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!!!

tiffany haddish dancing GIF by Saturday Night Live

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!

blackish make it rain GIF by HULU

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.

Oh Hell No I Give Up GIF

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.

black think about it GIF by Identity

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!

College Basketball Dancing GIF by UNC Tar Heels

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:

shocked eddie murphy GIF

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.

frustrated fainting GIF

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.

Shifting Setbacks

So you know how I was all like, “I’ll be working night shifts for the first time all of next week!” last week in my previous post? Meaning that this upcoming week would be the week where I would be working night shifts? Well, turns out that I was actually scheduled for nights LAST week.

Lol.

I didn’t realize this until I was at the hospital last Monday morning at 5:55 AM, all dressed up with my coffee mug, ready to start my first day in my General Medicine sub-rotation…only to learn from my other two classmates that I was in fact scheduled for nights that week.

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After double-checking my schedule (something that I should have done the day prior…), all I could do was burst out in laughter. I couldn’t believe that I had made such a ridiculous mistake. Instead of being in my bed enjoying my precious slumber, I was unnecessarily at the hospital at the butt-crack of dawn looking like a damn fool. After I met the intern and shared some laughs with my classmates, I went right back home and crashed on my bed, thanking God that I hadn’t drank any of my coffee yet.

Apart from my minor mishap that morning, I had a dope experience with the night team this past week! The atmosphere was relatively more chill than the daytime, and I got to wear scrubs all week as opposed to having to dress up in my shirt/bowtie/khakis combo. Only thing is, I did actually dress up when I came back on Monday night to my ACTUAL shift…only to learn that I had no need to do so. SMH. I was just racking up on L’s that day. Nevertheless, it was a great time overall! Throughout the week, all of us on the night team had very interesting conversations about our lives and on what our respective plans are for the future. In regards to what treating patients looked like during the night shift, it was very free-flowing. In the daytime, the structure of the day was pre-rounding, rounding, finishing notes, going to the daily morning report, going to the student lunch conference, checking up on patients, listening to a lecture from an upper-level or attending, studying material for the shelf exam and then going home. However, during the night shift we just observed as the intern, AI (acting intern = fourth-year medical student literally acting like an intern) and resident wrote up notes and answered pages about the patients that they were covering. We would follow them as they visited patients who needed to be checked on and admitted new patients who arrived in the Emergency Department. While following them, we would also ask multiple questions about what they were doing and why they made certain decisions. It was a neat and unique learning experience that was only made better by the great attitudes of the people on the team. And as a critical bonus, I got sooo much good sleep during the week! I was also able to get a lot of studying done and to take care of tasks that I had been pushing off for weeks. With all of that factored in, I have been in a very pleasant mood as of late. 😄

Before wrapping up this post, I suppose I should mention that I got some really good news last week that lifted my spirits even higher! I actually received this news on Monday morning, so I guess I didn’t take L’s that whole day lol. I got an email that morning stating that I had been selected as one of the National Future Leadership Project Fellows of the Student National Medical Association! Only ten medical students and ten pre-medical students throughout the nation are selected, so it was an absolute honor to have been given this unique opportunity to work with SNMA leadership on the national level and to further hone my leadership capabilities in this program. You know, it’s funny how life works…I ran for SNMA chapter president here at Wake last year and lost, I bombed my speech at AMEC a few months ago and, as a result, blew my chance on becoming the Regional Community Service Liaison for Region IV of the SNMA, but yet I was able to acquire this highly selective position on a national level. Patience, perseverance and persistence mannn, I tell you. You just keep shooting your shot and eventually you end up making a basket!

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Now that I’m all out of updates for you, I can officially wrap up this post.

Make sure to have a splendid week!

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

– Black Man, M.D.

Life After Step

It’s OVER!! I made it to the light!

I’ve finally completed the USMLE Step 1 Exam!!!

WHOOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!!!

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It’s been almost a week since I took the exam, so I’ve had some time to process the surreal feeling that came with finally finishing it. After I wrote last week’s post, I got some snacks for the big day and relaxed the rest of the afternoon, as I said I would. I ended up watching Neighbors 2, which was ridiculously hilarious. I slept okay that night, although it wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had due to the fact that I was so hyped up and ready to take Step. As soon as my alarm went off the next morning, I immediately jolted out of my bed and began getting ready to leave. I got to the testing center and because I had visited the center a couple of days prior, I was familiar with the whole layout. After checking in and going through all the required procedures, I began my 7-block exam. I won’t lie, I felt my nerves creeping up on me for the first few minutes of the test…but then I eventually got into my zone and was able to answer the questions just like I had been answering them during my whole study period. However, that test was pretty long. Time was actually flying by but I definitely felt myself getting fatigued, especially during the last block of questions. Taking any kind of test for eight hours can really mess with your head, no matter how many practice questions you complete or how often you simulate exam day. We were granted an hour-long break that could be used in whatever way we wanted to use it throughout the day, so I actually spent seven hours answering questions. Oh and my computer decided to turn off on me during my fifth block 😳. Isn’t that lovely? Thank God I didn’t lose anything and that I could continue exactly where I left off after about five minutes of waiting for the IT crew to fix the issue.

When I finally finished the exam, I walked out of the testing center not really knowing how to feel. To tell the truth, it was a pretty weird feeling. I had just taken the test that I’ve been preparing for in one way or another ever since entering medical school. I felt that I answered a good number of the questions correctly, but there were also a solid number of questions that I had to go with my gut for, especially in the final block of questions (which ended up being the hardest block of the test and contained the longest question stems). Those questions were the reason as to why I didn’t feel too certain about my performance because ideally, I would have liked to have been sure about all of my answer choices. But this is the USMLE Step 1 exam we’re talking about, so of course that wasn’t about to happen. I also realized that although I worked extremely hard to prepare for this exam, there was no way that I could have been FULLY prepared for the test I took. Some of the questions were just straight-up bizarre. So with that said, I was glad that I took it when I did because I don’t think that waiting a few extra days would have done me any good overall. The test was going to be hard as hell regardless. All in all, I know that I put an intense amount of energy into preparing for Step and I genuinely felt that I did the best that I could do on that test. So as long as that holds true, I’ll accept the score that is given to me because it simply is the score that I was meant to have. But until I get my score back, I won’t even entertain thoughts about my performance anymore unless I’m asked about it. I’m just going to continue celebrating the fact that I’ve finally completed this phase of my medical education!

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In regards to how I’ve been celebrating life after Step, I’ve done so this past week by chillin’ for a couple of days and then attending the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC), which took place in Atlanta this year! I actually just got back from that and I’m extremely glad that I was afforded the opportunity to attend. There is SOOOO much that I could say about my time at the conference, but I also don’t want this post to turn into a dissertation. So with that said, I’m going to try and give you a captivating synopsis of my experience at AMEC!

I got to the conference with friends from Wake on Thursday morning and we literally hit the ground running. We checked into both the hotel and the conference before splitting up to go to the various sessions that were made available to us. I ended up going to the Professional Exhibitor’s Fair, where many institutions were advertising their respective residency programs. I also went to an interesting talk where a neurosurgeon shared his incredible life story that contained various elements of adversity, a House of Delegates meeting where representatives of all the ten regions of the SNMA get together in order to vote on a number of official things, and a presentation skills workshop where we were given tips on how to give effective and memorable presentations. After that, I attended a Regional Meeting before heading out to enjoy Atlanta’s nightlife.

I woke up early Friday morning with a good amount of sleep still in my eyes, but determined to make it through the day! The first session I attended was a discussion facilitated by Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, who just so happens to be one of Diana Ross’ siblings and an aunt of Tracee Ellis Ross! She hit on great points in the discussion, including the importance of understanding that studying medicine is a lifestyle, realizing that communication is fully based on how the person you’re communicating with interprets what you’re saying, appreciating the fact that every patient encounter is a cultural encounter, and taking notice of how majority populations are usually judged by their strengths while minority populations tend to be judged by their weaknesses. I then attended a talk that was focused on historical and future perspectives of Blacks in Medicine and on the necessity of learning this very important history. Soon after that, I attended a panel discussion that was focused on Minority Men in Medicine. A couple of things we touched on in this session included realizing that you could potentially “pigeonhole” yourself by trying to solely find mentors who look like you, understanding the greatness of organic relationships, and understanding that the government will very likely not be willing to look out for our best interests as minority men, so we must be comfortable taking care of ourselves.

After that session came the President’s Luncheon, where guest speaker Dr. Camara Jones spoke to us about how racism plays into health disparities and how these disparities can disappear if health equity was achieved. She especially emphasized the power that social constructs have on health conditions, using herself as an example by stating how she could go to different countries and be classified as a different race in each country, which would eventually affect her health outcomes in the long run if she were to stay in one of those countries long enough. After the luncheon, I attended another panel discussion that was focused on nontraditional career paths in medicine. The people on this panel had some very interesting things to say and some useful pieces of advice to give, which included having a “Board of Directors” of your life, getting “off the tracks” of the traditional path for a bit in order to learn about how other people in different professional fields think about certain things, taking leaps of faith, understanding the incredible power of self-confidence in every aspect of life, and thinking in a big and disruptive fashion with a very open mind. This session was actually one of my favorite ones of the whole conference!

After leaving that one, I attended the second Regional Meeting of the conference, where I actually ran for the Regional Community Service Liaison position for Region IV of SNMA! Unfortunately, I completely bombed my speech in an embarrassing fashion and although I had some great ideas to share, my speech delivery was one of the worst ones I’ve ever given. Maaannnnn it was quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Crazy thing is, I wasn’t even that nervous on the podium. It was just that the words that I was looking for weren’t coming to me. It was so unlike me. In all honesty, it may not have been as terrible of a speech as I’m making it seem but because I know what I’m capable of, I sincerely feel that it was one of the worst speeches I’ve given. But nevertheless, I finished my speech with a smile without falling apart or anything and returned to my seat in confusion as to why that had just happened to me. Needless to say, I believe that my speech helped me lose votes to my competitor, who had a great delivery and even gave out snacks to the audience, which is always a plus lol. Thing is, losing to my competitor didn’t even bother me. What really annoyed me was the fact that I performed so poorly in doing something that I believed I had prepared myself for and that I’ve done on numerous occasions. Giving a speech wasn’t supposed to be a hard thing for me to do. But I dropped the ball. So now the best thing for me to do is to use this experience to my advantage and to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, which I’ll do by further honing my skills as a public speaker. My ideas didn’t go unnoticed though, for one of the chairs of the National Community Service Committee approached me later on and expressed interest in working with me because she liked the ideas that I shared. Plus, the Regional Director of Region IV told me that she would still love to work with me in some kind of way. So I actually did end up gaining something positive out of this painful, yet humbling experience. As one of my good friends loves to say, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. 

The final sessions I attended on Friday were a couple of mixers hosted by residency programs from various institutions. At the mixers I attended, I got the opportunity to meet with a number of residents who talked about what their programs were like and how they’ve been able to flourish in their respective programs. I then proceeded to take a nap before venturing out into Atlanta’s booming nightlife once more 😎. Saturday morning was pretty rough…but just like Friday morning, I was determined to learn as much as I could from the sessions made available to us! So I attended four sessions in a row, which included useful tips on how to succeed in your clerkship years, tips on how to choose a medical specialty, how to effectively manage your social media presence, and how to implement strategies to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities in the faculty population of academic medical institutions. After this marathon of sessions, I caved in and took a pretty long nap before working to get a few things done and going to the closing banquet. I then enjoyed Atlanta’s nightlife for the third night in a row 😅!

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LMAO. Throwback to when I said I was going to give a synopsis of my AMEC experience. I wrote a damn essay without even meaning to. Lol, I promise I was trying to keep it short. But it was such an exciting and memorable experience and I just had so much to say about it! I ran into so many people that I hadn’t seen in a really long time and I met an even greater number of awesome people! The networking opportunities were absolutely mind-boggling. I even unexpectedly met the author of the Overcoming The Odds book that I had finished reading a few months ago, Dr. Antonio Webb! Like I said before, I’m extremely glad that I was afforded the opportunity to attend this conference and I really hope that I’ll be able to go to next year’s conference, which will be taking place in San Francisco! I’ve never been to Cali, so I REALLY hope that I’m able to go!

If you’ve made it this far into this post, I sincerely commend you. I owe you a high-five next time we meet!

I hope that you had a marvelous Easter weekend and that you have a stupendous week! And much thanks once again to all of you who prayed for me as I worked to overcome the challenge of Step 1!

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield

– Black Man, M.D.

Straight Grindin’

Alright I knew I would be hitting the ground running when I got back to school…

BUT DAMN!!! *in my best Chris Tucker voice*

I don’t think I’ve really been able to catch much of a break since getting back from Atlanta last Monday. I started class Tuesday morning with four lectures of Renal Pathology (that I FINALLY finished getting through yesterday), followed by another four lectures the next day that I’m still working on getting through. (Yes, I’ve been playing the catch-up game again. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊) And I have about ten or so lectures this week before my Renal Pathology exam on Friday. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But you would think I would have been able to get through my eight lectures from last week by now. You know why I haven’t been able to? I’ll gladly tell you. Because I had another Clinical Skills Exam (“affectionately” called CPX for those of you not familiar with it) this past Wednesday where I not only had to go in and interview a standardized patient before performing a focused physical exam on her, but also had to document our encounter as well as provide an assessment and plan for her care. That took quite a chunk of my Wednesday overall. In my opinion, it may have been my best performance yet, but you never know these days. I’m just gonna hold my breath and hope that I don’t get another email stating that the history-taking portion of my encounter was “Unsatisfactory” and that I will need to “remediate my history-taking skills”. I don’t even wanna hear the word ‘remediate’ anymore. I’m tired of remediating my history-taking dammit. Lol.

I then tried to get through some more of Tuesday’s lectures after finishing my standardized patient documentation, but I didn’t get very far. Plus I was tired and wanted to get some sleep in order to attend a Case-Centered Learning (CCL) session early the next morning. Thursday turned out to be a pretty long day as well. I attended the CCL lecture and then attempted to study some more before having to go to my actual Clinical Skills class, which ended up taking up most of my afternoon. The class was especially interesting this time around though, for we learned a practical and helpful method to go about breaking bad news to patients as well as how to take a “SOAP Note”, which is a quick daily progress note of a patient that includes an evaluation of how the patient is doing from both a subjective and an objective perspective, a current assessment of the current health of the patient and a plan of care for the patient based on the overall evaluation and assessment of him/her. We also learned how to access patient files, which comes with a HUGE amount of responsibility and actually made me feel more like a healthcare provider instead of a second-year med student tryna stay afloat in this choppy sea of lectures and exams. It was pretty cool, to say the least.

After getting back from Clinical Skills, I played the catch-up game a bit more before having to attend a meeting for the annual “Share the Health Fair” taking place this Saturday. I’m going to be working as a station leader at the glaucoma screening station at the health fair all day, so I had to make sure I knew what the set-up was going to look like as well as make sure the volunteers working at the station that day knew what to expect. On top of all this going on that day was the fact that it was my Founders’ Day, so of course I had to celebrate for a bit with some other fraternity brothers in the area. I finally got back to my place later that night, studied for a bit and then crashed in order to attend a review session the next morning because Lord knows I definitely needed that. I attended the review session and then was able to get some more studying in after that, but my studying was cut short (yet again) by a mandatory presentation I had to attend where my class was formally introduced to the scheduling procedures for our third-year clinical rotations. By the way, this presentation further proved to me how freakin’ close third-year is. The fact that I’ll have patients in the near future that I’m somewhat responsible for is mind-blowing man. In addition, clinical rotation schedules are strict AF. I’ll have to be at the hospital damn near every waking hour of my week, although I’ll get weekends off on some rotations. So that means I’ll have much, much less control of my time. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride, that’s for sure.

Right after leaving that presentation, I made my way to Charlotte in order to fly to Irving, Texas (it’s near Dallas) for the SNMA National Leadership Institute. First off, I traveled back in time. That’s just cool to say. Also, it was ’bout cold as fuhhh over there! You would think Texas would be hot or whatever. But nah. It was 22 degrees when I landed. And it stayed cold the whole weekend. I wasn’t reaaadyyyyy! *in my Kevin Hart voice* But it IS January, so I guess I should have known better lol. The conference was fantastic overall though! I was able to interact with regional and national leaders in the organization from all over the country while representing my school. I also learned quite a bit from the sessions that I attended, including tips on how to efficiently plan your goals, why understanding the business side of medicine is particularly important, the importance of understanding the value of a personal brand, how to verbally communicate with people in a proficient manner in under a minute, and how to take advantage of the plethora of post-career opportunities available for medical school graduates. In addition, there was a SNMA Leadership Panel presented to us, which was made up of prior SNMA leaders who are now practicing physicians and the Dean of Texas Christian University’s future medical school came to talk to us about the innovative curriculum that they’re working to provide to their future students. Finally, we were given a talk during dinner last night that focused on the vital importance of voting in all government elections and being leaders in our respective communities. All in all, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and I feel that I’ll be making use of many of the connections that I made here, as well as many of the lessons that I learned here, in the future.

So now I’m back in Winston, where it actually snowed quite a bit while I was gone! Now all I need is to throw a snowball at someone and to drink some hot cocoa to be perfectly content. I’m lying, I won’t be content because I still gotta get through these lectures.

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I hope you’ve started off the New Year on a phenomenal note! Keep on working towards your goals and powering through your resolutions! Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are usually both right!

Be the one who says they can!

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston  Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.