New City, New Flow

Alright, let me start off by saying that I’m definitely going to be enjoying EVERY SECOND of my fourth-year up until the minute that I enter the hospital for my first shift as an intern next year, because if intern year is going to be even busier than I’ve already been during my first week of my Sub-Internship, I’m not 100% ready for it yet. 😅

While I’ve gotten so much great learning in the hospital this past week, I’ve had such little free time outside of it. Like, my days would usually consist of me getting up at 4:15 AM to make sure that I got to the hospital by 5:30 AM in order to adequately pre-round on my patients and write progress notes, some of whom would be people that were newly admitted overnight. Then I would go to morning report around 7:30 AM (or Grand Rounds around 8:00 AM), round on patients with various attending physicians until about 11 AM or so, work on any orders, discharges, consults, etc. until noon conference, come back from conference in order to spend my afternoon executing the care plans that we’ve decided on for our patients while at the same time coordinating patient care between various entities both inside and outside of the hospital, checking in on my patients, admitting new patients, writing H&Ps, attending impromptu learning discussions hosted by attendings, going to simulation labs and learning conferences specifically designed for the Sub-Interns at CHOP this month, writing discharge summaries, and a few other things that I can’t think of at the moment, before finally handing off my patients to the long-call intern and going home around 5 PM (plus or minus an hour).

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After getting home, I would have a couple hours to myself to take care of emails and other tasks that I couldn’t attend to during the day, before going to bed around 8:30 PM-ish, only to get up and do it all over again. And when I was on long call last Wednesday, I didn’t even leave the hospital until 9:30 PM due to a complicated admission. So yeah, long days with some awesome learning opportunities, but little free time lol. However, I did finally get the chance to explore a little bit of Philly with some of my good college friends last night after my 11-hour shift ended, although I first had to fight the urge to crawl into my bed and crash. I’m glad I was able to spend some time with them, because I hadn’t seen them in such a long time. We also grabbed some Philly cheesesteaks during our night out, which were freakin’ delicious after I put some hot sauce, ketchup and salt on them. On a sidenote, I didn’t realize how many friends I had up in Philly until I posted on IG that I was up here…even though my schedule is hectic, I’m gonna really try to make time for everyone I told that I would link up with, but it won’t be easy 😅.

Because I am here as a Sub-Intern, the responsibilites that have been entrusted to me are relatively enormous to what I’ve been used to. I mean, I knew I would be working hard and would have a good level of autonomy over my patients…but daaammmnnn! *in my best Chris Tucker voice* They really meant it when they told me that I would have full autonomy over my patients. I literally have been feeling like I’m my patient’s doctor, much more than I did when I was a third-year medical student. I mean yeah, I had a sub-internship (or Acting Internship as we call it at Wake) a couple months ago at Wake in Heme/Onc and I was doing a lot back then too. Even though I was pretty autonomous at that time, there was only so much I could do because of the fact that we had a lot of Oncology patients. So with that said, there was a good amount of oversight taking place by not only my senior resident, but also by the attendings. Because this current rotation is primarily a Gen Peds service mixed in with a few other specialties and we’re not dealing with chemotherapy on a daily basis, I am able to do more.

And BOOOYYY have I been doing more.

I honestly wasn’t prepared for it all the first day I picked up my patients. Even though I looked like I was doing fine from the outside (I got positive reinforcement from my senior resident on my first day, to my amazement), internally I was very frazzled and I felt like I just couldn’t get myself together. I was having trouble prioritizing patient tasks and trying to keep up with everything while at the same time trying to get used to this new service at a new hospital in a new city. Of course my senior resident and the other interns were there to answer questions and to support me, but because I hold myself to (sometimes ridiculously) high standards, I found myself becoming frustrated throughout the day as well as in my second day on the service because I didn’t feel like I was adapting to the flow of things quick enough. I quickly learned that while I’ll be getting high-quality education about medicine during the course of this month, what I’ll also be receiving that is just as important is high-quality education in the practical delivery of patient care in our complex healthcare system. Yeah I have the book knowledge, but I am definitely lacking on the more practical side of patient care, which I know will come with time spent during residency. That being said, I’ve been learning some very useful things this past week and am sure that I’ll continue to learn even more during these next three weeks.

I’ve definitely become acclimated to the service as the days have progressed, and I think that I’ve finally gotten somewhat more comfortable in the flow of things here. I went from asking myself on my first day why I decided to do this to myself when I could’ve been crusin’ through a much easier elective back in Winston, to being grateful yesterday that I was given this opportunity to leap out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in ways that will only benefit me in the long-run. I’m excited to be able to continue to expand my network, (try to) explore Philly some more while linking up with friends here, learn from the diverse patient population here, learn how to be even more efficient in patient care in the hospital and how CHOP’s hospital system works, and take advantage of the other various learning opportunites that will present themselves while I’m here. I’ve already grown quite a bit since I’ve been here and will only continue to grow some more as I take on this tough rotation day-by-day. It also helps to know that this is my last tough rotation of my fourth-year, so I’ll definitely be smooth-sailing after these next three weeks 😎. Well, relatively speaking at least. I still have other rotations to complete, but they shouldn’t be that difficult. But before those other rotations, I have both Thanksgiving and Winter Break to enjoy, as well as my four-week flex block that I will be using for the majority of my interviews!

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Speaking of, I got word a few days ago that I was blessed with an interview at CHOP that is very conveniently taking place this Tuesday! 🙏🏿 That definitely makes life a lot easier since I’m already up here and all. Between this interview and my next one taking place in a couple of weeks in Pittsburgh, I’ll have been able to knock out both my Pennsylvania interviews during my month up here. By the way, if you weren’t already aware like I wasn’t, Pittsburgh is about a five-hour drive from Philly. Yeah, it blew my mind too.

I guess this was one of those days where I just couldn’t seem to stop typing. I’ll end my post here so that we can both get on with our days haha. I hope you have a spectacular week!

AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEEEASSEEE EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!! IT’S CRUNCH TIME!!!

I’ve been going through a lot this past week in trying to get my absentee ballot (that I requested over a month ago) and have been sending in multiple emails and calls to my county’s board of elections because believe it or not, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. According to their office, they’ve FINALLY sent out my ballot yesterday, which is ridiculous but whatever. I REFUSE to let my voice be silenced, and it is imperative that you believe that your voice deserves to be heard, because it absolutely does. Voter suppression is real y’all, and I’m sure that there are some shady things going on with the overall voting system. However, attempting to make your voice heard with your vote is much better than not voting at all!!

“Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

D.C. To Philly

A-hem, a-hemmm.

🎶Innnnnn West Philadelphia born and raised,

On the playground is where I spent most of my days

Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool

And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school

When a couple of guys who were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I got in one little fight and my mom got scared

And said “You’re moving wity your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”🎶

Now you already know that I couldn’t be up here in West Philadelphia without paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite actors! Shoutout to my man Will Smith, come out here and have brunch or something with a youngin’! 😄😎

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Now that I’m all settled here in Philly after driving up here yesterday (TOLLS ARE THE DEVIL), it has finally hit me that my time in D.C. has officially come to an end. My final week at Children’s National was full of positive experiences, all of which led up to my residency interview there that took place on Friday! The interview day went by smoothly, even though both the morning traffic and the 1000+ traffic lights that I had to get through before arriving at the hospital tried to conspire against me 😒.

Throughout the day, I learned even more great things about the program than I had already known, which is saying a lot because, well you know, I spent a freakin’ month there. My fellow applicants and I were able to talk with current residents about the program, listen in on a presentation given by the program director (HE IS HILARIOUS 😂), meet the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, get a tour of the hospital, and participate in a noon conference. Throughout the day, I had two separate interviews that felt moreso like genuine conversations rather than me being put on the spot in a glaring spotlight. Before I knew it, the interview day was over 😯. I think that it went well overall; hopefully my interviewers think the same! I honestly really lucked out with being able to schedule my interview on the last day of my rotation. This made the interview process here so much more convenient and it provided the perfect finish to my rotation experience.

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In the days leading up to my second interview of the interview season, I helped treat as many patients as I could by taking histories from them, performing physical exams, obtaining informed consents from parents if necessary, presenting them to my attendings, providing an assessment and plan, and writing notes on each patient. In addition, I continued to take in the diversity of the patient population by having conversations with parents about where they were from and the things that brought them to the nation’s capital. The topic of diversity came up during the meetings I had with the Department Chair of Pediatrics as well as with the Residency Program Director throughout the week. In my conversations with them, they demonstrated how committed they were to creating a physician workforce that mirrors the diversity of the patients in this country. The program really seems to be taking active measures in this realm, which is something that I really appreciate.

Completely unrelated to the topic of diversity, I decided to get an environmental allergy test because why not? I had never had one before and there was a nurse who needed to get some training in performing allergy tests, so I went ahead and helped her out by being a guinea pig.

BRUH.

I was floored when I got my results back.

Turns out my allergy testing came back positive for just about everything that I was tested for 😂. And I’m not even exaggerating. According to the test, I have an allergy to:

  • “Tree Mix 3” (Elm, Maple, Sweet Gum, Sycamore)
  • Bermuda
  • Johnson
  • KORT Grass Mix (Kentucky blue, Orchard, Red top, Timothy Grass)
  • Weed Mix 1 (Cocklebur, Lamb Quarter, Pigweeed, Plaintain, Russian Thistle)
  • Weed Mix 2 (Baccharius, Mugwort, Nettle, Ragweed, Sorrel)
  • Indoor and Outdoor Molds
  • Dust Mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rats
  • Mice

chris jericho what GIF by CBC

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have to avoid all of these things. A lot of these came back barely positive. Plus, it turns out that my body has been sensitized to the vast majority of these substances. However, my biggest reactions came from dust mites and cockroaches. The reaction was so positive that even the healthcare providers I was working with were flabbergasted. I told them that I had never really experienced any allergy symptoms, but I did tend to sneeze a lot whenever I was cleaning an area that had a lot of dust. I just figured that was a normal reaction for everyone lol. Also for the past couple years, I’ve experienced itchy and watery eyes on a nightly basis but I attributed that to dry eyes after my Optometrist diagnosed me with that. My attending suggested that my eyes may be getting dry as a symptom of dust allergy and that I could be experiencing itchy eyes every night because of the amount of dust that accumulates on my face throughout the day. The fact that my symptoms go away when I wash my face only made her suspicion that much stronger.

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So I guess I officially have allergies lol. When I told my girlfriend, she was thrilled to hear that she was no longer the only one who suffered from allergies 😂. I guess I should start having some Zyrtec on hand or something now. Or maybe I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean at night. Yeah, I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean. Cheaper than popping a pill everyday.

Although I’ll miss the outpatient life (it was sooo good to me 😭), I’m looking forward to my inpatient experience here at CHOP that I’m sure will be as unforgettable as Children’s National was. I’m within walking distance from the hospital, which is awesome because I very quickly learned that trying to drive and park around here is pretty terrible. And I gotta give a HUGE SHOUTOUT to my friends (they also happen to be fellow ‘Canes 😏) up here who have allowed me to crash with them for the next month! I deeply appreciate your generosity!! 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

All done with this post! Bye for now! And I hope that your week is as great as the one that I’m hoping to have! ✌🏿

– Black Man, M.D.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

P.S. – I just recently got hit by some voter suppression tactics and I’m still in shock about it. Worst part is that I have other friends who told me that they were affected by voter suppression as well. I can’t even imagine the number of people out there who are going to decide not to vote because of the inconvenient difficulties that can spring up unexpectedly while trying to do so. Best believe that I’ll be on the phone with someone this week about this. North Carolina better give me the absentee ballot that I applied for over a month ago…they messing with the WROOOOOOONG ONE 👊🏿👊🏿👊🏿

The Power of Adaptability

This week is my last week in D.C. and I’m not ready to leave just yet 😭😭😭.

I’ve really settled into the flow of things in my rotation and have quickly gotten used to the diverse nature of this city. I’ll probably never get used to the traffic in this city, but I’ve managed to get around without losing my mind, which is an accomplishment if you ask me. 😊 I kept telling myself that I would eventually start using the metro to avoid the congestion, but I would always end up leaving for clinic each morning in my car. It’s just easier and more convenient to me, even though I spend a good amount of time on the road as well as a good amount on gas money.

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After this upcoming week, I’ll be heading up to Philly to start another Pediatric inpatient rotation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I’ll be on a general pediatric team that also treats kids with allergic, immunologic, rheumatologic and hematologic conditions. Yeah I know, that’s a lot of different types of conditions. I just recently got my schedule for the rotation and boooyyy am I going to be busy 😅. I’m really going to be living like an intern…six day work-weeks with only one day off each week, one week of nights, case conferences, teaching sessions, performing patient responsibilites on an intern level — yeahhh I’m gonna be working for real. I probably won’t see much outside of the hospital to be honest…but that’s okay, there’ll be plenty to see in the hospital. Plus, being in the north and all, I’m sure that it’s going to get cold real soon so staying indoors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Shoutout to the power of positive thinking 🙌🏿😂.

With all the time I’m going to be spending in the hospital, I’m definitely going to be able to see a wide variety of illnesses and there’s a good chance that I’ll be participating in very unique and interesting cases. Also, as you may already know if you’ve been following my posts these past couple of months, I just so happen to have some experience in hematology, allergy and immunology….so I’m fortunate in that I’ll be able to continue building upon the knowledge that I’ve accumulated in those sub-specialties so far. 😄 In addition, I’ll get to network with a variety of people and will be paired with mentors who will undoubtedly be instrumental in helping me lay the foundation for my future career. Until I get to my experience at CHOP however, I need to get through a mountain of modules that need to be completed prior to rotating there.

Confused Steve Harvey GIF

Now about my most recent week in the Capital.

I had a pretty full schedule of events last week, those of which included a couple of food allergy clinic days, an inner-city asthma clinic day, a mock interview session, my first residency interview at Wake Forest, a couple of one-on-one meetings with faculty here at Children’s National, an allergy & immunology department-wide morning conference, a meeting with one of Senator Cory Booker’s legislative assistants on Capitol Hill, and a great weekend with my girlfriend and other friends who are here in D.C. Yeah I know, I told you it was going to be a lot lol. I did my best to take things one day at a time though and that helped me get through everything that I experienced throughout the week.

The food allergy clinic days were the usual, where I helped consent patients and their families to oral food challenges, took histories, performed physical exams, and presented the diverse array of patients that I interacted with to my attendings. The inner-city asthma clinic was unique in that it was designed specifically to comprehensively address issues regarding asthma in children, which meant that there was an extensive amount of time dedicated to this mission. The patient and their family would meet with an asthma educator and the physician, with some visits taking as long as 90 minutes if necessary! 😯 I’m glad that I got the chance to participate in that experience, because I also ended up learning some very useful information about asthma and all the various substances in the environment that can trigger it.

As a participant of the Minority Senior Scholarship Program (MSSP), I got the opportunity to engage in a mock interview session as well as to go to Capitol Hill to talk with a legislative assistant about her role in health policy while also asking her questions regarding health policy and how we as future physicians can help influence it for the sake of our patients. The mock interview session was very helpful because not only was I able to practice my interview skills a couple days before my first residency interview, but I was also able to gain some valuable advice that will really help me out on the interview trail. The session at Capitol Hill was primarily a conversation between the students in the MSSP and a legislative assistant, who explained how she helps advise Senator Cory Booker and answered the barrage of questions that we had for her. She encouraged us to keep our passion for advocacy as we grow into physicians and shared with us how much she admired the work that Pediatricians do when it comes to advocating for their patients. It was a really cool experience overall, even though we didn’t end up going inside the Capitol building like I initially thought we would lol. I’m not gonna lie, I was getting hype as we drove up to the Capitol building in our Uber, but we then took a sharp turn left and ended up at another building a couple of blocks away. But then again, it’s not every day that you get to walk into the office of a Senator!

As for my interview at Wake, it ended up going pretty well overall! I definitely felt welcomed, many aspects of both the pediatric residency program and life in Winston-Salem were reinforced to me, and I had some great conversations with my two interviewers. That particular interview day was a day specifically for interviewees who had some sort of tie to Wake Forest, so I was able to connect with the majority of my classmates who are also going into Pediatrics, which was nice. Honestly, the only stressful part about the whole day was the fact that I had to fly from D.C. to Raleigh Tuesday night, pick up a rental car from the airport, drive to Chapel Hill to stay the night at my girlfriend’s place, and drive in a rental car from Chapel Hill to Winston early Wednesday morning through the rain in order to make it to the interview group with only a couple of minutes to spare. And then after the day was over, I had to drive back to Chapel Hill to pick my stuff up, drive to Raleigh, return the rental car and fly back to D.C. that night in order to go to clinic the next morning.

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It was definitely A LOT, but it was also worth it. With my first interview complete, I feel that much more comfortable attending interviews at other institutions. Plus, I felt like I got a solid feel of what residency at Wake would be like. With that said, I feel adequately prepared for my interview here at Children’s National this Friday! 😁

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My busy week was topped off with a fun weekend with my girlfriend and other good friends of mine. Between eating at a “bottomless” brunch, eating some of D.C.’s deep-dish pizza, visiting various monuments, viewing portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, watching a movie (The Oath) before it’s nationwide release date, and (painfully) watching the UM vs. UVA game at a bar/restaurant/arcade, I had an awesome time! The Canes may have lost (in a ridiculous fashion, to say the least), but it’s the time spent with the people I care about that matters!

I’ve been typing for a good amount of time now, so I think that it’s about time that I end this post and start putting in some more work on these modules that I really need to finish up. 😅

I hope that your week turns out to be an excellent one!

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” – Denis Waitley

– 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.