Moment of Clarity

And just like that, another week has flown by! Chai!! *in my best Nigerian accent*

I think I’m already starting to get used to this third-year lifestyle. In between the early mornings, long yet satisfying days at the hospital, lessons I’ve been learning from my upper-levels on my teams, nights of forced studying, and patients I’ve helped treat, I’ve been getting closer to establishing a steady routine. Granted, it’s kind of tough to fully establish one since I’m going to be switching services all the time (I’m starting my Renal service this week), but with each passing day I’ve been getting a better and better sense of how things flow. I’ve also been noticing fast improvements with my information gathering, physical exam and presenting skills, although I still have a ways to go. And last but not least, I’ve noticed how awesome all the people I’ve worked with so far in Internal Medicine are! Both of the teams I’ve worked with so far have been very willing to help teach my classmate and I major keys for success as we continue to acclimate ourselves as newly minted third-year students.

This past week was my second (and last) week of working on the Cardiology unit. But this time, I was on the General Cardiology service, as opposed to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU). This meant that the patients that we cared for weren’t in as critical of a condition as the ones in the CCU, but they were still quite sick. I ended up following four patients overall while on this service, who all had various conditions that required remarkable treatments. I had a good time getting to know to each of them, and they all showed appreciation for their care and for me taking the time to just chat with them, which touched me quite a bit.

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As for the team I worked with duing this week, they were simply fantastic. I had such a great time working with them that I found myself looking forward to going to the hospital each morning (after making myself crawl out of my bed) just so I could learn from them! The interns were so kind and were willing to explain to us practical things about being a third-year student that we didn’t understand yet. Both the resident and the fellow on the team were geniuses who actually carved time out of their schedules to give us valuable information about Cardiology while making sure we understood what they were telling us by continuously prodding (pimping) us with questions along the way. And the attending we worked with was just incredible. She was highly personable with everyone she interacted with and was incredibly kind to the team as well as to her patients (Her bedside manner is absolutely stunning!). She also was a very effective teacher who forced us to think through the questions that she shot at us routinely so that we would better remember the information that we were learning. I really appreciated that because although I was put on the spot numerous times, I found myself better remembering the things that I was asked and I also found myself more engaged in learning about the various conditions that the patients had, along with their respective treatments. To sum her all up, she’s just the type of person who makes you smile whenever you see her, which is the type of doctor that I aspire to be!

Out of all the lessons that I learned this past week from my team, there was one that really stuck with me and will continue to be with me throughout the rest of my student years as well as my professional career. I had wanted go and talk to a patient we had checked on earlier in the day about a specific issue that was concerning to me, but I didn’t know if I had the authority to do so. So I asked the fellow on the team about how I was feeling, and what he told me truly inspired me and completely shifted the way I perceived my current position as a third-year medical student. He told me that I should not only go for it and talk to the patient, but that I should aspire to take ownership of all the patients I follow from here on out and really feel as though I’m the doctor caring for them. I should never feel as if I’m not in a position to talk with them about certain issues because I’m “only a third-year student”. With that mindset, I’ll feel much more compelled to do what I feel that I need to do for my patients, allowing me to establish more solid connections with them and ultimately allowing me to become an exponentially better care provider at a much faster rate. I instantly had a moment of clarity as soon as I heard that answer. I had heard variations of that answer many times before from other people, but it wasn’t until that moment that I finally and truly understood the incredible power that I had as a third-year. I may still be a student, but I’m here to learn how to become an effective physician. In order to become an effective physician, I need to learn how to do what effective physicans do. And the best way for me to learn how to do these things is to do them myself. I don’t have to merely be a chronically unsure errand-boy constantly doubting my own thought processes. I already have the power to really help change lives through conversation and decision-making. All I had to do was believe that I possessed this power and then act upon this mentality. So I did and I went to talk to the patient, who was actually quite appreciative that I did so. This is definitely a mentality that I plan on fully upholding from here on out!

Overall, I had another great week in this Internal Medicine clerkship. I actually had forgotten that Memorial Day weekend was coming up, so now I’m here on a three-day weekend without any plans except to chill for a bit, complete tasks I hadn’t been able to do during the week, and prepare myself for my upcoming service on the Renal unit. I actually have weekend days to work during this upcoming service as well, so that’ll be quite interesting…😅😅😅.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and a magnificent week! Make sure to take some time to give gratitude to all the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives over the decades in order to continue keeping us and our country safe from harm!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marriane Williamson

– Black Man, M.D.

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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Crunch Time

So I’m still out here grindin’. But y’all already knew that.

This Endocrine/Reproductive exam that we have on Friday snuck up so fast on me man. March snuck up even faster! How we’ve already managed to get through February, I’ll never know. Also, with March comes Step Study Block. As a matter of fact, the study block starts NEXT WEEK.

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It’s so unreal that I’m actually about to start tackling this exam head on. But I’m honestly ready to get it over with and even more ready to blaze past this Endo/Repro exam on Friday as well as the cumulative final next Tuesday that’ll be testing us on everything that we’ve learned ever since we got back from Thanksgiving. Yes, I said Thanksgiving. And yes, I know that’s a hell of a lot of stuff to be tested on. But guess what else is gonna test us on a hell of a lot of stuff? *DING DING DING* You guessed it! Good ol’ Step.

Life after Step is gonna be strange and awesome at the same time. Strange because I’ve been having to work towards this exam ever since I first stepped foot into med school, so completing that checkpoint will be like closing a chapter of my experience here. With the closing of that chapter comes a new one, which is where the awesome part comes in. I’ll be in the hospital on a daily basis actually taking care of patients! It’ll be an experience completely different from what I’ve been accustomed to and I feel like I’ll be able to learn even better by actually going through the motions on the wards. Speaking of, we actually FINALLY got our third-year schedules a few days ago! I got my second-preference schedule, which I’m very happy about! I’ll start off in the summer with three months of Internal Medicine, followed by six weeks of OB/GYN, six weeks of Pediatrics, a month of Psychiatry, a month of Neurology, eight weeks of Surgery, a month of Family Medicine and lastly, a month of Emergency Medicine. It’s going to be a grueling, yet fulfilling year. I’m also just gonna have to get over the fact that my already shortened free time will be even more severely shortened. 😅😰😭

This past week, in between studying for my upcoming exams, I completed my final Clinical Skills exam (CPX) for the year, attended my last Clinical Skills class of the year and shadowed another ophthalmologist at the hospital. My performance in CPX was fine overall, but I forgot to ask my standardized patient a couple of critical questions that would have made the diagnosis very clear to me. As I was doing the write-up, I was kicking myself about missing those questions because not asking those easy yet critical questions made it harder to complete my write-up. But on the bright side, I’ll never forget to ask them again when I come across real patients in the future! It’s definitely better to screw up and learn from my mistakes now rather than later when I’ll actually be at least partially responsible for the lives of actual patients. Overall though, I’ve come a LONG way from my very first CPX, after which I was advised (forced) to get extra practice with my history-taking skills by interviewing patients in the wards. Thank God for growth lol. It was also crazy attending my last Clinical Skills class, because I had been with that same small group of people ever since I first started school. I learned so many practical skills in that class over the past year-and-a-half that will undoubtedly be critical to my success in the wards in a few short months.

Finally, my shadowing experience was pretty dope, as always. I was running in and out of various operating rooms with the ophthalmologist and the resident working with him, where they were performing some fascinating surgeries. The amount of procedures that you can do on the eye is pretty insane. One patient was getting laser treatment on her retina, another patient was getting her diabetic retinopathy treated and another one had an epiretinal membrane that she needed to get treated. There was also a patient with this condition called “morning glory syndrome“, a condition in which one’s optic disk fails to fully develop in utero. The field of ophthalmology just continues to fascinate me. It was a pleasure, as always, to be able to shadow that physician.

Alright, back to studying. Y’all have a great week! And keep the resistance up; never allow yourself and the goodness of humanity to be oppressed!

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

– Black Man, M.D.

Vision Within Division

I’m finding it harder and harder to focus on my studies in the midst of all this BS happening around us.

It’s only been a little over a week since Inauguration Day and Donald Trump has already caused chaos in this country by issuing 14 executive orders (including one banning immigrants from several countries in a racist manner), trying to rush through the hearings for his cabinet picks (the vast majority of them are highly unqualified/unsuitable for their chosen positions), removing critical areas of American policy from the White House’s website, and repeatedly AND BLATANTLY to the American public, just to name a few of his actions.  As a matter of fact, click here to get a better overview of what his first week in office has looked like. It’s so sad to see how quickly he’s dismantling the progress that we’ve made as a country and how much he’s embarrassing us as a country. It doesn’t help that he has lil’ friends in the government are helping him embarrass us as well. From the topics of education, immigration and women’s rights to healthcare and climate change, the Trump administration just seems to want to set us back decades while increasing their wealth and political power. It’s insanely frustrating. Although I’ve been signing countless petitions, calling Congress multiple times a day on a daily basis, encouraging others to contact their representatives, and keeping up with current bills via this new app called Countable (you should really check it out), I still feel like I should be doing more to save the progress we’ve made in this country. But even with all the pressure people are putting on the current government, it just seems like things are rapidly getting worse. Plus, how much more can I do before I start to see a negative impact on my grades? And with my Step study period approaching, I really need to be able to adequately focus on studying the enormous amount of material that the exam covers. This all just sucks man. It really does.

And it’s only been a freakin’ week. Jesus.

Ima keep fighting though. And I have a good number of friends who are just as frustrated as I am but who are still fighting as well. We just gotta stick together and keep resisting this oppressive system of hatred and racism.

Alright I’m done venting for today. In other news, I just recently ranked my clinical rotations schedule for third-year! I’m sure different medical schools have different ways of choosing rotations, but here at Wake we are given 16 different schedules that all have the same rotations, but in different orders. After we are given those schedules, we need to choose the rotation order that we prefer the most and then rank the rest of them in preference order, all the way to 16. Hopefully I’m able to at least get one of my top three choices, although they say that it doesn’t necessarily matter what order we get since we’re all going through the same rotation schedule. But still. After we send our rankings in, a computer chooses which students get what schedule via some weird algorithm and we find out our finalized schedule a couple weeks later. So I should know what my third-year schedule is going to look like by mid-February! Regardless of what schedule I get, third year is definitely going to be one hell of a experience. I’m really hoping that I’ll enjoy it!

Earlier last week, I got the opportunity to shadow an ophthalmologist at a nearby clinic for an afternoon. He performed three different cataract surgeries while I was there, and they were all absolutely fascinating. The first two surgeries involved a laser breaking down the cataract in the lens of the patient’s eye. The doctor then scrubbed in and took out the pieces of the cataract manually as I looked on. I was actually able to scrub in for the third surgery though! It was my first time ever scrubbing into a surgery, so of course I was awkwardly going through all the motions that scrubbing in entails…but then once I was scrubbed in, I was able to view the surgery through the microscope! It was so cool man. This specific patient had to have his cataract removed manually without help from the laser, which made the surgery a bit longer. He actually went into asymptomatic atrial fibrillation during the surgery and also had this condition called “floppy iris syndrome“, where his iris just kept flopping around during the surgery. I saw firsthand just how steady and calculated the doctor’s hands had to be in order to successfully complete his eye surgeries. One bad move and you could literally rip a hole in someone’s eye. Then before you know it, you’re facing a judge. You don’t want those problems. It was quite an experience overall! I’m thankful to be in a place where physicians are more than willing to have students come in and witness what they do in real-time.

This past Friday, I was able to attend a talk on the current state of the nation that was hosted by the hospital. The keynote speaker was Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and she gave some hypotheses as to how and why we ended up in the current situation we’re in. Some of the things she touched on included the surprisingly large number of white women in this country who actually haven’t historically voted for Democrats, how Trump supporters reflect race/gender values that have been salient throughout the history of this country, our incredible ability to filter and forget things about certain people, the true nature of the 13th & 14th amendments, picking the right battles to fight that are in line with your social justice mission and how strategic cooperation is intertwined with the very nature of democracy. She also made a good point about the hallucinatory effects of the media and that there’s a good chance that representatives higher up in the government are actively working on solving the current issues plaguing our country right now, even if we don’t see them on the news or anything. It was quite an interesting talk, especially since Dr. Harris-Perry was giving it from the perspective of a self-proclaimed black feminist. In the interest of not going on another long rant, I’ll end here.

Shortly after the talk with Dr. Harris-Perry, I met with my lil’ 5th grade mentee again along with the mentors & mentees involved with the S.Y.S.T.E.M. initiative that I talked about in my previous post (Resisting The System). The kids were even more excited to interact with us than they were last time! During our time with them, we talked about how they’ve been implementing the lessons we discussed in the previous meeting in their daily lives. We also played an icebreaker game with them and continued to expand on the importance of understanding one’s emotions and stress levels. I’m loving the program so far! And last but not least, I had the opportunity to sit on a medical student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference hosted by our medical school yesterday morning. There were about 80-or-so students (high school, college and post-grads) in attendance in all! Being able to sit and talk with students in a position that I was dying to be in just two short years ago continues to humble me and allows me to continue to appreciate my growth as well as the circumstances that allowed me to get to where I’m at.

Another blog entry complete! Let’s continue to stay as positive as we can while fiercely resisting the forces that threaten our inherent goodness!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus Christ (John 13:34)

– 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.

confused hand robert downey jr frustrated sigh

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.