Life After Match Day

I find it so funny how much everything changes after Match Day is over. As you know, my whole fourth year literally revolved around one thing and one thing only:

Where was I going to match?

With the help and guidance of others, I spent the vast majority of the year working tirelessly to figure out the answer to that question. I powered through both parts of Step 2, met with multiple advisors and mentors to talk about my future, knocked out my rotations one-by-one, carefully selected which residency programs I wanted to apply to, completed and submitted my ERAS application, went on eleven interviews, created and submitted my rank list, learned that I matched into a program on the Monday of Match Week and FINALLY received the answer to that burning question on Match Day!Β πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™πŸΏ

Now that I know where I’m going to be spending my first few years as an M.D., there’s not really much more for me to do as a fourth-year medical student. This is further solidified by the fact that I just completed the last day of my final clinical rotation this past Friday! (TURN UHHHH!!!) My time is now being primarily spent on getting through the necessary paperwork for residency (You should have seen all the paperwork I was sent just this past week; UNC ain’t messing around πŸ˜…), looking for a place to live within the Research Triangle, getting my finances together, preparing for graduation, getting ready for the trips that I’ll be taking in the next few weeks, taking care of SNMA business, doing some blogwork, and making sure that I take the time to chill out, relax and enjoy this low-stress period of time that I had been looking forward to for a very long time. As you can see, life after Match Day so far has been busy, yet splendid. πŸ˜„

Some of y’all may be thinking, “Wait what? Last day of his final clinical rotation? It’s only March! What the heck is he going to be doing until graduation??” Well, like I’ve said in previous posts, I set my schedule up in a way that would allow me to have a month of free time at the end of the year. In other words, I strategically put my second flex block at the end of the year lol. Sooooo yeaaahhh, I’m going to be coastin’ for the next few weeks up until Intern Boot Camp, a two-week pre-orientation program that the school organizes for the graduating fourth-years that has a variety of sessions designed to help prepare us for the first few days of residency. Life is going to be great during this free block, you’ll see πŸ˜‰.

One more thing before I end this relatively short post. I spent yesterday morning competing in the 6th Annual MACHE Bowl, where my interdisciplinary team and I competed against two other interdisciplinary teams in working to solve a case that was tied into the opioid epidemic and health disparities. We competed in two separate rounds in front of a live audience and judges. While my team didn’t get first place, we were able to appreciate the unique experience that was afforded to us by this competition and we learned a lot from one another in the weeks leading up to the event. Plus, we still got paid and were given some extra goodies just for participating. 😏

Alright that’s it for today! Now go on and make this week an exceptional one!

And keep having fun watching the insanity of March Madness!! πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€

“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

MATCH MADNESS: The Anticipation

IT’S HERE.

The week that I’ve been waiting almost four years for has FINALLY arrived.

Yes, I’m talking about MATCH WEEK!!!

lebron james yes GIF by NBA

Three years ago, as a first-year student, I experienced the magic of Match Day for the first time in my life. (You can read the post I wrote about the experience by clicking this link!) I remember being blown away by the incredible array of emotions that were being displayed by all the people in the room at the same time. I remember feeling so proud of my friends who had just matched into the specialties that they had worked so hard to earn the opportunity to train in, and also a bit sad that I wouldn’t be seeing some of them again for a while since they would be leaving to train at residency programs at other institutions in the country.

I remember feeling inspired about the fact that I would one day be a fourth-year medical student who would be actively participating in the Match Day festivities by geting the golden chance to open my envelope, read where I would be spending my residency years at, and hopefully be celebrating my accomplishment with my friends and family. I also remember feeling like I had such a long way to go before I even reached that point in my life; I was deep into my first-year curriculum, was primarily looking forward to my summer vacation, and my biggest concern at the time was facing the Step 1 exam. At the time, I sincerely believed that I would be going into Ophthalmology….so I would have been absolutely astounded if you had told me that I would actually be in the position that I’m currently in; an excited and motivated fourth-year student hoping to match into a Pediatrics residency in order to take the vision I have of my career and transform it into reality.

Three years later, here I am, about to begin the monumental week that will culminate on Friday with an event that will provide me the clarity that I’ve been searching all year for. It is going to be exhilarating to finally find out where my journey in medicine will lead me to next, not only because I will finally learn where I’ll spend the next few years of my life as a newly-minted physician, but also because I will FINALLY be able to start actively preparing for the immediate future. Right now, I feel like a sitting duck who can’t make really make any necessary preparations because I have no certainties of where I’m going to end up training at. But all of that will change on Friday when I, at long last, will be granted the answer that I’ve spent SO MUCH TIME searching for.

its about time drama GIF by BBC

While playing this whole waiting game can get quite nervewracking and anxiety producing, I’ve been relatively calmed by the fact that I will end up matching at the place that I was meant to train at. I strategically picked my top five places (top three especially) to be programs where I absolutely wouldn’t mind training at, so chances are that I’ll end up at one of those five places, which I would be totally fine with. Plus, the decision is all out of my control now since I already submitted my rank list a couple weeks ago and can no longer make any changes to the list I sent out. The residency programs across the nation have already submitted their lists as well, so it’s really up to the match process to determine who will be going where……maaannn let’s just pray for the best! πŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏ

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I’ll be sure to let you know where I ended up matching at in my next post! However, I’ve talked about the anticipation of Match Day long enough, so allow me to switch gears and give you some updates about my life that doesn’t concern the one day that I can’t stop thinking about. πŸ˜…

I spent the past week engaging in a variety of activities, mainly outside of my Radiology elective (which has been just as chill as it was my first week of the rotation). I got the chance to have dinner with the majority of the Clinical Skills group that I spent the first two years of medical school learning applicable clinical skills with and our two Clinical Skills coaches. It was nice to be able to catch up with all of them and to talk about how far we’ve come from being wide-eyed first-year students who were all too eager to put on a white coat and talk to patients on the wards, only to realize that we were quite awkward with our initial patient encounters. Okay I won’t speak for them, I certainly was one of those students who awkwardly fumbled through the first few patient encounters at the beginning of the year. Boooooyyy have I come such a long way since then…I sometimes cringe at how pitiful I once was at gathering an HPI. πŸ˜‚

On the annual Global Health night (a dinner session designed for rising fourth-year students interested in rotating through a global health elective), some of my classmates and I were given the opportunity to share our experiences from our respective global health rotations with the soon-to-be fourth-years. No, I didn’t travel anywhere for my global health rotation, in case you were starting to get confused. My most recent rotation (Immigrant Health/Public Health) qualifies as a global health elective even though it was stationed in Winston-Salem, so my friend and I shared the wonderful experiences we had during that rotation. You can read more about those experiences by visiting some of my prior posts! 😊

Later on in the week, I met up with my MACHE Bowl teammates to discuss how we were going to go about answering the questions that were assigned to us by the MACHE Bowl Committee. Lol, I can almost hear you asking yourself what the heck the MACHE Bowl is and why I mentioned it like I’ve already talked about it before or something. Well to put it simply, the MACHE Bowl is a competition designed to bring students from various disciplines together to work on solving a complex health disparity case in front of a live audience. It is meant to be a unique, interdisclipinary experience where we are supposed to experience the strengths of working in a collaborative team. The event is taking place on Saturday, March 23rd, which gives us a little under two weeks to finalize the presentation of our answers to the first round of questions provided to us. We’ll get a second round of questions on the day of the event, which will be interesting, to say the least. After meeting up with my team and having some great conversations about how we can go about tackling this case, I have faith that we will end up performing pretty well on the day of the event!

I spent the end of the week attending the #WakeUpWinston2019 Open Mic and Poetry Slam event, where I watched numerous performers from the community express their experiences and feelings through a variety of artistic expressions such as spoken word, various forms of music and storytelling. The event was designed to serve as a safe space for a celebration of diversity, inclusion and equity in the community, while at the same time empowering and uniting advocates and allies to engage in constructive dialogue and in providing awareness to others of the injustices and inequities present both in medicine and in the world around us so that we could all rise above those painful experiences together. I had missed it last year, so I was really happy to be able to experience it this time around.

And lastly, I spent part of the weekend at Chapel Hill to watch the UNC-Duke basketball game at an exciting watch party. As we all know, UNC ended up winning, which meant that my friends and I ended up rushing Franklin Street for the first (and potentially only) time in my life lol. It was a pretty wild experience, but not as insane as I had pictured it being. However, the whole experience got me even more hyped up for March Madness, which is going to be officially starting next week!!! πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

excited college basketball GIF by UNC Tar Heels

Sheeeeeesh, that was a lot I just unloaded on you. Once I started typing, I simply couldn’t stop πŸ˜…. My head is a bit clearer now that I typed this whole post up, so thanks for bearing with me! I’m excited about this upcoming week, especially since my class is hosting events every night in anticipation of Match Day! Also, my mom and my two little sisters are coming into town to celebrate the day with my girlfriend and I, which I’m also looking forward to! And then after Match Day, I’ll be in Charlotte for an extended Match Day/St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so I also have that to look forward to as well! It’s going to be a dope week, I can already feel it!! πŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

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I hope that you all have a sensational week! And shoutout to all the fourth-years across the country hoping to match into your desired specialties!! BEST OF LUCK TO US!!!

– Black Man, M.D.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

P.S. – I knew that today was going to be Daylight Savings, but I still wasn’t totally prepared to lose an hour of sleep last night lol. That being said, I’m loving the fact that the days are about to last longer, which means that the weather is about to get warmer, which means that SPRING IS COMING!!! πŸ˜πŸ˜„πŸ˜πŸ˜œπŸ™ƒ

The Start of Something New

In just a couple of days, I’ll be starting one of the most transformative years of my life. It’s a year that I’ve been treating as the distant future for a long time now, because it just always seemed so far away. It’s a year that I had been looking forward to with both pure excitement and guarded apprehension.

2019 is the year that I will finally graduate from medical school and become an Ophthalmologist!” I would tell myself back in high school, as if I had already mapped out my perfect life plan and knew it inside and out.

2019 is the year that I will begin my residency program and won’t have a life at all, because I’ll be busy getting worked to death…and I won’t be making much money…but at least I’ll be that much closer to becoming an eye surgeon!” I would tell myself back in college as I started to absorb what other people were telling me the medical journey would look like up until I was finally a board-certified physician.

I really wonder what my life is going to look like after I graduate in 2019…will I really be ready to begin my residency training by then? Will I actually be able to retain all of these crazy amounts of material that I’m being tested on? Will I be confident enough to treat patients on my own? Will my positive and resilient mindset truly get me through both medical school and residency? Will I really have no life when residency begins, or is that just something people say? How will my Step scores influence my residency choices? I know I’m good enough to be a doctor…but what if I find out that I’m actually not? Where will I live in 2019 after I graduate? Will I still be in Winston-Salem? North Carolina? Somewhere completely different? How the hell am I going to even begin paying back these massive loans???Β ” I would ask myself over and over again back in the early months of my first-year of medical school.

Oh wow, 2019 is getting preeee-tty close πŸ˜…” is what I’ve been telling myself these past few months as January 1st, 2019 has crept closer and closer with each passing day.

Looking back on my past 3 1/2 years as a medical student, I can comfortably say that I’m going to be ready to start residency come July 1st, 2019, or whenever my future institution decides to begin our training. I’ve come to understand that being ready to start residency does not necessarily mean that I’ll already know how to be the perfect doctor once I start.

NEWSFLASH!!! I won’t.

As much as I’ve learned these past few years, there will be many things that I won’t know once I begin residency. But remember, that’s what residency training is for; it is designed to teach us what we need to learn in order to become an effective board-certified physician. All I need to arrive with on my first day is my basic knowledge set of medicine that I’ve been continously crafting, my personality along with my other character traits that helped me secure a residency spot in the first place, the confidence that I can conquer just about any challenge thrown my way, and the sheer will to work in order to improve the lives of my patients. Just with those alone, I know that I’ll be good to go. It’ll definitely be a tough transition, but I’ve been through tough times before and others have gone through this transition and succeeded. Plus, it’s not like I’ll be going through this alone; I’ll have my co-residents, mentors, advisors, faculty, family, friends, my significant other, plus others who will be there for me throughout this time.

As of late, when I’ve been asked if I’m ready for graduation and residency, I’ve been telling people that I feel like it’s all going to be an exciting and nervewracking experience. I still think so, but I’m now leaning more towards exciting and away from nervewracking. Why, you may ask? Simply because, I’M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR. There are a TON of people who aren’t able to say that and countless others who wish and dream of being able to say that. It’s an honor to be able to enter such a noble and highly-regarded profession. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and so many people have supported me along my journey and prayed for me to get here. So why wouldn’t I be thrilled about the fact that I’ve made it this far? By allowing myself to enjoy the journey towards being a doctor, I have really been able to appreciate so much along the way and because of this, I feel energized as I approach my final semester of medical school and graduation. The journey is so much more important than the destination y’all, because how you develop during your journey directly correlates to how you will function once you reach your destination.

Tonight Show Mic Drop GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

2018 has been an amazing year of growth for me overall. I literally started the year off at the midway point of my third-year Neurology rotation and now eight rotations (including my two away rotations), two Step exams, and ten residency interviews later, I’m ending the year as a much more confident and resilient fourth-year student who is ready to power through three more rotations before enjoying another flex block and graduating with a medical degree. And through all of this, I’ve been able to expand my blog even further, begin fundraising for The Desire To Inspire Scholarship, become a member of the SNMA Board of Directors, visit San Francisco and other major cities across the East Coast, forge important connections with all kinds of people across the nation, confirm my career choice as a Pediatrician who is on an even bigger mission, get nominated for various scholarships and even awarded some of them, and much more! I’m really looking forward to what 2019 is going to bring and how much growth I will continue to enjoy as a result of the events that will occur throughout the year. With it being a year of major transitions, I’m sure that there will be plenty of personal growth and development to appreciate!

I hope that you had as wonderful of a Christmas and overall holiday season as I had! Being able to spend quality time with family and friends is always a blessing that I try not to take for granted.

I also hope that you’re as excited as I am about all of the potential opportunities in store for us as we enter 2019! πŸ˜„

Here’s to a fantastic and prosperous New Year!

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“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I’ve been blogging for so long that I recently realized that I was able to read what I typed in my end-of-the-year/New Year posts for 2015, 2016, and 2017. If you’re curious like I was, feel free to check them out for a trip down memory lane!

State Of Emergency

In case you hadn’t already heard, my residency application was finally submitted on Wednesday, September 12th at 8:09 PM! I’ve officially applied for my first big boy job!

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Talk about getting a weight lifted off your shoulders. My application was actually already complete on Tuesday, but for whatever reason I refused to submit it that day. I just couldn’t bear to send it off knowing that I wouldn’t be able to revise it at all once it was gone. Plus I had until Saturday to submit it, so why rush to get it in? Thanks to my growing anxiety and hesitation, you can probably guess what I ended up doing. My application ended up going through a scrutinizing process, where I couldn’t help but double-check everything that I had typed into the application. My double-check was soon followed by a triple-check, then a quadruple-check, a quintuple-check, etc. etc. I continued this maddening routine the rest of Tuesday evening and all throughout Wednesday evening until my girlfriend called me out on it and encouraged me to press “Submit”. After sitting with me for about 20 minutes, I finally mustered up enough courage to send my application in. Even after sending it in, I felt some anxiety about not being able to edit it again…but then after looking at the PDF version that was still accessible in the ERAS system one last time, I finally felt at peace with my decision to send it out early. It was liberating to not have to think about sending it out as the deadline of Sept. 15th neared. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend though, I definitely would have sent it out much closer to Saturday lol. I was also pressured to submit it by the impending hurricane that was forecasted to slam the East Coast the same weekend that my application was due. And I would be damned if I lost power before being able to submit my application.

Speaking of Hurricane Florence, this storm really screwed up all my plans for the weekend. I didn’t even know about this storm until last Sunday evening, and it very quickly became the talk of the town as we advanced through the week. By Wednesday, it became very clear that North Carolina was going to endure a direct hit from this Category 4 storm.

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With that said, the state proceeded to declare a state of emergency and widespread panic ensued. The coastal areas definitely needed to evacuate, but the forecast wasn’t as certain for more inland areas like Winston-Salem and Charlotte. We still had to take precautionary measures though, so I ended up being relieved of all clinical duties from noon on Thursday and throughout the weekend. That was actually a bummer, because it was my last week on the Peds Heme/Onc service, a service that I had grown to love. But the precautionary measures didn’t stop there. I had been recently selected to be one of the student interviewers for this cycle of medical school applicants (yay meΒ πŸ˜„) and the mandatory training that I needed to attend was supposed to be last Thursday. That ended up getting rescheduled to this Tuesday afternoon.Β The annual Millenium Ball, a school-sponsored party that allows for all of the classes to celebrate the beginning of a school year together, was also cancelled.

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In addition, the World Congress of Ultrasound Medical Education conference that had been scheduled to take place at Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 15th was cancelled too. I mention this because I had signed up to volunteer for this conference back in the spring and I really wanted to learn all sorts of things from the world-renowned ultrasound experts scheduled to attend this event. So best believe that I was pretty annoyed about that, though I’m sure that Wake Forest was 1000x more annoyed than I was because they had been planning for this conference for God knows how long. I was then supposed to FINALLY get my locs retwisted, but I had to reschedule that for this Tuesday as well. And my girlfriend and I were looking forward to going to a nearby vineyard this weekend after I had submitted my application, but you can already guess what happened to those plans.

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So because of this hurricane-turned-tropical-storm, we’ve been chillin’ in my apartment all weekend getting work done while watching a ton of college football. The worst part is that the storm really didn’t even hit Winston that bad! I’ve thankfully had power this whole weekend, and we even went out to eat last night. So much for buying extra bottles of water and groceries. I even finally broke out my heavy-duty flashlight that my dad got me for Christmas last year! (Yes, my dad got me a flashlight for Christmas. And no, I did not ask for one.Β πŸ˜‚) Turns out that none of our extra supplies have been necessary up to this point. But I sure ain’t complaining! I’m really glad to have been fortunate enough to not suffer the very real consequences of this storm that other people along the coastline have had to suffer. I feel so bad for all the people who have been severely affected by the storm though. Even though Winston mainly got a lot of rain and wind, I don’t want to downplay the havoc that this storm brought when it hit land as a Category 2 hurricane. R.I.P. to all of the people who lost their lives to this storm.

Now that my Peds Heme/Onc rotation is sadly officially over, I have a week “off” until I head to D.C. to start my first away rotation in Allergy & Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center! I have a week “off” because the rotation schedules at my school and George Washington University are off by a week, so I had to use one of my “flex” weeks this week to compensate for that. It’s great because I can take care of a lot of tasks that I’ve been pushing off for a while and also get some downtime to rest for a bit. I can also attend the quarterly SNMA’s National Leadership Institute that is taking place in Delaware this weekend. I’m excited to see all the thrilling attractions that Delaware has to offer!! Said no one ever. But still, I think that I’ll get some great networking opportunities at the conference and learn valuable things from the speakers there. Plus, the conference site is only about a couple hours from D.C., which is pretty convenient for me. So Delaware, here I come!

That’s it from me today. Oh and before I leave, I just want to remind you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. How crazy is it that I was on my Heme/Onc rotation this month? If you can find a way to support the eradication of both childhood cancer and sickle cell disease this month, I encourage you to do so! And then while you’re at it, be sure to register to vote if you haven’t already!Β πŸ˜„

Make sure to have an exceptional week!

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Leap Of Faith

The time has finally come.

I’ll finally be submitting my application to residency programs this week.

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People who have gone through this process always told me that the due date would sneak up on you fast. And whaddya know, it did just that. For the longest time, September 15th was a date that seemed so far out into the future. I had filed away the date in my brain a long time ago and slowly began working on my application little-by-little. Although I was aware of the approaching due date, I don’t think it really hit me that it was coming up so soon until about a week ago. Thankfully I had been working on my application all summer, so I didn’t have a freakout moment or anything once the realization hit me. But with that being said, I spent all of yesterday finalizing my application so that I could print it out, review it all one last time in PDF form, and officially submit it at some point this week. My letters of recommendation have also been trickling in, which I’m very thankful for. In regards to where I’m applying to, I’m looking at programs across the East Coast, with most of them being concentrated in the Southeast region of the U.S. I initially had over 30 programs on my list, which I’ve successfully whittled down to 18. Man I swear, I can’t wait to finally submit this application so that I won’t have to think about it anymore!

This upcoming week is also the last week of my Peds Heme/Onc AI.Β πŸ˜”Β I must admit, I’m not ready to finish up this rotation just yet. I’ve learned A TON about cancer therapies, treating various blood disorders, how to effectively communicate with the families of cancer patients and how to write my patient notes in a more effective manner. My team has been absolutely wonderful to be around, and I’ve loved the time I’ve spent with the patients on the floor. I’ve also surprised myself on how well I’ve been able to manage my emotions during the rotation so far. There have been some really sad moments as well as some very happy moments, all of which have been memorable. We even had a taco party for one of our patients, much to the delight of both him and his mother! Along with the experiences I’ve had here, I’ve found that I am quite interested in the pathophysiology of cancer and the innovative ways that are being used to treat the various types of cancer that exist. As of right now, I can definitely see myself working in this sub-specialty in the future! However, my mind is still open to other possibilities and it will remain open as I continue to get through fourth-year and work through my various electives in residency.

In addition to caring for my patients last week, I got the opportunity to attend the Department of Pediatrics session of the Dean’s Research Symposia Series as well as another Schwartz rounds, a multidisciplinary forumΒ focused on discussing the experiences that various healthcare providers have gone through. The research symposium was styled like a TED Talk, where pediatricians in various specialties spoke for five minutes at a time about some of the research they were doing. The topics ranged from things like obesity, food insecurity and literacy promotion to NICU clinical trials, palliative care and medical education. It was pretty interesting to see such a plethora of ideas being presented and reminded me of just how vast the field of pediatrics is.

The theme of this month’s Schwartz rounds was focused on medical error and how the healthcare professionals on the panel dealt with it in their careers. It was powerful to watch them talk about their experiences with error and learn how it has impacted the way they practice medicine as well as their own personal lives. As much as I want to believe otherwise, I know that there will come a time in my life where I’ll unfortunately make a medical error. When that time comes, I’ll be able to draw from the experiences of these professionals to help me cope with the emotions and consequences that I’ll face. Especially after having attended that session, I believe that it is incredibly important to be in an environment where you feel comfortable enough to share experiences like this with others without feeling judged. Medical professionals have to deal with this unrelenting pressure of having to be perfect, which is unrealistic because we are all human. Because of this pressure, people in healthcare are naturally afraid of admitting mistakes, which can ultimately have negative consequences for the patients. By admitting errors, working to resolve them, and making sure that they don’t happen again in the future, medical professionals will ultimately be delivering healthcare in a safer manner. It is also worth mentioning that it is much better for your mental health if you feel that you can be open and honest about your mistakes with others. I’m really glad that I was able to attend and learn from this session!

Alright, gotta go now. I hope that you start your week off on a positive note!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – That finals match in the U.S. Open between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was WILD. Definitely one of the craziest tennis matches I’ve ever seen. Oh, and Drake and Meek are friends again. I just figured that was worth noting lol.

The Little Things In Life

Ayyyeeeee ya boy is turning 25 this week!!

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The big 2-5. Lol, some of you reading this may chuckle at the fact that this is such a big deal to me. You’re probably reading this like:

“Boy, 25 ain’t nothing. You ain’t grown at all, you still a youngin!”Β 

Others of you may gasp after reading this and be like:

“Daaannng, you 25?? Bro, you old as hell!”

Yet, others of you reading this probably don’t really care at all and are like:

“Okkkaayyy? And? The sky is still blue, the grass is still green and Kanye’s still crazy. You got older, whoooop-tee-doo.”

Whatever the case, just know that as I sit here and type this, I’m seriously thinking about just how much life I’ve already lived and how much more (Lord willing) lies ahead of me. I don’t care what you all say, turing 25 is a big deal to me lol. I’m pretty much in my mid-20s. Mid-20s!! I can clearly remember entering my 20s and feeling like I was all grown. And you couldn’t tell me NOTHING when I finally turned 21. But man, I’m about to turn 25 and I’m in awe. This year is going to be life-changing for sure. Like, I’m going to be recieving my medical degree and starting residency at this age! I also get the feeling that within this next year, I’m going to be enjoying some of the greatest life experiences that I’ll ever have.

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Man, I’m ready for 25 and am excited to celebrate my birthday this upcoming Labor Day weekend with my girl! Not only will I be going to Carowinds for the first time and enjoying some of the other things that Charlotte has to offer, but I’ll also be cheering on my ‘Canes when they play their first game of the season against LSU on Sunday! That’s right, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY!!!

college football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

I’m really hoping that we can capitalize off of our success from last season and really shake things up this year!

Okay, let me actually start talking about stuff that you care about.Β πŸ˜‚

My first week on the Peds Heme/Onc service was a fantastic one! Although there was an abnormally low number of patients on the service this week, I was able to maximize my learning opportunities with the patients I was caring for by studying their charts, ferociously googling and reviewing chemotherapies like a madman, asking endless questions to the members of my team, and engaging in the attending’s educational discussions throughout the week. Because we had such a low number of patients for our abnormally huge team, I had ample time to get adequately acclimated to the service. The fact that the team was so chill and easy to work with made the week that much better. In addition, I had the opportunity to spend extra time with some of the patients on the service in order to form memorable relationships with them that I hope impacted their lives as much as they impacted mine. It was awesome to be able to sit and have a lengthy conversation with one of the teens on the service about regular teenager stuff. He helped me realize just how out-of-touch I was with current trends 😭. I also had a ton of fun getting crushed repeatedly in thumb-wrestling matches and staring contests by one of my younger patients throughout the week. She would make it a point to remind me to come back in the afternoon to play with her and she would ask people where I was if I hadn’t come to visit her yet during the day. She really liked to talk with me and beat me in her lil’ games πŸ˜‚. I loved going to visit her in the afternoons; she was so precious!

I’m definitely looking forward to another week on this service and I’ll be more than ready to carry more patients in the event that things get busier. I’ve already learned a lot about managing patients with various blood disorders and types of cancer, and I’m sure that I’ll have the opportunity to learn much more as I spend more time on this service in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, I’ve already encountered patients with some really tough diagnoses and I anticipate that I’ll be encountering more soon enough. Cancer is such an evil disease man. If there’s anything that I’ve taken away so far though, it’s that these kids and their families have an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I’m absolutely honored to be able to serve as a health provider for them.

I spent the weekend at Chapel Hill in order to attend UNC’s First Look, a free program designed to give medical students the opportunity to check out some of the residency programs that the institution has to offer. There was a fun reception on Friday night, where I got the chance to meet students from various institutions as well as faculty at UNC. I also unexpectedly ran into some old friends and got the chance to catch up with them, which was an awesome surprise. The program continued on Saturday, where we listened to resident and faculty panels who answered the many questions that the audience posed and shared some of the experiences that they’ve had at UNC. We were then split into groups based on our specialty interest and had lunch with residents and faculty members who worked in the specialty we were interested in. After that, we listened to the keynote speaker, who happened to be the Chair of the Family Medicine Department at UNC and then I went on a tour of the facility with the Pediatrics residency program director and some other medical students interested in Pediatrics. After the tour, we came back to the main room and the program officially came to a close. That’s the quick synopsis you’re getting, because I’m getting tired of typing lol. Overall, I’m really glad I decided to attend because I felt like I got an even better idea of what resident life at UNC would be like and I learned some useful information about both the application cycle and residency in general. Plus, it’s always great to meet new people and to catch up with old friends! And I can’t forget about all the free “UNC swag” that I got just by being there 😎. (Shoutout to the new UNC coffee tumbler gifted to me! I was supposed to have bought one a week ago, but I kept putting it off. This is one of those rare times in my life that procrastination actually worked in my favorΒ πŸ˜„)

Okay, I’m all done for today! I hope that you have a spectacular week! I definitely plan on having one! 😜

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

– Black Man, M.D.

Ready Or Not

Y’all, I have about a month until my residency application is due. A month. That’s like no time at all, especially if you live in my world where time insists on zipping by like a shooting star. I remember first learning about the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service)Β  and the whole timeline of fourth-year like it was yesterday. I also remember feeling like I had so much time left during that fourth-year information session back in the late fall of last year. Back then, I was more concerned about powering on through my Psychiatry and Neurology rotations so that I could get to winter break. Fourth year seemed like a mile away…..but here I am now, about to start the last week of my third rotation of my final year of medical school, only about a month out until the application is due.

hm wow GIF

Luckily for me, my school ensures that we are prepared to submit our application well in advance by not only making us go to information sessions throughout the year, but also allowing us to pair with residency advisors during the summer in order to review the various elements of our application. Because I had to have drafts of my personal statement, CV and MSPE characteristics completed before my advisor meeting, I’ve already done all the hard work. I’ve even gotten a few people to review my personal statement already. All I need to do now to complete my application is to finish revising my personal statement, ensure that the people I’ve asked to write a letter of recommendation for me do so before the deadline, and complete the other fill-in-the-blank sections of my application. Then I’ll be pretty much set to submit! Oh wait, I also have to come to a final decision on which programs I’m actually going to apply to. πŸ˜…Β Whittling my list down to about twenty-or-so programs is still a work in progress and is actually harder than I had anticipated, especially when there are so many fantastic pediatric programs across the East Coast. But I assure you, it’s getting done!

This past week was another one that went by in a blur. I woke up on Monday morning ready to start my week and before I knew it, I was leaving the hospital on Thursday afternoon wondering how the heck I was already approaching Friday. Carrying up to four patients at a time most of the week kept me pretty busy, which at the same time also helped make time fly by. By being responsible for this many patients, I felt like I was getting a taste of what being an intern was going to be like. I was writing notes for my patients, presenting them on rounds, assisting in coming up with plans of care for them, assisting in procedures (I helped perform a couple more of those 15-minute head taps that I wrote about last week lol) and even helping write orders for them. I really was feeling like the doctor that I’m going to become in less than a year!

Barack Obama Swag GIF

Overall, this past week in the NICU was another solid one. I even had a baby smile at me multiple times as I played with him!Β πŸ˜„Β That about made my week, especially because of the straight-up sad nature of the NICU. These babies are literally the sickest infants that I’ve ever seen. Some of them fortunately end up getting better and going home, but many of them have been there for an extended period of time, with some of them having spent their entire lives in the hospital. It’s pretty depressing man. As a healthcare provider for these infants though, it’s extremely important that you don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment, no matter how sad and unfortunate the patients’ circumstances are. Of course you need to be able to emphasize with these patients and their families, but you also have to ensure that you’re not letting their circumstances affect your life in a negative and destructive way. It’s a much harder rule of thumb to follow than you may expect. Or maybe you actually do expect it to be a hard thing to do because, well you know, sick babies are naturally a sad sight to see.

While I feel like I’ve been able to emphasize with the patients and their families in an appropriate manner, I’ve found my mind frequently drifting off to what this experience in the NICU must be like for the families that come to visit their loved ones. Whereas each day in the NICU is just another day of school to me, it’s surely an emotional and unforgettable experience for each of the parents whose children are recieving care there. During these times of reflection, I tend to be brought back to the times I volunteered in the Ronald McDonald House’s Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital (located on the same floor as the PICU and the NICU), which is a place where families of the hospital’s pediatric patients can get together in a comfortable place close to their loved ones and rest while having access to free food and coffee. I remember witnessing how distressed and hopeful these families were about their loved ones, and being reminded that there was another world outside of the hospital that was full of the worried relatives and friends of each patient. It’s pretty terrifying how easy it is to go about your daily routine in the NICU without even taking a moment to seriously consider the perspective of the families who are scared to death about their loved ones. I hope to continue this habit of making time to consider the perspectives of others so that I can be that much more of an empathetic, caring and effective physician.

Well that’s it for today! Go on and live your best life this week!

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

– Black Man, M.D.