How Did I End Up Here?

Y’all.

I’m in the middle of a crisis right now.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with my future anymore.

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Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be reconsidering my “definite” decision of pursuing Ophthalmology as a career. I had been told numerous times that clinical rotations tended to steer people towards career paths that they never envisioned themselves in before, but I was always so sure that I had a steadfast hold on my goal of becoming an Ophthalmologist. Like, I used to have a quick answer every time someone asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to become. I definitely didn’t believe that I would be one of those who had the potential to be swayed into another specialty, especially because I had been interested in vision care ever since my early high-school years. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still interested in vision care and the field of Ophthalmology as a whole. But maaannn, the field of Pediatrics has been really tugging on me!

Like I said a couple weeks ago, a lot of my friends had said to me time and time again how they could see me becoming a wonderful Pediatrician. It always seemed crazy to me whenever I heard this because although I knew that I could tolerate kids and deal with them well, I just did not see myself ever deciding to become a doctor for kids…especially since I spent the majority of my childhood helping raise my five younger siblings, whether I wanted to or not. This is why it’s so unreal to me that I’ve been having so much fun on this rotation so far! From the people I’ve been working with to the families that I’ve been serving, my experience in this rotation has been a very interesting one. And I haven’t even started my outpatient experience yet! I’ve also noticed how much I’ve been enjoying the primary care aspect of this specialty, something I had not previously considered since I was all gung-ho about Ophthalmology up until recently. Man let me tell you, third-year is something else. Makes me wonder if I’ll run into another specialty that I find myself liking a whole lot…

You’ll probably hear me talking about my joy in this rotation about ten more times in the near future, so let me stop and actually tell you how my week went. I was on a service where I helped care for kids with chronic conditions relating to their GI (esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum), Cardiologic (heart) and Nephrologic (kidneys) systems, and I was able to learn a lot about their various conditions. Like, A LOT. Both the residents and the attendings on my team were very willing to teach me as much as I wanted to know about anything I asked them, and believe me, I wanted to know A LOT. They were also all just very nice and cool people to be around, which made my 11-hour shifts something to look forward to each night.  Wait a minute, looking forward to 11-hour shifts?? Did you read that right? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Lol well it is, which why this all seems unreal. The days really just flew by during the week and before I knew it, it was Friday afternoon. And with the end of that week came the end of my inpatient part of this rotation.

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While I was working in the hospital, I kept myself even busier (what a great idea) outside of the hospital by helping host a Mentor/Mentee mixer between the Twin City Medical Society Chapter of the National Medical Association & the Wake Forest Chapter of the SNMA, attending a discussion on keeping a humanistic perspective while working in clinical rotations, organizing a glaucoma screening within a health fair that was taking place in the community yesterday morning, and now volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Brenner’s Children Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Health. I could talk more about each of these events, but I tend to write novels when I get carried away with my thoughts. Plus, I’m lowkey running out of the time I gave myself to write this post 😅. To make long stories short, I’m really glad that I’ve been able to find the time to pursue other endeavors while on my clinical rotations. It’s been a bit tough to do so, but far from impossible. Participating in extra-curriculars also keeps me motivated as well as disciplined, and it allows me to continue being a well-rounded individual, something that has been an integral part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I feel like my life would probably be easier if I weren’t as involved in a number of things outside of my curriculum (including running an ever-expanding website), but I also know that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.  With that said, I would trade easy for happiness anytime, anywhere.

Alright, I gotta go on ahead and gear up for the outpatient part of my rotation, which starts tomorrow morning! I also have a CPX (Clinical Practice Examination) I have to complete tomorrow afternoon, where I’ll be interviewing six simulated patients (15 minutes each) and writing notes on them (10 minutes each) in succession. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? It kind of is, but it’s all in preparation for the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam that I’ll need to take after my third year is over. Step 2 though? Didn’t I just finish up Step 1 like not too long ago?? Smh. The tests never end fam. They never do.

I hope that each of you has a spectacular week! Also, please pray for the world. And then make it a point each day to do something, no matter how small or big, to make it a better place. There’s so much trouble in the world right now and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the craziness just in our country alone. Believe me, I know it’s hard…but try your best to not to let the negativity around you consume you!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart

– Black Man, M.D.

The Five-Day Block.

Good God.

Last week was a lot.

Buuut I finished the Derm block thooo!!

Having a week-long block was an intriguing, yet annoying experience that I would never want to have to go through again. I was literally studying at all times, even having to sacrifice an hour or three of sleep in order to stay caught up. It didn’t help that I was also busy doing other things outside of studying during the week. Felt like finals in college all over again B. Wasn’t fun. But looking back, it’s amazing how much I was able to learn between 8:00 AM on Monday morning and 1:00 PM on Friday afternoon, which is when I took my Derm exam. The amount of material I learned and hammered in my brain during that short time frame could EASILY be covered in a college semester. EASILY. Shiii, it was a bit fast-paced even for medical school standards. But whatever, I learned everything I needed to learn and I felt pretty good through the test, which was one of the most straight-forward tests I’ve taken since being at this school. Another thing I realized while studying; you gotta have a strong stomach to be a Dermatologist. There were a ton of disturbing images that we had to look at, a few of them even making me cringe a little. Also, when it came to viewing disease images on the body, NO parts of the body were spared. Yeah, think about that for a sec. You can imagine how unpleasant some of the sights must’ve been. If you want to check out some of the skin diseases for yourself, go ahead and Google either psoriasis, bullous pemphigoid, seborrheic keratosis, elephantiasis, herpes simplex virus type 2, intertrigo, human papillomavirus, epidermolysis bullosa, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and/or hidradenitis suppurativa. Those should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.

And that’s only a small sample of what skin conditions are out there. Happy clicking!

Aside from being in lecture and studying, we were given the opportunity to practice basic cryosurgery, punch biopsies and shave biopsies on a cadaver in the anatomy lab. Before I go on though, I gotta comment on the body that we used. She hadn’t even been embalmed yet, so she looked as if she was asleep. She also looked as if she was in her 30’s, and she even had highlights in her hair! It was soooo weird yo. You would think going through anatomy lab last year would have prepared me for anything…but those bodies last year were embalmed already, so they were grayish and pretty much all of those cadavers were of elderly people. This one looked as if she could have been alive just yesterday, and she was mad young. I couldn’t even manage to look at her face, which was thankfully covered. It was all just way too real. But anyways, it was fulfilling to have been able to practice performing those different types of biopsies and to have been able to use the liquid nitrogen “freeze gun” to freeze pieces of skin. It’s not really called a freeze gun, but I like the sound of that lol. We were also able to practice suturing skills, which I may or may not be getting better at. But I did suture a cut shut, so I’m getting somewhere!

The next day, we got the opportunity to go on a “field trip” in a dermatology outpatient clinic, where we rotated through 11 different stations to get some first-hand experience with the subject. Most of the stations had real patients with real skin diseases and were able to explain what their life has been like with their respective conditions. Some of these conditions included CREST syndrome, necrobiosis lipoidica, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, alopecia areata, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and vitiligo, just to name a few. It was absolutely fascinating. There was also a station where we looked at slides through a microscope, a station where we were given a mini-lecture on certain diseases, and a station where we learned how skin allergies were tested. It was a fun experience overall! Even after everything I’ve gone through with this block though, I don’t think I want to be a Dermatologist. It’s hella chill and fascinating and all, but I don’t know if it’s for me. But I’ve learned to never say never, so we’ll see.

Outside of this block, I was given an opportunity to travel to NC State in order to participate in a medical school panel for some of the students there. It was refreshing to talk face-to-face with pre-meds and to realize how far I’ve come since being a pre-med student myself. It was actually stunning to realize how far I’ve come. Some of the students were asking things that seemed to be common sense to me now, but I know for sure that I had once asked those same questions when I was in college. It was also invigorating to be able to tell them that although med school is tough, it’s probably not as crazy as they expect it to be. With my week being as busy as it was already, you may be sitting there asking yourself why the hell I decided to go to Raleigh to participate in a medical school panel on a Tuesday night? Well, to tell the truth, I was asked to do so over a month ago and I agreed without actually knowing what my schedule was going to look like lol. But even when I got my schedule, I decided to stick with it because I know myself. I knew I’d be able to manage that and still stay caught up in my classes. Plus, I love getting opportunities to help motivate college students achieve what they want to achieve. I truly do believe that if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. So I made it happen.

A couple days later, I helped set up a training event for people interested in Sight Savers, a glaucoma screening program run by the Student National Medical Association here at Wake. It was pretty cool to see how many people showed up to be trained. The free Qdoba’s was also fantastic. Students were trained to use machines that are designed to calculate visual fields and visual acuity. They were also trained to calculate eye pressures using a tonopen, which is a little pen-shaped device that you tap into someone’s numb eye repeatedly in order to get an eye pressure reading. It sounds terrifying, but it’s not. Trust me. Now that we got a fresh new crop of students trained to use the machines, hopefully we can do some good work in the community sometime soon.

A couple of days later (yesterday), me and a small group of SNMA members got together and helped construct a couple of houses with Habitat for Humanity. We used the experience as fellowship while at the same time doing some good for the community. It was a great experience! Me and a couple of friends were crawling around in a crawl space under the house though, which was actually pretty crazy. But I learned quite a bit about how insulation works in a house, as well as how water is pumped through the pipes that I saw while in the crawl space. There was even free Bojangles thrown into the mix. Great times, great times.

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I only got two weeks until winter break. The only thing standing in my way is the first part of the Renal block, which I have an exam for on the last day of school before winter break. I’ve heard mostly bad things about the Renal block, but y’all know by now that the things I hear don’t faze me as much as they faze other people. But I definitely know that it’s not going to be an easy block, especially if they had to separate it in parts. I can do this…I can do this…I can do this…WOOSAHHH, WOOSAHHH.

Make your week a fantastic one!

“If you’re distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius

– Black Man, M.D.