Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (1/2) M.D.

Boy does it feel good to see the “1/2” in front of the M.D. in my name.

I guess I’ve technically been a 1/2 M.D. ever since I took my Step exam, considering the fact that it was the monumental milestone that effectively ended my second year of medical school. All I’ve really been doing ever since then is going on vacations and attending third-year orientation sessions. So pretty much, I’ve been straight chillin’. But I found it fitting to officially call myself a 1/2 M.D. only after officially becoming a third-year med student, which to me meant completing all my orientation sessions. So here I am, a third-year medical student who has conquered both Step 1 and the required basic science coursework necessary to continue on to the clinical wards in order to begin my clinical rotations this week. Although I may be halfway done with my formal medical education (*GAAASSSPPP*), I sure don’t feel anywhere near ready to become a practicing physician. But I’m sure that all the looming long days in the hospital will work to effectively change that. Lol. Not really laughing though.

This past week was been an excellent one, to say the least! I started off my week at a day-long session on how to effectively use the Electronic Medical Record, which we had lowkey already went over the prior week. However, I did learn how to use the system a lot better this time around. It was still painfully boring though. The next day, I attended a Pharmacology lecture and was inundated with drugs and drug classes that we were expected to be familiar with once we got on the wards. Again, my eyes glazed over during this session. This ended up being the last session of third-year orientation, meaning that I was free to do whatever I wanted the rest of the week! Take a guess as to what I ended up doing? Yuuuuup, I was off to Miami for the last time in a long time in order to watch my girlfriend as well as my other close friends walk the stage for graduation! I flew out late Tuesday night and am just now returning to North Carolina after about five days of non-stop festivities. It was such a great time! As always, it was an absolute pleasure to link up with fraternity brothers, old friends, and my girlfriend + her family. I also haven’t had so much good, free food in such a long time! Shoutout to my girl’s parents for taking care of me the whole time I was in Miami! In between going to dinners, helping her pack her room up, going to graduation ceremonies, catching up with old friends, and trying to keep up with my emails, I was kept pretty busy the whole time and lost some precious sleep as a result lol. But it was an awesome and unforgettable time and I’m so thankful that I was able to attend UM’s graduation this year!

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With the completion of this trip unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you wanna look at it) comes the end of my post-Step vacation. It was an amazing vacation overall and am grateful that I was able to enjoy the whole experience. Now it’s finally time to apply the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over these past couple of years to real-life patients. Can’t believe that this time has finally come….I’m sure that it’s about to be a very interesting ride!

I hope that you have an outstanding week! Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you mothers out there, you are very much appreciated! And a huge congrats to everyone graduating from their respective institutions this month! You’re making all of your loved ones extremely proud!

“All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing until you decide that your essential purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.” – Robert White

– Black Man, M.D.

Closing Of A Chapter

Only a week left until I finally start my clinical rotations!

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The closer I get to my first day on the wards, the more excited I’m becoming! I’ve also noticed that I’m feeling much lower levels of apprehension about this shift in my life than I was feeling just last week. Much of that has to do with these orientation (third-year boot camp) sessions that I’ve been attending as of late. We’ve gotten repeated exposure to our clerkship directors, who’ve made themselves available to us for any questions that we may have of this next step in our medical careers. We have also listened to multiple student panels made up of rising 4th-years, who’ve worked to appease our anxieties by giving us the rundown as to how third-year works and on what to expect going in. We also have been led on tours of the hospital and have been instructed on how to utilize the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) that we will be using throughout not only this upcoming year, but for the rest of our careers. As a matter of fact, this past Monday was dedicated to learning how to use that system….it was not the most fun thing I’ve ever done. And it wasn’t easy to use. Hell, I still don’t know how to effectively use it. It’s one of those things that you gotta continuously play with until you get into your groove with it. Just one more thing to add to the steep learning curve that I’m already facing starting next week.

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Along with “learning” how to use the EMR, we learned how to electronically track our patients & procedures that we’re expected to do. We also listened to presentations about communicating bad news with patients, making the most out of the countless opportunities that will be available to us during third year, tips for studying for our shelf exams and performing successfully on them, conflicts of interest, and how to stay professional while caring for our patients. On Wednesday, I got to know my third-year team some more via a group exercise where we shared our personal stories with each other. I’m glad that we were able to do that because although I knew who each of these people were (I’ve been in the same class as all but one of them for the past couple of years), I realized how little I actually KNEW of most of them until I listened to each of their stories. I’m looking forward to working with them for the next year and I hope that we all manage to continue getting along throughout our rotations!

On that same day, I FINALLY got my Step score back.

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There was actually an annoyingly dramatic sequence of events that preceded my viewing of my score. I got the email notification that my score could now be viewed as I was getting out of the group exercise session that I previously mentioned. I then proceeded to go home, place my free chicken salad on my kitchen counter (I managed to lose my appetite, even though I was starving just 10 minutes ago), plop on my (roommate’s) couch with my roommate, stare at my phone for a good 20 seconds, take a few deep breaths, and finally open my email…..only to realize that I needed to click a link in the email to see my actual score. I rolled my eyes as my roommate chuckled and clicked the link after a couple more deep breaths. I was then led to a sign-in screen, which annoyed the hell out of me. I then signed in and was led to another screen that informed me to click on ANOTHER link, which held my score via PDF format.

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Now I was getting extremely annoyed and nervous at the same time. I stared at my screen for another 30 seconds while my roommate repeatedly told me that I did fine and coaxed me to click and get it over with. I then held my breath and clicked the link, only for my phone to tell me to disable my pop-up blocker! Seriously??? Now I was getting mad while my roommate just busted out laughing at me. After a few more futile attempts to open the PDF on my phone after trying to disable my pop-up blocker, I gave up and logged onto my laptop in order to view my score. This process took an additional (and painful) three minutes. When I finally got to the PDF link again, I stared at my screen for what seemed like an eternity before holding my breath again and FINALLY clicking on the link. It led me to the score that served as the culmination of all the strenuous studying I had put towards preparing for that exam. When I ultimately laid my eyes on my score, I paused for a couple of seconds before exclaiming, “I’lllllll TAKE IT!!”  Granted, it wasn’t as high of a score as I was aiming for…but I am perfectly content with the score, especially since I had absolutely no idea how I did after taking that test. It really could have been potentially A LOT worse. Plus, my score still keeps all the specialty options that I’m considering relatively open, which is what my true end-goal was. So with that said, I’ve officially closed the Step 1 chapter of my life! However, it’s just incredible to see how I still wasn’t able to get that close to the score that I aimed for even after all the hard work and long hours I put into preparing for that exam. That test really is something else man. Although I didn’t make it to the stars, I sure as hell landed on the clouds!

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Thursday and Friday consisted of other useful sessions including personal wellness during third-year, financial aid, and a session called “What I Wished I Knew Before Third Year”. The main points I gleaned from that last session were to be assertive with my learning, to appreciate the growth that I will experience as I get comfortable with procedures and coming up with plans for the patients, to be unafraid of being wrong because I still will have relatively fewer responsibilities than my upper levels, to look at every day as an opportunity to do something that I’ll probably never be able to do again, to have very few expectations of going home early, to inquire what my upper levels expect of me as and to use “pimping” questions as a method of learning. Friday’s day-long session centered around inter-professionalism and working in teams with healthcare providers in other career paths such as physician assistants and CRNAs. In this session, we listened to a number of presentations regarding the importance of teamwork and got into smaller groups that included medical students, PA students and CRNA students, where we worked through a patient case and used root cause analysis to improve the quality of patient care. It was a long, yet interesting day!

And last but not least, I was invited to both a scholarship dinner for the Wake Forest School of Medicine Class of 1967 last night (it was their 50th reunion!) and a scholarship brunch this morning for all scholarship donors and students on scholarship. I was invited to the former dinner because I was awarded a scholarship this year from a late member of the Class of 1967. I’m still not entirely sure why I was blessed with the scholarship, but I’m not about to start asking any questions 😊😊😊. At the dinner, I found myself in a friendly room of elderly physicians and their spouses, all of whom were very excited to see the product (me) of their donation to their scholarship fund. As they shared stories of the man whom my scholarship is named after, I found myself feeling even more honored to have been selected to receive this scholarship because it was very obvious how much it meant to these physicians, for everyone I spoke to had very fond memories of this man. As for the actual food, I found myself eating the salad with a fork and knife lol. I also thoroughly enjoyed the free salmon, steak and mashed potatoes + vegetables that made up the dinner! As for the dessert, I took a bite of it and decided that I didn’t vibe with it. The dinner reception was marvelous overall and I had a blast this morning at the scholarship brunch as well! I’m really making it a mission of mine to provide scholarships to deserving students in the future, for these generous gifts of money have been changing my life ever since I received the Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship that allowed me to attend the University of Miami.

Alright, my word vomit has finally ended. Be sure to have an exceptional week! And congratulations to all of you graduating from your respective universities! That’s a major accomplishment that you should be extremely proud of! I’ll be in Miami this week to watch my girlfriend cross the stage and officially become a UM Alumni! 😆

“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” – Denis Waitley

– Black Man, M.D.

Apprehensive Excitement

After going through this first week of third-year orientation (or as we like to call it here at Wake, Third-Year Boot Camp), it’s evident that this next year of my life is going to be VERY different from what I’ve been used to thus far. I mean, of course I knew I was going to be entering a new dimension of learning and all…but the closer I get to the start of my third year of medical school, the more I’ve begun to notice this uneasy feeling of uncertainty that has been creeping up in me for some time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually really excited about beginning to do what I’ll be pretty much doing for the rest of my life. But with this excitement comes a degree of uneasiness due to the fact that my whole life schedule is about to be completely, and permanently, flipped over. I’ve been learning in a classroom environment for the past twenty years, so it’s pretty much all I know when it comes to school and the learning environment in general. I’ve grown extremely comfortable with this type of environment, even if it can get ridiculously old sometimes. Unlike the majority of my classmates, I don’t have the luxury of understanding what a true full-time job entails, which is what I’m essentially going to be doing from here on out…except I’ll still have to miraculously find the time to study for my shelf exams that I’ll have to take at the end of each rotation. And I sure as hell won’t be getting paid for this “job” for the next two years.

Another part of my uneasiness stems from the realization that I will no longer have as flexible of a schedule as I’ve grown accustomed to ever since I first started college. I will now have a structured schedule that I will be required to stick to and I’ll have to learn how to successfully work with it while continuing to do the necessary things that I love to do in the substantially decreased free time that I’ll have to make for myself. And not only will this regimented schedule be almost inflexible within each rotation; it will be continuously changing as I cycle through different rotations. It’s going to be a HUGE shift in my life, and I honestly don’t know if I’m entirely ready for it. But I guess it’s all just a part of growing up. Plus, there are countless people in the world working in jobs with structured schedules…so I actually can’t really be complaining. However, this boot camp that I’m currently in has really been instrumental in mentally preparing me for this dramatic shift in my lifestyle. Also, it gives me comfort to know that MANY other people have gone through this rite of passage, and that others are traveling along this same journey as we speak. So with that said, I’ll be alright!

I’m happy to say that my experience in this third-year boot camp has been quite fantastic so far! We’ve had a good amount of sessions in this first week, and we’ll have even more to learn from this upcoming week as well. I won’t go into a huge amount of detail about my sessions so far, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that in this past week I’ve been able to:

  • Practice putting in a Foley catheter and a peripheral IV
  • Practice drawing blood from a dummy as well as a classmate, who insisted that I practiced on him! (It was my first time drawing blood from a real person and I won’t lie…I got a bit of a rush from doing it 😂)
  • Practice putting in an OPA (oropharyngeal airway) & an NPA (nasopharyngeal airway)
  • Practice applying a bag-valve-mask on a dummy patient
  • Listen to lectures about women’s health, intimate partner violence, radiology, email etiquette, the relationship between social media and healthcare, and the Doctor-Patient Relationship and how just simply being there for the patient is sometimes more important than trying to do something
  • Witness an interesting discussion about abortion ethics between two doctors with opposing views about abortion
  • Listen to what the panel of third-year clerkship (clinical rotation) directors had to say about life as a third-year medical student in each of their respective clerkships (Coffee is really about to become my ride-or-die.)
  • Become certified in initiating Basic Life Support/CPR after a morning of training and an examination
  • Take a tour of the surgery unit and become oriented in how the Operating Room works
  • Practice scrubbing in and changing into surgery gear
  • Meet Dr. Bryant Cameron Webb and unintentionally crash his scheduled dinner with a few other physicians
  • Take updated photos for my clerkship years
  • Participate in an interactive and eye-opening simulation focused on Health Equities and the lives that patients from various backgrounds may live outside of the clinic
  • Go apartment hunting, chill with friends and look for resources necessary for success in my clerkship years

Needless to say, it’s been quite a busy week. But I’ve also had a good amount of free time that I’ve been able to adequately enjoy! Gotta make the most of it all before I begin rotations in a couple of weeks!

And as for you, be sure to have a marvelous week!

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree

P.S. I think I’m receiving my Step 1 score this week…….

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Entering A New Dimension

I’m not gonna lie, life has really been treating me pretty well as of late.

Ever since taking Step a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been in straight vacation mode. But I’m sure you already knew that. I already told you all about my trip to the medical education conference in Atlanta that I was a participant of in my last post, so there’s no need to talk about that again. What I haven’t told you yet is how I supercharged my vacation by flying to Cancun for a few days with some college friends! As a matter of fact, I just got back to North Carolina from the trip lol. This trip was pretty awesome overall! I’m not gonna get into the details of all our shenanigans because I’ll be sitting here all day typing them out, but I’ll go ahead and say that it’s the most fun I’ve had in quite a while 😂. It rained a lot the first couple of days we were here, but best believe that didn’t stop us from having a great time! We weren’t about to let some random thunderstorms stop us from getting our money’s worth. The last couple of days were much sunnier and we were actually able to the things we intended to do on our trip, like sipping on pina coladas with a backdrop of palm trees on the beach and going on a “jungle tour”, where we sped through the coast in speedboats and snorkeled on the reefs. (I thought I knew what snorkeling was…until I actually did it for the first time 😅) Throughout the trip, we ate out at various authentic Mexican restaurants, visited various bars, ruthlessly made fun of each other, explored downtown Cancun, experienced the insanity of Cancun driving, endlessly struggled with USD à Pesos conversions, became besties with a dope waitress who became our personal DJ at the restaurant we were at, spent hella pesos, enjoyed Cancun’s nightlife, befriended & partied with other Americans on vacation, and were endlessly & aggressively harassed by club promoters (bruh, these promoters were so damn persistent…like I encountered at least 100 different promoters during my time in Cancun. There were even little kids following us around trying to sell us bracelets wayyyy after their bedtime! It was all just insane.) As you can probably tell, I did NOT get much sleep these past five days. But it was absolutely worth it!

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It was a dope vacation overall and am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico for fun. My friends and I decided to try and make traveling an annual occurrence, so I’m looking forward to the crazy adventures that the world has in store for us in the future! Now that my two-week vacation is just about over, I plan on catching up on some sleep before dealing with the fact that I’m about to officially be a third-year medical student in a few short weeks. Ain’t that crazy?? It’s pretty weird to even say that I’m going to be a third-year. I’ve been in the classroom environment for so long…so not having to adhere to that lifestyle anymore is totally strange. I actually start third-year orientation this week, which consists of jam-packed 8am-5pm days full of information about what our next couple of years is going to look like. Needless to say, it’s going to be a very interesting couple of weeks and an even more interesting couple of years. But I’m ready for it. Okay I’m lying; another week of vacation would be absolutely lovely. But whatever, I’ll take what I can get lol. Ultimately, this two-and-a-half week-long orientation will definitely help to prepare me for the new dimension of learning that lies ahead, a dimension that will help to equip me with the practical and necessary skills that I need in order to become an effective and successful Black Man, M.D.

Y’all have a splendid week!

“To the degree we’re not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.” – Peter McWilliams

– Black Man, M.D.