Shattered Hope

Remember when I said last week that my experience in Psychiatry would surely be a unique one? Turns out I’ve been right so far. Like, VERRRY right. I knew that this rotation was going to be unlike any of the ones that I’ve experienced so far….but DAMN!

I definitely wasn’t fully prepared for what I saw this past week. Many of the patients who came in had such depressing and traumatizing stories, thus either creating their mental ilnesses or exacerbating the mental illnesses that they already had. What made it worse was that all the patients that we saw were under the age of 18! I literally couldn’t (and still can’t) believe the things that some of those kids had to go through. I can see how easy it would be to become very dispirited while working in a field such as inpatient Child Psychiatry. It’s some emotionally draining work man. Like, I only was on that service for a week and I found myself having to put more mental effort than usual into keeping my positive vibes up while trying to not become demoralized everytime I learned about a new patient’s story. It made me wonder just how people working in this field could function effectively on an everyday basis while living happy lives. I eventually realized that it all came down to using various forms of coping mechanisms. The members of my team must have learned how to utilize their own coping mechanisms successfully, because we were all still able to keep things light-hearted and have as good as a time as we could, given the serious nature of the conditions that we were treating.

Something else that I noticed while on this service this past week was the high level of interdisclipinary teamwork that occurred on an everyday basis. We worked very closely with not only the nursing staff, but also with the social workers and the PAs from the Emergency Room. Because of the fact that the vast majority of these young patients lived in the midst of dreary social situations, it was very necessary to have multiple realms of patient care involved, especially social work. As a matter of fact, it felt like just as much of our energy was geared towards trying to help improve the social conditions that the patients lived in as it was towards stabilizing the acute conditon(s) that these kids came in with in the first place. There were multiple family meetings that took place during the week and both the Department of Social Services & Child Protective Services were contacted on a regular basis. Having witnessed all of this, I can see how social aspects could make providing adequate care for this patient population frustrating, especially since it’s usually not the kid’s fault for being thrown into the situation that they’re trapped into. There’s only so much that medicine and social work can do in some of these situations. It was an eye-opening experience overall, and it really made me appreciate the life that I’ve been blessed to live so far. It has also given me all the more reason to appreciate the field of Psychiatry and the very important work that the people in this field of medicine do for their patients. However with all of that said, I’m not entirely sure if Psychiatry is necessarily for me. I still got a good three weeks to go though, so my mind is still open!

I’ll be working on the inpatient Adult Psychiatry service this week, which is quite of a big deal for me. Why is that, you may ask? Well if you think about it, I’ve been dealing with children exclusively for the past seven weeks….which means that I literally have not had an adult patient ever since ending my Ob/Gyn rotation back in September. Kinda trippy huh? To tell the truth, it’s going to be pretty strange having to transition back into adult care. It just won’t be the same. 😔

That’s pretty much all I have to share with you this week! And oh yeah, MIAMI IS 9-0 BABY!!! Last time that happened was back in the early 2000s! That UMiami-Notre Dame game last night was a spectacular sight, to say the least! We also clinched a spot in the ACC Championship game! Best believe I’m gonna be there rooting for the home team! 🙌

College Football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

Make sure to have an outstanding week!

“If you are feeling low or trampled, unappreciated or forgotten and you are reading this, realize it is an illusion. The hope is real, you are valued, and what lies ahead is brilliance.”Tom Althouse

– Black Man, M.D.

I’m Still Sprinting.

I don’t think I like having exams on Mondays.

Actually, I know for damn sure I don’t like having Monday exams.

But alas, we have our first Biochemistry exam tomorrow…and guess what Biochemistry topics are going to be on the exam? Go ahead, take your best shot. I insist.

Enzymes? Yeah.

Bioenergetics? Yep. Keep going, there’s more.

Lipid Metabolism?? Uh-huh.

Amino Acids??? Yuuuuuup.

Are you starting to catch the drift? You guessed it, we’re being tested on ALL of Biochemistry tomorrow. Yes, we started the topic less than three weeks ago. How they managed to pack a class that took me a treacherous semester to get through in college in 18 days, I will never understand. And that’s including weekends and Thanksgiving y’all. I’m pretty amazed that I’ve been able to retain all this information in such a short amount of time…or at least I think I have. We’ll see tomorrow. Granted, all I’ve been doing since my last post is studying, studying, and studying. Almost every waking hour this past week has been spent poring through biochem notes ranging from pH to Carbohydrates to Interorgan Metabolism and everything in between. It’s been ridiculous man. I’ve even had to push back my bedtime so that I wouldn’t be too far behind in the class…to tell the truth, I have actually been playing catch-up in the class up until last night 😒. Shiii, I would still be like three lectures behind if it wasn’t for my awesome peers in my class. I greatly appreciate the fact that the vast majority of us are so willing to help each other out. It really reinforces how far teamwork and collaboration can get everyone…and it turns out that those are both highly essential skills that are needed in order to be an effective physician. Look at us working together like the little doctors we’re trying to be! So a HUGE shoutout to my class here at Wake and our guardian angels in the classes above us, y’all are much appreciated!

But like I said last week, I’m ready to keep this sprint going until I’m finally free for winter break. I’ve been working hard and it’s been an intense week, but I knew what was coming. I knew that I had to take on this exam tomorrow, take my clinical skills exam on Wednesday, and then take my medical ethics test on Friday. I also knew that I had to power through the very last day of class before break where I’ll be taking my Genetics/Pharmacology exam. None of this is fun…but at least it’s making the time fly by. Now I have only a two-week sprint in front of me. 😊

Positive vibes, Positive vibes.

I mentioned being an effective physician earlier and it made me think of what we discussed in our medical ethics class this past week. We focused on both bias and stigma, and how each of those implications of health in society could affect the doctor-patient relationship as a whole. I found it especially interesting how easy it is for some doctors to seek medical labels for people who differ from them in order to make their jobs easier. Kind of like fitting a patient into a box of some sort, you know? We also discussed how stereotypes can affect the way patients are treated, and how it can stifle opportunities to learn about people of other races, classes and cultures. As doctors, I’m sure that we’ll be trained to screen for specific diseases based on a patient’s ethnicity or race. And in my opinion, that’s all good because if it’s proven by research that people of a certain ethnic group are more prone to a certain disease or genetic trait, it only makes sense to use that knowledge to help guide the doctor in curing the patient. Stereotyping becomes a problem when it’s used to make judgments about a patient that doesn’t help the patient get well. Asking a young, uninsured black African man if he has been screened for sickle-cell disease is different from assuming that he is unintelligent and is probably living off welfare. Screening out diseases for a susceptible group of people is being effective and looking out for the health of the patient ; assuming character traits is not. Being an effective physician also means not only realizing that every patient has their own unique life story, but also how to use their story to come up with a solution to their health issue. Trying to judge a person by what they look like just won’t work. That plus it’s a very simple-minded approach. Hell, you could be a more effective person in general just by remembering that everyone has a life story just like you. The world would be a better place if people just simply treated others the way they would want to be treated.

But I digress. I need to finish preparing for this test tomorrow, not spilling out my thoughts.

I hope that your week turns out to be a remarkable one!!!

– Black Man, M.D.