Friday, December 31, 2021

2021: Blessings on Blessings on Blessings!

Spending NYE 2021 living my dreams! 

It's New Year's Eve, I'm currently in the Emergency Room working my final night shift for the month, and you know what? I am overjoyed beyond words!

2021 was a true reflection of what staying prayed up, being patient, keeping the faith, and trusting in God's plan will bring. At this time last year, I was praying to be in my current position. Being a plastic surgeon was something that I have always imagined, but I honestly never thought at this point last year I would be a Plastic Surgery resident physician (in Miami of all places!) and on the way to achieving my dreams just 12 months later. 

If I had to come up with a theme for 2021, it would be: Trust God. Those of you who have been following along with me over the years, know that despite all the obstacles faced, I've always kept the faith that I would one day achieve my dreams. At let's be real, to have this faith when it felt like everyone around me was starting to doubt me was hard! God truly showed out this year in more ways than I could explain in this post. I am beyond thankful, and I hope to continue the grind and achieve great things in the years to come. If this year only showed me one thing, it's that my dreams are valid and I am capable of accomplishing any and all that I put my mind too. I just feel so incredibly blessed and happy.

Now for some of my highlights over the year :) I wrote this portion out on my social media accounts, but going to repost here because if it's not on the blog, did it really happen? LOL

Pursued my passion of surgery

- FINALLY matched into Plastic Surgery (my dream specialty!) after years of unsuccessful cycles

- Completed my last day of work as a full-time Urgent Care physician⁣

- I was featured in Forbes alongside other phenomenal women in medicine ⁣

- Produced my 1st first-author publication (my book doesn't count in the academic world lol)⁣

Enjoyed speaking and mentoring across the world

- Had multiple speaking engagements that allowed me to continue my passion of mentoring and inspiring⁣

I am truly blessed to be her mother

- Continued to have the blessing of being the mother of an absolutely AMAZING teenager.

Work hard, play harder

- I had fun! In 2021, I wasn't afraid to pursue what made me happy and say no to the things that didn't. I took risks, explored, spent time with old friends while making new friends, and enjoyed time with family and the people I love.⁣

- Took an unforgettable solo birthday trip to St. Lucia which included a beautiful suite with views you only see in the movies 🤩⁣

- Treated my daughter to a day at Universal Studios VIP style where we skipped to the front of literally every single line and got to see some behind-the-scenes action⁣

- Attended my first Annual Plastic Surgery meeting, learned a lot, and had a blast!

⁣- Partnered with multiple companies and shared awesome products with everyone that I also got to enjoy :) ⁣

- Made sure to spend time with friends and family. Life is short, and being a physician in 2021 was a daily reminder of this. 

That pretty much sums up 2021 for me. While I know that not everyone had a joyous year, just the fact that you are alive and reading this is a blessing in itself. Take the time to reflect on all the positive things you have to be thankful for. I hope you are able to end the year with all the happiness these reflections may bring. Also, to those of you who have read my blog over the past year and beyond, thank you for continuing to follow along on my journey. It means so much to me that people value my story and continue to gain from it. I look forward to bringing you more in 2022, and I hope you all will stick around.

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year ahead filled with love, blessings, and joy 🎉⁣

Friday, December 17, 2021

It's My Eight-Year Blogiversary!

Celebrating 8 years of the "Aspiring Minority Doctor" blog

Today marks eight years since I typed and published my very first blog post. At the time, I was a premedical student who had just received my one and only acceptance to medical school the month prior. Although I was ecstatic about my acceptance, I remember searching the internet for people with a similar background and being so discouraged. There were many posts in premedical/medical forum websites written by anonymous individuals who stated that people like myself (single mother, low GPA/MCAT, osteopathic medical school matriculant, etc) could never make it through medical school, pass medical board licensing exams, or match into a competitive specialty like plastic surgery. I knew there had to be individuals out there who had made it through despite all the odds, but my internet search proved extremely futile. With that being said, I decided to start a blog to document my journey and prove to people that I would achieve my dreams and more. I started this blog off anonymously, but then I realized it was important to share my true self and aim to inspire those on a similar path. Who would've thought that 8 years later I would be sitting here typing this not only having accomplished my original goal of being an inspiration, BUT also as a medical school graduate and current plastic surgery resident?!?!

If you've followed my blog from the start, I truly appreciate you and thank you for sharing in this journey with me. It definitely hasn't been an easy road, but I've enjoyed sharing my successes and even the failures with you all. It was this blog and the encouraging comments/emails from readers that kept me sane and motivated when I adjusted to life as a medical student, went through the failure of not matching (twice!), experienced a grueling general surgery intern year, started a two-year detour as an urgent care physician, and even now as I navigate making it through residency. You all have watched my daughter grow from being a happy 7-year-old child to a super smart and sweet 15-year-old teenager. I've even enjoyed sharing all my fun moments with you all because I'm all about the work-life balance :)

I started this blog to inspire and share my story, but I have gained so much from it. This blog has connected me with people around the world with similar stories, served as a personal therapeutic outlet, and the demand for all my premedical/inspirational posts in one place allowed me to write and publish my very first book, Atypical Premed. You all helped me become an author!

I know a lot of people wonder why I continue to name the blog "Aspiring Minority Doctor" seeing as I've accomplished my goal of becoming a physician, but it's quite simple: I'll always be a minority, always a doctor, and always aspiring to achieve great things. I don't know if I'll still be blogging eight years from now, but my goal is to at least maintain this blog until I finish residency. After that I'll likely keep the domain for my own reflections, although a lot of the premedical and medical school advice will likely be outdated by then. 

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to say THANK YOU for reading! It truly means a lot to me that people actually care to read my story, and the fact that some of you have been reading for eight years warms my heart. I hope I can continue to keep you all engaged, inspired, and confident to continue on your own paths to greatness. I look forward to sharing more of my journey, but if you have a favorite post that helped or inspired you in any way, please share it with me in the comments below. It would really make my day :)

SN: the mug in the above picture was made by my mother and it's one of my favorites! On the back it has my favorite bible verse (Philippians 4:6-7) and underneath states "Living my dreams, one patient at at time!"


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

2021 Physician Holiday Gift Guide

Happy December! Can you believe Christmas is only 17 days away?!?! To some this is the most wonderful time of the year, but for me it can be the most stressful time trying to think of things to buy my friends and loved ones.

If you've been looking for a gift for the physician in your life, here is a top ten list of some of my favorite things from 2021. 

Medelita Lab Coats, Jackets, Scrubs, and More

Love my Medelita gear!

I am a proud ambassador for Medelita and so far I have loved all of their products. My Estie Classic Fit lab coat looks super professional and tailored to my body, and I receive compliments every time I wear it. I even bought one for my little sister since I like it so much! I also love wearing my Medelita Kinetic Scrub Jacket especially since the hospitals and clinics are so cold. My jacket was actually the first item given to me that has my dream specialty monogrammed on it, so I hold it close to my heart. The company doesn't stop with jackets and white coats...their scrubs, face masks, and other products are just as awesome. Any healthcare professional would benefit from some Medelita gear, so head over to their website and treat the physician in your life.

SmileBrilliant Flosser, Toothbrush, and Teeth Whitening Products

Smile Brilliant keeps my smile bright!

Even though the masks keep us from seeing each other's smiles these days, it's great to not have to breathe in funky breath all day. I've enjoyed using Smile Brilliant products over the years starting with their custom teeth whitening system that I still use to this day to keep my smile bright and beautiful (click HERE to see my full original review). This year, I started using the CariPro electronic toothbrush and my mouth definitely feels cleaner. To add more awesomeness to the mix, I was recently sent a water flosser to try out and I am loving it. It's a super fast way to clean your teeth without the hassle of trying of trying to get string in between your teeth. You honestly can't go wrong with any of their products, and you can use my code (aspiringminoritydoctor20) for 20% off anything on the website!

Presto Candle Co

A candle with a label meant to be displayed :)

I absolutely love candles! The nice smells and the flickering lights from them really comfort me. I actually discovered Presto Candle Co candles from one of my doctor groups on Facebook. Not only is the owner a creator of a great product, but she also happens to be a dentist, AND the company is Black-owned! I've bought candles for pretty much everyone in my family and I love the personalized candles and being able to customize the label to each person. Plus they smell amazing! A great gift to help the physician in your life relax and calm down after a stressful day.

ProCompression Socks

Throwback pic from one of my 2018-2019 24hr call shifts

I swear by Pro Compression socks! As a surgeon, I tend to literally be on my feet all day and wearing compression socks helps with both my comfort level and ensuring I don't develop varicose veins. I bought a few of these socks (and was also gifted some by my little brother) when I was a medical student, and to this day I still wear the same socks with great compression. There are usually deals and codes on their website as well, so don't make the mistake of paying full price!

Pilot G2 Gel Pens

Pens are every physician's best friend!

I am super serious about my pens and Pilot G2 Gel Pens are my favorite. I use black in 0.7 for scribbling routine notes and when doing surgery rounds throughout the day, I use the colored gel pens to keep me on track with patient updates.

Amazon Gift Cards and Wal-Mart + Subscription

Getting groceries delivered so you can spend time on what matters most

I never have time to shop so I'm either buying things off of Amazon or having groceries delivered from Wal-Mart. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with getting someone an Amazon gift card because the website literally has everything. As for Wal-Mart, the Walmart+ membership subscription includes unlimited free delivery or you can get 2 hour express delivery for $10. I love being able to add things to my cart while I'm at work and then coming home to groceries at my door.

Airfryer/Pressure Cooker

Easy, fast, and simple cooking

The Nuwave Duet Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer Combo was a sponsored product from earlier this year, but it has grown to be a staple in my kitchen. I love being able to throw in frozen salmon filets straight from the freezer and having them juicy and ready within 13 minutes. I've also made a perfectly cooked medium filet mignon in under 6 minutes, and I use the pressure cooker function to cook all my rice now. 

Customized Calendar

Staying organized with memories to make you smile

This was actually a birthday gift from my daughter this year, but I enjoy looking at it daily. She customized a calendar with pictures of herself (definitely my child, lol), and I thought it was a super thoughtful gift. I know most people are into electronic calendars, but I enjoy writing out important things for the month and having a daily reminder on my wall. I believe she bought it from Shutterfly, but I'm sure any photo calendar place would work.

Ring Light

Step up your selfie and Zoom game

I've done a lot of zoom sessions this year, and my ring light has been a lifesaver for keeping me from looking too dark on the screen. I've also taken some amazing selfies using it, including the one above (yep, no professional pics from me this year...everything was with my cellphone and ring light). The ring light I bought was an 18 inch ring light with a stand and cellphone holder from Elegiant, but oddly I am unable to find it again on Amazon. THIS one is the closest I can find. I like this particular ring light because it has different light settings ranging from warm to bright, and it comes with a remote control in addition to a cell phone and tablet holder.

My book!

Help the physician-to-be in your life achieve their goals!

Now you know I couldn't end this post without putting in a plug for my book Atypical Premed: A Non-Traditional Student's Guide to Applying to Medical School. This would be a great gift for any premedical student in your life and I'm sure the physician in your life has a mentee who can benefit. If you'd like to know more about what the book entails, feel free to click the "Atypical Premed" tab at the top of this page. It's available through pretty much every major book retailer, so whether it's from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, buy your copy today!

That's it for my top 10 list! As I'm finishing up this post, a few other things are coming to mind, but I said I'd keep it to ten, so going to stop here. If you have any other gift ideas, I would love to hear more about them below. Cheers to the 2021 holiday season!

Disclaimer: I am a Medelita ambassador as well as an influencer for SmileBrilliant, but unless explicitly stated,  for everything else listed in this post I have not received compensation or free products. I just really like using the product OR I have it on my personal list for this year :) I'm also an Amazon Associate and may receive a small amount of compensation from any Amazon links you click on.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Plastic Surgery Intern Year: Month Five Update

Still enjoying Florida life!

Can you believe December is only three days away?!?! This year has flown by so incredibly fast! As I sit here typing this just a few days after Thanksgiving, I continue to feel so much gratitude for all this year has given me. Where I am now is so vastly different from this point last year, and I continue to be thankful for all of life's twists and turns.

Love that I get to  wear my Medelita scrubs this month

Anyway, in terms of residency updates, I am currently finishing my Surgical Dermatology and Mohs month. Mohs surgery is a procedure in which skin cancer is cut out, viewed under a microscope, and cut out again until there is none left. We perform around 10-20 cases per day which allows for the steady work flow that I love. It has also been an awesome month hanging out with my dermatology colleagues, and I finally got to a point where my attending is comfortable with me performing routine excisions and closures on my own, so that has made me super happy. I'm learning a lot, and I love the overlap between dermatology and plastic surgery in the form of tumor resections and flap closures.

Thankful for the opportunity to share my story!

Outside of residency and studying, I've had the opportunity to pursue my passion of inspiring and engaging future healthcare leaders over the past month through many speaking engagements. It has been an absolute pleasure speaking to students from literally around the world and sharing the story of my path to medicine. I remember when I first started this blog how hard it was to find someone with similar circumstances who had made it to where I wanted to be in life, and now I am proud to be that shining example for anyone else who might be on a similar path. I went from being the low stat single mother who everyone said had no chance of passing boards, surviving medical school, or getting into residency to doing ALL of the above! I take great pleasure in sharing my story and life circumstances because the world needs more physicians with life experience, empathy, and the tenacity to overcome the odds. This representation matters not just to the younger generations who follow in our footsteps, but to our patients who ultimately this is all about. If I can inspire just one person to pursue their dreams, then I am happy, so I will continue to put my story out there as much as I can.  

Blessed to be able to spend time with my daughter

Lastly, my daughter finally came to visit me last week! Because of work, it was hard for me to travel to her for Thanksgiving, and between her school, band, and color guard schedule, it's been difficult coordinating a trip to see me due to her schedule somehow being more hectic than mine. Luckily, we are both more into quality of time than the quantity, so I'm happy we finally made it work. We had an awesome museum experience, enjoyed the beautiful November weather on South Beach, took an airboat ride through the Everglades to see alligators, enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner together, put up the Christmas tree, and I may have been slightly conned into allowing her to get a 2nd ear piercing, lol. I feel so blessed to build memories and spend moments like these with her that I hope she'll keep with her forever. 

Enjoying doing touristy things on my days off

That's pretty much all I have for updates. I'll try to write more than one post in December, since I'll probably go under a rock for my ICU month in January and my schedule will be super busy for the first half of the year with trauma surgery and such. Honestly my life is pretty boring since all I do is work, and I can't share too much information out of respect for my patients, so I'll try to think of some inspirational/motivational posts to come up with it. If there's anything you want me to write about, feel free to leave a message in the comment section or email me. With that being said, I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I wish you a fantastic week ahead!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Embracing Life's Full Circle Moments

#OMED21 Smiles

I have had quite a few full circle moments over the past few years, but the one I experienced today compelled me to write this post. If you've been following my blog since it's inception in 2013, then you already know how much of an inspiration Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee is to me. I was ecstatic when I had the opportunity to meet her in person for the first time as a 2nd year medical student (see post HERE), and even before then, she was the first person I ever highlighted in my Minority Women in Osteopathic Medicine section (that post can be found HERE) . Since that time, I have had many opportunities to interact with her. She was a huge supporter during my time as National Osteopathic Schools Co-Chair of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) helping to fund a committee scholarship, and during my time as National President-Elect of the SNMA she attended the national conference and we had an excellent discourse during the Osteopathic Schools reception. She's such a phenomenal person!

But anyway, back to the purpose of this post. I was absolutely delighted to be a part of this weekend's virtual annual osteopathic medical education conference (#OMED21) as a panelist during the Plenary Session for the conference's first ever Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion track. And guess who led the session? That's right, one of my very own inspirations Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee! It was a great session where we discussed continuing the legacy of Dr. Meta Christy (the first African-American Osteopathic Physician) in addition to systemic biases and other challenges faced by DOs. I truly enjoyed participating, and the recording is available for everyone registered for the conference so feel free to join the conference, tune in, and let me know your thoughts!

Six years ago TODAY! Feeling absolutely blessed :)

So why is this a full circle moment? Because Facebook reminded me that it was on this EXACT day six years ago when I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ross-Lee for the first time and I introduced her to my school. Today, we had a panel together and she gave my introduction. How crazy is that?!?! It's moments like today where I am reminded of where I came from and that I am on the right track in life. It wasn't too long ago where I dreamed of becoming an osteopathic physician like Dr. Ross-Lee and inspiring people to pursue their dreams as she inspired me to do so with my own. I am literally living my dreams y'all!

Can't break barriers without acknowledging those who paved the way

That's pretty much the post, all I have to say, but I wanted to write a post for my own personal reflection. It's the full circle moments that remind me I'm on the write track and give me encouragement to keep pushing for success. Hopefully one day I can give back and serve as an inspiration to someone just like many individuals such as Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee who provided inspiration and encouragement for me :)

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