Crunch Time

So I’m still out here grindin’. But y’all already knew that.

This Endocrine/Reproductive exam that we have on Friday snuck up so fast on me man. March snuck up even faster! How we’ve already managed to get through February, I’ll never know. Also, with March comes Step Study Block. As a matter of fact, the study block starts NEXT WEEK.

HULU tv fox empire worried

It’s so unreal that I’m actually about to start tackling this exam head on. But I’m honestly ready to get it over with and even more ready to blaze past this Endo/Repro exam on Friday as well as the cumulative final next Tuesday that’ll be testing us on everything that we’ve learned ever since we got back from Thanksgiving. Yes, I said Thanksgiving. And yes, I know that’s a hell of a lot of stuff to be tested on. But guess what else is gonna test us on a hell of a lot of stuff? *DING DING DING* You guessed it! Good ol’ Step.

Life after Step is gonna be strange and awesome at the same time. Strange because I’ve been having to work towards this exam ever since I first stepped foot into med school, so completing that checkpoint will be like closing a chapter of my experience here. With the closing of that chapter comes a new one, which is where the awesome part comes in. I’ll be in the hospital on a daily basis actually taking care of patients! It’ll be an experience completely different from what I’ve been accustomed to and I feel like I’ll be able to learn even better by actually going through the motions on the wards. Speaking of, we actually FINALLY got our third-year schedules a few days ago! I got my second-preference schedule, which I’m very happy about! I’ll start off in the summer with three months of Internal Medicine, followed by six weeks of OB/GYN, six weeks of Pediatrics, a month of Psychiatry, a month of Neurology, eight weeks of Surgery, a month of Family Medicine and lastly, a month of Emergency Medicine. It’s going to be a grueling, yet fulfilling year. I’m also just gonna have to get over the fact that my already shortened free time will be even more severely shortened. 😅😰😭

This past week, in between studying for my upcoming exams, I completed my final Clinical Skills exam (CPX) for the year, attended my last Clinical Skills class of the year and shadowed another ophthalmologist at the hospital. My performance in CPX was fine overall, but I forgot to ask my standardized patient a couple of critical questions that would have made the diagnosis very clear to me. As I was doing the write-up, I was kicking myself about missing those questions because not asking those easy yet critical questions made it harder to complete my write-up. But on the bright side, I’ll never forget to ask them again when I come across real patients in the future! It’s definitely better to screw up and learn from my mistakes now rather than later when I’ll actually be at least partially responsible for the lives of actual patients. Overall though, I’ve come a LONG way from my very first CPX, after which I was advised (forced) to get extra practice with my history-taking skills by interviewing patients in the wards. Thank God for growth lol. It was also crazy attending my last Clinical Skills class, because I had been with that same small group of people ever since I first started school. I learned so many practical skills in that class over the past year-and-a-half that will undoubtedly be critical to my success in the wards in a few short months.

Finally, my shadowing experience was pretty dope, as always. I was running in and out of various operating rooms with the ophthalmologist and the resident working with him, where they were performing some fascinating surgeries. The amount of procedures that you can do on the eye is pretty insane. One patient was getting laser treatment on her retina, another patient was getting her diabetic retinopathy treated and another one had an epiretinal membrane that she needed to get treated. There was also a patient with this condition called “morning glory syndrome“, a condition in which one’s optic disk fails to fully develop in utero. The field of ophthalmology just continues to fascinate me. It was a pleasure, as always, to be able to shadow that physician.

Alright, back to studying. Y’all have a great week! And keep the resistance up; never allow yourself and the goodness of humanity to be oppressed!

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

– 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.

I See Freedom Around The Corner

I want to start off my post by wishing all the amazing mothers out there a

Happy Mothers’ Day!!!

You Africans out there know what’s good! Sweeet Mooothaaaa!!!

Being a mother is a very difficult 24/7 job that hands out no paychecks, but it’s one of the most precious jobs that we have in our society. I know firsthand how hard my own mother has worked all these years in raising me & my clan of siblings…it wasn’t easy. At all. So I appreciate her strength and sacrifices each and every day. I once told her that I would never know how to pay her back to show how much I appreciated her…she told me to finish school, become a doctor, look after my siblings and to buy her a Mercedes-Benz for her and my dad so that they can ride all around Cameroon when they retire. Guess I gotta follow through now huh? 😂 If you’re fortunate enough to have someone you can call your mother, please value her and try not to take everything she does for granted. More likely than not, she has made tremendous sacrifices for you that you may or may not know about.

As for me, I feel like I just wrote my previous post a couple of days ago. This past week really flew on by. Now I just have a couple more days of lecture and three tests standing in my way between now and the end of my first year! Gotta power on through to the finish line! I knocked out my last Clinical Skills exam of the year last week and I gotta say, I’ve come a hell of a long way from my very first one back in October. I couldn’t even take a proper HPI (History of Present Illness) back then…now I can breeze through the entire interview (HPI, Review of Systems, Past Medical History, Family History, Social History, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual History) with relative comfort. 😁 I handled my interview during my exam pretty well and managed to remember most of the components of the Neurological physical exam too. It was a lot to remember man. I actually almost ran out of time (45 minutes) for once lol. I did forget to do a few minor things, and had a hiccup when I forgot how to turn on the fundoscope 😂😂😂. A fundoscope is a handheld instrument that you can use to look into the back of a person’s eye (the retina). I stood there in the dimly lit room for almost 30 seconds trying to turn on the light on that freakin’ thing while trying to dissolve any awkwardness by maintaining a conversation with my standardized patient. I never did figure out how to turn it on on my own. My grader, who was on the other side of the one-sided glass/mirror, had to speak through the microphone to tell me to hit the switch on the wall the fundoscope was connected to in order to turn it on….😅. Boy did I feel stupid. Overall, I felt pretty comfortable with the patient encounter and my grader told me that I did a very good job! So that means that I can basically be your doctor…..just don’t come to me when you actually get sick or hurt. All I’m gonna do is take a history and maybe a physical exam then look at you like:

Lol, but seriously, don’t call me for any medical questions or advice. I’m not the one 😂. I’m just a med student tryna make it, go and get your actual doctor on the phone.

Remember that one ophthalmologist I talked about back in January in my Knowledge is Power post? The one who I went to have a meeting with in his office and ended up having me ask my questions to him in the operating room where he was operating on the retina of a newborn baby? Well I ended up shadowing him again a couple of days ago, and all I can say is that this man is a BOSS. I spent all morning with him power walking (And I thought that I walked fast…) around the clinic to see patients and to watch him give eye injections to certain patients. We must have seen about 25-30 patients in that short time period…it felt like we saw 60.While he was attending to each patient, he was doing like 10 other things, not to mention informing me of what he was doing and answering my questions as the morning went on. He was extremely busy, but what really struck me was how calm and collected he was throughout the whole morning. It was obvious to each patient that he was very busy, but they were all pleased with the time he spent with them because he never rushed the patient and he made sure to answer any questions the patient may have had. We even spent about 25 minutes with one elderly patient who was worried about getting an eye injection that she needed. She was actually 98 years old, but she looked like she was just hitting 70! She was walking on her own and everything too! Black don’t crack y’all lol. It took her niece, her son on the phone and the doctor to finally convince her to go through with the treatment. Throughout it all, the doctor never rushed anyone although he was starting to really fall behind schedule. So that just meant more power walking for us after he finished with that patient. All in all, it was a fabulous experience and I can really see myself doing what he was doing in the future.

That’s all I gotta say today. Make sure to have a wonderful Mother’s Day and a sensational week!

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.” – Amy Rees Anderson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Congratulations to all of you that are graduating from college this month! A special congrats to the Class of 2016 from the University of Miami!!! I wish I could have been there to watch you all walk the stage! It’s wild to think that I graduated from there on this date a year ago…