Monday, August 5, 2019

Intern Year: Chapter Closed

Graduation selfie :)

Yes, I realize this post is well over a month late, but I've been so busy lately that I actually forgot I never posted about this accomplishment until my graduation certificate came in the mail the other day. But as of June 24,2019, this girl has officially graduated and is no longer an intern!

I'm pretty sure graduation was my first time getting cute since starting LOL

It was weird being in another graduation so soon after my medical school graduation which took place a little over a year ago, but since my internship was a one year standalone program, I was technically graduating. I debated going, but realized it would probably be the last time I would see a lot of people I spent the past year with, and I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to get a little cute and enjoy some free food and drinks LOL. Plus, it was a graduation for all of the residency and fellowship programs at my institution, so I wanted to cheer for some of the senior residents I worked with over the year. 

Happy to have served a one of the Chief Interns :)

It was a very intimate ceremony with the program directors taking the time to talk about each of the graduating residents and tell where they would be heading for fellowship or to start practicing independently. The interns were called up last, and it was nice hearing my name being called and walking across a stage again. Plus, I was given a large plaque to commemorate my role over the past year as one of the Chief Interns :) It was a really nice evening and a pleasant end to a long year.

"Last Day of Intern year" Selfie

Unfortunately, graduation did not mean that intern year was officially over, because I still had a full week of work ahead of me with call. It's funny because I started the very first day of intern year on a Sunday working a 24 hour call shift, and I ended my intern year by starting on a Sunday morning and working a 24 hour shift until Monday morning. I was even more amused that I would be the one acquainting the new incoming interns bright and early as they rolled in Monday morning. They looked super scared as I walked out the door at 6am and said goodbye to the program forever, and I couldn't help but smile at the fact that I was probably just as scared when I first started, but somehow managed to make it through and truly grow as a physician. It's amazing how much one year can change a person.

My official internship completion certificate

I should and probably will write a post about lessons learned from intern year, but right now I am just enjoying the close of another great chapter. Plus, I still need more time to gather my thoughts about the past year so I can write about it in a way that doesn't scare off anyone. I'm also in a transitioning phase right now that has kept me pretty busy, albeit in a good way, but I'll make sure to get back on here soon with ALL the updates. I'm sure everyone is wondering where I am right now, what I'm doing, and what's next for me, but you'll just have to stay tuned. I promise to share more. Just not today :)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Recap of SBAS 2019: NYC

During the last weekend in April, I had the pleasure of traveling to New York City and attending the 29th annual meeting of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS) hosted by the Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Surgery and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It was an amazing experience!!!! This meeting not only gave me the opportunity to network with phenomenal black leaders in surgery, but it refreshed my spirit and truly confirmed my love for surgery.
Road trip with my mentor!

I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to the conference with my wonderful mentor, Dr. Scantlebury. She had been urging me to attend the conference since last year when it was held in Birmingham, Alabama, and I was thankful that the conference was again being held at a location that wasn’t too far from me.

SBAS Women in Surgery

This was my first time attending an SBAS meeting, and I couldn’t wait to soak up all it had to offer. We arrived in New York just in time to attend the first session which was a two-hour financial wellness summit that included a ton of relevant and useful information. Following this, was a women in surgery reception and opening welcome reception where I got the chance to interact with so many awesome individuals. Before this point, I had never shared a room with so many people who not only looked like me, but who all shared the same love and passion as I do for surgery. It was truly both beautiful and inspiring.


In true surgical fashion, the next day started bright and early. Breakfast was served at 530am and we were all on the bus at 630am to head over to Weill Cornell where a full academic agenda was planned. The morning spent there was full of great talks and research presentations. I enjoyed every presentation ranging from laparoscopic donor hepatectomies to the use of GoPro in the operating room as a way to evaluate and improve performance with video-based feedback. I also got to be a part of a group picture with everyone in attendance (above). Seeing this inspires me every time I see it! We then headed back to the hotel for an afternoon lunch lecture and more great scientific sessions.

An Evening of fun at the Pratt House!
Later that evening, we all headed to The Harold Pratt House for an evening of great food, music, and dancing. The featured musical guests were the George Gee Swing Orchestra and Lindy Hoppers and they made for a great atmosphere. It was also awesome being able to socialize and make new friends. I even ran into one of my surgery attendings who didn’t recognize me at first outside of my normal everyday scrubs look, and even better was the amazing food! I ate a little bit of everything that night ranging from custom-made tacos to trying knish for the first time.

The next and final day was my favorite of the meeting. During a mentorship lunch, I had the opportunity to sit with leaders in surgery and have an open discussion on various topics. I felt completely comfortable asking questions and it was great feeling supported. Following the lunch, a Resident and Medical Student breakout session was held that discussed everything from ascending in leadership to negotiating contracts. One thing that stuck out to me the most from both this session and a previous session was the fact that there has yet to be an African-American female to serve as a department chair in surgery. Now I’m not saying this is what I’m striving for, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to try ;) It was also really fun engaging with the medical students and answering their questions while giving tips for success in their upcoming surgery rotations. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in their position, so it was cool being able to help ease some of their anxiety.

So many great moments!

The final event of the 2019 SBAS meeting was a black tie dinner that still has me smiling. The speakers were Dr. Mae Jemison and Dr. Louis Sullivan. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Jemison is a physician, engineer, NASA astronaut, and the FIRST woman of color to travel in space. Dr. Louis Sullivan is the Founding Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine AND former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services under the George H.W. Bush administration. There literally are no words to describe how phenomenal both of these individuals are or the impact that they have made on history. Their speeches were extremely engaging, inspiring, and probably some of the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing (and I mean that, without exaggeration). Hearing them speak was a prominent ending to a great conference.

Following the dinner, was an evening of dancing that allowed for even more fellowship and gave everyone the opportunity to cut loose one last time. You haven’t lived until you’ve swag surfed with a room full of department chairs, program directors, attendings, residents, and medical students who all share a love for surgery, and I’m happy that someone was able to catch this moment of fun (as shown below).

This was my first time attending a SBAS meeting, and it definitely won’t be my last. I was engaged intellectually, formed lasting bonds, and it was the first time since starting intern year where I felt supported, inspired, and hopeful of my professional aspirations. It was much needed, and I will forever be thankful for the experience and all it blessed me with. If you’re a medical student interested in surgery or surgery resident, then I highly recommend attending one of the annual meetings, so you can experience the same joy I did. Below, you’ll find a video highlighting past SBAS meetings with the NYC highlights occuring at the 1:45 mark. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend next year’s meeting at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and if so, I hope to meet some of you there!

The Magic of SBAS- Black Surgeons Defining Excellence from Dr. Hassan A. Tetteh on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Recap of SNMA AMEC 2019: Philadelphia

My first AMEC as a physician!
**It’s been a while since I last wrote, and a lot has been going on over the past few months, so the next few posts will be recaps from my experiences since March 2019**

Back in April, I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Student National Medical Association's (SNMA) Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) which took place in Philadelphia, PA. It was not only my first time attending as a physician, but it was my final time (at least for a while) attending as a board member. Yep, that's right! My term of Immediate Past President is officially over and I am free of all SNMA duties! I have served on the national SNMA Board of Directors for four years starting in 2015 as National Osteopathic Co-Chair, and then as 2017-2018 National President which most people might not be aware is a three year term which began with my president-elect year in 2016 and ended with an immediate past president year that I completed with this year's AMEC. So yes, as much as I love the SNMA, I am relieved to break away from the politics of it all.

Teaching high school students CPR
This year's AMEC started off with a community service event. Through a partnership with the SNMA and the Student Health Impact Project (SHIP), a Healthy Attitude Summit was held at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) for over 200 high school students from Baltimore, Camden, and Philadelphia areas. There were many different stations covering everything from Mental Health to Nutrition, and I had the pleasure of teaching at the CPR station. It was so cool teaching and interacting with the students, and I even learned something new. Did you know that "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars has replaced the "Stayin Alive" by the Bee Gees as the new CPR song? Same beat needed for compressions, and the students enjoyed having a song that was closer to their age-range. The event also featured Rodney McLeod, NFL Safety for the Philadelphia Eagles, who has done a lot of great work with SHIP and educating students on living healthy lives. 

Rodney McLeod, NFL Safety for the Philadelphia Eagles
The next day is when the conference began for most attendees, and when the work began for me. I actually thought that I would be able to relax and enjoy this year's conference since I'm no longer a student, but I was wrong! Starting at 8am that morning I had to attend a Board of Directors meeting and because this year's term included sitting on the Elections Committee, I had the task of debriefing the candidates. Following the meeting, we all attended the opening meeting where Rodney McLeod was the keynote speaker, and then we rushed upstairs for the ribbon cutting ceremony and official opening of the professional exhibit hall. This is where residency programs come to promote their programs, so I also walked around to speak with a few programs with openings that I had submitted applications to, and to reunite with past friends who are now resident physicians but were at the exhibit to recruit for their programs. It was great being able to network and catch up with friends at the same time!

They paved the way. So much excellence in one session!
Following the exhibit hall, and after dealing with elections and other SNMA business, I had the pleasure of attending a plenary session which consisted of a panel of physician leaders who also had the accomplishments of being firsts and paving the way for us. They are pictured above, and for those of you who don't recognize each person, I'll name them off from left to right. First you have Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States, and my amazing mentor. Next is Dr. Altha Stewart, the first African-American president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In the middle is Dr. Sharon Allison-Ottey who served as the first female chairman of the SNMA Board of Directors, and next to her is Dr. Patrice Harris, the first African-American President-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) in all of its 148-year history. Lastly, (but certainly not least) is Dr. Augustus White, III who was so many firsts that I'm not even going to try to list them all, but he was the first African-American medical student and graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, first black surgical resident at Yale University, first black professor of medicine at Yale, and first black department head at a Harvard-affiliated hospital (Beth Israel Hospital). He is standing next to Gabriel Felix, the now Immediate Past President of the SNMA. So much black excellence I can hardly contain myself!!!!

Finally met Dr. Caudle!
I was only able to attend one other session at the conference that day, but it was a session I just couldn't pass up. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you'll remember my Minority Women in Medicine posts where I interviewed and highlighted minority women in osteopathic medicine. One of those women I had the pleasure of interviewing was Dr. Jennifer Caudle and she was able to attend this year's AMEC and present a workshop on her journey in medical broadcasting. This was my first time meeting her since I wrote my original post five years ago, and she was even more awesome in person. I truly enjoyed both meeting her and having the opportunity to attend and learn at her workshop.

I love my mentor!
After the workshops ended for the day, I took the opportunity to hang out with Dr. Scantlebury and explore some more of Philly. It was a gorgeous day and the tulips were in full bloom. 

Happy to have left a legacy
The next day was the day we installed our new SNMA National President. Our now Immediate Past President Gabriel Felix gave an excellent farewell speech complete with a goodbye song. It really made me reflect on all the emotions involved with becoming and ending my term as president. Pictured above our some of the past SNMA presidents with the current president Omonivie Agboghidi. I look forward to seeing all her accomplishments over the next year and the legacy she will bring to the organization. As you can see underneath the presidents photo, I am happy to have left my own legacy within the organization, but I surely hope I am not the last of my kind!

Dr. Eugene Harris, III from Married to Medicine
Later that evening, I had the pleasure of attending a mixer hosted by White Coats Black Doctors where I was able to meet and chat with Dr. Eugene Harris III, from the hit Bravo TV show Married to Medicine. He also served as the SNMA closing banquet speaker the following day where he gave a very inspiring and excellent speech. When I asked him if he was ever involved with the SNMA as a medical student, his response was “not only was I involved, but I served as chapter president.” Hearing that made me so happy!

Shout out to the DOs!
Another favorite part of the conference was all the osteopathic representation. I ran into so many of my favorite DOs including Dr. Tyree Winters (literally one of the great faces of the AOA’s “Doctors that DO” campaign), and Dr. Courtney Scrubbs who mentored me during my time as osteopathic co-chair for the organization. It was a great ending to NOM Week 2019.

Here's to another 55 years!
The final part of the conference was the Saturday dinner banquet. This is always my favorite event, because the graduating medical school seniors within the organization are recognized and receive their graduation stoles. There were soooo many graduating seniors, and I was so there to share in that happy experience. It was also where the Chairperson of the Board of Directors gave her final farewell speech, and it was one that focused on shining our light even when confronted with hate. It made me proud of both her and everything the SNMA represents.

I loved my dress!
That pretty much wraps up my SNMA AMEC 2019 experience. For those who weren’t able to make it this year before the event sold out, the next conference will take place the week leading up to Easter Sunday 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio, so mark your calendars now! I highly recommend this conference for both pre-medical and medical students alike, and those of you who have been following me for a while already know that I credit the SNMA with helping me gain an acceptance into medical school. Oh, and shout out to all the people who recognized me from this blog and took the time to stop me and let me know how much it has helped them. I appreciate you all more than you’ll ever know. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Jord Wood Watch Review + Free Giveaway!

I’m back with another giveaway! Whether I’m using it as a fashion accessory or at work making sure I’m on time for the next surgical case, nothing beats a good watch. So when the makers of Jord (pronounced Yoda minus the -a) reached out and offered me the chance to review one of their gorgeous luxury wood watches AND host a giveaway for my readers, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

A Watch Made out of Wood?!?!

I’ll be honest and say that I actually wasn’t familiar with wood watches prior to being contacted, but I am now a fan! I selected the Cora Polaris - Walnut & Midnight Blue watch. This watch stuck out to me because the walnut wood was so perfectly integrated with the rose gold metal. I also really liked the touches of Swarovski crystals, and since I’m usually in blue or green scrubs, this watch seemed like it would match my daily attire the most out of the collection. The watch definitely did not disappoint, and when it arrived, I was super impressed by the detail. In the below picture, you can see just how flawlessly the wood is integrated into the watch.


I tend to be more on the classy, yet understated side when it comes to fashion and I value practicality. Jord has made a line of watches that fit my wants perfectly and is even more beautiful in person. The watch goes well with my work scrubs and professional outfits, and it matches well with my dressier night out outfits as well. I also love how the watch comes with a butterfly clasp and that the company is able to size it to your specifications before shipping. Additionally, the watch comes with an automatic self-winding movement. They even provide the option of engraving the back plate of the watch prior to shipping. No running around town trying to find a jewelry store for me!
Final Thoughts

Overall, I think this is a great watch that will definitely stand the test of time. From the perfectly placed branding to the uniqueness of the materials, you can't go wrong with purchasing one of these watches. I was even more in love with the men's line of watches, so fellas, there's definitely something in the collection for you too!

Giveaway Time!!!!
As promised, there's something in this for you! The wonderful people at Jord are not only allowing me to host a giveaway for a $100 credit towards any watch of your choice, BUT everyone who enters will receive a 10% discount code. It's a win for everybody! There's literally nothing to lose, so enter today. The link to the giveaway form is below and it takes only seconds to select your favorite watch and fill out the form. Good luck!

Wooden Wrist Watch

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Match Week 2019: Part Two

So incredibly blessed to have this amazing woman in my life!
Now that I've explained the SOAP process and gotten all the negativity out the way in Part One , I will use this post to focus on the good that came out of Match Week :)

If you've been following me for a while, then you already know that my biggest inspiration and mentor in surgery is Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States. I am extremely blessed to have her as a friend, and last week she showed me the importance of having people in your corner who not only support, but encourage and uplift you.

Despite how open I appear on this blog, I'm actually pretty reserved emotionally and tend to not reach out to anyone when I'm upset or going through things. I've also been told that it's pretty hard for people to read me especially when I always appear to be happy and smiling. Last week was no different, as I continued to carry a smile, and didn't let people know that I was going through the SOAP process unless they specifically reached out and asked. Dr. Scantlebury was one of the very few people I reached out to regarding my lack of matching, and I was happy I did.

Not only did she offer words of encouragement from the very start, but while she was in town for a speaking engagement on Thursday of match week, she took time out of her very busy schedule , waited for me to get off work, and came to see me. She treated me to an awesome dinner (complete with an unexpected live band), and we prayed together, discussed strategies for continuing in surgery, and she was honest and straight up with me about the tough road ahead. It was comforting to talk with someone who had gone through the process (you can read more about her story in her new BOOK, which I will do a separate post on at a later time), and it was nice not being alone to deal with my sadness that evening. I left with a true smile and was even more inspired to accomplish my goals.

Best daughter ever!!!!
The absolute best part of last week was getting to see my daughter! I hadn't had a full two-day weekend off since I took my vacation week at the end of January, and I was missing her and my other loved ones. I had a late flight booked for Friday evening, but due to a delay, I had to pick an earlier flight. I wasn't upset about this at all though because I was able to leave work early, and the three hour delay in Atlanta before my connecting flight meant that I got to have dinner with my amazing guy! It was a great start to the weekend, indeed :)

Seeing my daughter's smiling face made all the stresses of that week go away, and even though we literally video chat every day, she had plenty to catch me up on. Spending time with her and my family was much needed, and as always, there were lots of laughs and good times. I even got to have brunch and celebrate St. Patrick's Day with my family since I booked a late flight back to Philly, and miraculously my flight made it back to Philly on time! I was pushing it with a flight that arrived at 1am, when I had to be at work for 530am, but I made it and was sooo happy I wasn't on call that day because I was super tired!

St. Patrick's Day 2019 - Finally got to celebrate a holiday with the little one
Okay, Back to the Match. What's the Plan??

While the weekend was great, I still had to come back to Philly and deal with the reality of not matching. To be honest, I'm not as upset about not matching at this point, because I'm blessed to be in a position where I have options. My current plan is to continue to look for and apply for preliminary general surgery positions as they become available AND network my butt off. If that doesn't work, then I plan to work, do research, and apply again for a spot next year. The crazy thing that they don't tell you in medical school is that after completing a PGY1 year and passing all three board licensing exams (check!), you are eligible for a full unrestricted medical license in most states. What this means is I could have a career as a general practitioner or I could essentially moonlight the entire year as a physician at different hospitals, urgent care centers, etc., and make quite a bit of money while doing research and other things to strengthen my application. Most places pay around $80-150/hour for a 12 hour shift, and while residents will typically moonlight during their non working hours, I could dedicate a regular work week to just moonlighting. I know a few people who have done this and pulled in six figures, so it's a huge relief to have this as an option. With a daughter who I send money to every month to cover her many expenses and student loan payments, this is a much needed back up plan. Unfortunately, it won't allow me to be in the OR, it would be rough going back to a resident's salary after making money, and I would still be limited at some hospitals due to not having board certification, so it's just that - a backup plan.

Outside of the above, I honestly don't have a full solid plan in place at this point, and it looks like I will be spending yet another year of my life in limbo. What I do know, is I still love surgery and I would hate myself if I didn't try again. And oddly enough, I continue to feel nothing but calmness and I still have the faith that everything will work out the way it should be. I also can't complain when there are thousands of medical students out there currently unmatched who don't have the same options as myself. Those are the people who my heart hurts for and who I hope are able to secure residency spots in the coming months. I'm already blessed to be working, getting the chance to operate almost every day, and living my dream as a physician, so I really can't complain. I'm just going to keep pushing and be mindful that if this road were easy, every one would be doing it.

That pretty much sums up my Match Week 2019, and I am ending this post with a huge thank you to all those who reached out to me over the past two weeks. I really appreciate the social media DMs and emails from friends and even complete strangers reaching out just to say that they were thinking of me and hoping the match went well. I honestly didn't even think anyone would remember that I was still going through the process, so it really meant a lot to me. Hopefully I'll be able to share great news with everyone soon, but for now just know that I'm going to continue to keep grinding and pushing for my goals, and this smile isn't going anywhere :)

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