Friday, March 26, 2021

I Finally Matched and I'm Going to be a Plastic Surgeon!!!!

It is with great happiness and exhilaration that I announce I finally matched! Even better, I matched into an INTEGRATED PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY RESIDENCY PROGRAM in MIAMI!!!! 

There are literally no words to describe the flood of emotions that have occurred since March 15, 2021 when I found out I officially matched and seven days ago when I found out where I would be headed. I feel beyond humbled, blessed, and ready to put in the work to become the surgeon I have always dreamed of becoming.  

I am still processing, and honestly didn't believe all of this was real until I received my contract the other day, which is why I haven't posted until now. I'm finally ready to share a bit of my testimony, so read on if you'd like to know how God worked everything out in my favor :)  

If you've been following my blog, then you already know I was reapplying this year, but didn't want to share any details until after Match Day. I still plan to share my "diary" posts from this season, but to be completely honest, I only ended up writing two posts. Both posts took place after the initial application submission in October, and then life got busy and I didn't write anything else. This post will be my attempt to remember everything since then, so I hope you're comfy, because it's going to be a long one.

October - December

I submitted residency applications to every single plastic surgery program and ALMOST every general surgery program (I give them exact number in my "diary" post that I will share separately). During this time, I received a few secondary applications and continued to search the web for various open surgery residency spots (people leave programs all the time and I wanted to make sure I stayed ready). I received zero interview invites up until December, which was pretty disheartening, but I still held out hope as the official plastic surgery interview release date wouldn't be until later.

December 2020

The official plastic surgery release date was December 4, 2020 and to my delight, I received an interview! I have been actively applying to open positions over the past few years, so I was happy the invite was from a program I had interviewed at in-person right before the pandemic for a second year residency (PGY2) position. I already knew that I liked the residents, staff, program director, and area, so I felt good about the invite. Plus, my previous experience applying to medical school taught me it only takes one interview to make it in (shout out to PCOM Georgia for being my sole medical school acceptance all those years ago!). Beyond humbled and excited for the opportunity, I scheduled my interview for early January so I would have enough time to prepare.

January 2021

I had my first plastic surgery interview and I thought it went really well. Interviewing via Zoom is an interesting experience, and personally, I prefer checking out a new area, touring the facilities, and meeting everyone in person. I will admit it was nice being able to roll out of bed, throw on some clothes/makeup, and walk downstairs for a quick interview.

January 2021 - March 2021

Now here's where things get interesting, and you see exactly how God was working on my side.

After my interview in January, I thought the main residency interview season had officially ended for me. I took my birthday trip to St. Lucia, and while I was there (probably enjoying a drink by the pool), I received a screenshot from one of my good friends who knew plastic surgery was my overall goal. The screenshot was a Facebook post from a program announcing their newly accredited integrated plastic surgery program and that they were currently accepting applications. I sent my friend a huge thank you message and put it in my mental note to apply when I got back home since I didn't bring my laptop with me on my trip. A couple days later, while still in St. Lucia, I submitted my rank list (didn't have to put in much thought since I only interviewed at one program), and went back to enjoying myself.

When I returned home, I sent a Facebook message requesting information on the program and was given the contact information for the program coordinator. I didn't have much information on what and how to submit for an application, but luckily I stay prepared. I emailed my personal application packet which is literally 43 pages long and includes everything from my CV to score reports, letters of recommendation, credentials/certifications, and case logs from my previous program in addition to my downloaded official Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) application. That may have been overkill, but when the coordinator notified me of what needed to be submitted, I was happy that it was already all included in my original packet.

After submitting my application materials, a couple of weeks went by before I received an interview invite, but when I finally did, I was ecstatic! This excitement was followed by a bit of worry when I saw the interview date and time. My interview was scheduled for March 3, 2021 at 430pm, and for those of you who aren't aware, 9pm March 3rd was the deadline to submit rank lists, and after this there could be no communication between programs and match applicants. I wasn't sure if the program was interviewing to offer spots right then and there, if they would be making their decision later, or if they were participating in the match, which made me a bit nervous. Sure, if they were offering a contract right then and there I would have gladly accepted, but I also wanted to be a part of the match given how much money I had put in it this year. I called my mentor, and she told me to put it all in God's hands since there was nothing I could do or would know until I had my interview.

Interview Ready!


When my interview day came, I woke up, said a prayer, and was ready to go. My interview was with the program director (PD) and lasted about 45 minutes. I found the PD to be both extremely nice and very honest about the program and challenges that might be faced being newly accredited. I felt extremely comfortable during the interview and the PD took time to answer all my many questions. The coordinator was also present and confirmed that they would be participating in the match, which made me super relieved at not having to make the decision to drop out. Immediately after the interview, I went to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) website, ranked the program and recertified my list. I even took screenshots and checked it multiple times prior to the 9pm deadline just to make sure everything was in. ***As an aside, prior to the interview I was slightly concerned how my hair would be perceived since it was still in twists from my vacation, but turns out they didn't seem to care, and it actually came out really nice with my suit. I took the above picture immediately after my interview with only a ring light and my cellphone camera, but I like it so much I think I'll use it for a while as my headshot :)***

MATCH DAY

A few days prior to Match Day Monday, I was extremely anxious and sick to my stomach. I purposely worked shifts every day and the weekend before the official announcement so I could stay busy, but thoughts of previous unsuccessful match cycles still played in my head. A month prior, I requested the entire week off with the thought that I would receive the dreadful "you did not match" email again and have to spend the whole week in the SOAP/scramble process of trying to get into an unfilled spot. It's a pain that I wouldn't wish on anyone, and it still makes me sad to think about it even though I've experienced it more than once. 

When Monday morning came around, I literally didn't even want to open the email. If it weren't for the fact that the SOAP process for unmatched applicants starts an hour after the email announcement, I probably would've waited until Friday. But alas, it was time to get it over with so I could spend the week trying one last time.   



When I rolled over, grabbed my phone, and opened it to an email that said "Congratulations, you have matched!," I was in shock!!!! I immediately called my family, but no one answered, so I posted a picture of the email in my family group chat. Only one of my sisters knew I had applied again this cycle (I didn't even tell my parents beforehand), so when I finally got ahold of everyone, they were all confused, but happy, LOL. 



Honestly, the rest of last week is a huge blur leading up until Friday when I found out where I would be headed for the next 6 years (yup, the training is that long), but that day was extremely special. My daughter was on spring break, so, as seen above, I allowed her to have the honor of opening the email and reading the results in front of my friends and family both in person and virtually. Well, as you can see from the video above, that didn't quite go as planned as she didn't know where to look, but when I finally took the laptop from her and discovered I am headed to Miami, I was on cloud nine! Even crazier was the fact my brother-in-law found out at the same time that he matched into a general surgery residency program close by in Miami as well. Y'all! I not only matched, but one of my sisters and my nephew will be close by. How insane is that?!?!

I believe that pretty much sums of the last five months of a very emotionally grueling process. I was literally about to give up after so many years of trying, but God stepped in and showed that He will continue to always come through and at the right time. Even more miraculous is the fact that I matched directly into my dream specialty when I thought a general surgery residency followed by a plastic surgery fellowship would be the only way I would ever be able to accomplish my goal. There are literally no words to describe how thankful I am to Him and all those who have cheered me on over the years. I am living proof that delay does not equal denial, and I look forward to putting in all the hard work and showing my program that they made the right choice in ranking me. There's so much more I can say on God's grace and the power in staying faithful, but it's making me super emotional so I'll save the rest for another post. For now, I'll leave everyone with this reaction video of me breaking the news to everyone :)

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

January 2021 in Review

Much love to all my readers!

Happy New Year! Yes, I realize this post is a bit late, but it's been hard to find the time to sit down and type. Right now, I'm currently in the middle of working a 12 hour shift, so I figure if I take a minute or two in between patients today, I can finally give everyone a full update on how the beginning of 2021 has been for me. (Yeah, that didn't happen. Started this post yesterday and finishing today)


Blessed to celebrate 34 years of life!

If you've been following my blog over the years, then you already know January is my favorite month. Why? Because it's my birthday month! I was immunized against COVID-19 (more on that below), and took a solo trip to Saint Lucia during my birthday weekend. It was my first time being on a plane since flying for residency interviews last year, and while I was a little hesitant to travel at first, everything worked out safely and perfectly! I received mandatory PCR testing before my trip, was tested again while on the island, and strict protocols were in place that included staying masked, frequent temperature checks, and excursions limited to 4 people or less. My resort was incredibly beautiful and I literally could have stayed in my room the entire time and not gotten bored. I also went whale watching for the first time (an incredible experience), enjoyed a nice sunset cruise, and had an amazing personalized birthday dinner at my resort. I took some amazing pictures (tripods are great!) and videos which are posted to my Instagram highlights if you'd like to share in all the birthday fun. I couldn't have asked for a better getaway and amazing kickoff to the year. The shot above is one I took in my room (it only had three walls). Views!


Fully vaccinated with new hair to match

As for the getting the vaccine, I received my first dose on December 23rd and my second and final dose on January 9th. I had no side effects from the first dose other than mild arm soreness. About 12 hours after the second dose, I did have the side effects of fever, alternating between hot and cold sensations, headaches, and a weird boost of energy, but all the side effects subsided within 24 hours after taking ibuprofen. I am extremely happy to have 95% immunity at this point. My profession puts me at higher risk, so it helps having some peace of mind that I will not suffer from some of the devastating effects I have seen from the virus. With that being said, I will continue to do my part to help end this pandemic by wearing my mask, practicing social distancing, and educating those around me.


Happy Work Vibes

As for work, everything is pretty much the same...just busy! Winter months in the urgent care setting are already an extremely hectic time and when you add on a pandemic, things can get a bit crazy. It is a blessing to have a job during a time when so many are without, so I can't complain though. Plus, I've adapted to the times, and I've definitely enjoyed the challenge and variety of going between physical patients to virtual patients to managing COVID testing. There's never a boring day and this girl likes to stay on the go!


Taking another leap of faith!

In terms of the residency application process, I'm happy to say that I will be participating in the match this year, and unless an opportunity outside of the match pops up, interview season has officially concluded for me. I even submitted my rank list while I was on vacation to hopefully bring in a little good luck. There are really no words to describe how stressful and painful this process has been over the years, but I truly miss surgery and being in the operating room. I am extremely anxious over what the news next month will be, but at the same time, I have faith knowing everything will work out no matter the outcome. At the start of this year's process, I wrote a few posts that I still plan to share once match season officially is over, but my plan to write up weekly updates kind of fell through with my busy schedule. With that being said, there won't be a lot of posts released, but I will still give everyone a good glimpse into the process.  

That's pretty much it for updates. As always, I wish everyone a great month ahead, and thank you for reading!




Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020!



It's the last day of 2020 and I'm currently reflecting over the past year. Even though this year has been full of grief and loss for so many, I can't help but count my many blessings. I was blessed to have a job this year doing what I love taking care of patients and I was thankful for the training that allowed me to help so many in the midst of a pandemic. Additionally, I celebrated in the achievement of publishing my first book, and I still found time to educate those in my community as both a mentor and by appearing as an on-air medical expert (my first television appearance!)




I also took the time to embrace the love and friendship from all those around me. With a year that brought so much sadness from people passing away due to a horrible pandemic, it is not lost upon me how much of a blessing it is that the people close to me in life are healthy and alive. While I didn't get to be around those closest to me as much as I wanted to for obvious reasons, I was thankful for the very few occasions when  got a chance to be around those closest to me and celebrate achievements and each other.



Lastly, I am blessed that despite her now being a teenager, I still have had the sweetest daughter ever! Although I'm still as busy as ever, she has remained understanding and an absolute joy to be around. I was thankful to watch her continue to grow into a beautiful young lady this year.



Right now, I am currently lounging around in my comfy PJs, had some delicious ramen takeout, and will be spending the evening watching NYE celebrations on TV while sipping on whiskey (I've already started which is why this post is so short) and playing scrabble. Wishing everyone reading this a very safe, healthy, and Happy New Year, and as always, thank you for reading my posts this year!





Thursday, December 17, 2020

It's My 7 Year Blogiversary!!!!


I seriously can't believe I have maintained this blog for seven years! Admittedly, I have not been as active on here over the past year, and many times I forget I have a blog, but I remain thankful to all of you who continue to follow along with me on this crazy journey. I enjoy reading your comments, receiving your encouraging emails, and even more so love when you reach out to me to let me know that reading my blog helped you make it into medical school or inspired you to continue to follow your dreams. Y'all are the real reason why I continue to keep this up, and I truly thank you for your support.

Usually I would show my thanks by doing my annual Starbucks drink giveaway, but since we're in the middle of a pandemic, I don't want to encourage anyone to go out. Plus, I honestly didn't remember it was my seven year blogging anniversary until a few hours ago or else I would've made the Kindle version of Atypical Premed free for everyone today (the free days all have to be done in advance). What I did manage to do today was exercise my right to vote by taking part in early voting for the Georgia senate runoff race, so I'll consider that a win :)

Over the past seven years, what this blog has taught me most is the importance of sharing your struggles and accomplishments. I know there are many who feel like they are alone on their paths, and blogging has given me the ability to connect with so many and show that their dreams are not invalid. Blogging has also given me the chance to have a written record of my journey which I am sure will bring me plenty of smiles one day when I take the time to read through all of my old posts. 

But anyway, just want to end with a huge THANK YOU!!!!! Maybe I'll get better with posting as frequently as I used to, and hopefully I'll continue to post for another seven years, but either way, I appreciate you all following along on the ride :)



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

It's My Daughter's 14th Birthday!!!!

When did the baby on the left become the young lady on the right?!?!

It's November 10th which means I am officially the mother of a 14-year-old! Yup, today is my daughter's birthday so what better reason to type up a quick post :) 

I started this blog about a month after her 7th birthday and received my acceptance to medical school about a week before her birthday. Soooo much has happened since that time! I still remember people telling me I would never make it through medical school or become a physician being a single mother, and I was determined to prove everyone wrong. Looks like I've accomplished all that and more, but it wouldn't have been possible if I didn't have such an amazing child. My daughter has been supportive through all the long hours spent studying, leadership roles taking up a lot of my time, and even through us having to live apart from when I moved to Philadelphia to start intern year. She has never once complained or made me feel like I wasn't being a good mother, and for that, I will forever be grateful. She is my entire world, and everything I do is with the intent to show her that all her goals and aspirations can become a reality. 


With that being said, I am big on birthday surprises, and I think this year was the best one yet! I not only pranked my daughter in the most epic way possible, but I ended up making her cry tears of happiness for the first time ever! 

The video is below, but here's a recap (copied from my Instagram caption) for those who don't want to watch the full 3 minute video: she's been bugging me for a bass guitar for months, so for her early 14th birthday celebration (a very small get together with only immediate family and the two friends she hangs out with all the time) I surprised her with a Disney princess ukulele instead. After seeing everyone's initial reactions, I acted like I was upset and said I was going to pee, only to return with both the bass guitar and amplifier she wanted. Her reaction was priceless! Cried in front of her friends and everything 😂⁣

⁣Why was the prank so successful? Our deal was that she was supposed to have straight A's, but she ended up getting a B a couple of days ago, so I told her she would now have to wait until Christmas. I'm also known for not giving what people think are the best gifts (I got her a period starter pack and math book as one of her Christmas gifts a couple of years ago and my family still won't let me live it down), and I'm also a bit cheap, so the ukulele wasn't exactly out of character for me. I also made sure to only tell my sister since the rest of my family can't hold water, which helped make it a surprise for everyone. Did y'all peep the look of horror on her friend's face after she realized what it was? My brother also looks like he's super disappointed 😂


Anyway, my daughter now has her bass guitar and couldn't be happier. As for me, I thankful to have raised such a smart, brilliant, sweet, and wonderful young lady. Can't wait to witness all that she will accomplish in both of our lifetimes 💕 



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