Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Decade of Blogging!

Headshot from this year that I forgot to post lol

It's my 10th blogiversary, y'all! Okay, now I'll admit I've done a horrible job of keeping up with the blog lately especially given that this is only my fifth post of the year, but today is still super special for me. When I started this blog, I had just received my first acceptance into medical school, and after scouring the web and not being able to find anyone with a similar story as mine, I wanted to create something to not only document my journey through medicine, but help inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams as well. I feel like I have accomplished that goal and soooo much has happened over the last decade! I went from being a scared premed unsure if I could ever accomplish my goals to being a now third year plastic surgeon in training literally living on answered prayers! So, with that being said, I'm going to use this post as a reflection and celebration of how far I've come and then end with a review of the past six months, so bear with me for what will probably be a super long post (as usual lol).

So, here is what I am celebrating with this blog today:

The Power of Sharing Our Stories

Over the past decade, I have shared my struggles, my failures, and my accomplishments. I was originally told that as a premedical student and single mother with low stats, that I would not make it into medical school. Then I was told that if I did make it into medical school, that I would never be able to pass my board exams or graduate. Then I was told that my dreams of becoming a surgeon were absolutely unattainable and that it was literally impossible to pursue my dream of becoming a plastic surgeon as a DO and someone who previously went unmatched. And yet, look at me now: a thriving third year plastic surgeon in training, public speaker, and published author, who continues to accomplish everything I was told I couldn't do. This blog has helped a lot with some of my successes. When times got rough for me and I thought I couldn't continue to push through, it was your words of encouragement that kept me going. When I thought I was alone on my journey and no one else could relate, I received messages from others on a similar path that inspired me to keep pushing. This blog has connected me with so many incredible individuals over the years, and it let me know the importance of sharing our stories. 

Single Motherhood and Medicine

I just realized that those of you who have followed this blog from the start have practically watched my daughter grow up! When I started this blog she had just turned 7, and now my baby is 17! Accomplishing my dream of becoming a physician while being a single mother was probably one of the biggest hurdles I thought I would face, and there were definitely a few naysayers who didn't hesitate to offer their opinion about how my goals were impossible as a single mother, but we made it! Looking back, it has literally taken a village though! I am grateful for the many people and classmates who helped babysit so that I could make it to the lab and thrive as a medical student. I am grateful for my sister who stepped in to help once I became a third year medical student and needed to spend more time away on rotations. I am also grateful for my family who stepped in after graduation and let my daughter come live with them so I could focus on intern year (they refused to let me move her to "dangerous" Philly lol) after not matching the first time. But most of all, I forever remain grateful to have such a smart, loving, kind and considerate daughter who has never complained about the time medicine took away from us and who continues to be one of the most supportive people in my life. Becoming a physician and navigating medicine is hard by itself, but it's even more demanding when another life depends on you. I hope the single parents who have followed me over the years have gained inspiration from my posts to keep pushing and pursue your dreams with fervor. Allow your children to be your driving force and not what holds you back. Because even if you think they aren't paying any attention, your children are watching and being inspired by you. 

Minority Women in Osteopathic Medicine

When I first started this blog, it was very difficult for me to find female minority osteopathic physicians. I briefly started a minority women in medicine section where I highlighted a few DOs, but unfortunately I didn't continue the series. Since that time, I have actually met half of the women in my Minority Women in Medicine section in person and formed great connections! And the crazy thing is that from this blog, I got a chance to meet and interact with my biggest minority female DO inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee. I previously highlighted her on my blog almost a decade ago, but did not personally interview her. Shortly afterwards, I got the chance to introduce her to my school as a speaker, then she was a great supporter of one of my committees during my time with the Student National Medical Association, and then fast-forward to 2021 and we're not only sitting on a panel together at a major conference, but she gave MY introduction! This blog has allowed me to make so many connections with amazing women in osteopathic medicine, and I hope using this blog as a platform has helped show my fellow DO student readers that we do exist. 

Paving the Way

When I first created this blog ten years ago, I was unsure if there were others out there like me, and this blog has connected me to so many great individuals on a similar path. Even more so, it has given me the opportunity to not only share my story, but help pave the way for others. Over the past ten years, I have shown that it is possible for a single mother to make it through medical school, proof that it is still possible to be successful after not matching, and that although it may mean a longer road and a bit more struggle, with grit, dedication, and persistence, anything is attainable. I went from being an underdog of a premedical student to paving the way as a thriving medical student, the first DO student to become national president of the Student National Medical Association, ending my medical school career as a recipient of a memorial medal given for outstanding achievement, and to now recently being told that when I finish residency, I may become the first Black female DO plastic surgeon (crazy, right?!). I am thankful that this blog has allowed me to share my journey, and hopefully it inspires you to do the same. I am literally living on answered prayers, and looking back through old posts shows me just how far I have come.


The last thing I am celebrating is YOU! I am so thankful for anyone who has taken the time over the years to stop by and read my posts. In my mind, no one actually reads my blog (it helps me continue to write freely lol), but every now and then I am reminded that people actually do. I still remember going through security at the Philadelphia airport a few years back and one of the workers recognizing me from my blog. Completely made my day! I also love that people of all genders and from all walks of life have found my blog useful. It truly makes me happy to know that my story continues to help others. You all are the reason why I have continued to keep up with this blog over that past ten years, and I thank you so much for the encouragement.

Now for life updates:

It has been about six months since my last post which means I have a ton to update you on! I feel like everything is a big blur, so I will start where I am now and work my way down. Hopefully I'll remember all the major highlights from each month.


As of November, I am currently in Orlando, Florida completing two months of pediatric craniofacial and plastic surgery, followed by one month of pediatric surgery. So far, it has been an awesome experience! My first day involved a quick orientation and then I scrubbed into a 12-hour microtia case where we completely reconstructed and created a new ear! It was such an incredible case and my first real life exposure to the procedure. I also got to harvest the the full thickness skin graft on my own for the case from measuring to removing, so I was pretty excited at the level of trust given to me on my first day with new attendings. So far, we have performed everything from cranial vault reconstruction, to cleft lip/palate repairs, to even breast reductions on teenagers. I even had my first Tessier #7 cleft patient and have experienced patients with things like Pierre Robin sequence and 22q deletion in real life now (previously it was all textbooks and videos). For those of you who follow my YouTube channel, I know I've been slacking the past three months on releasing new videos, but I think my next educational video will definitely be on the craniofacial aspect of plastic surgery. Make sure you subscribe, if you want to follow my journey visually! But overall, November and December have been a bit busy, so I've pretty much been under a rock everywhere. I'm definitely enjoying Orlando, although it is a bit chillier than Miami, but my schedule is so packed that I highly doubt I'll make it out to Disney. We shall see what January brings. The hospital I am at is absolutely beautiful though, and it has been great working with babies and children as it is not something I am exposed to often. Academically, I recently submitted a journal article this month, so I'm excited for its release as well, although it will likely be sometime next year. 


October was an intense month, but I loved it! I pretty much operated every day and was given way more autonomy in the operating room, so I was super happy. Somehow in between all the operating, I was even able to submit an academic book chapter and keep up with my academics as well. I started out the month with a trip to Las Vegas where I attended the Allergan Surgical Solutions Symposium, and it was incredible. I attended so many great sessions, was able to perform a hybrid breast reconstruction at a cadaver lab, connected with awesome individuals in general surgery and plastic surgery, and I even had time to hit the club and see T.I. perform in person. Later on in the month, I was able to take my daughter on a family trip to my alma mater LSU. My sister and I are LSU grads, and my mother is a West Point graduate (actually the first Black Woman from the state of Mississippi to graduate from there), and LSU was playing Army, so it was an amazing trip to show my daughter both of the schools represented in our family. We're only a year from her applying to college, so it was a great way to mesh quality time with college visit time.


September was another month away from home as I completed my trauma plastic surgery rotation. It was an insanely busy month as my co-resident was out the first two weeks with COVID and then the incoming resident was on vacation my final week, so I was pretty much on call the entire month for plastics at a level one trauma center. I definitely had some great cases and got more comfortable managing complex trauma repairs on my own in the ER and trauma bay, so I can't complain. Luckily, I was able to take a weekend off and attend the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS) Annual Clinical Assembly in Chicago where I sat on a panel and was able to give my perspective on the barriers facing osteopathic physicians in plastic surgery and ways we can hopefully advance them within the field. This conference was also a full circle moment for me as I ran into a wonderful surgeon who was a resident when I was a fourth year medical student doing an away rotation at her hospital. We reminisced about my time there and I was just so surprised she remembered me. Also in attendance was one of my chief residents during my time as an intern in Philadelphia, and just seeing this person reminded me of how much I went though and managed to overcome. It was also great just being surrounded by DOs in surgery for a full weekend as this is something I rarely get to see.

Miami Lady Docs :)


I spent the month of August rotating with my program director and a couple of my female co-residents, so it was all about the girl power! I always enjoy when I get to  work with my program director and I'm always learning a lot from him and my co-residents. I think the highlight of the month for me though was getting to attend a Black Physicians Brunch in Miami alongside the University of Miami residents. It was great being able to fellowship and connect with my peers in a safe place. Other highlights in August included seeing Beyonce in concert (waited until the last minute to get super cheap tickets), visiting a close friend in Georgia, and getting to spend a little time back home in Atlanta where I got to see an Atlanta United game. Other than that, I don't really remember most of the month lol.

Fun night with Tom Cruise


July was pretty much all plastic surgery, but I guess the highlight of the month for me was getting to see the premiere of the new Mission Impossible movie for free with a surprise appearance by Tom Cruise! He literally walked around the entire theater taking selfies with everyone (which I did not take since I looked a mess), and the movie was actually really good.


June was another trauma plastic surgery month, but I got the chance to spend a few uninterrupted days with my daughter where we had her first official college visits, checked out the Miami zoo, made candle, and just overall had great mother/daughter time. It was a great end to her school year and a great start to my now third year of residency.

I think that pretty much covers all the updates over the past six months. I still can't believe I am almost halfway done with my plastic surgery residency, and I am in even more disbelief that I have managed to keep up with this blog for ten years! To be honest, I prefer typing up blog posts to creating videos and other content as that is so time-consuming for me. I still debate if I should continue blogging though since more people tend to prefer videos. If you're reading this, I would love to know your thoughts on what you prefer. I love having this blog as a journal to remind me of how far I've come, and I hope you have found it inspiring too. But anyway, in an effort to keep this somewhat short, I just want to say thank you again for reading my story and sharing in my journey over the past ten years. It really means a lot to me, and I can't wait to share even more wonderful things in store with you all. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Throwback to this time 5 years ago

The other day I watched the residency graduation ceremony at the institution where I completed my Traditional Rotating Internship year. No, I wasn't trying to purposely torture myself...I was watching to support someone I know who was graduating from internship this year in the same program. The crazy thing is I didn't realize until I started watching that I was witnessing the graduation of several people who I started and worked with during my original intern year. 

As I watched a bunch of familiar faces cross the stage, a wave of sadness hit me. These same people who I spent early mornings and late nights on grueling rotations and survived intern year with are now completing residency, and getting to start their lives as official general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and otolaryngologists (these are all 5 year residency programs). Additionally, this past week alone, a large number of former medical students who rotated with me during my intern year graduated from the shorter duration residencies in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, etc and are now getting to do what they set out to do. So at this point, pretty much everyone in my graduating medical school class and a large amount of medical students who started their very first rotation with me are either attending physicians or very close to becoming one. Meanwhile, I still have four more years to go (plastic surgery is a six year residency for those who are unaware), and I'm currently covering a trauma service that somehow makes me feel like I am an intern back in Philly again.

Now don't get me wrong, I am legitimately happy for all these individuals and I love seeing their success, especially when I know how hard the struggle is. I also continue to feel truly blessed to be a part of a categorical residency program (I prayed for YEARS to be in this position), and on the path to becoming the the plastic surgeon I have always dreamed of, but I wouldn't be human if I didn't have feelings like this every now and then. 

The funny thing is I've never been one to compare myself or my journey to anyone else's. A long time ago, I pretty much accepted that my journey will go at its own pace and everything will work out perfectly once all is said and done. Due to these recent thoughts/feelings though, I figured there are probably some nontraditional premedical/medical students or other residents out there with similar experiences and feelings, so I wanted to write this post as a source of encouragement and share some random reflections below (along with random saved Instagram posts) to serve as a reminder that everything is working out perfectly even when it sometimes feels like it isn't.

I think the craziest thought I had while watching the graduation was that I was watching my graduation day and I should have been walking across that stage. But let's be real, I did not even match into a categorical position as a graduating medical student, and had I actually matched into that program, I would have been MISERABLE! I've always stayed positive on this blog, but I never did enjoy my time in my previous program. It was hard enough adjusting to the long hours and new responsibilities as a fresh intern, but I also felt like I didn't mesh well with the program or the area. From the daily microagressions and covert racism I experienced both in and out of the hospital (it literally felt worse than any area of the South I have lived in), to being alone in a new city and living in an area in Philly where people would literally riot and set cars on fire (yes, this really did happen), I couldn't wait to leave. Plus, I graduated before the MD/DO merger, so had I matched out of medical school, I would be on the five years general surgery plus three years plastic surgery route. Not matching actually turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. Not only was I able to gain the experience of an intern year, but it allowed me to gain my medical license and start practicing which gave me the financial freedom to happily live life on my terms. Plus, I didn't even lose much time on my original timeline! I would be graduating general surgery now only to pursue three years of plastic surgery, whereas at this point I am about to be a third year plastic surgery resident. The above picture really sums it up well. God's timing really is the perfect timing, and I am sooo thankful that what I thought didn't work out for me, really did end up working out for me in the grand scheme of things.

Even though I'm currently on month two of Trauma Surgery right now and grumpy, I try to stay mindful that my life is a literal dream. Never in a million years did I think I would end up in always sunny and warm Miami, Florida AND as a plastic surgery resident. No matter how tough life may seem, it's important to remember where you started and appreciate the journey. When I was a premedical student, all I wanted to do was be a medical student. As a medical student, I kept this thought in mind during the rough classes, board exam studying, and long rotations to keep me going. Now as a resident, I reflect back on all those times as a medical student and unmatched physician, where all I wanted to do was be in a categorical surgical residency program. I remember being told by an attending who I reached out to during my second year of medical school with hopes of mentoring me, that as a DO I had no chance of matching into plastic surgery and I should have applied to an MD school. I remember all the interviews outside of the match where I had so much hope and then was heartbroken when I didn't get the position. I remember stalking multiple websites throughout the day in search of residency positions and frantically applying as if it would be an automatic rejection if I didn't submit within 5 minutes lol. I remember the concerned looks from people when I said I was still applying surgery and them telling me I should consider a non-surgical specialty. I remember when I literally had to call my bank to allow me to pay for my ERAS application because the cost was literally more than what I paid for my first car, but I was willing to pay whatever cost to help me achieve my dreams. I even remember Match Day 2021 when I was so jaded from the entire process that I prepared myself for another failure of a year and sadly opened up the email while still in bed since I just KNEW it wasn't going to work out for me again, AND I remember the astonishment and extreme happiness I felt at receiving an email that said I had finally matched. So yes, I recognize that I currently live and have lived a life of answered prayers. My biggest prayer right now though is that I never forget how far I've come in this journey and that I always remember the following: 

So as I watch so many amazing people achieve and enter new phases of life, I have to be mindful that everything I am going through now is in preparation for something bigger than I could ever imagine. Patience isn't my strongest virtue, but I am beyond grateful to be in my current position in life. Which brings me to my next point:

Your journey is specially made and meant only for you. Do not compare yourself to others as it will do nothing but leave you stressed out and doubting your own great abilities. The grass is not always greener on the other side, and thinking it is only serves to detour you from your own route and will leave you miserable. J. Cole said it best when he said "no such thing as a life that's better than yours". If you're someone struggling with comparing yourself with others, take the time to appreciate the small blessings in your life. People ask me all the time how I am able to stay happy and positive all the time, and it's mainly because I'm just grateful to be here. If you've been reading this blog from when I started it almost ten years ago, then you already know I survived an extremely abusive marriage. I am literally just thankful to still be alive and to know that God has kept me here for a reason. To compare my life to what appears to be the easier life for others would serve no purpose other than making me feel sad and stressed out, which is exactly what happened when I compared my journey to those graduating from residency this month. 
I think the above is the perfect quote to end this very long post with. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: don't rush the process! What is meant for you will absolutely be and at the perfect time. It can be hard watching others achieve goals that you have been working hard for, but don't waste your joy or your time comparing your journey to others. What you've got coming is way bigger and more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. 

While this post is my personal reminder to stay positive and keep pushing, I hope it has helped some of you. Until next time!

Monday, March 6, 2023

March 2023 Updates and Features

Perfecting my craft!

Happy March! I don't have much in terms of updates over the past month as I was busy returning back to reality from my recent trip, as well as studying for the plastic surgery in-service exam which I completed a few days ago. I finished up a great plastic surgery rotation, and ended February on a high note. The picture above is actually the last day of last month's rotation, where my little sister came for a visit as my patient :) Right now, I'm taking the time in-between work duties to get caught up and relax a little. This post will be a quick update and share some of my recent features along with my most recent YouTube video.

For my most recent update, I completed my second ever plastic surgery in-service exam! This exam is taken annually by every plastic surgery resident in the country, and it is used the assess  our knowledge. We are also all scored against all plastic surgery residents within our year. It feels good to be done, and while it was a rough one, I now have a better idea of things I need to work on knowledge-wise. I recorded the above YouTube video on the day of the exam, and it basically shows my quick morning routine and my immediate post-exam thoughts. Please check it out, give it a like, and subscribe to my channel!

I'm also beyond honored and thrilled to be currently featured in this month's issue of The DO (official magazine of the American Osteopathic Association). I am always happy to share my story in hopes that it will inspire others, so feel free to check out the article HERE and let me know what you think!

Lastly, I almost forgot to mention that last month, in celebration of Black History Month, I was also featured alongside 15 other phenomenal Black osteopathic physicians in an article that can be read HERE. If you've been following my blog from the beginning, then you might already recognize Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee and Dr. Octavia Cannon, both of whom I admire and had the chance to interact with. I am also quite fond of a lot of the other DOs mentioned in the article, so it was quite humbling to see my name mentioned alongside so many phenomenal individuals.

That's pretty much it in terms of updates. So far, I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping my goal of posting to YouTube weekly, and I'm still enjoying the hustle and bustle of residency life. As always, I appreciate you for reading and wish you a wonderful week ahead!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Empowering Women Physicians 2023 Bora Bora Retreat Recap and Reflections

66 Women Physicians in Bora Bora!!!!

As I begin writing this, I am currently 30,000 feet in the air and on my way back home to Miami from a wonderful week in beautiful Bora Bora. I’m actually about to land soon and can barely keep my eyes open as I’ve been traveling since yesterday, but I wanted to get this started so that I can finish and hopefully post tomorrow. But first let me tell you why I was in Bora Bora and how it all came to be:

Back in September, I shared my story in the Empowering Women Physicians group (click HERE to join the Facebook  group), founded by Dr. Sunny Smith in an attempt to win a spot at their annual retreat held at The Four Seasons Bora Bora Resort. I figured I didn’t have a chance in hell at winning, but I shared anyway because 1) I’m always happy to share my story with hopes that it uplifts/inspires others. And 2) the retreat was occurring on the same dates as my birthday PTO request, so I felt like it was a sign to try. For those who don’t know, in my residency program we get a total of 20 vacation days for the year, and we’re only allowed to take five business days off per month, weekends not included. I had originally scheduled to take off the end of January and the first week of February, and the retreat dates fell perfectly in between. I was beyond floored (and to be honest, I still am) when I found out I was the winner of the resident award, which included not only a stay in a gorgeous overwater bungalow at The Four Seasons, but also food, drinks and all group activities in addition to CME credits and a month of coaching! All I had to do was pay for my flight (which was a huge investment within itself on a residency budget) and they took care of all the rest. It truly feels like the universe was conspiring for me to go on this trip because even if I hadn’t used vacation days, I could have used my CME credit which I have not used yet. Winning this trip was truly a miracle and a blessing. Okay, so now that you’re all caught up, here’s how the week went:

The incredible Dr. Sunny Smith!!!! 


My travel started on a Sunday and I braced myself for what would be the longest time I have ever traveled in my life. I believe the total travel time was 36 hours from start to finish. And on top of the time, I had multiple layovers (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Papeete) before I would finally arrive in Bora Bora. My original flight was changed by the airline a couple of months prior, so I specifically added the Atlanta layover so that I could have lunch with one of my dearest friends from medical school, but she absolutely surprised me with the best birthday gift ever! When I arrived at the airport, she greeted me with tulips (my favorite), a balloon, drinks, and a card. She then had me pick from two pieces of paper with the words written on them hidden from me. I thought it was weird (and had no idea that this is a current thing on social media), but she’s fun, so I decided to go with the flow. The first paper I selected read “limo”, and I was like what?!, but then she had me follow her back into the airport to find a man waiting with a sign with my name on it, and we walked out to find a beautiful limo driving up to me! Then she had me select another paper, and this one had the words Herve Leger written on it. For those who don’t know, this is one of my favorite designers. And after I selected the paper, she pulled out one of the most gorgeous dresses out of her bag. I was completely floored! Before coming, she told me to wear black with heels, so I just assumed we were going to an all black brunch somewhere in Atlanta. I literally changed from blue jeans to black jeans in the airport before walking out to meet her, so she definitely got me good with that one. I brought black boots, but surprisingly they actually fit well with the dress. Now at this point I’m thinking it can’t possibly get any better than this. But then she has me select another piece of paper and this one reads “food”. And if you know me, you know I love food, so I was so happy! The limo then takes us to Two Urban Licks, which is a super great restaurant in Atlanta, and we ate yummy food and had a blast. After this we walked the Atlanta Beltline, which surprisingly, despite all the years I lived in the area, I had never walked. Following this, we took a trip to Lenox mall where we walked around, got some yummy cupcakes by CamiCakes, a Black-owned company, and just really spent the time bonding and talking with each other. It was seriously one of the best days of my life and one of the highlights of my trip. Even better than Bora Bora itself. Just thinking about it makes me emotional because I am truly blessed to have such amazing friends. When she dropped me back off at the airport, I felt nothing but joy and love in my heart, and it made the rest of my trip smoother. You can watch the reel below to see how truly great it was :)

But back to the trip. My second flight was from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and a very interesting thing happened: During the middle of my flight, the flight attendants called overhead asking for medical volunteers to come up to the front. I went up to the front where I met two other female physicians, both in orthopedics (one of whom who was going to the same retreat in Bora Bora), and a patient in distress who we all helped together. Luckily, the patient ended up okay and we didn’t have to land the plane, but it was actually my first time having and responding to an inflight emergency (luckily no one could tell). I was happy to not have to do it alone. Once we arrived to Los Angeles, we found other physicians going on the same retreat and we all hung out and got to know each other in the lounge before boarding our next flight to Tahiti. Fortunately, that was a smooth flight without issues.

Meeting some of the docs for the first time in Los Angeles


When we arrived in Tahiti the next day, they were playing music in the airport and it was a great experience. I wasn’t in Tahiti long though, because when I went to check my bag, the person at the ticket counter asked if I wanted to get on the flight that was currently boarding instead of waiting three hours. I looked at her with disbelief and asked if that would be pushing it since the plane was literally leaving in 10 minutes, but she said it wouldn’t be a problem. As I was going through security they were calling my name, but I made it on the flight with the most beautiful view and safely into Bora Bora.

My view from the plane

When we arrived in to Bora Bora, we were greeted with a fresh flower leis. Our luggage was taken and we were escorted by boat to our hotel. The ride to the hotel was absolutely scenic and beautiful, and it was even cooler getting to know some of the ladies I would be spending the week with. Once we arrived to the resort, they took us to a villa to check in and to relax while we awaited our rooms, since we arrived at around 7am that morning. The villa had a beautiful pool overlooking the mountains. And it was really nice just dipping my feet in, eating food and bonding with other women. This is also where we received our roommate assignments (because let’s face it, the Four Seasons isn’t cheap), and I was lucky enough to find out my roommate was someone who I had participated in a virtual small group setting with earlier in the month. Once in my room, I couldn’t help but try out the gorgeous blue cool water. I took a dip in the water and then I joined the main group in the activity section of the resort for a cultural experience that involved making flower crowns, learning the history of coconuts, and taking dance lessons. Later that evening, we had a beautiful Tahitian dinner that included absolutely delicious food. I don’t actually like to eat any raw seafood, but being that I was in a different country, I did try it, and I was floored at how delicious the raw swordfish, tuna and other fish was. It didn’t even taste like fish! Super fresh! To top it all off, there was even a magnificent fire show with music and dancing and a group picture afterwards. It was a phenomenal first night. And I’m still surprised that I was able to stay awake, but I was absolutely knocked out by the time I made it back to my room later that evening.

Polynesian Dinner Night!


The next day was Tuesday, January 31st which also happened to be my 36th birthday! I still can’t believe that I literally woke up in paradise on my birthday. The morning started with a nice breakfast followed by our first group session from 8am-12pm. This first session started off with us writing three things that we were most grateful for that day. We then put it in a cup and passed the the cup to a different table where each person selected one piece of paper and read it. They not only read the paper, but they discussed the feelings that reading it invoked in them. This actually took the entire 4 hours, but it was such a beautiful display of gratitude, and I really loved it. It was also during this session where I was surprised with a beautiful birthday card signed by all the ladies in the group. It made me feel so special and loved. Following the group session, I had lunch with a few of the women and then I spent a few hours roaming around the resort where I found a cute little lagoon with fish and coral reef. Later, I walked to the pool, where I literally spent hours in the water hanging out and talking before I walked over to dinner and joined another group of women. It was such a beautiful and relaxed way to spend my birthday, and later on at night when I came to my room I was even more smiles when I found a beautiful dessert and birthday laid out hotel staff in the middle of the room. I later found out that this was gifted to me by one of the women I met on the plane who happened to be part of the travel agency making this retreat happen. Super sweet! I ended my birthday with a bubble bath and whiskey, which is what I love to do on vacation. It was absolutely perfect.

Happy 36th Birthday to ME!


The next day was exciting as it was our shark, stingray and fish snorkel day! We started off with breakfast and a short morning group session and then we were off on the boats to submerge ourselves in the crystal clear blue water. I had never snorkeled before, and to be honest, I’m not even really a swimmer, but I put on my snorkel vest with a lifesaver, and I snorkeled for the first time ever! I struggled with a foggy mask at first, but one of the women came over and switched masks so I could see. Then the driver of the boat threw a piece of fruit in my hand and it was so cool having all the fish come up to me and eat out of my hand. I even hugged a Stingray!!!! How awesome is that?! We finished the excursion by eating lunch in the ocean with sharks and stingrays swimming around us, and I even got to feed fish from my hand. It was such an unforgettable experience. Later that evening, I attended a quick Champagne and Pearls experience at the resort, but I was pretty tired, so I ended the day with room service in my room. Food is extremely expensive in Bora Bora, so I am so grateful for the room credit that this retreat provided, because just getting a burger, salad, and dessert was over $100. If I had to do this on my own, I would probably have brought ramen and just used water from my my coffee pot for the week.

Hugging a stingray!


Thursday was another amazing full group morning session where we talked about our wildest dreams and things that we would start and stop doing to accomplish our goals. We ended the morning with breakout sessions with our small groups. My small group had a nice lunch and we finished off the discussion for a couple of hours. For the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a spa day. I had originally tried to book a massage on my birthday, but I went too late and everything was booked, so I was excited that I would be getting a massage on this day. I had the most amazing deep tissue massage. Followed by a dip in the gorgeous hot tub outback with the most beautiful scenery. Following this, we all headed to the villa, where there were dancing lessons given by my fellow Tahitian physician colleague, drinks, music, and a good time. It was also during this time where I took a huge leap of faith and jumped into the ocean from the villa. I had never done anything like that before, and I was scared out of my mind, but Dr Smith’s husband held my hand and I survived. It was an experience I will keep with me for a lifetime, and a reminder of all the positive experiences that occur when taking a leap of faith.

Relaxing in the spa hot tub


Friday was our big day as it was National Women Physicians Day. This day was created to honor the path that female doctors have paved since 1849. We started off the morning in a large group session, but then we quickly broke into our small groups. My small group found a large canopy next to the pool and we all discussed our dreams, things that were holding us back, and the solutions and ways to make it work. Following this, all 60+ of us representing so many different specialties gathered together for a group picture. Even cooler, the photographer took individual headshots of us that will be able to use for branding or however we like. It was such a beautiful gift. Following this, we had a bit of downtime in the afternoon, so I recorded a very choppy YouTube video as I was walking back to my room that looks choppy, but I may go ahead and post it anyway and just direct to this blog post which ties up everything I really want to say anyway. Then I got ready for our 5pm sunset cruise. The cruise was so relaxing and beautiful. It was also a great way to connect, take pictures with everyone and celebrate our last night together. But it didn’t end there. Following the sunset cruise, we made it back to resort and headed to the beach, where there were chairs waiting for us and a firework show to commemorate National Women Physicians day. Such a fabulous way to end our last night together!

Sunset Cruise


Saturday was officially our last day and it was so sad to leave paradise. We started off the morning with our final group session, and after we ended around 12pm, we all headed to a villa that was made available for us to lounge, swim, and relax in while we awaited our boats to take us to the airport. This villa was absolutely huge and amazing. So much so that I recorded a video for it that I will upload to my YouTube channel because it was just mind-blowing how beautiful it was. At around 3:30pm, the boat came to pick me up since my flight was leaving around 5:00 PM. They greeted us with beautiful shell necklaces while boarding, and as we were leaving the resort, it started to rain. We had beautiful weather the whole time there, but the rain starting when we left felt like a sign that the island was sad we were leaving. Fortunately, there were no inflight emergencies on either of my flights back home, so it was pretty smooth.

Villa Life


I arrived back home to Miami Sunday evening and I was so tired. But when I opened the door I was greeted with a cake and tulips from my awesome guy that made me smile. I attempted to stay up to at least 11pm that night and then I was out for the count. It’s so nice being back home, but I truly do miss paradise.

Birthday cake and tulips :)


It is now Tuesday and I feel like I finally have had a little downtime to reflect on my experience, but I am still mind blown over everything that happened last week. I learned so much in the realm of dealing with personal situations, business, life, and just navigating the world as a woman physician. The experience I had was truly priceless. My takeaways from this trip would take up an entire post, and I’ve already written way too much, so I’ll just leave you with five random nuggets that I took away:

1) If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself now, you’ll only end up hurting yourself in the long run

During one of the large group sessions, I shared how I grappled with the thought of winning a trip to Bora Bora when there were so many phenomenal female physicians who shared their stories and who I felt deserved it more than me because they had experienced more burnout and had been practicing way longer than myself. After this session, one of the women came up to me and told me how she had been dealing with physician burnout for over a decade, and she wishes that she had opportunities like this as a resident so that she would have never gotten to that point. I never thought about how important it is to start physician wellness early, because residency and life tend to beat you down and get you to a place where you think that the burnout is normal, but it’s really not right. This experience was a blatant reminder to take care of myself. Because if I don’t take care of myself, how can I truly take care of my patients?

2) Your story truly is not for you and it is important to share it

Those of you reading this know that I’ve never been afraid to share my story, but attending this retreat showed me how very important it is to share our stories and how connected we all truly are to each other. There was so much I could relate to from the other women there, whether it was talking about abuse, burnout, divorce, parenting, job changes, etc., and I realized that we are all connected by so muchI met women there who I share mutual friends with. I met women there who had gone through the same residency match struggles as myself, but had never shared it until that point. I met a woman who literally went to my same medical school and graduated only 3 years before me, and I met women there who were struggling with something that those of us had already gone through could provide advice for. It’s so important to share our stories because you never know who might need to hear it to keep their lives going.

3) Don’t be afraid to allow good things to happen to you. You are worthy and you do deserve it. Not everyone is out to get you.

I was pretty quiet about this trip since finding out that I won in September because, honestly, I was skeptical. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t expect truly good things to happen to me. I always expect there to be a catch, or that someone will want something in return. This retreat showed me this is not the case. I was sure I was going to get a call saying that they made a mistake or that they accidentally forgot to include me in the booking prior to going. I was so scared because I just never expect truly good things to happen to me. I even continue to struggle with that in my current residency program that this is all too good to be true, and that it will be taken away from me somehow. But this retreat showed me that I am worthy of these things, and I should expect these things because I put in the work and good out into the world and I should expect that good to come right back. It also showed me that there are people out there who truly want to support me and who will push for me, but I do have to allow myself to be open to receiving that.

4) Life is short and the time to live is now.

Even with the demands of residency, it’s easy to get caught up and forget to live life. We get consumed with work, with motherhood, personal, and other business responsibilities that we forget to take the time and honor ourselves. What I took away from this retreat is that now is the time to create the life I want to live, and to find a way to make it work, despite any obstacles I may perceive to be in my way. 

5) You are not alone and there are people who truly care about you and will be there to help when you need it

When I was there, I listened to so many stories of physician suicide. And I remember one of the women sharing with me how when she was in residency, one of the residents actually committed suicide while in the hospital with the chief residents actually hearing the gun go off as they were banging on the door. Most people aren’t aware that that rate of physician suicide is high. Our hours are grueling. A lot of times we feel like there is no support. And, whether you’re a resident or an attending, sometimes it can feel very lonely. One of the most powerful things for me, during the retreat was one of the women taking me aside, giving me her phone number, and telling me that it doesn’t matter what time or day that it is, if there is any time within the next 15 years where I feel I’m in a dark place, to call her, and she will help me through it. That is so powerful to me. And there was another woman who even talked about her dream of buying a house in Bora Bora, so that she can sponsor a resident physician each year who may be struggling with mental health or other wellness issues, and sponsor them for an all expense paid getaway in an attempt to promote wellness and help prevent physician suicide. Just writing this chokes me up, not because I’ve ever been suicidal, but I remember being in a very dark place, especially during my intern year in Philadelphia where I felt like there was no one I could call on who could relate to me or who could help me, so to know that there are people who are actively trying to help is just truly incredible. I honestly have no words for how touching it really is. 

Smiles in Paradise

Wrapping Up

OK so I know I’ve taken way too much time on this post and written a novel, so I’m going to wrap it up. But, there are no words to describe how incredibly powerful and beautiful this experience was for me. We shared our stories in a safe place, bonded, laughed together, and cried together. And as the only resident physician in attendance, I truly feel like I gained a tribe of phenomenal female attending physicians who I will be able to lean on even in the roughest times while navigating my journey through residency and beyond. I am even more so thankful to Dr. Sunny Smith for creating an exceptional coaching program (Please click here to check it out) that is helping so many physicians and for giving me the gift of a lifetime. Oh, and lastly, we were even featured in the Tahitian news! You can check out that article HERE (open in Chrome and right click, there should be a Google tab that says translate page).

Featured in the Tahitian News!

If you’ve made it this far in my post, thank you so much for reading and I hope reading it brought you joy. I wish you all a wonderful week ahead and I look forward to updating you with more in the near future.


Sunday, January 8, 2023

Check Me out on YouTube!



Happy New Year! Remember in 2017 when I attempted to start a YouTube vlog of my medical journey? Unfortunately I didn't keep up with it, but I'm hoping this year will be different. With that being said, here's my first post of the year! Please check it out, like, comment, and subscribe if you want to see more!

I still plan to write regular posts on this blog, but I figured having a video format of my journey would be helpful as well. It's definitely been a bit of a learning curve for me, so the videos will improve as I learn more. I would like to produce content that everyone finds helpful, so any and all topic suggestions are greatly appreciated. Wishing everyone a wonderful week! 

Here's the link to my YouTube channel (subscribe for future videos):

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