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!!

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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 Into Step

WELLLLLLP.

The time has finally come.

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

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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.

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.

Strange Love

Whoa…when did we get to mid-February?? I swear it was just February 1st like two days ago…but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised at how fast time flies at this point. But being in mid-February means that I’ll be starting my dedicated Step Study Period in about three weeks. Which then means that I’ll be taking Step very, very soon. Sheesh. Can’t wait to finally get that exam over with! I’m already sick of talking about it.

Meanwhile, I’m getting through this last new block of new material and I actually love this stuff! It’s strange, I really didn’t picture myself having fun learning about hormone regulation and reproductive systems. Maybe it’s because when I “learned” it while studying for the MCAT, I really had no physiology foundation to build from so it was very hard for me to grasp back then. Ever since then, I had dreaded learning about the menstrual cycle again (shoutout to y’all ladies out there…y’all the real MVPs for having to live through that every single month) as well as about reproduction and hormone feedback systems. But now it’s all clicking so well for me and I’m having a blast lol. I’ve learned a while ago that I love thinking through systems and concepts as opposed to strict memorization, and that’s exactly what this block of endocrinology and reproductive systems emphasizes. You have to map out how different organs interact with one another and what the consequences are as a result of those interactions, which is really interesting. It’s a long block however, which means we about to be taking a long test in early March…but I’m definitely enjoying the ride so far!

Last week was pretty chill, apart from the Cabinet nominees who got confirmed and the continuing flood of BS our country is going through. Smh. Miami was fun though, although my girl, along with a sizable portion of the nation, took the dramatic Falcons loss pretty hard. Nevertheless, having dinner with her and bunch of friends at a sports bar while watching the game was a great time. I was also able to see more people on campus before I left, which was fantastic. After getting back to Winston, I proceeded to power through classwork while baking a cake for the annual bakeoff my school had. Lol yes, I said I baked a cake. Wanna see?

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Presenting to you, Christel’s Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake!

I didn’t win the bakeoff or anything, but it tasted really good so I’m proud of myself for that. 😊 Shoutout to the Tasty cookbook! I also got the chance to participate on yet another medical school panel down at Davidson College last Friday, where they were having a Pre-Health Professions Symposium. That was pretty cool! It’s always a pleasure being invited to talk to young students who are vying to become a healthcare professional. And last but not least, I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House’s Brenner’s Family Room in the hospital yesterday afternoon for the first time in a couple of months. Gotta do better about that lol.

That’s all I got today! Have a lovely Valentine’s Day (Or Single Awareness Day, however you wanna look at it) and keep up the good fight against this imposing administration!

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (3/8) M.D.

Winter Break is Here!!!

And you already know what that means…

I’m three semesters deep into my MD program!!!

tv happy smile excited the fresh prince of bel air

After next semester, I’ll be halfway done with medical school! Isn’t that insane? And soon after next semester, I’ll be starting my clinical rotations in the hospital! I can hardly believe it. The closer I get towards obtaining my medical degree, the more surreal it all feels. Rounding in the hospital as a third-year medical student still seems like a foreign world to me…yet I’m going to be be doing just that in five short months. And then before I know it, I’ll be graduating from medical school with my M.D. I’ll officially be a physician. A relatively inexperienced physician, but a physician nonetheless. Incredible.

But before I get to third-year, I have to get through my final semester of basic science classwork and through the USMLE Step 1 checkpoint. That test is really creeping up on me yo. Winter Break is gonna come and go and then January and February will fly by. Then it’ll be March, which is when I start my Step Study Period. Then April 10th will come and BOOM. I’ll be taking one of the most important tests of my life. Boy am I ready to get that test over with. Too bad I’m nowhere near prepared to take it. It’s all good though, I’ll get a study schedule ready and will commit to it when the time comes.

Enough about all that though.

I felt that the renal physiology exam I took this past Friday went pretty good. It was a short test (60 questions), but the questions were really detailed so I had to take quite a bit of time with about half the questions. However, I felt confident about the vast majority of my answers overall. But as we all know, we never know how well we truly did until we get those scores back. So there’s that. When school starts back up again in January, we’ll be tackling renal pathology, which I hear is a bit easier than it’s physiology counterpart. That’s always a good thing to hear, although I actually didn’t mind renal physiology at all. Don’t get me wrong though, it was definitely tough as hell to wrap my head around at first.

A couple days before the test, I took a study break by volunteering at the DEAC free clinic run by Wake’s medical students and practiced my patient interview skills there with an older lady who needed to check her bloodwork. She had been advised to start a healthier diet a few months back after it was discovered that her triglyceride (molecule of fat) levels were really high. She took on the healthier diet challenge, so she was excited to see the results of her hard work, and also expressed interest in smoking cessation after being a smoker for 34 years. She also came with complaints of a sinus infection, which has afflicted her a few times a year for the past 30+ years. It was nice just being out in the community and helping solve real medical issues that real people were having instead of being hunched over a desk answering practice questions about the physiology of the kidneys. I helped gather her information, was able to practice my presentation skills to an experienced physician, took her to the lab so her blood could be taken, and helped decide what medications we were going to give her. I always tend to have a nice experience every time I volunteer at the DEAC free clinic…I should really go more often.

Finally, I was given the opportunity to assist in giving a presentation to Black high-schoolers interested in health professions yesterday morning at a local YMCA. The 50+ group of high schoolers were actually called the Young Black Achievers. Pretty dope name, in my opinion. As one of the three presenters, I talked with them about my journey and how it shaped me to be where I’m at today. They were high-school students, so you can imagine their restlessness as they sat there for a couple hours as we talked. But it was a great experience overall, and I’m glad to have been able to talk with them as well as to help answer all the questions they had. I also learned quite a bit about the other two presenters, both of whom were my classmates/friends. Representation is so key y’all. It really matters!

I have a great feeling that this Winter Break is going to be an awesome one! I have a ton planned for it, including spending quality time with my family, traveling to Atlanta to visit my girlfriend and her family, and flying down to Miami to attend a wedding. I’m looking forward to it all!

I hope you have an unforgettable and a happy holiday season! Be sure to count your blessings!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Special shoutout to my girlfriend because today is her birthday!! Happy Birthday Babe! 😁

Fulfilling Opportunities

Okay first things first.

I saw Presidential-Nominee Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday!

It was awesome getting to see them, especially since I learned that they were going to be in Winston only a few days prior to the event. As you can see, the rally was stupid packed…I barely got into the stadium even though I was in the student line! The general admission line was insanely long; I don’t even know if some of those people made it into the stadium honestly. When I got in with some friends, we didn’t even have seats…so we improvised and stood behind the last row of seats in a section lol. I had already seen Hillary a couple of times prior before back in college, but it was my first time seeing Michelle Obama and let me tell you, she was absolutely PHENOMENAL. So phenomenal that Hillary actually spoke before her, as if she was opening up for the First Lady. After the rally, I wanted to run up and take a picture with them but you know how that goes with Secret Service and all. Plus we were not tryna get caught up in the crazy traffic back to school, which we ended up stuck in anyway for over an hour. For no good reason either. 😒 But anyways, if you haven’t voted already, GO VOTE!!! Early voting is currently going on! To sum up what President Obama said, our future and well-being is on the ballot! I put my ballot in last Monday, so my voice has been heard. Make sure yours is too!

Also, I had a pretty interesting weekend that involved Wake Homecoming Black Alumni festivities, North Carolina A&T Homecoming festivities (Also known as #GHOE), and dressing up as one of my favorite childhood superheros. Can you guess who??

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And tell me why I ran into Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry for a third time this weekend? We pretty much besties now, you can’t tell me otherwise. It was an amusing weekend overall and I stayed up much later than I would have liked to both Friday and Saturday. However, I did fit in some volunteer time as well as adequate study time so I’m still all caught up on my lecture material!

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Which brings me to my next point. I started the Gastrointestinal block this past Monday and so far, I haven’t had any qualms about it. I feel like it definitely has been the most straightforward block yet and I’ve been able to keep up with everything since I’ve been attending every class so far. Go figure. It’s been nice to have been able to go to class and grasp some understanding from lecture…believe it or not, that doesn’t work all the time for me. It just depends on who’s lecturing and how they do so. Some lecturers read off their slides while others truly talk about what they’re presenting so that we can understand their material. It’s been the latter this past week, which is why I’ve been in class this week lol. I’ll just keep on truckin’ through this block and before I know it, I’ll be stuffing my face with great homemade food at the dinner table on Thanksgiving with my family!

Couple more things.

One, I attended a talk that described the USMLE Step 1 Exam in more detail earlier this past week and how pressing it is for our future. Like we weren’t fully aware of that already. I feel like I should begin reviewing past material now and slowly pick up the pace as the weeks go on. I also need to begin focusing on how to maximize the use of test-taking strategies, because me and standardized tests never really got along too well. You know what, I don’t even wanna talk about Step anymore. Instead, I’ll tell you about how the chapter of the Student National Medical Association at my school is hosting the annual Regional Medical Education Conference this weekend! Our region consists of medical schools in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. So this means that I’ll be getting the chance to meet a lot of new people as well as catch up with other medical students in the region that I haven’t talked to in a while. Only thing that sucks is that I’m missing my alma mater’s homecoming because of this conference…but it should be a good time nonetheless!

Other thing is that I had the chance to actually follow up on a case that I had during my CPE week. A kid had come to my CPE preceptor’s office a couple weeks ago with complaints of nightly fevers that took place for over two weeks and constant pain in his upper back. We had no idea what was going on with him, so we ran some blood tests and after a day or so, my preceptor had him transferred to the main Wake Forest hospital. This past week, my preceptor emailed me to see if I wanted to go and check in with the med team working on the kid at the hospital and of course I did, so I went to do so. It was quite awkward walking into the small room of upper-level med students and residents that made up that med team, but I went ahead and asked about the patient. They seemed to be pleasantly surprised that I actually went out of my way to come and talk to them about the kid and were enthusiastic about updating me on his condition. Turns out he had this condition called “cat-scratch disease“, a condition where a bacterium called Bartonella henselae infects an individual after a cat literally scratches that person. I had learned about it last year, but this was my first time seeing a patient with that condition. It was pretty cool to have been able to see that, although I’m sure the kid wasn’t feeling too cool about having the disease. He’s going to get better though; he was prescribed some antibiotics (azithromycin to be specific).

That’s it for this post! Be sure to have a splendid week!

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I just got back from a Diwali (Hindu New Year) celebration with some of my friends! There was good Indian food as well as cool traditional Indian outfits involved. I love being able to learn a bit about other cultures…it’s almost like I’m traveling the world free of charge lol. Happy Diwali! Oh, and be on the lookout for new Health Career Spotlights coming up in the future!

City Boy Back In A Country World

As you can see from the title of this post, I was back in the good ol’ town of Lenoir, NC this past week. Unlike last time though, spring break isn’t starting…instead, I’m starting my Gastrointestinal block tomorrow. Le sigh. It’s okay though, this is the last block to get through before Thanksgiving break! And then after break there’s a week of Dermatology and two weeks of Renal before Winter break! ‘Tis the season of holidays 😄. Which also means it’s starting to get chilly…man I hate cold weather. But I also hate global warming. Just can’t win man, just can’t win. Honestly, I just need Summer ’16 to come back.

Before I get into my second, and final, Community Practice Experience that I participated in this past week, I just wanna touch on a few quick things. First, my Pulmonology test results. I passed comfortably. That’s good enough for me these days, although I felt like I studied hard enough to get an even higher score…but that’s neither here nor there. Y’all know I’ve been more concerned about learning the material for Step 1, which brings me to my next point. I’ve officially entered my testing location and date for that wicked exam. Unless I decide to change the date, I’m taking my USMLE Step 1 exam on Monday, April 10th, 2017. If it wasn’t real when I registered a couple of weeks ago, it sure is real now. I was actually going for April 12th, but all the spots in Greensboro were taken already. How they were already all booked, I will never know. But alas, I know I’ll be fine taking it a couple days prior, especially if I don’t have to drive an excess of 50+ miles on the morning of this fate-sealing exam to take it in another designated location other than Greensboro. Now I just gotta come up with an extensive study plan and stick to it.

crying andre johnson dre johnson blackish anthony anderson

Last thing, I powered through and finished the book Overcoming The Odds, written by Dr. Antonio Webb, yesterday. I had been reading this book for a little over a month and I must say, it was definitely a story worth reading. Extremely inspiring too…this man went from a kid in one of the hoods of Shreveport, Louisiana to becoming a resident in the Orthopedic Surgery program at the University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center. The story of how he got from Shreveport to San Antonio is incredible. This man had to go through an enormous amount of trials and tribulations to get to where he is currently at, including serving time in Iraq as a medical soldier and applying to medical school THREE times before becoming accepted. His story is absolutely one worth looking into. Right after finishing that book, I bought Dr. Sampson Davis’ book, Living and Dying in Brick City. I’m looking forward to reading that one!

Okkkayyy, now about my week-long experience in Lenoir.

First of all, I must say that I had a very positive experience overall! Because I had been there before, I knew exactly what to expect in the clinic and in the town in general. I wasn’t hit with any surprises and I was a lot more comfortable talking with patients and discussing their conditions with my preceptor than I may have been back in February. I also wasn’t rear-ended, stereotyped by an officer, baffled by a kid wearing confederate clothing in the clinic, or buffeted by rainstorms this time around. As a matter of fact, everyday was a hot, sunny day out there! However, I did spot the confederate flag on three separate occasions during the week (yes I was counting) while driving through the Lenoir area. I also spotted hella Trump/Pence signs as well as a few Pat McCrory signs (the current NC governor who’s spiraling NC into a mess) during the week.

barack obama annoyed serious grumpy not amused

I wasn’t surprised to see them though. My preceptor (who seems to be one of the few liberal folks in that town) and I had quite a few jokes to share when it came to this presidential election. I was a bit surprised to see a couple Jill Stein signs though. I also saw a grand total of ONE Hillary/Kaine sign, and that was when I was heading out of Lenoir Friday afternoon lol. Maaannn, y’all just go out and vote. Early voting has been rolling out across the country so make sure to get your voice heard! I’m going to cast my ballot this week!

As for my actual clinic experience, it was quite tiring and very enjoyable at the same time! Time always seemed to fly by there, especially when I was taking the time to interview patients. As you may or may not know, I was working in a pediatrics clinic, so I mainly saw babies, kids and teenagers at the practice. By the way, I heard the screaming babies again as I lay my head down to sleep every night. JESUS. Unlike last time though, there was a PA student working a five-week rotation with my preceptor as well, so we would talk and bounce ideas off one another whenever we got to a patient who needed a diagnosis. My preceptor allowed us to interview as many patients as we wanted and to do whatever necessary physical exams we saw fit before coming back to report the patient to him. So with that said, I got a ton of extra practice in taking histories and performing certain physical exams. I also now know why doctors traditionally have horrible handwriting; I was writing so damn fast while taking all those histories that reading my own handwriting became a puzzle-like game when it came time to report my findings to my preceptor. A few times, I was referred to as “the doctor” by the kid’s mother or father (or whoever the kid was with) and that always threw me off…I would be quick to correct them because I wasn’t about to be caught out there looking like another Dr. Love 😂.  Because there were two of us, the PA student and I took turns seeing the patients as they came in. Over the course of the week, I had about 40 separate patient encounters! A lot of them were well-check visits for babies as well as drug adjustments for kids with ADHD (I saw the same drugs over and over and over again…Vyvanse, Concerta, Ritalin, Focalin, Adderall, Clonidine, Quillivant etc.), but I also interacted with a number of other patients with problematic symptoms and conditions including fevers, exacerbated asthma, mysterious rashes, cerebral palsy, urinary tract infection, pilonidal abcess, constipation, and stomach pain, just to name a few. And because I’ve taken a few organ system courses such as Cardiology and Pulmonology, I knew exactly what to look for on those physical exam maneuvers. When we weren’t seeing patients, the three of us would have conversations about an endless array of topics in my preceptor’s office. Ultimately, I’m very happy to have had the doctor I was working with as my preceptor and I hope to continue a relationship with him even though I don’t have any more CPE’s ahead of me.

Time to get back to the grind! (Grind never ended though.)

Have an awesome week!

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” – Vince Lombardi 

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – My roommates and I hit up the same wing and BBQ spots we hit up last time we were in Lenoir. The food was just as finger-licking good. I also saw more diversity amongst the patients in the clinic this time around. That was refreshing!

Growing Pains

Tell me why I went into this weekend TEN lectures behind in material.

TEN LECTURES BEHIND.

The sad part is, I was actively trying to keep up all last week. But between the SIXTEEN lengthy lectures given to us just last week, my three and-a-half hour clinical skills class, my Clinical Practice Assessment Exam (CPX) where I had to interview & perform a physical exam on a standardized patient and then complete a write-up which took me FOUR HOURS to finish, and all the other little things I did on the side this past week, it’s been one hell of a struggle trying to keep up. So much for Pulmonology being a chill block.

sad annoyed whatever done facepalm

But let’s backtrack to my CPX first. Why did it take me four hours to complete that write-up man? I’ll tell you why. It’s because not only did I have to summarize the patient’s History of Present Illness, Past Medical History, Review of Systems, Family History and Social History, but I also had to go on and describe her physical exam findings, write up an assessment of the patient, come up with a differential diagnosis of what I believed the patient had, and then describe in detail as to why I picked each of the conditions I believed she had. Ohhh but that’s not all folks. After describing my differential diagnosis, which took over an hour itself, I then needed to come up with a structured plan as to how I was going to move forward with this patient, which included my diagnostic work-up, the anticipatory guidance I was going to provide to the patient, my treatment recommendations, and my disposition of the patient (where I’m going to eventually send her). That’s an unbelievable amount of work yo. And to think that this will become a regular routine as I get further in my training and eventually work as a doctor…😥. Why do I get the feeling that the doctors out there reading this are chuckling to themselves? Maybe because writing patients up isn’t actually as big of a deal as I’m making it seem and I’m just being all dramatic about it. Or maybe I went way overboard with my assignment. Regardless, I put my best effort in it and it took me a really long time to finish it. I pray that no other write-up will take me as long to finish. But if I get this diagnosis right thoooo…..😏.

The actual encounter with the patient was straight though. I’ve really come a long way in my interview skills, but I can still be better. I kicked myself for missing a couple of questions that I would have liked to ask and as for the physical exam portion, I did just about everything I needed to do but forgot to do one or two maneuvers that just so happened to conveniently spring back into my mind right after I walked out of the exam room. It’s whatever though, I felt like it was my best CPX performance yet. Can’t wait to finally get some feedback this week from the doctor who was grading me. Also the standardized patient did a phenomenal job acting out her severe chest pain…I did get her to crack a few smiles though, hehehe.

A couple days prior to my CPX, I watched a documentary screening with other classmates who are in the Service Learning Scholars program like me. The documentary was called “Private Violence“, and it followed the lives of a few women who had tragically been in very abusive relationships. These women had been beaten very badly by their spouses on a constant basis, but were also finding it hard to leave their spouse for good due to the unhealthy psychological nature of their relationships. It also didn’t help that the varying state laws in place for domestic violence cases were flawed enough to not help the victims feel any safer from their spouse. One woman was severely beaten over and over again and when she finally mustered up the power to seek justice, her pictures of her bruised and bloody body didn’t meet some type of “standard” set by specific states’ laws, so the man accused would only have to go to jail for a maximum of 180 days. It’s insane. In some states, you sell weed and go to jail for years…but then you can beat up your partner on a constant basis and the most you’ll go to jail for is six months?? There are a lot of flawed laws out there that need to be changed. We then also had a discussion about the documentary as a group and touched on the challenges that physicians need to face as well as what needs to be done when dealing with the issue of domestic violence in their patients’ lives. It was a very interesting and necessary event to have overall. It also gave me a framework to keep in my head whenever I interact with patients in the future who are dealing with domestic violence issues. After attending that, I proceeded to go and watch the first presidential debate…mannnnn don’t get me started on that bull. Actually I’m not even gonna go into how I’m feeling about this “presidential race” right now. Just please go out and VOTE for the sake of not only you but this country as a whole.

One more thing, I officially applied for my Step 1 exam this past week. Let me repeat that. I’VE OFFICIALLY APPLIED FOR MY USMLE STEP 1 EXAM. This has gotten so real so fast. I registered to take it in mid-April so I got a good amount of time before then, but I’m well aware of how fast time can fly. I’m just gonna work my tail off until then and pray that I get the score that I feel I deserve. I’m already thinking about how my nerves the night before will probably keep me from being able to fall asleep…I’m gonna have to find a solution to that. Oh, and you wanna hear something ridiculous? The exam costs $605 to take! SIX HUNDRED AND FIVE MOTHERLOVIN’ DOLLARS!!! I very audibly gasped when I saw that amount and immediately closed my laptop. But then guess what I remembered? My school reimburses us for the cost of the exam! Wake is soooo clutch man! THE REAL MVP. So I deposited the check that Student Affairs gave me, applied for the exam, and gleefully checked my bank account to verify that the amount in my checking account was unchanged. And lo and behold, it was unchanged.

Geek & Sundry dancing happy dance kid president dance

Gotta get back to catching up to these lectures though, I only have three more to go before I’m all the way caught up again! I definitely don’t wanna be behind before facing the four lectures we have tomorrow morning along with the longitudinal classes that will be taking up my afternoon. Jeez.

Have a marvelous week! 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

– Black Man, M.D.