When Life Gives You Lemons…

So I got this Anesthesia midterm exam tomorrow and I have no idea how it’s going to go down. All I’ve heard about the exams on this rotation is that they were ridiculously hard (apparently it’s all resident/fellow level material ๐Ÿ˜) and that the questions on these exams were very nitpicky. After having read ten dense chapters of this “Basics of Anesthesia” book I’ve been lugging around these past couple of weeks, I can see why this midterm has the potential to be so difficult. I have no clue what questions I’m going to get, and there’s no way that I’m going to know everything that I’ll probably need to know for this test. There’s just way too much information to absorb. It also doesn’t help that I’m not that motivated to study day and night for it, not only because it feels pointless to do so (I’ve had so many people tell me how notoriously difficult it is, including Anesthesia residents), but also because I have no interest in going into this specialty and won’t be using the majority of what I’ve been learning after this rotation is over.

However, I’ve been mindful enough to seriously work on skills like establishing IV access, bag-mask-ventilation and intubation, because I will absolutely need them in my future career as a Pediatrician. I’ve also picked the topic of “Pediatric Airway Management” as my presentation topic (I’m required to present a topic to my classmates and an attending physician, in case you missed that on my last post) because again, I’m going to tailor my experience in this rotation as much as I can to my career path. And by picking that topic, I’ll be more engaged in creating my presentation because I’ll be learning very useful things that I’ll more than likely be implementing in residency.

Speaking of, I finally finished my interview season last Tuesday at UVA! The interview day was a great one, and I had a wonderful experience overall while at Charlottesville. I had actually never been there before, so it was cool to be able to briefly check the town out. I’ll admit, it’s a neat little town; I could see why some people would be happy settling down there for some time. And because it’s a college town, the presence of UVA is very palpable throughout the area. The people in the pediatric department at UVA were all very kind and welcoming, which I really appreciated. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to make the drive up there to complete that interview, even though I had to reschedule it from last month and I ended up missing a day of my current rotation because of it.

I must say though, the scenery up to Charlottesville from Winston-Salem and back was quite dreary. ๐Ÿ˜…ย Although I spent the majority of my childhood in Virginia, I had never been in those parts of the state before. Some of the towns I drove through looked pretty rundown and because of the season, the trees were all bare. Plus, I saw a massive Confederate flag waving in the wind at some point during my drive back. It was such a stark reminder that I was in the South and in a very different area of the state that I called home for so long. I sure wasn’t trying to get stuck around any of those parts, especially at night. So you already know that I was zipping across that state highway as fast as I legally could lol.

In addition to finishing the interview trail this past week, I got the chance to sit in on a Grand Rounds talk about caring for patients who are transgender and I also participated in my first Anesthesia long call shift. The Grand Rounds talk was an interesting one, where a speech pathologist talked about the importance of recognizing the culture of this population of people and how to help them feel welcome when they come to establish care with physicians. I learned a lot about what it’s like to live in this world as a person who identifies as transgender, and I realized just how much I didn’t know about this population. I can’t even begin to imagine the lack of knowledge that some people, especially those who aren’t accepting of other cultures in the first place, have for this community of people. Listening to the presentation also forced me to think about how my beliefs of transgender people have changed over the years as I’ve matured and how societies around the world severely marginalize this population on a daily basis. I’m glad to have been able to attend this presentation and while I’m sure that there were some people in the audience who would have rather not have been there or didn’t necessarily agree with what the speaker was saying, being exposed to this information is very important because it can very much impact the care of a patient who they may end up caring for in the future.

In regards to my 15-hour long call shift, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I actually was able to get some of my rotation assignments done during my shift and I also witnessed some very memorable events as I followed the on-call Anesthesia resident around the hospital. Some of these events included watching the resident perform an awake intubation on a patient using a fiberscope and participating in a Level I trauma in the ED, where I watched a code take place and unfortunately witnessed the life of a patient end. I have another long call shift tomorrow, and there’s no telling what experiences are going to come out of that. All I can do is gear up and prepare for anything!

That’s all I got today. I have another couple weeks of Anesthesia ahead of me before I move on to my next rotation, which is one focused on Immigrant Health & Public Health. While I’m excited about that rotation, I still don’t really know what it is going to look like…hopefully I get that figured out sooner rather than later lol. I also will be heading to Nashville this upcoming weekend for the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where I’ll be participating in educational sessions, catching up with friends from across the country, and engaging talks with the Board of Directors about what the Annual Medical Education Conference in April is going to look like. I’ve never been to Nashville, so I’ll also do a little sightseeing if I have time! Should be a great experience! ๐Ÿ˜„

I hope that you have a phenomenal week! Wish me luck on this test tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜…

“Be the kind of person that you want people to think you are.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

Fresh Start

It looks like the New Year is starting off on a strong note for me!

Well, nothing major has actually really happened this past week…but it’s been a great week nonetheless. I spent the rest of my winter break at home in VA with my family, neighbors and girlfriend, where I was able to bring the New Year in! After the whole celebration that came with New Year’s Day, I had to drive right on back to Winston that same day in order to start my Anesthesia Sub-Internship the very next day. Yeah I know, it kinda sucks to have to start back up the day after New Year’s, but I can’t really complain after having had no clinical responsibilities since my last day of my Sub-Internship at CHOP back before Thanksgiving break. I’ve literally spent the last 6 1/2 weeks doing a whole lot of traveling, interviewing and sleeping with nothing much going on in between. Okay I’m lying, I definitely had plenty of SNMA administrative work to take care of, especially making sure that we kept our social media presence strong this past month. Also, I’ve been actively trying to decide where I want to spend the next three years of my life, which honestly isn’t the worst problem to have….but still, it’s a tough decision to make. I would rather be in this scenario than be in the scenario I was in when I was applying to medical schools, essentially begging for a school to give me a chance at earning a medical degree and to put me in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt along the way.

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The whole point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had a great time using my time the way that I’ve wanted to use it this past month and a half. Having to go back to a clinical schedule wasn’t that smooth of a transition, but the nature of my current rotation has made it relatively painless. I started it this past Wednesday with a brief orientation, where I swiftly learned that I was going to have to take a midterm exam, a final exam, and a mock OR simulation exam.

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I went into the rotation knowing that I would have to unfortunately take a final exam, but A MIDTERM AND A SIMULATION EXAM?? THREE WHOLE EXAMS??? IN ONE MONTH??? JEEEESUS *in my most authentic Cameroonian accent*

I almost forgot to mention that I have assigned readings from a giant textbook each night, which is where the material I will be tested on will be coming from. Oh, and I’ve repeatedly heard that the tests were incredibly difficult.

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And to top it all off, I’m going to have to present a topic of my choice to my peers and an attending at some point in the next couple of weeks.

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So yeah, the requirements are ass, but it’s all relatively offset by the fact that everyone in the department seems to be really chill. Plus I get to pretty much design my own schedule when I’m in the OR, meaning that I can pick whatever cases I want to go to, with breaks included in my schedule. And while I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 AM, my workday is pretty much over by 3:00 PM, unless I decide to stick around for another hour for the residents’ lecture. So yeah, no complaints there. My first few days haveย  been great, and I feel that my day-to-day experience throughout the rotation will be engaging, informative and fulfilling. I did forget to mention that each medical student on the rotation has to do one long call shift each week (6AM – 10 PM), so I got that delightful experience to look forward to. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Outside of the hospital, I got the opportunity to interview some more medical school applicants, which was pretty cool. Because I had already gone through this experience once before, I was privy to what was expected of me and the applicants as I interviewed each of them. It’s very interesting to watch how one standard prompt can be processed in so many different ways. You would be amazed at what the applicants come up with. All I’m going to say is that if thinking on your feet is a requirement to get into med school, the competition is only getting tougher and tougher. The morning also seemed to fly by faster because I was fully aware of how things flowed. I have a couple more interview days that I will be helping out on, and I’m looking forward to serving as an interviewer on those days!

That’s really all I have to say today. I have my FINAL residency interview this Tuesday at UVA, which is the one that I may or may not have mentioned in an earlier post that I couldn’t attend because of a snowstorm last month and thus had to reschedule. I honestly wish that I didn’t have to do any more interviews now that I’m back in school and all, but it’s for the best. After this one, I’m all done with interviews and I can officially begin working on my rank list! ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ™ˆ

I hope that your New Year has been off to a spectacular start! Let’s make this week a fantastic one! ๐Ÿ˜

“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you…..If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.” – Timothy Ferriss

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Now that the House of Representatives has offically switched power as of last week, I really am starting to feel those invgorating jolts of hope that were shattered soon after the shocking and disastrous 2016 elections. It’s a feeling that I’ve sorely missed these past couple of years. Shoutout to the new, diverse wave of Democrats in the House!!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

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Coming Full Circle

Bruh, I was thiiiiis close to being able to say that I finally completed the interview trail.

THIIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE!

(I’m putting my index finger and thumb extremely close to each other over here for emphasis, you just can’t see it….so here’s an emojiย ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฟ)

But thanks to the freakin’ snowstorm last week, a.k.a. Winter Storm Diego (really though, where do they get these storm names from? Does someone decide on random names and put them in a database or something? Alas, I digress…), my UVA interview that was scheduled for last Tuesday had to be moved to a date in January. So I have one more interview to look forward to before I can truly say that I’ve finished the interview season. This also means that I now have to miss a day of myย Anesthesiology Sub-Internship to drive up to Charlottesville and back down to Winston-Salem. Thanks a lot Diego. While it is now going to be a bit of an inconvenience to have to interview in January, I’m really glad that UVA was flexible enough to allow me to do so. I’m still looking forward to interviewing there, seeing what the program has to offer, meeting the residents, faculty and staff, and finally finishing out all of my interviews once and for all!ย ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

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While I missed out on my previously scheduled UVA interview, I did get to go to my other interview I had scheduled for last week, which was at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. As you may or may not already know, I grew up around this area of Virginia, so it was pretty much a homecoming for me. It was surreal being able to walk around the hospital that I grew up hearing so much about as a kid in my community. Also when people asked where I was from during my interview day, I no longer had to say “I’m from the Virginia Beach area of Virginia”, knowing that most people would have no clue where Norfolk or Chesapeake were. I could just proudly say,

“I’m from this area! I actually grew up in both Norfolk and Chesapeake!”

Okay I didn’t really exclaim it all overly excited like a cornball, but you get the idea. The hospital itself was a beautiful one, and I learned that it was the only free-standing hospital in the state of Virginia. I also had pleasant conversations during my actual interviews after being served breakfast in an elegant fashion. And to top it all off, I was placed in the comfiest apartment that I’ve been in since the interview season started, at no cost to me.

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After the interview day, I was even able to drive on home to spend time with my family for a couple of days before flying out to Atlanta, where I’ll be staying up until Christmas Eve. Overall, it was a great interview day and would have been a perfect way to cap off my interview season but you know, Diego.

Before I left to come to Atlanta, I made a quick stop at my former high school to talk to some of my former orchestra teacher’s students at his request. Again, it was very surreal to walk in the halls of my high school once again after graduating from there over seven years ago. Everything looked the same for the most part, but the students walking around literally looked like children to me. It made me think about just how young I was in high school, although I really believed in all my heart and soul that I was grown back then ๐Ÿ˜‚. It was also funny listening to the bells once again, which signaled that it was time to switch classes. (Wow, that bell really used to run my school life lol.)

When I got to the orchestra room, I was again hit with a sentimental wave. I met the students that were there and after introducing myself to them, I began talking about my experiences as a student voyaging from high school to college to medical school. I then turned it into a Q&A session and was instantly hit with a barrage of questions that I was more than happy to answer. I repeated this whole event with his next class as well, who had just as many questions to ask me about my experiences. Overall, there were probably about 70-80 students listening to what I had to say. By listening to what types of questions they asked, I was reminded of how much information I had taken for granted over the years. Some of the things that have become basic facts to me were unknown mysteries to them. This made me even more thankful that I was there to give them some helpful information that even I did not have when I was in their shoes, while also helping them relieve some of the anxiety that a number of them were feeling about college and medical school. Speaking of, the vast majority of them had plans on going to college and a good amount also had aspirations of working in the field of healthcare. Not to mention that they ALL played an instrument. They were an impressive group of students y’all. I had an awesome time spending a couple of hours with them and am grateful for the opportunity that one of my favorite teachers of all time afforded me!

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Those are all the updates I have for you today! Now that I am officially on winter break, I plan on living it up to the fullest, starting with my week here in ATL with my girlfriend, her family and some of our friends! Plus I just upgraded to the iPhone XS, so I’m about to be actin’ a whoooole fool ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‚.

I hope that your week ends up being a spectacular one! And be sure to cherish the time you have with your loved ones this holiday season!

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I would begin saying something about the political climate and the current state of the country, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Y’all already know the insanity going on around us. So I’m going to keep it positive and encourage each of us to do what we can to make the lives of others around us better, no matter how small or big the act of kindness is. Let’s just all continue to support the people who are actively fighting to make this country a better place to live in!