Stepping Into Step

WELLLLLLP.

The time has finally come.

I’m officially stepping into my Step Study Block period.

school vmas the weeknd my post mtv vmas

I took my final subject exam last Friday, which effectively ended the five-week long Endocrine/Reproductive block that actually happened to fly by pretty quickly. With the end of that block comes the end of my basic science curriculum. Well, I actually still have a 225-question final exam to take this Tuesday that covers Dermatology, Renal, Rheumatology and Endo/Repro, so there’s that. I guess after that final exam is when I’ll truly be free to step into studying for Step. But I’ve also been doing what I can to prepare for Step for the past month while studying Endo/Repro, and I have been actively using Step study materials throughout this past year alongside my coursework, so overall I feel more than prepared to begin this study block.

During my last week of classes, I had the opportunity to attend two different talks that focused on mental toughness and resilience in the medical profession, respectively, and to deliver a baby in a simulation lab. I’m gonna start with the simulation lab. It was such a neat experience! While we were in the hour-long session, we palpated plastic vaginas, performed bimanual exams on plastic uteri, palpated plastic cervices, and actually delivered a dummy baby from a dummy mom! Like, I was pulling the baby out of the mother’s vagina and going through all the motions that a doctor would go through! It was pretty cool, although the dummies weren’t real. That hands-on experience will DEFINITELY come in handy when I actually begin delivering real-life babies during my OB/GYN rotation in about six months. LMAO. Me?? Delivering babies??? I can hardly picture myself doing so. Try to picture me delivering a baby without snickering to yourself. Yeah, I can barely do it either lol. But then again, I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I never pictured myself doing in a million years. You know, like blogging.

point you da man

I appreciated being in attendance for the talk on mental toughness, because I feel like it was very necessary for myself as well as the rest of my class to hear what the presenter had to say, considering the fact that we’re all about to embark upon a marathon of constant studying. There was about a third of my class in attendance and I believe that just about everyone who attended got something positive out of the talk. The presenter, who is a 4th-year MD/PhD student, focused on how unbelievably powerful the mind is and how we can harness it to catalyze outcomes that are ultimately beneficial to us. What we think on a constant basis is literally what we become. So with that in mind, she talked about the power of having a “shooter’s mentality”, a basketball metaphor describing the mentality that you’ll make your next shot, no matter what. So in our case, we’ll be confident about getting our next question right on our practice tests, no matter what. She also touched on the strength of setting and completing goals that you set for yourself, having a “winner’s circle”, and making the most out of your current situation by having a “true realism” approach to life. In addition, she gave us practical mental exercises to use during our study block and in life in general, which included practicing the art of visualization, having a “game-face” & a “game posture” when we’re doing our practice questions, breathing techniques (mantra breathing, inhale for 6 seconds/hold for 4 seconds/exhale for 8 seconds), and developing pre-day and post-day routines. I’m happy to say that I’ve been blessed to have been able to adopt an outlook on life years ago that is similar to what she had to say in her presentation, but I was also able to learn some very useful information as well!

The other talk I attended was actually a panel discussion that featured distinguished faculty members from different departments at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The event, which was called BOUNCE: Stories of Resilience and Courage in Medicine, focused on the pitfalls that each of these faculty members had in their respective careers and how they successfully recovered (or should I say, bounced back) from their setbacks! I actually attended this same panel discussion around this time last year and wrote a bit about it in my post, Growth, Control & Breaking Stereotypes. This year they discussed the dire importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance/flow, making sure to never lose sight of who you are as you get busier working in the field of healthcare, and to not allow your work to completely consume you. Each of the stories that the faculty shared with us had the common theme of making the most out of a situation that you didn’t foresee yourself being in and following your path with faith, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead you in a specific direction that you intended to follow. One more important thing that was shared with us was the fact that everyone will make mistakes as a healthcare provider, for we are all human. With those mistakes comes the importance of transparency between the provider and the patient, because being completely honest with your patients will facilitate a trusting relationship overall. It was a great discussion and as always, I’m happy that I made the decision to attend. The free Chipotle dinner was a very satisfying added bonus. 😁

Mannn, I’m really about to take Step 1 in about five weeks. I feel like I JUST registered for the exam. Hell, I still remember penning One Chance as if it were just yesterday (I wrote it last summer). It’s crazy that I’ve actually learned all the organ systems in the body. Now it’s just a matter of synthesizing that information and being able to critically think through thousands of questions during this study block before finally sitting in front of my testing computer in Greensboro on the morning of April 10th to slay this exam once and for all. Lol it’s almost like I’m playing a video game that I’ve been trying to beat for years. I’ve finally gotten through most of the levels and I’m at the level closest to the level where I fight the final boss of the game! Let’s gooooooo!!!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Pray for me y’all.  😂😅🙏

“When you’re up against a trouble, meet it squarely, face to face; Lift your chin and set your shoulders, plant your feet and take a brace. When it’s vain to try to dodge it, do the best that you can do; You may fail, but you may conquer, SEE IT THROUGH!” – Edgar Albert Guest

– Black Man, M.D.

The Joy of Resilience

It’s been about a week since we started the Renal block, and I believe it’s safe to say that the physiology of the kidneys is complex as hell. I’ve been hammering away at it all week and I still am far from comfortable with how the kidneys work…and we have an exam on the physiology this Friday.

GIPHY Originals reaction annoyed whatever frustrated

However, the more I’ve studied it, the more it’s starting to click for me. Go figure. Contrary to the opinions of many, I’m finding that I actually don’t hate Renal physiology. As a matter of fact, I see it all as a very intricate puzzle that needs to be put together. The many ions and transporters that are involved in concentrating urine and keeping the body in homeostasis can get confusing, but it’s also very intriguing. It’s especially intriguing given the fact that many things that happen in the kidneys relate to other organ systems I’ve learned about already like the heart, brain, liver, GI system, etc. Overall, I’ve been slaving at understanding this material, but I haven’t been necessarily suffering. I just need to get it all together before Friday.

Then I’ll be on Winter Break ya bishhhhh!!!

Nick At Nite dance happy dancing celebration

Gotta stay focused tho. I have five whole days of work until then.

In this block, we’ve all been assigned to meet with a patient on dialysis treatment at a local dialysis center. My assigned day happened to be last Wednesday, so I went ahead and drove up to the dialysis center that I was assigned to that day in order to learn more about life as a dialysis patient. When I got to the unit where all the patients were, I was randomly given someone to talk to, who happened to be a black male who looked to be somewhere in his early 60s or so. We introduced ourselves to each other and began to talk about where we came from. A couple of minutes into the convo, he mentioned that he was a Kappa, which completely took me by surprise. When I told him I was one too, boooyyy did his face light up! He started grinning from ear to ear and then proceeded to spill his whole life story in pure excitement. He spoke with me about how he had been a teacher for 34 years, in which he taught middle and high school students and how strict he was as an educator. He also talked about how strong his marriage has been throughout his time on dialysis, how his college days helped shape him up to be the man he is today, how tough being on dialysis is and how important a positive attitude and unwavering faith is. I’ve been aware of how often patients on dialysis need to go to a center in order to get treatment, but just hearing it come out of the mouth of someone I was talking one-on-one with really made it real. He has to go to a dialysis center three days a week, and the treatment takes about four hours each time. That’s a LOT of time just sitting around being hooked onto a machine. He described to me how he’s met a good number of people from all walks of life in the center and how grateful he is to be at the dialysis center at Wake due to its state-of-the-art care and facility. We (He) ended up talking for almost an hour and a half, which I felt flew by really quickly. He was really grateful to have been able to talk with me, and I felt the same about being able to gain some knowledge of his perspective of life as a dialysis patient. It was a wonderful experience overall, and it helped put a face to the material I’m learning in the Renal block.

Apart from school, I’ve had a pretty eventful weekend which included fellowshipping at two different houses that belonged to physicians, visiting the elementary school that I’m helping to start a mentorship program at, attending the annual medical school holiday party, wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts as Santa to kids afflicted with sickle cell anemia, and going out to Chapel Hill to mingle with some SNMA medical students at Duke and UNC. Now that I just typed that, I’m looking at it and am saying to myself how crazy it is that I actually did all that in the past couple of days. Everything I did this weekend was pretty fun though, especially being able to dress up as Santa Claus and watching the faces of the resilient kids light up as they received their gifts!

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The costume had me looking absolutely ridiculous though 😂😂😂. I didn’t have a white beard, and my pants were extremely short…so my red Nike socks were in plain sight along with my Lebron’s. Someone told me I looked like the Santa from Friday After Next. Lol, I was also being hella extra in my costume and just having a good time with it overall. My friends that were helping pass out gifts to the kids thought it was all so funny. Even the older ladies in charge of the event were in tears as I came out in my highwaters! I think it’s safe to say my friends and I helped bring some joy that morning to everyone in attendance!

Okay, time to crank out this last week of study before winter break.

Y’all have a stellar week!

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I had my last medical ethics class and my last Health Systems & Policy class last Monday! No more long Monday afternoons!!