around in ambulances all day responding to 911 calls, these people moreso respond to acute calls concerning behavorial health, only responding to acute medical emergencies if it is absolutely necessary (i.e. an unforseen shortage in emergency responders in the community).

As they described it, the main reason as to why the county created their position a few years ago was to identify the people in the community who call 911 the most and find ways to reduce the call volume from them by connecting them to useful community resources that they may have otherwise never heard about. By doing this, the theory was that there would be a potential decrease in the number of unnecessary Emergency Room visits, thus saving time and money for everyone who was involved in the coordination of care. Over time, this group of paramedicine EMS responders have shown that their work does decrease the number of unnecessary visits to the ER and because they have been able to save the system money, they are increasing their team size in order to have a bigger impact in the community. It was cool learning about their unique role in the community and although there was a paucity of calls the day I was there (I only went on two trips), I am grateful that I got to appreciate the important work that they do. 🙏🏿

According to my schedule for this upcoming week, I’m going to have even more experiences in the community than I did last week! In addition to rotating through infectious disease and refugee clinics, it looks like I’m going to be participating in community talks, board meetings, and an ID card drive with FaithAction for immigrants. I feel like it is about to be a very interesting week, with plenty of dope experiences to learn from.

I don’t really have much else to talk about today. I’m scheduled to help out with medical school interviews tomorrow morning, which should be pretty straightforward since I’ve already done this two other times this year. I’m also still working on my rank list, which I’m sure will continue to be a work in progress for the next week or two. Not gonna lie, life as a second-semester fourth-year medical student is pretty smooth. 😎

I hope that you have a terrific week!

AND SHOUTOUT TO BLACK HISTORY MONTH!!! WE OUT HERE!!! ✊🏿🙌🏿🔥

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington

– Black Man, M.D.

Gaining Ground

Well, I’m still studying for Step 2 CK. Nothing much has changed regarding that aspect of my life. My question block scores have been pretty stable this past week, with many more highs than lows. I also took a diagnostic test on Thursday and according to my results, I’m at a much better level of preparation than I had anticipated! I wasn’t feeling too confident while I was answering those questions, but after I got my score back I felt like I could just go on ahead and take Step 2 the next day just to get it over with lol. I have a little less than two weeks to finish preparing for this exam, which is both good and annoying. It’s good because I can only get better from where I’m at, and I have the potential to have a high peak performance on test day. On the other hand, it’s annoying because I’m starting to lose patience with these study days and this endless cycle of answering questions and reviewing them is actively draining my desire to study. Plus, I don’t want to end up performing at my peak before test day. That would really, really, reeeally suck. But alas, the grind must never stop. I’ll continue to chug along with this study process and ensure that all this hard work brings about a fruitful result.

In other news, I took some time off last Wednesday to participate in patient advocacy at the state capital! The event, White Coat Wednesday, is an annual event hosted by the North Carolina Pediatric Society that is focused on meeting with state legislators in order to discuss pertinent issues relating to the health of children and families in NC. My whole morning was spent having important discussions with various legistators alongside Wake Forest faculty members, residents and fellow classmates who are also interested in a career in Pediatrics. It was a pretty neat experience, because it allowed me to witness firsthand what engaging in patient advocacy on a legislative level was like. It’s really not as intimidating as you would think it is. Before meeting with the legislator, you come up with a few talking points that you want to emphasize during your conversation. Ideally, they would be topics that you believe would be most likely for both you and the legislator to agree upon, because you want to ensure that the meeting will be a productive one. Once you have those set talking points, you literally walk up to your legislator’s office and attempt to talk with him/her for a few minutes. Of course this part is easier if you have already scheduled a meeting with them beforehand. You hit on your talking points during the conversation and hope to inspire the legislator to act upon at least one of your suggestions. Then the meeting is over and you both go your separate ways as you work to locate the next lawmaker that you want to influence.

It’s actually a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it. But then again, the lead Pediatrician we were with has been doing this type of work for a while now, so I’m sure that this is all second-nature to her. She really made the whole process look so easy! As a future Pediatrician, I know that I’ll certainly be drawn to advocate for my patients on many levels, especially the legislative level. With that said, I really am glad that I decided to participate in this event because not only did it make the whole process less intimidating than it initially seemed, but it also proved to me that I could really help make a difference in the lives of others on a larger scale just by talking to the very people who help create the laws we live by.

All done here! Now go on and have a sensational first week of June!

“Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.” – Anne Frank

– 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.