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!