Stepping Into The Light

THIS IS IT! 

It has ALL come down to this!!

Liberation Day is finally upon us!!! (Well, upon me that is.)

My performance on tomorrow’s 8-hour long, 280 question exam will be the result of all the endless studying I’ve committed damn near all of my waking hours to these past five weeks. Even more so, it’ll be a reflection of all the knowledge that I’ve gained ever since I first stepped foot into medical school almost two years ago. I sincerely hope that my performance tomorrow accurately depicts just how hard I’ve worked for this exam…I haven’t studied this intensely for any other test in my entire life. When I tell you I’ve sacrificed almost every waking hour these past five weeks for this test, I literally mean it. I’m talking about waking up at around 7:15 AM each morning, doing practice questions and reviewing answers until lunchtime, then studying whatever material I needed to get through for the day up until like 10:30 PM. Then I would be asleep a little after 11 PM. Granted, I definitely took breaks here and there for various things like the gym, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. But for the most part, I’ve been grinding. There were times where I didn’t even know what day it was, because I was literally doing the same thing every single day. It was like I was in my own little world…I would sometimes forget that life was happening all around me as I continued to study the endless droves of material in front of me. I even got pranked on April Fools’ Day because I forgot it was April Fools’ Day! And I’m never one to fall so hard for a prank. SMH. Hell, a season literally changed while I was in my study block! I didn’t realize it was officially Spring until like a week ago. It’s crazy how fast time can move when you’re intensely focused on one thing.

But alas, my Step Study Block is officially coming to an end! It honestly wasn’t horrible or anything overall, but I sure am glad that I’ll be able to move on with my life very soon! And I couldn’t be more excited! Okay I’m lying. I’m not even excited right now. I actually have a stale face on as I’m typing this sentence. I’m not allowing myself to come even close to excitement until I leave the testing center tomorrow afternoon. Right now, I’m fiercely focused on the mission, which is to give it my all plus some on Step 1. As I’ve said before, I’m going to attack the exam with 110% effort and as long as I know I’ve done my absolute best, I’ll be comfortable knowing that the score I’ll eventually receive is the score I was meant to have. Only after I walk out of the Prometric Center tomorrow will I do heel-clicks and screams of praise and all that. But until then, concentration is key.

With that said, I’m going to end this post and relax for the rest of the day. I spent all morning reviewing the last-minute material that I believed was relevant, so I’m now at peace with resting my mind for tomorrow. Trying to continue studying at this point would be futile, because then I would just go on a never-ending cycle of trying to review things I’ve already reviewed 156 times. I have complete faith that I’ve learned everything that I need to know at this point. If, by any chance, I come across something tomorrow that I’m not too familiar with, I’m confident that the test-taking skills I’ve been sharpening throughout this study period will help guide me towards the best answer choice. I’m also glad that I took the time a couple days ago to actually drive over to the testing center in order to get a feel for the place. Knowing exactly what to expect when I arrive at the center tomorrow morning has helped put me at even greater ease about taking this exam.

Okay, I’m actually ending this post now. Wish me luck!

And thank you for all of your prayers, I GREATLY appreciate each of you!!

Have a spectacular week! Lord knows I’m about to have one!

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Up To The Pressure

I’m about eight days out from taking my Step exam…

And I’m just about over this insanely repetitive lifestyle of intense daily studying. To be real, I highkey just want to take this test and move on with my life. It’s cool and all to be able to synthesize everything I’ve ever learned plus more and to think through various mechanisms, but there’s only so much of this that I can take. Although I know I’ll learn even more useful information during this final week of preparation, I’m honestly real glad that the test is finally coming up soon lol. I’m just going to keep putting 110% effort into preparing for this exam and leave the rest up to God. As long as I know that I’m working harder for this exam than I’ve ever worked for any other test in my life and know that I’m giving it my all plus more, I’ll graciously accept the score that I produce next Monday and continue moving forward with my life. There’s only so much you can do before you begin to feel like you’re burning out. The pressure is definitely building up, but the worst thing that you can do whenever it does build up is lose your cool. So I’m keeping my cool like I usually do. Matter of fact, I’m stepping right up to the pressure face-to-face. Kinda like that picture with 50 Cent and Kanye back in ’07 when they dropped their albums on the same day. I’m Kanye and “The Pressure” is 50 Cent. And we ALL know how that panned out.

Life after Step still seems like a distant realm in the future to me, but it’s literally starting next week. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be mingling with other medical students from around the nation at the SNMA’s Annual Medical Education Conference in Atlanta starting next Wednesday and that I’ll be kickin’ it in Cancún in a little over two weeks! Just thinking about it all is getting me excited!

But first, I gotta go Beast Mode in these final days leading up to Step.

Then I gotta go Triple Beast Mode while I take the actual exam.

I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. TO. BE. DONE. WITH. STEP. 

Y’all have a great week!

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

– Black Man, M.D.

Appreciating the Steps to Step

Liberation Day (Test Day -April 10th) is sneaking up on me faster than I expected it to…which just means that I’ll be free even sooner than I expected to be! I’m only two weeks away from taking Step and to tell the truth, I’m much more calmer about it than I ever thought I would be. Granted, I’m not ready to take it tomorrow or anything…but after taking a practice exam last Monday and enduring this past week of intense studying, I actually sincerely believe that I’ll be 100% ready for this Step exam on Monday, April 10th. Speaking of, I actually performed better than I thought I would on that practice exam! I’ve also continued to witness an overall improvement in my performance on these UWorld practice questions. I’m taking another practice exam tomorrow and I pray that I continue this trend of ascension as I continue to double-down on preparing for Liberation Day.

It’s honestly been pretty cool to be able to synthesize and apply all of the information I’ve learned this past year-and-a-half. Sometimes, dare I say, it’s even fun! Well, it’s only fun once I finally understand a concept. I legit feel 10x smarter than I did just 3 weeks ago lol. But even when I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of everything, these practice questions have this uncanny ability to humble the hell outta me by instantly getting like 50x harder. It’s soooo annoying, but very necessary because it gives me the opportunity to learn and harmonize new sets of information that I wouldn’t have learned or harmonized otherwise. All in all though, I haven’t really had a negative experience with this study block so far. Plus, having something to look forward to after taking this test has been really helping me power through everything lol.

While I’m on the topic of looking forward to things, I had the opportunity to accompany my girlfriend as she attended an Open House at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health this past Friday! Having that to look forward to gave me the necessary drive I needed for the first half of this Step Study block. It also served as a much-needed break from the mundaneness that I’ve grown accustomed to these past couple of weeks. We stayed in Chapel Hill for a couple of nights and were able to explore the UNC campus (including Franklin street) while we were there. She was accepted into the five-year MSPH/PhD program at the public health school there, so we were able to meet and interact with a bunch of people associated with that program, which included faculty members, current students and prospective students. We were both thoroughly impressed with what UNC had to offer overall! Considering that it’s the #2 public health school in the nation, there was plenty to be impressed about. Plus the campus was quite scenic, even with the bare trees and all. I can only imagine what it looks like during the spring and summer months. Now it ain’t no University of Miami, which has the best campus design of all time (I’m bias and I don’t care) but I can definitely appreciate the beauty of UNC’s campus. We tried to go to Franklin street and watch the UNC-Butler game at a restaurant, but we made the freshman mistake of getting there too late smh. Every single restaurant and bar was PACKED. But we ended up finding a restaurant near the inn we were staying at and had a great time there lol. I’m honestly extremely proud of all of her amazing accomplishments and of the fact that she was able to secure one out of the less than 15 spots available in this prestigious program. You go girl!!

 drink leonardo dicaprio hd cheers the great gatsby GIF

I’m now back on the mundane grind and with only two weeks left till Liberation Day, I’m only going to be grinding even harder. With calmness, flexibility, confidence and determination, these next 14 days will only make me an even stronger candidate who will be fully able to step up to the challenge that is the USMLE Step 1 exam!

Make your week an astounding one!

“When you are progressing toward a goal that matters to you and appreciating the steps along the way, that’s a good life.” – Ruben Chavez

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Towards Improvement

I don’t think I’ve ever studied this hard in my entire life.

Like, I’ve really been putting major hours in ever since this study block started. The only thing that comes to mind to compare this amount of studying to is the summer that I studied for the MCAT…but even that pales in comparison to this. I mean yeah I’ve been studying hard all throughout med school too, but this has been quite different. Throughout my coursework up until now, I was learning about one organ system each block, so I was focused solely on that topic. I also balanced my time out and did a number of other things outside of studying in my past blocks. However, now I’m studying every damn thing there is to know about the human body and the drugs that affect it, including some things that I’ve never actually learned. Also, I’m pretty much entrenched in my studies all day with small breaks in between, which is quite different from what I’m used to. I’m usually the type that is pretty flexible with time and who prefers to go with the flow rather than keep to a structured schedule. So the fact that I actually currently have a schedule I stick to (for the most part) is pretty wild to me. Like, I actually wake up around 7:15-7:30 AM each day and am usually fast asleep by 11:30-11:45 PM. I’m still a bit flexible with my daily schedule here and there, but I’m nowhere near as malleable with my time as I was before I started dedicating my time to Step.

Speaking of time, these days have all been a blur man. Truth be told, I’ve actually forgotten what day it was on numerous occasions last week. Also, time flies so fast throughout the day when you’re intensely focused…one minute it’s 12:55 PM and then when I look up again, it’s 5:34 PM. It’s annoying how quickly time can zip by when you would rather have it slow down a bit. Smh. And don’t even get me started on these UWorld questions man…these questions are just ridiculous. They’re hard as hell, even with all the studying that I’ve been doing! But on the flip side, I’ve been learning a ton from them and I’ve actually seen some steady improvement in my scores within this past week! I did have a sharp nosedive in the score of the most recent question set I answered, but I’m considering that set a fluke lol. Plus, it just gives me a great opportunity to learn more information that I either didn’t know before or hadn’t stuck as well with me as I previously thought! What’s important is that I’m seeing a steady improvement in applying my knowledge to new questions while retaining information that I’m continuously acquiring. I’m still on a treacherous uphill battle but as long as I keep calm, confident and determined, nothing will stop me from soaring to that mountaintop!

With that said, I’m getting back to the grind. Y’all keep me in your prayers and I’ll keep y’all in mine! Have a sensational week!

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” – Tommy Lasorda

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Congratulations to all the medical students who matched this past Friday!! That’s a MAJOR accomplishment to have achieved! I pray to be in y’alls shoes one day!

No Time For Baby Steps

Shoutout to Daylight Savings Time for completely disorienting me this morning.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning real confused after my alarm went off…then I remembered that we sprung forward an hour, meaning that I lost an hour of sleep. Smh. So in my half-asleep state, I decided to be nice to myself and give myself at least an extra 30 minutes of shut-eye. I turned off my alarm and completely forgot to reset it because, well you know, I was half-asleep. I blinked and it was 8:55 AM. Had me like:

waking up

So that’s how I started my day. I’ve been doing practice questions and going over my answers ever since then. As a matter of fact, doing absurd numbers of practice questions and reviewing them has literally taken over my life ever since I took my final exam last Tuesday. I’ve actually been answering numerous Step-style questions every day since then. It’s been an annoying, yet fruitful experience so far. Annoying because these questions are hard as hell and are making me feel inadequate and whatnot. (Boooyyy do I have room for improvement.) But on the flip side, it has been fruitful because I’ve been learning and re-learning SO MUCH information while reviewing these questions. I can feel my knowledge expanding exponentially with each day that passes, and I just hope that my efforts in retaining all of this knowledge for test day prove to be beneficial. But yeah, this is what my life is going to look like for the next several weeks, so don’t go and set your expectations high for my next few posts. I can almost guarantee that I’ll fall short of the standards that you may have already set for my content. C’est la vie.

kanye west shrug shrugging kanye shrug

Lol I don’t really have much else to say right now. I actually would like to get back to reviewing my questions…but before I go, I do want to shout out the fact that Winston-Salem is recognizing the work that a group of us medical students are putting in for the S.Y.S.T.E.M. program that I talked about with y’all a few weeks back! Us and our mentees were featured on the local news last Friday afternoon, which was really cool! I’m real happy that I was asked to be a part of this program and I hope that our exposure reinforces the importance of mentorship and representation to the public.

Aight, I’m outta here. Make sure to have a fantastic week! And to all of you who are on Spring Break right now, just know that I TOTALLY envy you.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” – Robert F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

Stepping Into Step

WELLLLLLP.

The time has finally come.

I’m officially stepping into my Step Study Block period.

school vmas the weeknd my post mtv vmas

I took my final subject exam last Friday, which effectively ended the five-week long Endocrine/Reproductive block that actually happened to fly by pretty quickly. With the end of that block comes the end of my basic science curriculum. Well, I actually still have a 225-question final exam to take this Tuesday that covers Dermatology, Renal, Rheumatology and Endo/Repro, so there’s that. I guess after that final exam is when I’ll truly be free to step into studying for Step. But I’ve also been doing what I can to prepare for Step for the past month while studying Endo/Repro, and I have been actively using Step study materials throughout this past year alongside my coursework, so overall I feel more than prepared to begin this study block.

During my last week of classes, I had the opportunity to attend two different talks that focused on mental toughness and resilience in the medical profession, respectively, and to deliver a baby in a simulation lab. I’m gonna start with the simulation lab. It was such a neat experience! While we were in the hour-long session, we palpated plastic vaginas, performed bimanual exams on plastic uteri, palpated plastic cervices, and actually delivered a dummy baby from a dummy mom! Like, I was pulling the baby out of the mother’s vagina and going through all the motions that a doctor would go through! It was pretty cool, although the dummies weren’t real. That hands-on experience will DEFINITELY come in handy when I actually begin delivering real-life babies during my OB/GYN rotation in about six months. LMAO. Me?? Delivering babies??? I can hardly picture myself doing so. Try to picture me delivering a baby without snickering to yourself. Yeah, I can barely do it either lol. But then again, I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I never pictured myself doing in a million years. You know, like blogging.

point you da man

I appreciated being in attendance for the talk on mental toughness, because I feel like it was very necessary for myself as well as the rest of my class to hear what the presenter had to say, considering the fact that we’re all about to embark upon a marathon of constant studying. There was about a third of my class in attendance and I believe that just about everyone who attended got something positive out of the talk. The presenter, who is a 4th-year MD/PhD student, focused on how unbelievably powerful the mind is and how we can harness it to catalyze outcomes that are ultimately beneficial to us. What we think on a constant basis is literally what we become. So with that in mind, she talked about the power of having a “shooter’s mentality”, a basketball metaphor describing the mentality that you’ll make your next shot, no matter what. So in our case, we’ll be confident about getting our next question right on our practice tests, no matter what. She also touched on the strength of setting and completing goals that you set for yourself, having a “winner’s circle”, and making the most out of your current situation by having a “true realism” approach to life. In addition, she gave us practical mental exercises to use during our study block and in life in general, which included practicing the art of visualization, having a “game-face” & a “game posture” when we’re doing our practice questions, breathing techniques (mantra breathing, inhale for 6 seconds/hold for 4 seconds/exhale for 8 seconds), and developing pre-day and post-day routines. I’m happy to say that I’ve been blessed to have been able to adopt an outlook on life years ago that is similar to what she had to say in her presentation, but I was also able to learn some very useful information as well!

The other talk I attended was actually a panel discussion that featured distinguished faculty members from different departments at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The event, which was called BOUNCE: Stories of Resilience and Courage in Medicine, focused on the pitfalls that each of these faculty members had in their respective careers and how they successfully recovered (or should I say, bounced back) from their setbacks! I actually attended this same panel discussion around this time last year and wrote a bit about it in my post, Growth, Control & Breaking Stereotypes. This year they discussed the dire importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance/flow, making sure to never lose sight of who you are as you get busier working in the field of healthcare, and to not allow your work to completely consume you. Each of the stories that the faculty shared with us had the common theme of making the most out of a situation that you didn’t foresee yourself being in and following your path with faith, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead you in a specific direction that you intended to follow. One more important thing that was shared with us was the fact that everyone will make mistakes as a healthcare provider, for we are all human. With those mistakes comes the importance of transparency between the provider and the patient, because being completely honest with your patients will facilitate a trusting relationship overall. It was a great discussion and as always, I’m happy that I made the decision to attend. The free Chipotle dinner was a very satisfying added bonus. 😁

Mannn, I’m really about to take Step 1 in about five weeks. I feel like I JUST registered for the exam. Hell, I still remember penning One Chance as if it were just yesterday (I wrote it last summer). It’s crazy that I’ve actually learned all the organ systems in the body. Now it’s just a matter of synthesizing that information and being able to critically think through thousands of questions during this study block before finally sitting in front of my testing computer in Greensboro on the morning of April 10th to slay this exam once and for all. Lol it’s almost like I’m playing a video game that I’ve been trying to beat for years. I’ve finally gotten through most of the levels and I’m at the level closest to the level where I fight the final boss of the game! Let’s gooooooo!!!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Pray for me y’all.  😂😅🙏

“When you’re up against a trouble, meet it squarely, face to face; Lift your chin and set your shoulders, plant your feet and take a brace. When it’s vain to try to dodge it, do the best that you can do; You may fail, but you may conquer, SEE IT THROUGH!” – Edgar Albert Guest

– Black Man, M.D.