Final Quarter

Last Friday, I delivered my presentation on “The Pediatric Airway” and took my Anesthesia final exam (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL), thus officially ending my Anesthesia rotation. Now that I’ve powered through that experience, I’m about 3/4 of the way done with my fourth year!!

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Good God, time flies by so freakin’ fast. I now have only three more month-long rotations before I’m officially done with my final year of medical school and graduate with my medical degree from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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With my last three blocks being an Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, a Radiology elective and another “Flex Block”, this final stretch of the year should be somewhat of a breeze. However, there are quite a few important things to take care of throughout this time outside of my rotations. I need to complete and submit my rank list by February 20th in order to be eligible for the Match. Then there’s Match Day, the one day in the year where all the fourth-years across the nation find out what residency programs they have matched into. Then there’s the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference, which is taking place in Philly this year. Then I have to attend “Intern Boot Camp”, a two-week orientation session organized by my school for all the graduating fourth-year students. And of course, there’s the whole process of preparing for graduation and the transition into the next phase of my life.

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While these next few months will be more chill than the vast majority of my medical school experience was, it will still be a very busy time for me nonetheless. I didn’t even mention that I still have to carry out my obligations for the SNMA as well as put some dedicated time aside for blogwork. Since I’ll have more free time than usual, I definitely want to invest some of that time and energy into further enhancing this blog and figuring out how I’m going to move forward with it in residency. When I initially started this blog, my sole intention was to record my experiences throughout my time in medical school. Now that it has become so much bigger than I could have imagined, I have absolutely no intention on stopping the momentum that has propelled this platform into the lives of so many people. Aside from taking some time for both the SNMA and the blog, I definitely want to spend some time traveling to a few places for fun and also spend quality time with friends, family and my girlfriend. I’m real excited for what these next few months will bring, and am looking forward to the fantastic fourth-year life that has been promised to me for soooooo long!!

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I don’t want to take up too much of your time today, so I’ll breeze past some quick updates. The Anesthesia exam that I spent TOO MUCH time studying for was annoyingly specific and difficult. Who knows how that test went…I’m just mad that I actually read through ten chapters in two weeks, only to be asked questions that I would have never known the answer to, no matter how much I studied those chapters. I prepared a great presentation though, and it was on a topic that will be beneficial to me in the long run, so there’s that.

I had a meeting with Financial Aid last Wednesday about my loans and we discussed the options that I had to repay them. Looorrrrd, I’m going to need the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to come in clutch, because otherwise it’s very likely that I’ll be paying these loans off for the vast majority of my life moving forward. 😅 That is, if I don’t end up doing any of the other forgiveness programs where I would practice primary care for a few years in specific locations after residency, which is a viable option as well. But with the PSLF, I will have the most flexibility with what I can do. Or I could just start up a wildly successful app and profit from that. Or invest in stocks early on in my residency that end up being wildly profitable later on in my career. Or win the lottery. Or find a sugar mama. My girlfriend wouldn’t be too fond of that idea though.

Lastly, I got to help out with Wake Forest SNMA’s 12th Annual Pre-Medical Conference yesterday morning, where I served as a greeter and welcomed various pre-medical students from across the region to the conference. Having volunteered at this event in various capacites in the past, it was a pleasure to be able to communicate with these students about my experiences as well as their own experiences thus far. Also, it was very heartwarming to hear that there were 200+ students that registered to this conference, making it the most attended pre-med conference out of the twelve that the school has hosted in the past! Shoutout to the Wake Forest chapter of the SNMA for organizing such a successful conference!

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That’s it from me today! I finally got my schedule for the first week of this new Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, and it’s not looking bad at all! I’ll let you know how this week ends up going in my next post!

Go on and make your week a glorious one! 😄

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” – Neil Strauss

– Black Man, M.D.

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.

Vision Within Division

I’m finding it harder and harder to focus on my studies in the midst of all this BS happening around us.

It’s only been a little over a week since Inauguration Day and Donald Trump has already caused chaos in this country by issuing 14 executive orders (including one banning immigrants from several countries in a racist manner), trying to rush through the hearings for his cabinet picks (the vast majority of them are highly unqualified/unsuitable for their chosen positions), removing critical areas of American policy from the White House’s website, and repeatedly AND BLATANTLY to the American public, just to name a few of his actions.  As a matter of fact, click here to get a better overview of what his first week in office has looked like. It’s so sad to see how quickly he’s dismantling the progress that we’ve made as a country and how much he’s embarrassing us as a country. It doesn’t help that he has lil’ friends in the government are helping him embarrass us as well. From the topics of education, immigration and women’s rights to healthcare and climate change, the Trump administration just seems to want to set us back decades while increasing their wealth and political power. It’s insanely frustrating. Although I’ve been signing countless petitions, calling Congress multiple times a day on a daily basis, encouraging others to contact their representatives, and keeping up with current bills via this new app called Countable (you should really check it out), I still feel like I should be doing more to save the progress we’ve made in this country. But even with all the pressure people are putting on the current government, it just seems like things are rapidly getting worse. Plus, how much more can I do before I start to see a negative impact on my grades? And with my Step study period approaching, I really need to be able to adequately focus on studying the enormous amount of material that the exam covers. This all just sucks man. It really does.

And it’s only been a freakin’ week. Jesus.

Ima keep fighting though. And I have a good number of friends who are just as frustrated as I am but who are still fighting as well. We just gotta stick together and keep resisting this oppressive system of hatred and racism.

Alright I’m done venting for today. In other news, I just recently ranked my clinical rotations schedule for third-year! I’m sure different medical schools have different ways of choosing rotations, but here at Wake we are given 16 different schedules that all have the same rotations, but in different orders. After we are given those schedules, we need to choose the rotation order that we prefer the most and then rank the rest of them in preference order, all the way to 16. Hopefully I’m able to at least get one of my top three choices, although they say that it doesn’t necessarily matter what order we get since we’re all going through the same rotation schedule. But still. After we send our rankings in, a computer chooses which students get what schedule via some weird algorithm and we find out our finalized schedule a couple weeks later. So I should know what my third-year schedule is going to look like by mid-February! Regardless of what schedule I get, third year is definitely going to be one hell of a experience. I’m really hoping that I’ll enjoy it!

Earlier last week, I got the opportunity to shadow an ophthalmologist at a nearby clinic for an afternoon. He performed three different cataract surgeries while I was there, and they were all absolutely fascinating. The first two surgeries involved a laser breaking down the cataract in the lens of the patient’s eye. The doctor then scrubbed in and took out the pieces of the cataract manually as I looked on. I was actually able to scrub in for the third surgery though! It was my first time ever scrubbing into a surgery, so of course I was awkwardly going through all the motions that scrubbing in entails…but then once I was scrubbed in, I was able to view the surgery through the microscope! It was so cool man. This specific patient had to have his cataract removed manually without help from the laser, which made the surgery a bit longer. He actually went into asymptomatic atrial fibrillation during the surgery and also had this condition called “floppy iris syndrome“, where his iris just kept flopping around during the surgery. I saw firsthand just how steady and calculated the doctor’s hands had to be in order to successfully complete his eye surgeries. One bad move and you could literally rip a hole in someone’s eye. Then before you know it, you’re facing a judge. You don’t want those problems. It was quite an experience overall! I’m thankful to be in a place where physicians are more than willing to have students come in and witness what they do in real-time.

This past Friday, I was able to attend a talk on the current state of the nation that was hosted by the hospital. The keynote speaker was Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and she gave some hypotheses as to how and why we ended up in the current situation we’re in. Some of the things she touched on included the surprisingly large number of white women in this country who actually haven’t historically voted for Democrats, how Trump supporters reflect race/gender values that have been salient throughout the history of this country, our incredible ability to filter and forget things about certain people, the true nature of the 13th & 14th amendments, picking the right battles to fight that are in line with your social justice mission and how strategic cooperation is intertwined with the very nature of democracy. She also made a good point about the hallucinatory effects of the media and that there’s a good chance that representatives higher up in the government are actively working on solving the current issues plaguing our country right now, even if we don’t see them on the news or anything. It was quite an interesting talk, especially since Dr. Harris-Perry was giving it from the perspective of a self-proclaimed black feminist. In the interest of not going on another long rant, I’ll end here.

Shortly after the talk with Dr. Harris-Perry, I met with my lil’ 5th grade mentee again along with the mentors & mentees involved with the S.Y.S.T.E.M. initiative that I talked about in my previous post (Resisting The System). The kids were even more excited to interact with us than they were last time! During our time with them, we talked about how they’ve been implementing the lessons we discussed in the previous meeting in their daily lives. We also played an icebreaker game with them and continued to expand on the importance of understanding one’s emotions and stress levels. I’m loving the program so far! And last but not least, I had the opportunity to sit on a medical student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference hosted by our medical school yesterday morning. There were about 80-or-so students (high school, college and post-grads) in attendance in all! Being able to sit and talk with students in a position that I was dying to be in just two short years ago continues to humble me and allows me to continue to appreciate my growth as well as the circumstances that allowed me to get to where I’m at.

Another blog entry complete! Let’s continue to stay as positive as we can while fiercely resisting the forces that threaten our inherent goodness!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus Christ (John 13:34)

– Black Man, M.D.