Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (7/8) M.D.

SEVEN SEMESTERS. 
SEVEN-EIGHTHS.
87.5 %.

It is nothing short of amazing that I’ve not only made it this far into my medical training, but that I’ve made it about 3.5 years into medical school without losing my overall positive and resilient mindset. What’s just as amazing to me is that I’ve ACTUALLY managed to update this blog with my experiences as a medical student on a weekly basis ever since August 2015, regardless of how busy I was or what I was going through.

August 2015?? Bruh!!

That’s almost 40 months! 160 WEEKS!!

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It’s absolutely incredible what you can do if you take things one step at a time with pure determination. You’ll be amazed at all the opportunities that open themselves up to you along the way and at all the progress that you end up making when you take a moment along your journey to look back and reflect on your experiences. Just by blogging alone, I’ve been able to connect with so many people that I would have most likely otherwise never connected with, while at the same time satisfying my drive to crush negative stereotypes and to help others reach the goals that they have set for themselves. In addition, the blog has given me an avenue to express my creative side in a sustained manner, which has encouraged me to keep an innovative mindset at all times. This has helped fulfill me during my journey in medicine and continues to be not only a source of enjoyment for me, but has also ended up becoming an interesting talking point in my everyday conversations, including my residency interviews! 😯

Speaking of residency interviews, I have my fifth one coming up tomorrow at VCU in Richmond, VA! Yeah I know, they’re starting to come up faster aren’t they? As I said last week, my interview season is really starting to kick into high gear and I’m 100% ready for it. I just had my Pittsburgh interview last Monday, which I think went really well overall! My experience in Pittsburgh was actually a very positive one; it was evident how happy the pediatric residents were, the program leadership was very approachable, laid-back and hilarious, and the hospital was beautiful! It even had a 24/7 Starbucks!

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I definitely got great vibes from the program and enjoyed my time there, even though my circadian rhythm was still out of whack at the time thanks to the fact that I was still recovering from my week of nights. I had also never been to Pittsburgh before, so it was cool to check out the city for a bit although I didn’t have time to really see much of anything. However, I had PLENTY of time to appreciate how cold it was 😅.

I mentioned earlier how much you can amaze yourself if you just stay determined in reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself by taking things one step at a time. It turns out that I’ve managed to do just that throughout the course of these past four weeks as I trekked through my Sub-Internship rotation at CHOP! As I sit here typing this while reflecting on my experiences during the rotation, I am still stunned at how much my clinical skills have improved in that relatively short amount of time. I came into the rotation feeling pretty confident in the skills that I had developed up until that point, only to realize that there was so much more for me to learn and experience if I were to function effectively on an intern level.

This was an experience that was truly necessary for my growth, even though I had no idea I needed it and had initially wanted to rotate through a sub-specialty elective. While it was tough at first, I eventually started to get the flow of the team and began consistently functioning on a level that I had only occasionally functioned on in the past in a clinical setting. Once I reached that level, I continued to push myself even further than I had ever done in the past (this was noticed by my senior residents and attendings on the team, who gave me very positive feedback because of my efforts 😁) and by the end of my rotation (which was yesterday), I truly felt like I was effectively operating on an intern-level.

This realization was further cemented by a comment one of the interns made to me yesterday. While waiting for an attending to arrive so we could continue rounds, my team began talking about life in residency and a couple of the interns stated that they were actually enjoying their intern year even though the workload was heavy. I stated that I was happy to hear positive things about intern year for once, because I had just resigned to the fact that although I would get plenty of excellent and unforgettable learning experiences during the year, it was going to be one of the hardest years of my life and that it would be something that I just had to power through whether I liked it or not. The senior resident replied that once you accept that it’s going to be a hard year, it really isn’t so bad. Then one of the interns said to me, “Honestly, intern year is pretty much what you’re doing now as a Sub-I on this rotation, except there’s multiple inpatient rotations and you also don’t have the added pressure of having to perform your best everyday for a grade because you already have a secure spot in the program. Plus you’re finally getting paid.

If what he said was true, then intern year really isn’t going to be as brutal as I’ve been picturing it to be. Sure, I’ll be working my butt off and the learning curve will be pretty freakin’ steep, especially at the beginning of the year, but it’ll be all for the bigger purpose of becoming the best physician that I can be for the populations whom I’ll be serving throughout my career. Plus, if I was able to sucessfully perform intern-level work at CHOP as a fourth-year medical student, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to effectively adjust to the work that I’ll be ultimately responsible for once I finally begin residency next year as a true intern with an M.D. behind my name.

Wow man, I’m really almost 90% of the way there. That’s just so wild to me. 

I’m really about to be someone’s doctor in six months! 👨🏿‍⚕️

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I hope that your Thanksgiving is a very gratifying one!!

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

– Black Man, M.D.

Workin’ Day & Night

Man, it has been a STRUGGLE trying to switch my body from my night shift schedule back to my regular daytime schedule.

I finished my last night shift of the week yesterday morning and headed straight for my bed to crash, only to wake up four hours later to get ready for my flight to Pittsburgh. Packing on four hours of sleep is not the best idea, just so you know. I had to force myself to stay awake the rest of the day as I got to the airport, got through security (there was literally nobody in line…it was just me. Had me feeling like some sort of celebrity 😎), ate a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s, flew to Pittsburgh (the view of the city at night is niiiiice), got picked up by some friends from college, went out to dinner with them, came back to their place, did some quick reviewing of the pediatrics residency program at Pittsburgh, FaceTimed my girlfriend and finally got ready to go back to sleep around midnight. I’m glad I decided to go through the torture of staying awake though, because I was knocked out about five seconds after my head hit the pillow lol. Then my stubborn circadian rhythm kicked in and I found myself up and awake in the middle of the night for about an hour for no good reason. I finally crashed once more and woke up much later than I would have liked. It’s all good though, I definitely needed the rest. I just got back from a diversity brunch that the pediatrics program here in Pittsburgh hosted, and will be going to a pre-interview dinner later on this evening that should help prepare me for my interview tomorrow. It should be a great time! 😄

As you can see, my interview season is starting to shift into high gear. After tomorrow’s interview, I have one at VCU next Monday, followed by a flurry of interviews taking place in the following weeks at Emory, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, UNC, Duke, UVA, EVMS, MUSC and the University of Maryland. There’s going to be a lot of money spent on gas and plane tickets, that’s for sure. Good thing I decided to get a new credit card for this season; I’m tryna make some money off of all these expenses lol. It’s going to be fun to get to see all these different programs and to meet all sorts of people, but I also feel like my tank will be on close to empty by the time this interview trail comes to an end. Then I’ll be chillin’ for real!

But before I fully shift into high gear, I have to focus on completing my last week of my rotation at CHOP. It’s crazy that I’ve finally made it to this last week! I’ve experienced a surge of growth and newfound confidence in my clinical skills these past three weeks, a surge that I know will continue as I blaze through this final week. I’m grateful for having been able to rotate through this hospital and am also very grateful that after a five-month long stretch of back-to-back rotations, I’ll FINALLY be enjoying a hard-earned break from clinical responsibilities! I remember looking at my fall semester schedule back in June and being like, “Dang, this is about to be a hell of a ride 😅”. Back then, November had seemed so far away…but look at us now! WE MADE IT!!!

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Before I forget, let me go on and tell you about my week of nights.

First off, it was strange having to be asleep in the daytime and being up all night (reminded me of my long nights during my Ob-Gyn rotation). I really felt like I was missing out on the events going on around me in the world. And at night when I was wide-awake, my phone was pretty much a brick in my pocket because everyone else was fast asleep while I was busy running around the floor admitting patients. It wasn’t like I had a lot of time to be on my phone anyway; I really was busy most of the night every shift. The team consisted of my senior resident, the intern covering the floor, and me. Yeah, just the three of us. Managing a floor that could fill up to a cap of 22 patients.

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If we weren’t managing the care of patients who had already been admitted to the floor, we were working on admitting new patients onto the floor. Most of the time, we would be doing both of those things at the same time. In the rare event that we had some off-time where we weren’t being called for something, we would either be engaging in active learning with our senior resident, reading up on some information that we wanted to learn more about, monitoring our patients’ charts for any changes in their current statuses, or just talking about our respective lives. By the time the morning came around, I would be exhausted. Yet, I would have to stick around a couple extra hours most days to present patients that I helped admit overnight. I honestly don’t even know how I was able to get through those presentations…I sincerely felt like I was babbling nonsense due to fatigue, but I apparently wasn’t because everyone seemed to get the picture I was trying to paint with each of my presentations.

Overall, I actually enjoyed my night shifts! The whole flipping-my-schedule-upside-down thing sucked but once I adjusted to that, I could really begin to appreciate the laid-back, flexible nature of working at night. Oh, and shoutout to the cafeteria being open from 1-4 AM! That was extremely clutch, but it sure was tragic that it was closed from 7:30 PM till 1 AM 😕. I had even more independence at night than I did in the daytime, which is saying a lot because I already felt like I had a ton of independence during my day shifts. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have the time constraints that come with pre-rounding and rounding, which allowed me more time to have some touching conversations with my patients, read about things that I found interesting, learn how to be more effective in putting in the correct orders, and write some high-quality notes about the patients I admitted. I also practiced managing multiple patients overnight by splitting the patient list with the overnight intern, meaning that I took responsibility (with oversight of course) of the care of some of the patients on the list. I was really out there feeling like a doctor, and it was pretty cool!

I had a great experience on nights, but it sure does feel good to be back on a regular schedule again. It’s too bad that I won’t get to wear scrubs during the daytime and I’ll be having to wake up real early again, but at least I won’t be messing around with my sleep schedule! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be looking fresh at the hospital with my bowtie game on 100%!

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That’s it from me today! I hope that you have a fantastic week!

Cheers to my last week of clinical responsibilities in 2018! And Happy Veterans Day! A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who have served this country!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I FINALLY got my absentee ballot the day before Election Day. I had to sacrifice some sleep to get it sent out but it was well worth it, even though the House representative I voted for ended up not winning the election. After my harrowing voting experience, hearing an unsettling amount of horror stories from friends who have tried to vote, and witnessing dangerous levels of corruption and irregularities in the voting system, I’m committed to helping make some very necessary changes in the way elections work in this country. Don’t ask me how I’m going to help make a change, because I don’t know yet…but I’m going to think of something and become more engaged in voter registration and reform in the overall voting system. Hopefully the results of this election will serve to restore some sort of order and sanity in the government. Shoutout to all the elected newcomers to Congress who were inspired to run because they were absolutely sick of the current state of affairs in the country!

P.P.S. – I was able to check out Philly for a bit last Sunday in my severely limited free time! I got to run up the Rocky steps, had brunch at a Lebanese restaurant, had a photo-op with the LOVE structure at Love Park, walked around downtown Philly and visited the Barnes Foundation to look at a ton of original, expensive paintings that I don’t really care about. But it was free to go, and the value of all the art in the museum is estimated to be at about $25 billion, so I had nothing to lose by checking it out!

Evolution.

That extra hour that Daylight Savings gave me today was a glorious gift.

I got to “sleep in” and I still got up at a very reasonable time to take full advantage of my day off!

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It feels great to wake up refreshed and know that you have the full day to do whatever you want with it. My last day off from work was last Sunday, unless you want to count my interview day at CHOP that took place on Tuesday since I didn’t have to work that day either, though I was at the hospital most of the day learning about CHOP and interacting with residents and faculty members. Speaking of, I think interview day went well overall! I got great vibes from the faculty members I interviewed with and it was wonderful to meet both the Residency Program Director as well as the Chair of Pediatrics and Physician-In-Chief of the hospital system. I now have three interviews down, and quite a few more to go! My next one is taking place next Monday in Pittsburgh and just so you know, Pittsburgh and Philly are on OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE STATE. Don’t be a dummy like me and assume that they are close to one another just because they are both cities in Pennsylvania. I had to get a flight because with my tight schedule, I just couldn’t afford to drive 5+ hours to get there and another 5+ hours to get back. SMH. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before though, so it should be a cool experience!

Back to my second week of my sub-internship at CHOP. I’ve definitely adjusted to the flow of things a lot more since my first couple of days here, and I’ve become more comfortable with my team as time has passed on. With that being said, I’ve come to realize how much this place can humble you. I’ve been consistently challenged to think independently, to provide quality care as the primary “physician” for my patients, and to adjust my performance based on the constant feedback that I’ve been receiving. In these past two weeks, I’ve learned so much not only about medicine and the reality of patient care in an inpatient setting, but also about myself and my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve come to realize that while I may know more than I previously thought I did about certain things, there are also quite a few things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know, if that makes sense.

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I’m starting to consistently think about and do important things that I had only intermittently thought about or done in the past, such as providing discharge criteria for admitted patients, referencing evidence-based research in my patient presentations, committing to specific plans for specific problems that my patients have, prioritizing important tasks to be completed earlier in the day (discharges, consults, etc.), becoming familiar with the dosing and time intervals of medication administration, coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team, giving concise & high-quality handoffs to interns starting their shift, completing concise discharge summaries, putting in orders; the list goes on and on. I’m literally doing intern-level work with the only difference being that I have a lighter patient load than the interns do, I have less experience than they do (it literally takes me twice as long to do just about anything that they do), and I have some additional support from the senior residents on my team.

While my days have been long and exhausting, my learning experience has been spectacular. There’s nothing like throwing yourself into a sub-internship position in a brand-new city at one of the top children’s hospitals in the world. Some may call it insane, but I call it yanking yourself out of your comfort zone and embarking upon a challenging experience that forces you to evolve and become comfortable being uncomfortable. Okay yeah, I admit it’s pretty insane. It’s actually not what I initially asked for when applying to this visiting clerkship program. However, when this was the only option given to me, I ultimately accepted it because I wanted to experience what working at a hospital like CHOP would be like, I wanted to expand my network by meeting brand-new people and mentors, and I wanted to make the most out of my fourth-year of medical school by diversifying my experiences as much as possible. Plus, it is all being paid for, so why not? 🤷🏿‍♂️

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It has been a tough two weeks for sure, but I can literally feel myself becoming a better clinician as a result of this experience. This has definitely been a very necessary experience for my growth, and it’s great to get this insight as to what intern year will most likely look like. Of course now that I’ve started to get into my groove, my schedule is being flipped-turned-upside down and I’m going to be working a week of nights this week, starting tomorrow night.

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I’m not sure how this is going to go, but what I do know is that I’m going to continue to do my best and maximize my learning opportunities during my night shifts! I’ll surely be admitting a ton of patients, which will give me great practice in completing the admission process and writing great H&P (History & Physical) notes. Because the night team is much smaller than the day team, I’ll get the opportunity to get more one-on-one time with my senior resident, which will give me more opportunities to elicit feedback in order to continue improving my skills. Only thing that’s really gonna suck is the fact that my sleep schedule is going to be all screwed up, especially the first couple of days. I’m sitting here trying to plot on how to alter my sleep schedule today knowing damn well that I’m going to be tired on my first night shift, no matter what I try to do to prevent it. My circadian rhythm is just that strong. *Siiiiiiiigh*

On that note, I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my day off! I’m sad that I missed both Howard’s homecoming last weekend and UMiami’s homecoming this weekend due to my rotation schedule…they both looked like a lot of fun. Too bad the ‘Canes aren’t doing so hot this year on the football field. Welp, there’s always next year….😪😪😪

Have an amazing week!

ELECTION DAY IS FINALLY UPON US!!! GO VOTE!!!

“One finds limits by pushing them.” – Herbert Simon

– Black Man, M.D.