ONE. MORE. WEEK.

This is it y’all!

I’m heading into my final week of third-year rotations!!

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I’m finally going to be taking my eighth and final Shelf exam this Friday, and I couldn’t be more ready to get it over with. It’s taking everything in me to get through all the material that I need to study in order to perform adequately on the exam, especially since the Emergency Medicine exam is one that can test me on just about anything. So yeah, you already know that there’s no way I’m going to know everything I need to know for this exam. If there’s one thing I learned about Shelf exams this year, it’s that the questions on the test are a total crapshoot. There’s pretty much no telling what’s coming at you once you hit “Start Exam” and enter into the 2-hour-and-45-minute time crunch that you’re given to complete the 110 questions. It’s annoying as hell. But regardless, I’m gonna put my best effort into it and deal with whatever score I manage to squeeze from it. Unlike other rotations though, I also have a 30-minute oral exam that I have to complete the morning of my Shelf. So I have the glorious opportunity to prepare for that too. Lucky me. Hopefully that ends up helping out my overall grade as opposed to hurting me!

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Before I get to finish off my third year and move on to fourth year like I so desperately want to, I have to work two more ED shifts tomorrow and Tuesday as well as participate in a Pediatrics Simulation Lab and finish writing up this required case report about a patient that I helped treat a couple of weeks ago. This is all after having completed a Peds ED shift today just prior to typing this post.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I actually do like this rotation and the people I’ve worked with in it have been some of the best and nicest that I’ve worked with all year long. Plus, both the didactic and the on-the-job teaching I’ve had the opportunity to receive while in this rotation has been phenomenal. I feel like I’ve learned an incredible amount of information in these past three weeks and like I’ve been treated as a true member of the healthcare team while working my shifts. And I can’t forget about the fact that I’ve gotten the chance to see some pretty crazy things happen to patients while on my shifts. But even with all that said, I’ve recently come to find that I’ve become quite exhausted with this school year overall. It has been getting harder for me to will myself to get things done and to engage myself in the rotation at times. There have been also times where I just completely forgoed studying and found something else to do with the limited time that I have. For a second, I had thought I was starting to perhaps experience some early signs of burnout…but I don’t think that’s really what it is. I think it’s moreso that now that I know what field of medicine I want to go into, I’m just itching to start working in that field specifically. I have most of my fourth-year schedule locked in already, and I have a fantastic start to the year with my first four blocks being Step 2 prep (🙃🙃🙃), the Victory Junction Pediatric Summer Camp, Neonatal ICU and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Acting Internship. And not only am I excited about my schedule, I’m also thrilled about the fact that I don’t have any exams to prepare for in most of my blocks next year!!

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That’s literally one of the best parts of fourth year; I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in the rotations and study the material that I want to study in the fashion that I want to do so without having to worry about getting through a certain number of questions and memorizing buzzwords and whatnot. I can read research articles to my heart’s desire, I can spend my “study time” reading up on as many patients as I want, I can fully engage with my patients without having to worry about setting time aside to study questions and when I get home I don’t have to spend most of my waking hours studying for Shelf exams! It’s going to be wonderful, I already know it lol. These, plus more, are the reasons as to why I am itching to finish up this Emergency Medicine rotation and to start off my last year of medical school. I’m really glad that this rotation is designed the way it is though, because having great people to work with in such a collegiate environment has made it easier for me to engage myself and learn, no matter how much I would like to fast forward time. However, I did enjoy the two Peds ED shifts that I’ve worked in, so Peds Emergency Medicine is definitely a possible career path for me in the future!

This past week was straight. I don’t really feel like typing anymore, especially since I have a lot of other stuff to do…so I’ll keep it brief. I worked three ED shifts throughout the week, participated in an Airway Lab where my classmates and I got hands-on learning about managing airways in patients, and attended the annual Scholar’s Brunch yesterday morning where I met one of the people that one of my scholarships was named after. It turns out that she was one of the previous Deans for Student Inclusion and Diversity at the medical school! We had some great conversation over some delicious food and I was able to take in the moment to appreciate the fact that I was in a room full of freakin’ millionaires. Like, I was meeting people whose family members had buildings around the medical center named after them! Wild bruh. Just wild. I was also featured in a video that was shown during the brunch (Here’s the link to it), so maybe some of those donors will remember my face and decide to help me pay off some more of my six-digit debt! 😅🙏🏿

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Aight, I’m done typing. Y’all be sure to have a fantastic week! 😄

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

One Last Ride

I had to stop and take a moment this morning to fully take in the fact that my Step 2 CK scheduled exam date is exactly two months from today. TWO MONTHS. I actually didn’t realize how close we were to June, partly because up until about a week ago it had been so damn cold here. But now that it looks like spring is finally here to stay, I’m more acutely aware of how soon summer will be here, which means that I’ll be taking both parts of Step 2 pretty soon as well as starting my fourth-year electives and working on my residency applications.

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Man, that’s a lot to think about right now. I don’t think I’m prepared to be in Step Study Mode yet…it took so much out of me the first time around. But it just has to be done. I just gotta get myself mentally prepared for it. I just really hope that my decision to end my third year on the broad subjects of Family and Emergency Medicine ultimately pays off. 😅

Speaking of which, I’m really about to start my final rotation of third year tomorrow! Emergency Medicine is another four-week rotation and I have a strong feeling that these next four weeks will fly by just as fast as the month in Family Medicine did. I’ve heard only great things about this rotation, including the incredible amount of independence we as students enjoy while rotating in the Emergency Department. At this point in my medical school career, I’m beyond ready to take on patients on my own in order to assess their condition and to come up with a treatment plan for them. I’m looking forward to the wild experiences that I’m sure to come across in the ED, even though the pace is going to be vastly different from the relatively much calmer pace I enjoyed in the clinic this past month. My schedule looks pretty wild though. I have a bunch of evening shifts sprinkled sporadically throughout the month (my weekend days were not spared), a few day shifts, a good number of morning lectures, a couple of clinical coaching experiences, a Saturday overnight shift, and some other things that I’m going to learn more about in orientation tomorrow. I’ve heard that I can change shift days around though, which has been unheard of in other rotations. I might have to go on and look into doing that with some of my shifts, because I have a feeling that I’ll have a couple of time conflicts with other pre-scheduled events…we’ll see though.

As for my most recent shelf exam…I THINK I did okay overall. That mess was pretty challenging, even after all of that preparation I put into it. Even though I was uncertain about more questions than I would have liked, I believe it’s safe to say that it did NOT slap me sideways as I had feared! I finished the exam with some time to spare, allowing me to go over most of the questions that I didn’t feel too sure about. Hopefully I did better on it than I did on my Surgery shelf. That Surgery exam disrespected the hell outta me. Smh. And while I’m on the topic of Surgery, I finally got my rotation grade a couple of days ago. Not gonna lie, I wasn’t impressed with it. I actually was a bit bummed out because I had fallen short of the goal I had set for myself in that rotation, even after all the grueling hours I put into making sure that I performed well. I must say, the shelf exam didn’t really help me reach my goal either. But alas, what’s done is done. I did my best. All I can do is move on and use the lessons I learned along with the feedback I recieved to make me a better medical student and future physician. And besides, I have no desire to be a surgeon. So there’s that.

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I had a few clinic shifts to work leading up to exam day, including a couple of evening shifts. One of them was the Community Care Clinic, where I interviewed and assessed like five or six patients back to back. I definitely got a lot of practice in history-taking, patient presentation and document write-up there. The other shift was at the Delivering Equal Access to Care (DEAC) Free Clinic, where I was paired up with a first-year medical student in order to assess patients together. His main task was to gather a focused history from the patient while mine was to chart the patient and follow-up with any additional questions that I deemed necessary before going on to the physical exam. I was also responsible for presenting the patient to the attending physician. As I worked with the first-year that night, I was suddenly reminded of how far I’ve come as a medical student. I found myself casually using terms that he hadn’t learned yet, asking the patient very focused questions after the student gathered a great history in a style that I remember learning as a first-year, speaking with the attending about various medications and dosages to give to the patient, and teaching the student various things as we worked together through the shift. Although I’ve been aware of my overall growth as a student, I was still quite surprised at how much information I knew while I worked with him, and was even more surprised when the student commended me for being so knowledgeable. It was really cool to be in a position to teach him concepts that are now second-nature to me and to fully appreciate my exponential growth as a student in terms of knowledge base and comfortability in assessing patients.

The last things I’m going to talk about in this post are the two panels that I was invited to be a part of this past week. The first one was a MAPS panel at UNCG, where myself and a few other students from Wake and Duke talked to college students about our experiences in medical school. They were very appreciative of our honesty and that we all came from different backgrounds with different paths to medical school. I always love doing things like this, because seeing us talk about our experiences really helps to motivate them and shows them that they really can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Also, it humbles me and allows me to remember what it was like to be a college student striving to get into medical school.

The other panel was at a Narrative Medicine Symposium at Wake Forest yesterday and it involved me talking about how I use narrative medicine in my everyday life as a student in the field of healthcare. I sat on the panel with two other physicians and we all talked about the various ways we cope with the stresses of our lives. I mainly talked about why I started this blog in the first place, how I’ve been able to incorporate it into my everyday life and how I’ve expanded the platform overtime. I also touched on where my love for writing first started, how I’ve had to learn how to navigate writing about my clinical experiences without potentially violating the privacy of the patients that I encountered, and I even shared a few of the posts that I’ve written in the past with the audience! I’m so glad that I was invited to speak on the panel and that I was introduced to the notion of Narrative Medicine. It’s really wild to think about how many opportunities I’ve been able to capitalize on simply because I created this blog! And thanks to the support of each of you, I’ve been able to maintain this platform for as long as I have!

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Alright, I’m done word-vomiting. I’ve had a sort-of chill weekend but now I gotta gear back up and get ready for this last rotation of the school year. I also gotta get in on a couple of conference calls tonight for the SNMA. The grind never stops! I hope that your week is a delightful one! 😄

“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar 

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – If you want to learn more about the disastrous situation in Syria, check out the “Cries From Syria” HBO documentary. I watched it last night and it really shook me. The atrocities happening to the Syrian citizens are absolutely horrendous. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot about the crisis and will also have a better understanding of the implications that their civil war will have on our immediate future. Just to warn you though, the documentary is very graphic.

Way Too Fast

This week flew by so fast man…like I was just in a plane typing up last week’s post. Then I blinked and now here I am typing up this post. I really couldn’t tell you where the time went. However, whenever I’m busy studying for an upcoming exam, time has the cruel tendency to speed up in an exponential fashion. So with that said, it makes sense as to why I feel like the hours in the day have been carelessly flying by. I’ve been getting a TON of necessary studying in via question format and have spent a lot of time reviewing the questions that I’ve answered. If you didn’t already know, there is SOOO much information to review in Family Medicine but because I’ve already seen about 95% of this specialty’s content in all of my previous rotations, it’s really not as overwhelming as it has the potential to be. To put it simply, this rotation is pretty much a crash course of everything that I’ve already learned. This is one of the huge pluses to having this rotation near the end of my third year!

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But even after having said this, I am very well aware of how hard the shelf can potentially be. I’m going to be tested on literally anything that I’ve learned all year long, almost as if it were a mini-Step 2 exam. This is why I’ve already powered through and reviewed 500+ questions, and will continue to power through and review a couple hundred more this week up until exam time on Friday afternoon. This test is NOT about to catch me slipping. If it ends up slapping me sideways anyway, at least I know that I put 100% of my effort in preparing for it. Let’s hope that the outcome is the other way around though lol.

Although I spent the vast majority of my free time this past week studying, I did have the time to participate in some clinical activities. I had an evening shift one night, a few day shifts, and a focused observed patient assessment where I was observed by a clinical coach via video recording as I interacted with a standardized patient. I also had the opportunity to meet with a clinical operations manager in order to learn more about the business side of healthcare and how money influences what goes on in this industry. As a result of this conversation, I got a better understanding of how salary payments are broken down in both an academic setting and a private practice setting, although I still don’t think I could fully explain it to someone else. At the very least, I made a friend who made herself available to me whenever I want to learn more about the financial operations of a hospital or clinic. I’ll surely be hitting her up more in the future!

And last but certainly not least, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the multiple noon conferences that the Family Medicine department hosts. The topics have been some very educational ones, but admittedly the best part of the lectures has been the phenomenal catering. Bruh, the free food that I’ve been able to enjoy in this rotation has been nothing short of spectacular. Like, where else would you get Jason’s Deli, pulled pork & beans with potato salad and grilled chicken, chicken noodle soup, and full house salads all in one week? And those are just the lunches that I can remember at the moment! There have been other awesome dishes that I have taken delightful joy in consuming. I’m definitely going to miss this about this rotation…

Speaking of, I don’t even understand how my time in Family Medicine is already almost up. It honestly wasn’t that long ago that I took my Surgery shelf exam. I’ve had such an awesome time with the residents and attendings here as well as the nurses, the certified medical assistants, and everyone in between. Everyone has been so genuine and kind, which has given me the confidence to take the extra mile to improve upon my history-taking skills as well as my physical exam maneuvers and my presentation technique. For example, I’ve been taking a minimal amount of notes, if any, while in the patient room and then presenting all of my findings to my preceptor from memory. By doing this, I’ve forced myself to not only organize my thoughts in a succinct and presentable fashion in my head but to also be fully engaged with the patient while interviewing him or her. In addition, by presentating information from the dome, I’m learning how to trust myself more and am building the necessary clinical confidence that will help carry me into fourth year and beyond. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I believe that it will help work wonders once I become proficient in this skill. Besides, I feel like this clerkship is a better time to practice something like this than any other time in third year!

Alright I gotta get back to studying like always. This is about to be a very busy week in terms of studying, and my clinic schedule this week isn’t the friendliest relatively speaking (got a couple of evening shifts, a full day of clinic and a half day), but there’s no way in hell I’m going to complain about it, especially if I think about what my days in Surgical Oncology looked like a couple of months ago. Good God.

Thanks for reading and I hope that your week is a fantastic one!

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I was invited to be on a panel during an interdisciplinary symposium taking place at Wake Forest this Saturday titled, “Narrative Medicine: Resilience, Professionalism and Self-Care” because of the fact that I’ve been blogging about my experiences in medical school for almost three years now. The session that I’m going to be serving as a panelist on specifically focuses on how to integrate narrative medicine into one’s life, something that I had already been doing without realizing it! I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences in narrative medicine with the participants of the conference!

Revvin’ Up The Momentum

And just like that, my Surgery rotation has come to an end! This marks the completion of my sixth rotation of third year, giving me only two more four-week rotations to engage in before I start my fourth year!

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I’m definitely starting to feel the end-of-the-year momentum! Also, with Match Day having occurred just this past Friday (shoutout to all the soon-to-be doctors across the nation!!), it’s starting to really hit me that at this point next year, I’m going to find out where I’ll be spending the next few years of my life! Having now attended the Match Day ceremony here three different times, I’m really looking forward to finally having my moment of truth on Match Day 2019. It’s so wild and so exciting at the same time!

Now to quickly recap on my last week of Surgery. I spent the majority of the week in the O.R. with various Anesthesia residents and attendings. While with them, I was afforded the opportunity to assist the staff in Neurosurgery, Interventional Radiology and Cardiothoracic operations. I also learned a lot of good information from them while we monitored the operations and saw some incredible procedures that I would have otherwise never been able to witness in person. When I wasn’t in the O.R. working with the Anesthesiologists, you could find me actively preparing for the Shelf exam while trying to get my life together. The exam itself started off tougher than I had expected, but then after about 20 questions or so I found myself finally getting into the groove of the exam and it became easier to answer the barrage of questions that were thrown at me. I hate it when the first questions end up being some of the hardest ones…it can really throw off your confidence and slow you down drastically. Thankfully, I ended up being able to power through it with adequate time left at the end to review my unsure answers! Overall, I think the exam went okay and I don’t have any regrets about my preparation for it, even though there were some questions on the test (WHAT A SURPRISE) that I would not have been ready for no matter how much I had studied…but I digress.

As always, I’m looking forward to being able to start off a new rotation! This rotation will be Family Medicine, which is going to be primarily an outpatient experience, meaning that I’ll miraculously won’t be in the hospital for a month. That’s pretty wild to me, considering the fact that I practically live there lol. I’ve heard so many great things about this rotation, which has only amplified my excitement about finally starting my experience! Another thing that I’m really hyped about is next week’s trip to San Fran for the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference! I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I was told where this year’s conference would be taking place, which was almost a whole year ago. There are so many sessions that I want to attend, so many people I want to either meet or reconnect with, several activities that I want to lend a helping hand to, and if I have the time (probably won’t, let’s be honest), so many places that I want to visit in the city! With the hotel rooms having sold out over a month ago, I already know that it’s going to be a ton of fun! Plus, the networking opportunities will be unreal! Stay tuned for that post; it’s probably gonna be extra lol.

That’s it from me today. Be sure to have a fantastic week! And R.I.P. to all of our brackets. March Madness this year has truly been maddening. By far the worst I’ve ever done with my brackets. But I can’t even be mad because the games have been thrilling, to say the absolute least!

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Black Man, M.D.

High Noon

Okay, crunch time is officially here.

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I have 11 days until my Surgery shelf exam, and I’m going to be losing an hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time next Sunday. Believe it or not, 11 days is not a lot of time to review all the material that I still need to get through in order to be comfortable enough to take that shelf exam. Although I’ve already completed a large portion of the questions that I need to get through, I still need to study the answers to them and further review the concepts that I don’t totally understand yet. In addition, I have to begin preparing for my cross-country trip to the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference at the end of this month, where I’ll be playing a much larger role (thanks to my status as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows and as one of the members of the National Community Service Committee) than I did when I went for the first time last year. The conference will be taking place in San Francisco this year, which I’m very excited for because I have never been to Cali before!

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There are also emails that I need to send out and respond to (I’ve accepted the fact that this is going to be a never-ending problem), projects that I need to continue to coordinate, assignments that I need to complete and things I need to figure out as I continue to prepare for applying to residency programs and for my final year of medical school. There just always seems to be a cascade of things to do at any given moment and because of this, my mind has developed this habit of racing through tasks while at the same time calculating my next moves. Even as I type this post, I’m thinking about the many things that I need to get done before I go to sleep tonight while at the same time plotting out my plan of attack in preparing for my upcoming exam. It’s honestly remarkable how on most nights, I’m able to calm my mind down enough to go to sleep.

Speaking of, starting tonight, I’m going to have to go back to going to sleep real early because I have to be at the hospital by 6 AM tomorrow morning to begin the Anesthesiology portion of my Surgery rotation. I knew that these early mornings were coming back to rear their ugly heads, so I’ve been mentally preparing myself for it for weeks lol. But in any case, this service is going to be an interesting one and I’m certain that I’ll learn a lot of good information during these next two weeks as I rotate through this specialty. I’m apparently going to be in different places on different days in order to rotate through as many of the sub-specialty areas of Anesthesiology as I possibly can, so I gotta make sure that I have my schedule straight at all times. I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time on several occasions, and it’s certainly NOT a fun thing to have to go through. I’m also ready to start on this service because I have yet to meet an Anesthesiologist here at Wake who isn’t a chill person! The atmosphere that I’ve sensed from the physicians in this department so far gives me reason to look forward to working on this service for the next couple of weeks.

With the start of my last service on my Surgery rotation comes the end of my fascinating experience in the Ophthalmology department. During my last week on this service, I had the opportunity to work with Ophthalmologists who specialized in the cornea, the retina and the pediatric population. In addition, I was able to work with a resident who answered consults throughout the hospital, allowing me the opportunity to observe all kinds of patients who had some unique findings in their eyes that I had never seen before. I appreciated the things that I was able to see and do during this week, but something specific that I took note of was how the Pediatric Ophthalmologist interacted with his patients. He had the challenging task of examining and diagnosing children with ocular disorders, which meant that he had to ensure that these kids stayed patient enough to follow the specific directions that he gave them while he assessed them. It was incredible to watch how he used the tricks that he had up his sleeves to retrieve important information from his patients, and to realize just how knowledgeable he was about ophthalmology. I’m definitely going to have to borrow some of his clever tricks and use them with my own patients in the future!

All in all, even though the patient presentation that I was supposed to give during Grand Rounds last week got pushed to this week, I had a great and intellectually stimulating experience while on this service. There were times where I was tempted to reconsider pursuing this specialty again, but at this point I’m comfortable enough to say that I’m committed to a career in Pediatrics. Where this road will take me, I have absolutely no idea. But I do know that I’ve developed a very real passion about this specialty that I can’t shake off, and the opportunities that a career in Pediatrics presents truly excite me to no end. Who knew that it would have ever come to this? Apparently just about everyone but me 😅. They weren’t lying when they said that crazy things can happen during your clinical rotations!

Alright, gotta go now. Be sure to start your month off on a positive note! And remember to get yourself ready for the insanity that is March Madness…

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“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.” – Pat Riley

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The two presentations that I gave last week went well for the most part! Well, one of them went sort-of-well in my opinion, and I ended up doing a much better job with my other one!

You Think You Got It Bad?

And just like that, it’s shelf week.

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Even with the week-long break in the middle of the rotation, time managed to fly by really fast. Like, it’s already December! We’ll literally be in 2018 at this time next month! Hopefully it proves to be a better year than this one has been. However, we gotta finish 2017 off on a strong note! With that said, I plan on perfoming as well as I can on Friday’s upcoming exam and on marching through the first two weeks of my Neurology rotation on solid footing. Speaking of the exam, I’ve come to realize that there’s only so much that can be tested on the Psychiatry shelf exam due to the fact that the specialty itself isn’t as broad as something like Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. But on the other hand, there are a TON of guidelines that are used to diagnosis the pathologic conditions within Psychiatry, so it’s important to make sure that I keep them all straight in my head. Also definitely can’t forget the various drug classes and specific drugs that are used to treat these psychiatric pathologies. As always, I just hope my study efforts allow me to do as well as I would like to do on the test!

I was on the Psych consult service this past week and our main task was to answer the questions of healthcare providers on other services in the hospital who called us to see if we thought that their patients needed psychiatric help. There were instances where we helped manage patients with conditions such as bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder, but a good amount of the calls we received were usually because of an offhand comment that a patient would make relating to suicide. In those instances, the patient tended to become annoyed that we were asked to talk to them and usually insisted that they weren’t really suicidal after we would explain that we took comments like that very seriously. Being on this service allowed me to appreciate the routine frequency of which psychiatry is consulted, commonly for reasons that we would fix with a simple conversation with the patient. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind when I work to treat patients in an inpatient setting in the future and will think twice before consulting psychiatry for something that I could probably take care of on my own.

On one of the mornings during the week, I was given the opportunity to take part in treating patients via ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)! You know, just like what you see in the movies where we shock people in the head with electricity! Just like FRANKENSTEIN!!!

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Okay I’m just kidding lol. It’s not really what you would expect. Yes, we did shock people with electric currents in order to induce seizures, which in turn would work to help treat severe psychiatric conditions. However, these people being shocked would lay perfectly still while the current zapped through their brain. The only thing that would move would be one of their feet, which was made possible by tightening a blood pressure cuff around their ankle. The rest of their body would be paralyzed by medications. Pretty nifty huh? We performed ECT on about 5-7 people that morning (the whole procedure would take about 20 minutes max) and I actually was asked to press the button to zap electricity into someone’s head! Guess you can call me a MAD SCIENTIST NOW!!! MUUUUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Something else that I was able to appreciate this week was the unbelievable power that addiction has on the lives of people. We participated in a discussion about the topic during a lunch session at some point last week, where the paradigm of “Use, Abuse, & Addiction” regarding drug use was reinforced. Interesting fact alert: If someone mentions that they could quit using whatever substance they’re routinely using or doing whatever activity they’re routinely doing at any time they want but just choose not to, they’re probably addicted. We were also taught that an addiction is almost impossible to control and that the first step in recovering from addiction is to understand that one is powerless in trying to control an addiction. A day after that talk was given, I had the opportunity to actually sit in on a group therapy session for recovering addicts. It was part of an intensive outpatient program that served as a bridge between the inpatient unit and outpatient 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. While at the group therapy session, I directly witnessed the incredible power that this type of treatment had on these people and watched as they displayed a wide range of emotions while describing their personal experiences with the destructive force of addiction. It was such a powerful, eye-opening experience. The disease of addiction is very real. I really appreciate being able to learn from that experience and the people at the session also expressed gratitude about the fact that we as medical students are able to attend their sessions, because it forces us to understand the reality of addiction and it will help influence how we treat our future patients. I was also asked by one of the group members to check out “The Big Book“, which I’ll look into at some point in the future.

One more thing and then I’m done. Promise!

Right before writing this post, I was volunteering with the H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Eat) organization of Winston-Salem. Me and a few other classmates helped out by delivering lunches and fresh produce to the kids and adults of some low-income neighborhoods in the city. The food was stored in a big green van that we followed around in our own car and as it blasted the same New Orleans-influenced “When The Saints Come Marching In” song over and over again, kids would come running from all directions to pick up food for themselves and their families. It was like they were running to the ice cream truck…except that it was nutritious food that many of them relied on each and every week. For some of the kids, these lunch bags were the only things that they would be able to eat on the weekends before going back to school for lunch! That is so wild to wrap my head around. It’s just unbelievable that without an initiative such as this one, these kids could very well starve on the weekends. Participating in this organization for an afternoon is a required part of our longitudinal Health Equity curriculum throughout third-year, and I’m very happy about that. Requiring us to interact with the appreciative residents of these lower socioeconomic communities certainly allows for us to gain appreciation for what we have in our own lives and also shows us a perspective that some of my classmates have probably never appreciated before in real life. It also ties into the physician-patient relationship in that we’ll be able to better understand the circumstances that some of our future patients will be living in. Overall, I’m sure that the H.O.P.E organization has made a critical difference in the lives that it has touched, both volunteers and food recipients.

Alright, I’m all done now. Gotta get prepared for this last week of my Psychiatry clerkship! Y’all have a magnificent week!

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – You probably realized that I hadn’t mentioned the Clemson-Miami ACC championship game that I witnessed in real life with my own eyes yesterday in Charlotte. It’s because I’m still grieving about the annihilation that we suffered through. It was so, so, soooo sad. Smh. Welp, at least we’re playing in the Orange Bowl. It was a good season overall. We’ll come back even stronger next year!

New Kids On The Block

Okay, I’m keeping this one short. Don’t got time to write a whole lot, and I don’t really have a whole lot to say other than the fact that I’m sadly finishing my Pediatrics rotation this week. And oh yeah, I have a notoriously tough shelf exam on Friday that I’m still actively working to prepare for. 😅

I just got back from a fun couple of days in Chapel Hill, where me, my girlfriend and a couple of close friends attended the UNC-Miami football game and watched Miami take down UNC in a game that shouldn’t have been close at all. But it’s whatever, we 7-0 baby!!! Okay I lied, it’s not whatever; we play VA Tech at our homecoming next weekend and they are not going to be an easy team to play. Plus our schedule gets even tougher after that game…so we’ll see how long our undefeated status will last. I got faith though!

Before going to Chapel Hill for the weekend, I had spent my week in the Newborn Nursery where I not only got to play with babies every day, but also learned how to perform routine physicial exams on newborns. Throughout the week, I also interacted with and gave discharge talks to the families of the newborns, witnessed firsthand the complex social situations that these babies were born into, listened to informative presentations on child abuse & child advocacy, and gained a ton of knowledge from the residents and attendings I worked with about the various medical conditions that can affect newborns. I even changed a couple of diapers, something that I hadn’t done in a number of years! (That exclamation mark doesn’t mean that I wasn’t excited about changing diapers…if anything, I was moreso surprised that I was actually doing it once more after all this time lol.) It was a really great experience in a chill environment and unlike in the inpatient setting, the vast majority of these babies were born healthy, meaning that there was more happiness than sadness going around in the nursery. I really enjoyed going to “work” each day, even on my Saturday morning shift. My team played a huge part in my happiness in the nursery; they were such fantastic people to work with! Also, you wouldn’t believe how much manpower it takes to transition a family from birth to discharge from the hospital. There’s SO much work that’s involved in making sure that a newborn is adequately taken care of in its first couple days of life, which is followed by multiple appointments at a Pediatrician’s office after the family is discharged. It’s funny to think that, once upon a time, we were all newborns who went through this whole baby shuffle.

The fact that I’m entering my last week of Pediatrics is so wild to me. It just all flew by so fast! And I’m sure that by now, you’re fully aware of how much I’ve been enjoying my experience in this rotation. I’m finishing up my Peds experience on the Endocrinology service, where I’ll be interacting with patients afflicted with various endocrine disorders in a couple of different clinics. I’m excited to relish in this opportunity and judging by the email I received from the doctor that I’ll be working with, I can already tell that it’s going to be yet another awesome week! Then I gotta take this shelf exam that literally everyone has said was tough as hell. But it’s all good, because I know I’ll be prepared for it by the time I take it! And then I’m going to have a dope weekend that I’m so looking forward to after I finish the test! 😄😄😄

 I hope you have an incredible week!

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

– Black Man, M.D.

Switch Up

I’m on the home stretch of my second rotation of third-year! Which means that I get to show “the powers that be” how much knowledge I’ve accumulated while on this rotation via my Shelf exam this Friday! How exciting is that?? Like, when else will I get the amazing opportunity to impress upon myself how much I’ve learned in Obstetrics & Gynecology? There’s no better way to do it than to take a standardized 110-question exam within a 2-hour-and-45-minute time window on a Friday afternoon! I just feel like — okay, I’ll cut the BS 😂.

Yeah, my Ob/Gyn shelf exam is this Friday and yes, I’ve been feeling the pressure of it as of late. I really want to perform as well as I know I can, especially since the exam plays a large role in my grade for the overall rotation. I learned that first-hand in my Internal Medicine clerkship where I did okay on my shelf exam but not as well as I would have liked, which ultimately impacted my overall clerkship grade that — in a way — contradicted the positive feedback I received from my evaluators. It really proved to me that shelf exams will play a determining role in my grades, no matter how well I may perform in the clinic. So with that said, I’ve been working particularly hard on studying for this upcoming exam from day one of this current clerkship. I’ve also been using the whole reframing mindset that I’ve practiced in the past, where I’ve been working on viewing this exam as a welcoming challenge to overcome as opposed to a stressful barrier on my path that is stopping me from achieving my goals. It’s gotten me this far, why stop now? And honestly, the fewer unwelcome surprises that are thrown at me on the exam, the better. They can miss me with all that. With all that in mind, I’m just going to keep working hard on reviewing my material this week and perform to the absolute best of my abilities on Friday!

I was quite studious this past weekend, only breaking away from my studies to hang out at Melissa Harris-Perry’s house for her annual homecoming celebration and to further celebrate Wake’s homecoming with other alumni & friends at a nearby venue. Before the weekend started though, I journeyed through another week full of unforgettable experiences at the hospital! I continued to work the night shifts that I told y’all about in my previous post up until Wednesday morning. During those nights, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver some more placentas, bringing my placenta count up to five! I also tagged along with interns and residents in managing patients in the Emergency Department, checking in on laboring patients, and interviewing patients coming in to the triage unit. There were also stretches of time during the shifts where things slowed down, so I was able to (thankfully) get quite a bit of studying done. Ultimately, I managed to witness and assist in the live births of 14 newborns during my time on the Labor & Delivery service! But, unfortunately, I was not able to deliver any one of them with my own hands 😔. It was an overall great experience nonetheless!

Just when I was starting to get used to the night schedule, I had to switch up my circadian rhythm yet again in order to start my experience on the Gynecology surgery service this past Thursday. In the two days that I was on that service I scrubbed into multiple procedures, those of which included a vaginal hysterectomy, an abdominal hysterectomy, a bilateral oopherectomy and ROBOTIC removal of endometriosis lesions. Yes, ROBOTIC. It really looked like the physician was playing a video game on the machine…except that the stakes were massively higher. And in case you were wondering, hysterectomy = removal of the uterus, oopherectomy = removal of the ovaries, and endometriosis = endometrial tissue found in areas outside of your uterus. The procedures were very interesting to watch and assist in. I also found myself asking a thousand questions while observing the procedures, those of which were answered by the very patient surgeons.

During one of the operations, I found myself thinking about just how much I still don’t know about the human body and medicine in general even after studying it in detail for the past two years. It both astonished me and bummed me out at the same time…but then I quickly reminded myself about how much more I actually do know compared to my college self and even my first-year med student self. I’ve learned an unbelievable amount of information in these past couple of years and it’s important I keep reminding myself that I’m more knowledgable than I perceive myself to be, because I have a strong feeling that I’ll continue to experience these skeptical thoughts about my knowledge base throughout my medical education and even during my residency years. This is why having friends outside the medical field is essential; you realize how smart you actually are when you see that they have no idea what you’re talking about lol. It also works well for them, because when they talk to you about their area of expertise, you’ll most likely look at them with utter, hopeless confusion. I say all this to say that it is of the utmost importance that I have confidence in my abilites and my growing knowledge, because without confidence I’ve already defeated myself. With confidence however, I’ll be much more likely to obtain better results, enjoy more opportunities of quality learning, and provide higher quality patient care which will in turn lead to safer patient care! If you’re a fellow health professional student reading this, please take this advice to heart and recognize that you’re more powerful than you may allow yourself to realize! If you’re reading this and are not a student in healthcare, please take this message and apply it to your life as well! Don’t unnecessarily put yourself down if you know that you’ve been working hard towards your goals!

I’m finishing this rotation up on the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery service, which I sincerely hope is just as cool as it sounds! Please feel free to wish me luck on this last week and on my shelf exam! 😁

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

– Black Man, M.D.

On To The Next One

How wild is it that I’m already 1/4 of the way through with my third-year??

I’ve completed 25% of the year and August has barely begun!

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What’s even crazier is that I’ve completed a grand total of ONE rotation throughout these past 12 weeks lol. I have classmates who’ve already taken three shelf exams so far…meanwhile I’m over here reflecting on the fact that I took my first one this past Friday. That 110-question exam was quite a challenge, if I do say so myself; it honestly felt like a mini-Step 1 exam in my opinion…except we were moreso being asked questions on the management of patient presentations as opposed to what the diagnosis was. The 2-hour and 45-minute time limit didn’t help either. It may sound like a lot of time, but mannn it honestly wasn’t.

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I found myself having to work quicker than I would have liked, especially late into the test when I realized that if I wanted to have even just a few minutes to review the questions that I had marked for review, I could only give myself a maximum of a minute per question. A good amount of those questions weren’t easy either. Me along with about 85% of my classmates taking their respective shelf exams at the same time ended up using every single minute that was allotted to us. I left the test feeling pretty damn unsure about my performance on it overall, but I’m going to go ahead and confidently say that I feel like I at least passed it! I’m speaking it into existence! Just like Step, I prepared the best I could and I have no regrets on how I performed on test day. All I can do is press on onto my next rotation, which is Obstetrics & Gynecology! 😅

Now that my Internal Medicine clerkship has come to a close, I’ve been granted with a weeklong break before my next rotation! Thing is, because I had been busy preparing for my exam these past couple of weeks while attending to my hospital duties as a third-year med student, I’ve been pushing other responsibilites aside and have been telling myself that I would take care of them during this break. Welp, now the time has come to take care of those responsibilities/errrands…so I’ll be busy completing them during my break. However, I’ll also be going to Chapel Hill to help my girlfriend move in later on this week!! I’m really looking forward to seeing her again and am thrilled about the fact that we’ll now be a lot closer to each other! 😄😄😄 I’m just as thrilled about not having to wake up before the crack of dawn and not having to go to sleep soon after the sun goes down. I’m well aware that I’ll be getting back to that schedule real soon though…

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Y’all make sure to have a both productive and phenomenal week!

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”― Michael Altshuler

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – The biennial National Black Theatre Festival was going on in Winston-Salem this past week and I missed most of it due to me preparing for my exam…but I did get to go to a free outdoor concert last night! Plus, I had NEVER seen so many black people in downtown Winston-Salem at one time…it was spectacular!