The Impact of A Decision

I must say, this week flew by pretty fast…I legit feel like I just finished typing up last week’s post. 😅

The completion of this week marks the halfway point in my current rotation, which means that I’m a week closer to Match Day as well as to graduation! People always say that this time period in fourth-year flies by especially fast and I gotta say, they WERE NOT lying. Like, we’re already approaching the middle of February 2019! This also means that the last day to submit my rank list is rapidly approaching (next Wednesday)!

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For those of you who don’t know the significance of that, it means that by next Wednesday I need to be 100% sure of which programs I want to rank #1, #2, #3 and so on. Once I submit this list, there’s no looking back. So as you can imagine, a ton of fourth-year medical students across the nation are currently stressing out about making an important decision that will directly impact their immediate future. I’m fortunate enough to say that I’m not necessarily that stressed about submitting my rank list because I believe that I’m going to end up wherever I’m meant to be and that I’ll do all I can to make the most out of my experience at whatever program I end up training at. That being said, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking, praying and talking with others in order to make sure that I’m making the best decisions I can for my list. I’ll probably work to get it finalized and sent in this week just so that I don’t have to worry about it next week. (I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if I missed the deadline to submit it…😳) After submitting it, I’ll chuck up a quick prayer and move on with my life. 😊

As for my most recent week of my Immigrant Health/Public Health rotation, it was another great and informative one full of memorable experiences that I’ll be sure to carry with me as I begin my career as a medical doctor. I was afforded some more unique experiences throughout the week that I was able to appreciate, including attending a Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting within the Wake Forest Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Program in Community Engagement, helping treat low-income immigrants from various countries around the world, attending a Department of Health & Human Services board meeting where leaders in Forsyth County reviewed North Carolina public health law, recieved updates about various public health initiatives in the community and approved substantial budgets for public health programs in the county, experiencing first-hand how a WIC clinic functions on a day-to-day basis, observing how an ID card drive for undocumented immigrants operates in the community, and learning more about what the POSSE (Prevent Ongoing Spread of STIs Everywhere) program does in the community.

I could write in detail about each of these experiences, but then I would end up spending a lot more time typing up this post than I would like. What I will say is that as I worked with some of the low-income immigrants in the clinics I was rotating through, it was painfully obvious just how much harder it was for them to get adequate access to care. Not only did they have have a significant language barrier that they had to hurdle over, but they also had other additional barriers to care that you and I may take for granted. It was wild to hear about what a lot of them have to go through just to get by, but I’m glad that their struggles were reinforced to me. It definitely gave me some perspective that will prove useful to me in my career.

Overall, I really am glad that I decided to sign up for this rotation. The experiences that I’ve had so far and that I will continue to have these next two weeks will undoubtedbly impact how I practice medicine in my career. With all of the knowledge that I continue to acquire about the community throughout this month, I will feel much more empowered to connect my future patients to various resources that their respective communities have to offer.

That’s pretty much all I have to say for today. I have quite a busy day ahead of me now that I’ve recently (and unexpectedly) taken on the role of interim Region IV Director of the Student National Medical Association, a position that I’ll hold in conjunction with my position as one of the External Affairs National Committee Co-Chairs. While this new, temporary role just made me busier than I would have liked to be at this time in my fourth-year, I still have all intentions of living my best life on this final stretch of the school year!

Go on and make this week an outstanding one! And continue to revel in the awesomeness of Black History Month!

“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” – Marcus Garvey

– Black Man, M.D.

Final Quarter

Last Friday, I delivered my presentation on “The Pediatric Airway” and took my Anesthesia final exam (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL), thus officially ending my Anesthesia rotation. Now that I’ve powered through that experience, I’m about 3/4 of the way done with my fourth year!!

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Good God, time flies by so freakin’ fast. I now have only three more month-long rotations before I’m officially done with my final year of medical school and graduate with my medical degree from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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With my last three blocks being an Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, a Radiology elective and another “Flex Block”, this final stretch of the year should be somewhat of a breeze. However, there are quite a few important things to take care of throughout this time outside of my rotations. I need to complete and submit my rank list by February 20th in order to be eligible for the Match. Then there’s Match Day, the one day in the year where all the fourth-years across the nation find out what residency programs they have matched into. Then there’s the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference, which is taking place in Philly this year. Then I have to attend “Intern Boot Camp”, a two-week orientation session organized by my school for all the graduating fourth-year students. And of course, there’s the whole process of preparing for graduation and the transition into the next phase of my life.

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While these next few months will be more chill than the vast majority of my medical school experience was, it will still be a very busy time for me nonetheless. I didn’t even mention that I still have to carry out my obligations for the SNMA as well as put some dedicated time aside for blogwork. Since I’ll have more free time than usual, I definitely want to invest some of that time and energy into further enhancing this blog and figuring out how I’m going to move forward with it in residency. When I initially started this blog, my sole intention was to record my experiences throughout my time in medical school. Now that it has become so much bigger than I could have imagined, I have absolutely no intention on stopping the momentum that has propelled this platform into the lives of so many people. Aside from taking some time for both the SNMA and the blog, I definitely want to spend some time traveling to a few places for fun and also spend quality time with friends, family and my girlfriend. I’m real excited for what these next few months will bring, and am looking forward to the fantastic fourth-year life that has been promised to me for soooooo long!!

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I don’t want to take up too much of your time today, so I’ll breeze past some quick updates. The Anesthesia exam that I spent TOO MUCH time studying for was annoyingly specific and difficult. Who knows how that test went…I’m just mad that I actually read through ten chapters in two weeks, only to be asked questions that I would have never known the answer to, no matter how much I studied those chapters. I prepared a great presentation though, and it was on a topic that will be beneficial to me in the long run, so there’s that.

I had a meeting with Financial Aid last Wednesday about my loans and we discussed the options that I had to repay them. Looorrrrd, I’m going to need the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to come in clutch, because otherwise it’s very likely that I’ll be paying these loans off for the vast majority of my life moving forward. 😅 That is, if I don’t end up doing any of the other forgiveness programs where I would practice primary care for a few years in specific locations after residency, which is a viable option as well. But with the PSLF, I will have the most flexibility with what I can do. Or I could just start up a wildly successful app and profit from that. Or invest in stocks early on in my residency that end up being wildly profitable later on in my career. Or win the lottery. Or find a sugar mama. My girlfriend wouldn’t be too fond of that idea though.

Lastly, I got to help out with Wake Forest SNMA’s 12th Annual Pre-Medical Conference yesterday morning, where I served as a greeter and welcomed various pre-medical students from across the region to the conference. Having volunteered at this event in various capacites in the past, it was a pleasure to be able to communicate with these students about my experiences as well as their own experiences thus far. Also, it was very heartwarming to hear that there were 200+ students that registered to this conference, making it the most attended pre-med conference out of the twelve that the school has hosted in the past! Shoutout to the Wake Forest chapter of the SNMA for organizing such a successful conference!

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That’s it from me today! I finally got my schedule for the first week of this new Immigrant Health/Public Health elective, and it’s not looking bad at all! I’ll let you know how this week ends up going in my next post!

Go on and make your week a glorious one! 😄

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” – Neil Strauss

– Black Man, M.D.

The Influence of Racism

First off, I want to give a shoutout to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as we celebrate his legacy as well as all the sacrifices that so many people in both the past and the present have made in order to guarantee everyone access to the civil rights that they deserve. While he wouldn’t be much too pleased about the current state of our country, he would be actively encouraging us all to fight for justice and to combat the racist & divisive rhetoric that is being spewed to us on a frighteningly regular basis. With that said, let’s continue to do our best to live up to the ideals that he believed in and work to make this country, as well as this world, a better place to live in!

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I spent the entirety of my weekend in Nashville, TN, at the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where members of the Board of Directors as well as pre-med and medical students in local chapters convened for a weekend of leadership sessions, networking, research presentations, and business meetings. Because it was my third one as a member of the Board of Directors, I already knew what the flow of the weekend was going to be like.

And sure enough, it was ridiculously busy.

Although I spent the vast majority of the weekend in board meetings discussing various matters pertinent to the organization, I did get the opportunity to sit in on a few sessions where physician-leaders of various disciplines spoke with us on topics such as what leadership in the SNMA looks like, leadership behaviors, addressing health disparities and racism as an executive, community organizing and using leadership for social justice. One common theme that kept resurfacing throughout the sessions of the conference was the powerful and negative impact that racism can have on one’s mindset. It’s almost mind-numbing to consider how something as arbitrary as race was turned into this whole social construct that was ultimately weaponized against specific populations for such an extensive duration of time that these minority populations ultimately came to believe and internalize the false and damaging stereotypes that were associated with their respective race.

I personally spent so much of my formative years internally struggling with this ordeal. Due to the media, my surroundings, the “Black” & “African” jokes and stereotypes I routinely heard throughout my adolescent years, I truly believed that Black people just simply weren’t “good enough” and that as a Black Man in America, I was supposed to be either an athlete, a rapper, an entertainer or something else along those lines in order to truly be successful. Even though I was fortunate enough to have an amazing support network and incredible parents who invested so much in me throughout my life, I still saw the intelligence I was gifted with as unusual, even embarrassing at times. I found myself desperately trying to fit in with what was considered to be “Black” as I went about my high school days and ended up suffering through an identity crisis. It didn’t help that I had a completely separate lifestyle back at home as a first-generation American.

It really wasn’t until I got to college that I began to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. My mindset about being Black also shifted dramatically during my undergraduate years and I ended up meeting many people who were just like me, including those who were raised by immigrant parents from various countries in the continent of Africa. I found strength in being Black and for the first time in my life, I was 100% proud of my heritage and of being a Black Man in America. I began to actively fight against the stereotypes that I had unconsciously internalized up to that point, instead finding traits such as resilience, wisdom, perseverance, courage and strength commonplace across the Black diaspora. I realized how troublesome it was to believe that being an intelligent Black Man could be seen as unusual and decided to not only be proud of who I was, but to also begin motivating and inspiring others like me to disregard the false stereotypes being placed upon us and to instead internalize the positive traits that we all have the ability to possess.

Even to this day, there are moments where I find myself having to mentally combat a stereotype I was conditioned to believe throughout my life. What’s so crazy about all of this is that even with the relatively comfortable upbringing that I had, I STILL went through all of this. I can’t even begin to imagine all of those young Black kids who don’t have the same resources I had growing up who have been conditioned to believe that they are inferior to others and that they don’t have the ability or potential to be just as great as, if not greater than, what they perceive to be as successful.

Yeah I know, I went off on a MAJOR tangent….but I felt that it was necessary to put all that out there. It was especially fitting, considering that it’s MLK Day.

Overall, the SNMA conference was pretty productive and I was able to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in months. However, I wasn’t really able to do much of any sightseeing of the city because I was so busy 😔. Now that this leadership conference is over, it’s time to gear up for the national conference that everyone knows and loves; the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference! It’s taking place in Philly this year and I’m really looking forward to it, especially since it will be my final year participating as a medical student 😭. The past two AMECs that I’ve been to were phenomenal experiences and I have no doubt that this one will be just as awesome!

Briefly recapping my past week, I spent it experiencing various fields of Anesthesia while working on completing some of my required assignments. I spent one day working in Pediatric Anesthesia, another day observing what life performing procedures in a pain clinic looks like, and yet another day helping manage the airway of psychiatric patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. I even got the opportunity to push some necessary medications into them, which was a neat experience. In regards to the midterm I took on Monday morning…..it was pretty tough, but not as terrible as I was expecting. I got my score back a few days later and it definitely wasn’t the best I’ve ever performed, but more than enough to keep my chances of comfortably passing the rotation alive. I scored about what I was expecting to score, so I wasn’t really fazed by my result at all. I just want to now get through these required readings, deliver my PowerPoint presentation that I still have to finish working on, take the final this Friday and FINALLY be done with all these assignments that I REALLY DON’T want to do anymore.

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Speaking of, I’m going to go ahead and sign off so that I can start working on finishing this presentation as well as get through a chapter or two of my anesthesia textbook. *Sigh* C’est la vie.

I hope that your week is a delightful one!

“Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– Black Man, M.D.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Man I have so much to say, but not a lot of time to type it all out. As you can see, it’s Monday…which means that I had just about no time to type up a post yesterday. Why didn’t I have time to type up a post, you might ask? Well, I would answer back by saying that I spent the majority of my Sunday in a Board of Directors meeting for the Student National Medical Association. After the meeting ended, I had to drive from Delaware back to D.C. to attend the orientation for the Medical Senior Scholarship Program (MSSP) at Children’s National Medical Center. (My acceptance into this scholarship program allowed for me to participate in an away rotation at this hospital. Look at God!) In order to get back to D.C. though, I had to fight in the war that bumper-to-bumper traffic, blistering rain, and taxing tolls waged against me. Speaking of them tolls,  can you believe that I paid $16 just to get to Delaware, and $8 just to drive back to D.C.?? Like, what kind of scam is this?? Booyyy was I mad. Matter of fact, I’m starting to get annoyed just thinking about it again. Smh. But anyway, after I FINALLY got back to D.C., I got oriented to the hospital by one of the fellows there and then I finally got back to my cousin’s place, which is where I’m staying for the month. I then had to get all prepared for my first day in clinic in the short amount of time I had left and thus made the executive decision to push this post to tonight.

So there you have it. That’s my excuse. Take it or leave it. 🙃

I’m gonna just blaze through the important updates in my life so that I can get through the rest of the tasks that I need to complete before going to bed tonight. First off, the SNMA National Leadership Institute that took place in Delaware this past weekend was a fantastic experience! Outside of helping take pictures throughout the conference to post on the organization’s social media, I was able to sit in on multiple sessions that focused on branding one’s self in this day and age, reprogramming the negative bias that we all hold within ourselves, optimizing grit and resilience, useful tips for interview season, and pinpointing & combating microaggressions. In addition, I got the chance to do some networking and even got approached by a pre-med student who distinctly remembered me from a panel I was on back at AMEC in San Francisco! Shoutout to her for reading my blog on a consistent basis and I wish her the best of luck on her medical school application cycle!

mel b good luck GIF by America's Got Talent

Oh and yeah, I was also busy playing an active role in a board meeting on Sunday. I had to give (A TON) of updates from my committee (External Affairs) as well as from an AdHoc committee that both my co-chair and I are in charge of. I did a lot of talking when it was my turn to give updates, and I’m happy to say that my updates were well-received! 😄 Being on the Board of Directors is some serious work though; I feel like I’m always busy doing something for the SNMA. Matter of fact, SNMA tends to take up the majority of the free time I have when I’m not busy doing clinical work. While the endless amount of work can get irritating at times, I honestly am glad that I decided to join the board. The experience that I’m receiving coupled with the connections that I’ve been establishing makes it SO worth it.

I spent a good amount of my free time last week tying up loose ends that I had been putting off during my Heme/Onc AI. I ran a ton of errands, got my locs retwisted (ayyyyeeee I’m fresh), spent time with my girlfriend, prepared for the SNMA conference, did a lot of emailing, helped host some conference calls, and drove from Winston-Salem all the way up to Maryland. I even got to stop and visit some of my siblings on my trip up to the DMV! (DMV = D.C., Maryland, Virginia. That’s for those of you who thought I was talking about the godforsaken Department of Motor Vehicles). And last but certainly not least, I actually ended up getting some residency interviews last week!!!

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I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be securing any interviews until about maybe mid-October. With that said, try to imagine my complete surprise when I got my first interview last Monday! Ever since then, I’ve been on an unusually high level of alertness for new emails lol. Like, I really do look like a madman whenever I feel my phone vibrate. Boooyyy I be yanking my phone out of my pocket so fast…..

It feels awesome to know that residency programs are confident enough in me to give me a shot at training in their program. This application cycle is already proving to be leaps and bounds better than my medical school application cycle was 😅. I’m looking forward to my interviews and to hearing back from the other residency programs that I’m currently waiting on!

Okay I’m all done for now. My first day at Children’s National was wonderful; you’ll hear all about it plus more on my next post! 😉

Keep your grind up this week!

“Let yourself be driven by your will to succeed rather than your fear of not succeeding.” – Kevin Hart

– Black Man, M.D.

State Of Emergency

In case you hadn’t already heard, my residency application was finally submitted on Wednesday, September 12th at 8:09 PM! I’ve officially applied for my first big boy job!

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Talk about getting a weight lifted off your shoulders. My application was actually already complete on Tuesday, but for whatever reason I refused to submit it that day. I just couldn’t bear to send it off knowing that I wouldn’t be able to revise it at all once it was gone. Plus I had until Saturday to submit it, so why rush to get it in? Thanks to my growing anxiety and hesitation, you can probably guess what I ended up doing. My application ended up going through a scrutinizing process, where I couldn’t help but double-check everything that I had typed into the application. My double-check was soon followed by a triple-check, then a quadruple-check, a quintuple-check, etc. etc. I continued this maddening routine the rest of Tuesday evening and all throughout Wednesday evening until my girlfriend called me out on it and encouraged me to press “Submit”. After sitting with me for about 20 minutes, I finally mustered up enough courage to send my application in. Even after sending it in, I felt some anxiety about not being able to edit it again…but then after looking at the PDF version that was still accessible in the ERAS system one last time, I finally felt at peace with my decision to send it out early. It was liberating to not have to think about sending it out as the deadline of Sept. 15th neared. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend though, I definitely would have sent it out much closer to Saturday lol. I was also pressured to submit it by the impending hurricane that was forecasted to slam the East Coast the same weekend that my application was due. And I would be damned if I lost power before being able to submit my application.

Speaking of Hurricane Florence, this storm really screwed up all my plans for the weekend. I didn’t even know about this storm until last Sunday evening, and it very quickly became the talk of the town as we advanced through the week. By Wednesday, it became very clear that North Carolina was going to endure a direct hit from this Category 4 storm.

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With that said, the state proceeded to declare a state of emergency and widespread panic ensued. The coastal areas definitely needed to evacuate, but the forecast wasn’t as certain for more inland areas like Winston-Salem and Charlotte. We still had to take precautionary measures though, so I ended up being relieved of all clinical duties from noon on Thursday and throughout the weekend. That was actually a bummer, because it was my last week on the Peds Heme/Onc service, a service that I had grown to love. But the precautionary measures didn’t stop there. I had been recently selected to be one of the student interviewers for this cycle of medical school applicants (yay me 😄) and the mandatory training that I needed to attend was supposed to be last Thursday. That ended up getting rescheduled to this Tuesday afternoon. The annual Millenium Ball, a school-sponsored party that allows for all of the classes to celebrate the beginning of a school year together, was also cancelled.

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In addition, the World Congress of Ultrasound Medical Education conference that had been scheduled to take place at Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 15th was cancelled too. I mention this because I had signed up to volunteer for this conference back in the spring and I really wanted to learn all sorts of things from the world-renowned ultrasound experts scheduled to attend this event. So best believe that I was pretty annoyed about that, though I’m sure that Wake Forest was 1000x more annoyed than I was because they had been planning for this conference for God knows how long. I was then supposed to FINALLY get my locs retwisted, but I had to reschedule that for this Tuesday as well. And my girlfriend and I were looking forward to going to a nearby vineyard this weekend after I had submitted my application, but you can already guess what happened to those plans.

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So because of this hurricane-turned-tropical-storm, we’ve been chillin’ in my apartment all weekend getting work done while watching a ton of college football. The worst part is that the storm really didn’t even hit Winston that bad! I’ve thankfully had power this whole weekend, and we even went out to eat last night. So much for buying extra bottles of water and groceries. I even finally broke out my heavy-duty flashlight that my dad got me for Christmas last year! (Yes, my dad got me a flashlight for Christmas. And no, I did not ask for one. 😂) Turns out that none of our extra supplies have been necessary up to this point. But I sure ain’t complaining! I’m really glad to have been fortunate enough to not suffer the very real consequences of this storm that other people along the coastline have had to suffer. I feel so bad for all the people who have been severely affected by the storm though. Even though Winston mainly got a lot of rain and wind, I don’t want to downplay the havoc that this storm brought when it hit land as a Category 2 hurricane. R.I.P. to all of the people who lost their lives to this storm.

Now that my Peds Heme/Onc rotation is sadly officially over, I have a week “off” until I head to D.C. to start my first away rotation in Allergy & Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center! I have a week “off” because the rotation schedules at my school and George Washington University are off by a week, so I had to use one of my “flex” weeks this week to compensate for that. It’s great because I can take care of a lot of tasks that I’ve been pushing off for a while and also get some downtime to rest for a bit. I can also attend the quarterly SNMA’s National Leadership Institute that is taking place in Delaware this weekend. I’m excited to see all the thrilling attractions that Delaware has to offer!! Said no one ever. But still, I think that I’ll get some great networking opportunities at the conference and learn valuable things from the speakers there. Plus, the conference site is only about a couple hours from D.C., which is pretty convenient for me. So Delaware, here I come!

That’s it from me today. Oh and before I leave, I just want to remind you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. How crazy is it that I was on my Heme/Onc rotation this month? If you can find a way to support the eradication of both childhood cancer and sickle cell disease this month, I encourage you to do so! And then while you’re at it, be sure to register to vote if you haven’t already! 😄

Make sure to have an exceptional week!

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Life In A Cheat Code

Yeah, yeah I know it’s Saturday. You probably weren’t expecting a post today but since I’m going back to camp tonight to start my third week there, there’s no telling when I’ll have time to type something up tomorrow. My schedule has been in a bit of disarray as of late with the SNMA conference last weekend and with camp and all, but I’ve been able to keep on top of things…for the most part. So with that said, posting today is part of me keeping on top of things and making sure that I have something to update you with.

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The end of this week marks the halfway point of my time at Victory Junction. Yeah I know, it’s like I just started right? At least that’s how I feel. I’ve been getting into the groove of camp life and I’ve been having such a good time that I sometimes forget that I’m on a rotation. I can’t lie, I feel like I’m living in a cheat code lol. Although it kind of feels like I’m on a summer vacation, I’ve been gaining a ton of perspective these past two weeks as a camp counselor. Not only have I been able to put things into perspective while interacting with the kids here, but I’ve also developed useful skills on how to effectively communicate with them. These skills have been especially useful this past week, where my cabin counselors and I were tasked with caring for seven teens with various neurological & developmental disorders. While these teens were overall a calmer bunch of campers than the little kids from the previous week, they definitely came with their own unique set of challenges. To start off, the personalities of the campers in this group were very different from one another. Like, VERY different. As a matter of fact, they were so vastly different that the campers didn’t even have any conflicts with one another. To be honest, they all seem to be in their own little worlds. Their respective conditions also varied widely on a scale from relatively mild developmental delay to extreme developmental delay. And to top it all off, a couple of them liked to wander off on their own, with one kid having the tendency to spontaneously take off in a full sprint away from the group.

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It was a pretty interesting week, to say the least. The campers were fun to be around though, and I personally had a wonderful time getting to know them while they were at camp. I had a couple of inside jokes with a few of them and one of the campers even made a special handshake with me! 😄 (He only used it for one day and then forgot about it, but that’s besides the point.) I also found out during the camp’s weekly stage day (talent show day) that one of the campers was pretty decent on the piano. That was dope to see!

This week was ultimately shortened due to the 4th of July holiday, so I’ve actually had an extra day and a half of rest outside of the camp. I was able to go to the 42nd USA vs. Japan College All-Star baseball game in Durham (didn’t know this was a thing) and viewed some fireworks with my girlfriend after that painfully low-scoring game. In addition to that, I’ve been putting in some serious work on my residency application, some work in the SNMA, and am working on updates to the blog. I also need to carve out some time to review some Step 2 Clinical Skills stuff, since I’ll be traveling to Atlanta at the end of this month to take that day-long exam and all. Speaking of, you remember that CPX I had to take back in May? You know, the same clinical exam that I was forced to remediate after my performance on the first one of my third-year back in October? You probably don’t, but that’s okay. Well, I finally got my results back and I’m happy to say that I passed it this time with flying colors!

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Turns out that the extensive remediation that I had to go through helped a lot lol. It also helped that I was much more familiar with the test setup, and I also didn’t skip whole sections in my write-ups like I accidentally did the first time. As you can imagine, this score report is a very welcome confidence boost for the Step 2 CS exam that I’ll be taking in a few weeks. While I’ll still take some time to review key concepts, I can walk into the testing center on July 27th with very minimal doubt in my abilities to think through and treat a chief complaint in a clinical setting while at the same time keeping my patient comfortable throughout the encounter.

That’s a wrap for this post! I hope that your week is a positive one! And be sure to appreciate the final games of the World Cup, because we won’t be getting this for another four years. 😭 I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end soon!

“There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth

– Black Man, M.D.

The Strength of Endurance

Well, this week was quite an adventure, to say the least.

In fact, it was so much of an adventure that I’m actually typing this post on a plane back to North Carolina from Minnesota. Wait, why am I on a plane? Better yet, why was I in Minnesota? Aren’t I supposed to be at camp getting ready to start the week? Lol, I’ll get to all that later on in the post. 😉

I want to start off by talking about my first full week at the Victory Junction Summer Camp. Simply put, it was both a touching and challenging experience. It was also pretty tiring, yet very fun! And I’ve been eating reeeal good here. (Shoutout to all the free meals I’ve been getting here on a daily basis.) Me and the other counselors in my cabin were assigned to care for a young group of boys aged 6-9 who were diagnosed with various blood disorders and gastrointestinal conditions. If you didn’t already know, having to look after seven little boys who like to play around at all times of the day isn’t the easiest thing to do. Them being hyperactive, hating to go to sleep, having very different personalities and testing our rules to their hearts’ desire didn’t make things any easier either. Plus let’s not forget, they have chronic medical conditions that require our attention. At the same time though, it was really fun interacting with them and engaging them in various activites across the camp! Some of the activites we did included fishing, paddle-boating, archery, playing with horses, bunnies, goats & llamas at a barn, playing in a waterpark, making arts & crafts, playing video games, watching Joey Logano speed around our camp in a racecar at what we call “NASCARnival”, and various other things. Before last week, I had never even done half of those things before! Also, the kids who were NASCAR fans flipped when they saw Joey, who just so happens to be a famous NASCAR driver. I had no idea who he was, so I looked him up and he happens to have a net worth of over $20 million. Go figure.

Although I was working as a camp counselor for the week, I made sure to observe what the medical volunteers were doing with our kids whenever they came around so that I had a better understanding what measures these kids needed to take in order to keep their lives as “normal” as they could. Although the kids were living their best lives at camp like any other kid would, their conditions still had to be managed quite frequently by the medical team as well as by us counselors. There were a lot of ostomy bag changes, IV flushes, device recalibrations, trips to the onsite clinic after any one of the kids with his respective bleeding disorder would suffer from a fall, wound or sustained nosebleed, and dressing changes. It was unreal to witness the resilience of these little warriors and how candid they were to each other when talking about how they live with their respective illnesses. Like, two kids would be having a candid conversation about how many times per day one of them would have to change his ostomy bags and how many times the other boy had to get ports placed in him due to various infections. Then a minute later they would talk about a movie or something and I would be just standing there like:

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It was amazing to see how the kids interacted with each other, especially when some of them found out that they had the same condition. It was as if they had never met someone else with their same illness, much less someone their own age. The moment that those particular kids discovered they had the same diagnosis was a precious one that I’ll never forget. Moments like that was one of the reasons why this camp was built in the first place. Alongside moments like that, there were other times where the boys would spontaneously get into altercations with one another. Having to deal with those issues weren’t as precious, as you could probably imagine. But with that said, I think that because this camp is structured the way it is, it forces the kids to learn how to get along with their peers in a non-school setting away from home. Good thing with most kids their age is that they’re good at brushing off conflicts and can get back to playing together rather quickly. Reminds me of how simple my own life used to be when I was a kid…good times, good times.

All in all, my first week at camp was a successful and unforgettable one, even though I was missing the majority of the World Cup games and felt like the world was passing me by while I lived in the camp bubble. Along with interacting with the kids, I’ve made good friends with the counselors in my cabin as well as with various summer staff workers outside of my cabin. I’m looking forward to getting back to camp and meeting our next group of campers, who will apparently have various types of neurological disorders and will be teenagers. It’s also going to be a short week due to the 4th of July taking place on Wednesday, which only gives me less than three days to establish relationships with them. That just means that I gotta make the most of my time with them!

Alright that’s all I got for today! See ya later!

Lol I’m just messing with you, you thought I forgot about the whole Minnesota thing didn’t you?

Yeah you did, don’t lie.

The reason that I traveled to Minnesota a day after leaving camp was because I had to be in attendance for the SNMA’s first National Leadership Institute of the 2018-2019 term. As a member of the Board of Directors, I’m required to attend these conferences, which take place every three months at different locations throughout the country. This conference just so happened to take place at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I must admit, Minnesota wasn’t on my bucket list of places to travel to. However, I was very surprised at the incredible diversity of the city and was completely blown away at how enormous the Mall of America was! Like bruh, there’s a whole amusement park with rollercoasters and ferris wheels and whatnot in that mall! Not to mention the Marriott hotel and the aquarium. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous number of stores and restaurants (*cough* Benihana’s *cough* Hard Rock Cafe *cough*).

We had a meet-and-greet on Friday night, where all the pre-meds, medical students, physicians and University of Minnesota SOM faculty mingled and chatted with one another. The majority of the conference took place on Saturday, where we had several excellent presentations concerning various topics such as working to combat the current devolution of our society, being an effective leader, the rich history of the SNMA, adequately caring for people afflicted with disabilities while addressing their concerns in an effective manner (this session was led by people who actually suffer from various disabilities, which made it even more engaging), the potential dangers of social constructs and how they can be used to oppress various populations of people, the incredible importance of social workers, the hazardous nature of making assumptions, dealing with microaggressions, the importance of health equity and advocacy (this presenter used the Black Panther movie to reinforce his message which was very effective), the power of social media and writing op-eds, the various ways in which business can affect the practice of medicine, being knowledgeable about health insurance in order to effectively advocate for the patient, and financial planning. I was also able to attend and participate in the two Board of Directors meetings that took place at the conference. Yeah yeah I know, that was a lot. But there were just so many great things that were shared with us, and I want you to get a good birds-eye view of what we talked about at the conference. I wish I could go into more detail about some of the topics that I’ve listed here, but I don’t got all day to type this already lengthy post out. Plus, I’m going to be landing soon and I want to be pretty much done with this post by the time I get to NC.

So with that said, I’m going to go ahead and end this novel here. I had a great time at the conference and was able to not only reconnect with people but also make new connections with some wonderful people. Overall, the week was quite an eventful one! I’m looking forward to seeing what this upcoming one has in store!

I hope that your week is a splendid one! And have a Happy 4th of July!

“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Bernard Williams

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Back Into Step

Well I must say, I like being a fourth-year so far.

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Yeah I know it’s only been a week and all, but man has it been chill. It has actually been one of the most relaxing weeks I’ve had in a while. I mean, I did have to go through my Procedures OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination), my final CPX (Clinical Practice Examination), and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training over the course of the week, but even with those things in place, it’s been a chill week overall. I haven’t had to study for another looming Shelf exam nor have I had to prepare myself for a shift in the ED/clinic/OR/wards. I literally have been able to calm all my nerves down and relax for a little while….sort of. I may not have another Shelf exam coming up, but I do have this little thing called Step 2 CK that I’m gonna have to pounce on in less than a month. With that said, I’ve had to mix my relaxation with the initial phase of my preparation for the exam. This means that I’ve been forcing myself to complete UWorld question blocks for the past few days while reviewing material that I’ve learned all throughout the year, just like I was doing for Step 1.

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In addition to beginning my Step Study Block, I’ve been having to make time to fulfill my duties as the External Affairs Committee Co-Chair for the SNMA. There’s quite a bit of work that goes into this position and I’m still grappling on how to be as efficient and effective in this role as possible while continuing to put forth my best efforts in my studies. I’m sure that as time passes, I’ll grow even more into this new role and I’ll also figure out ways to complete the things I need to do in a more efficient manner. There’s just so much paperwork that I need to keep straight but as long as I keep my organization game A1, I should be good. Plus with a Co-Chair as good as mine, I’m confident that our committee will be strong and healthy well before our quarterly National Leadership Institute, which is where the Board of Directors of the SNMA meet. This first one will be taking place at the end of June in Minnesota. I ain’t never been to Minnesota, nor did I think I would ever have to travel there. But then again, never in a million years did I think I would ever be blogging. Yet here I am. Just ty-ping my thoughts away.

So yeah, gist of this post is that I’m liking my final year of school so far, I’m still busy even when I’m not, I’m glad to be done with the testing I had to do this week (OSCE and ACLS went fine. This CPX was definitely my best performance yet, but even with that said I definitely screwed up a few things…and it wasn’t that easy of a test. I’m pretty sure I did alright on it overall…but I’m still gonna pray on it 🙏🏿) and I’m starting to crack down on this Step 2 studying. I’m so not looking forward to four straight weeks of question blocks and review…but whatever, it’s gotta be done. Plus, I’m going to be with my girlfriend most of the time so that should already make these next few weeks better than last year’s Step Study Block!

Alright, back to studying I go. I have a couple hours to get some in before I attend Wake Forest’s annual SNMA graudation banquet tonight. Wow! I’ll be a graduate in that banquet next year! 😆😆😆

Be sure to have an awesome week!

“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” – Mae Jemison

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Okay this is really random, but I got a professional massage for the first time in my life a couple days ago. Maaannn have I been missing out! And I also watched Deadpool 2; it’s freakin’ hilarious. You definitely gotta check it out. But be warned, there’s a lot of gruesome action scenes. And very crude humor. Lots of it. 😂

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!

Focusing On The Vision

I miraculously found the time to write this post today while participating at this conference in Philly, so excuse me for a second as I proceed to congratulate myself by giving myself a pat on the back.

*Pats self on back*

The conference that I’m speaking of is the annual conference held by the National Medical Association, and this one just so happens to be the 115th meeting! Talk about a legacy. I was unexpectedly invited to this conference via the Rabb-Venable Excellence in Research Program, a program whose purpose is to further the academic mission of the NMA’s Ophthalmology Section by celebrating the research achievements of medical students, residents and fellows and allowing them to interact with the members of the NMA in both a professional and social atmosphere. I was invited to be an “Observer” of the program, which pretty much means that I’m here to literally observe the research projects being presented by the participants, the information being shared by various speakers in the sessions and to interact with whoever I want here at the conference. And here’s the best part of all of this — everything was paid for! So I’ve been allowed this incredible experience at no cost to me!

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I was able to recieve this opportunity by going to the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference back in April, where I met an Ophthalmology resident who ended up telling the coordinators in the Rabb-Venable program that I was interested in this field, who in turn emailed me to invite me to the conference, all-expense paid. Go ahead and try to imagine the look of absolute surprise and obvious glee I expressed as I read the email. Mannn I tell you, connections really are a MAJOR key to success. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll begin to run into incredible opportunities! Boy am I glad I made the effort to go to AMEC this year, and best believe I’ll be going next year as well! If you’re a medical student, post-baccalaueate or undergrad student interested in the field of medicine (especially if you are part of an underrepresented population) , I STRONGLY encourage you to try and make the trip to AMEC at your earliest convenience!

I’ve been really enjoying my experience here in Philadelphia so far and have been making new friends & connections left and right. I’ve also been slipping people my newly made “Black Man, M.D.” business cards whenever I got the chance to do so, which have been getting mad love! (I decided to make them last week since I was coming to a conference, because why not? Not like I have much to lose lol.) Ever since I’ve arrived here last Friday night, I’ve been able to attend very informative sessions about various research topics in the field of Ophthalmology as well as about financial planning, the history & future of Ophthalmology, communication skills, minimizing risk and exposure while practicing medicine, and other interesting topics while at the same time learning about the lives, career goals and achievements of other program participants and physicians. I’ve also been able to walk around and appreciate some of the wonders that Philly has to offer, although I haven’t really had the time to check out some of the city’s popular tourist destinations. And since I’m going to be leaving tomorrow morning in order to finish off the last week of my Internal Medicine clerkship, there’s a good chance that I won’t be able to check them out in the near future. 😥 But there’s always next time! Except that I don’t know when I’ll be in Philly again…

Speaking of my clerkship, can you believe that I’m about to finish it?? Because I sure can’t! Twelve weeks really done flew by, meaning that this summer has been flying by at a similar speed. Finishing off this clerkship also means that I’ll be taking my first shelf exam this Friday, which is, believe it or not, the first exam that I’ve had to encounter ever since taking Step 1.

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In addition, it has been said that the shelf exams are typically just as hard as Step was.

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If THAT wasn’t enough, the Internal Medicine shelf is notoriously one of the most difficult shelf exams due to the vast amount of material that one needs to understand in order to perform well on it.

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So yeah, I’m not too thrilled about having to take on this test. But I’m also not worried about it either. After having rammed through Step 1, I’m certain that I can take on just about any exam thrown at me. After I power through some more practice questions and watch a few more review videos this week, I’ll be set! In regards to how my most recent week went on the wards, it was good overall. I kept up-to-date with my patients and took the opportunity to really bond with them and their families. I was also reminded of how critical it is to remember just how important each procedure is to each patient, because although ordering procedures is an everyday thing to the healthcare team and is highly important in treating the patient, these same procedures are easily seen in a different light by the patients. They are the ones who have to go through having various things done to their bodies. So although they may understand that these measures are necessary for the betterment of their health, they may still disdain or worry about having to go through a particular procedure due to the discomfort or pain that they may experience. Viewing situations in the perspective of others is very important in administering effective healthcare and highly instrumental in being an excellent physician.

That’s all I have for ya! I’ll probably go outside and walk around for a bit before going to the dinner sponsored by the program I’m with. Or I may just do practice questions. That would be the smarter move. Yeah, that’s what I think I’ll do. Then dinner. Because I’m hungry. Very hungry.

I hope you have a blessed week!

“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

– Black Man, M.D.