Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Plastic Surgery Intern Year: Catching up on 6 months of Updates

1 month away from being a 2nd year Plastic Surgery Resident!

Can you believe that today is the first day of my LAST month of intern year?!?! This year has flown by incredibly fast! I have been severely slacking with update posts, and so much has happened since my last full update six months ago. My intent this year was to at least update everyone at the end of every month, but work and life distracted me from my favorite hobby of writing. I'll try my best to catch everyone up with this post, and for the sake of time, I'll try to keep it relatively brief since I know I can get a bit wordy.

I love my Plastic Surgery residency family!

During my last official update, I had just finished my Mohs and Surgical Dermatology month in November and was headed into Emergency Medicine for December. I'm not going to lie, after two years of working in the urgent care setting, being in the ER was super chill for me. I enjoyed the shift work, the variety of cases, and being able to have time for a little fun. The past few months have been a bit of a blur, but in December, my highlights were participating in a craniomaxillofacial cadaver lab with my residency program, and I remember the wonderful feeling of going to the beach in the middle of December, enjoying the 80 degree weather, and just loving life.

Celebrating my birthday with my favorite lady docs :)

January sucked! My rotation for the month was ICU and it was also during the time when COVID cases were crazy. I don't have anything good to say about the month other than my birthday was on the last day of the rotation, so after I finished that day I happily went out to celebrate both being finished with ICU and making it to see another year of life with some of my favorite lady docs :)

16-course menu at Joel Robuchon Bucket List item complete!

February was a bit more relaxed and I was back in the operating room for my Neurosurgery rotation. It was my first time having to operate under a microscope, and I struggled a bit trying to suture under it. I have a horrible habit of hunching over and getting close to suture, so that month I was forced to stand up straight and work on proper technique. The cases were pretty cool and it was something I wasn't exposed to much previously, so I learned a lot. I also went on a late birthday celebration vacation trip to Las Vegas toward the end of February, and it was epic! I stayed in an incredible suite at the MGM Grand Skylofts at ridiculously cheap price (yay for off season birthdays and pandemic prices!), and I checked a major item off my bucket list: the 16-course menu degustation at Joel Robuchon restaurant. It was a much needed break and reprieve from the trauma of the previous month.

Survived my first Plastic Surgery In-Service Exam

March was a bit busier, but it wasn't too bad. I took my Plastic Surgery In-Service exam during the first week of the month and I was happy to get it over with. There's definitely room for improvement, but at least now I know what to expect and how to strategize my studying. My rotation for the month was Trauma/General Surgery. It kept me busy, but I really enjoyed the hospital I was rotating at, and the attendings let me do a lot in the operating room. My favorite moment was probably when we had a laparoscopic appendectomy (appendix removal using small incisions and a camera) and the attending stood patiently waiting for a while as I tried to find the appendix. It was a highlight because it was probably my first time having laparoscopic tools in both hands and taking charge. I gave up after a while and it turned out to be a difficult case (the appendix was retrocecal, severely inflamed, and there was pus everywhere), but I appreciated the fact that I was given the chance to try on my own. It's the little things that make me happy.


My rotation for April was Anesthesia. I had never rotated in it when I was a medical student, so it was kind of cool being behind the curtain. I definitely was not used to being able to sit in the operating room and I never really realized how cold it is when you're not scrubbed in. The best part of the month was being able to scrub into plastic surgery cases after I helped with sedating and intubating the patient. April was my first time being able to operate with my program director and alongside some of my co-interns since we're usually spread out at different locations and rotations, so I really enjoyed the month. Oh, and I almost forgot: I got to attend the Annual Medical Education Conference for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) in Orlando, FL in April where I held a workshop for premedical students, served as MC for the President's Luncheon where I addressed some of the 3000+ attendees, and reunited with some of my faves. 

#BlackGirlMagic in the Operating Room

Last month (May), I was back on General Surgery and at my main hospital. The attendings let me do more and more each day, and I've found that I'm starting to get comfortable with operating and trying new things. The only thing that I was so-so about last month was being on home call. One part of me loves being able to relax at home, shower, and sleep in my own bed during my call shifts, but the other part of me did not like all the gas I used having to drive back and forth between the two hospitals I was covering for consults, or the fact that home call means no post call days. Call is call though, and it's a necessary evil that no resident can get away from. My favorite part of the month was the #BlackGirlMagic moment pictured above. My hospital currently only has three black surgical residents (myself, my orthopedic surgery buddy, and the general surgery resident pictured with me above), so you already know I have to capture the rare and magical moments when we get to operate together :)

As for June, I started Plastic Surgery today! I am so happy to be spending the month in my specialty and I look forward to all the exciting things I'll learn this month. It will be a healthy mix of clinic days with operating days, and a good transition into my second year of residency. 

So proud of my daughter!

Whew! I think that's a solid catch up on all the months I missed updating everyone on. I don't have much else going on that's not work related outside of my daughter and she's doing well. As a matter of fact, I just posted about her the other day on my social media accounts because I was having a proud mommy moment. She just finished the school year and is now a 10th grader, has been working on her driving skills, staying involved with band and color guard, and is just an all-around awesome individual. It's crazy how when I started this blog in 2013, she was a tiny little elementary aged kid and now she's only a couple of years away from graduating high school and heading to college. Time flies!

Literally living my prayers and dreams!

I think that's all I have in terms of updates. To be honest, even though this year has been busy and not every moment is a happy one (it's residency, so not every day is as upbeat as my blog appears...I just choose to focus on the positives), every day I wake up incredibly blessed to be living my dreams. It wasn't too long ago when I was praying just for the chance to be where I am now. There have been many twists and turns along the way, but I love this journey I'm on and wouldn't change it for the world. Thank you to all those who continue to follow along on my journey and I appreciate those of you who stuck around from the very beginning of this blog when people doubted I would even make it through medical school. I've done and I am doing every thing I said I would do, and life really doesn't get much better than that. I am living proof that God's plan is the perfect plan, and I not only look forward to what my future has in store, but I hope my journey continues to uplift and inspire anyone reading this to pursue your own dreams. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Post for the Unmatched (Match Day 2022)

From unmatched to matched! 

I’ve been slacking on posts this year, mainly due to busy rotations and studying for my most recent in-service exam, but today I felt compelled to write. For those who aren’t aware, today is Match Day where thousands of 4th year medical students and graduates find out if they have secured a residency position. For many, this is a joyous day filled with celebrations and sighs of relief, but for the unmatched, this can be one of the most depressing experiences of an entire medical school career.

Most of you reading this already know that I was previously one of those students who failed to match, but if you weren’t aware, I’ll post links to my original Match Day experiences at the end of this blog post. My story isn’t one of not matching one year and then going on to match the following year. I actually failed to match twice! I still vividly remember how gut-wrenching it felt opening a “You Did Not Match” email as I was sitting at a stoplight on the way to my rotation as a fourth-year medical student, and how hard it was to fake positivity during phone interviews that day when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry. The second time I didn’t match, I was in the middle of my original intern year on a busy surgery service. I was fortunate to know in advance I would not be matching, but having to manage patients and scrub into cases in between going through the process of applying to unfilled programs didn’t make things any better.

In the end, everything worked out perfectly in my favor, and I was shown that God’s timing is always perfect. After not matching the first time around, I was blessed with a position for a General Surgery based Traditional Rotating Internship. It was a grueling year, but I definitely came out stronger and it opened so many doors for me. After I didn’t match the second time, I had the benefit of having passed all my medical board exams and I was almost done with twelve months of post-graduate training which allowed me to obtain a medical license and start working. My two years spent working as an urgent care physician allowed me to become comfortable managing acute issues on my own, gave me the freedom to enjoy life on my own terms, and provided the financial means to apply to as many surgery programs as possible during my third application cycle.

Tomorrow marks exactly one year from when I found out I matched into Plastic Surgery. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life, but to be honest, the whole match process still gives me a little PTSD. I remember the weeks leading up to receiving the “Congratulations, You Have Matched!” email and how incredibly stressed out and defeated I felt. I honestly didn’t even want to open the email when it came because I was sure it would be another year of disappointment, and I only did so because I wanted to be ready for the process of applying to unfilled positions.

For those who may not have matched today, I’m just going to keep it real with you. Not matching sucks, and unless someone has been in your shoes, they probably won’t understand your pain. You’ve busted your ass working towards your goal, have most likely spent an insane amount of money applying to residency programs, and sacrificed so much in the process. It’s also probably hard to envision your future right now. Trust me, I’ve been there. But please know that this is not the end of the road for you. This is just a minor setback for a major comeback. Take the time to grieve and experience your feelings, and afterwards, get ready to get back in the fight. It isn’t over yet. There is still time this week to secure one of the unfilled residency positions via the process known as SOAP. There may also be positions that open up until July, and if you’re someone who is going unmatched after completing a preliminary year, keep in mind there may be a chance to jump into an unfilled PGY2 position. As I’ve said before, delay does not equal denial, and chances are you will either get to where you want to be eventually or find something even better that you probably never could have imagined. Let my story inspire you to know that anything is possible.

My DMs are open and I’m rooting for you.


My Previous Match Day experiences:

2018 - Not matching as a 4th year medical student

2019 Part One: Not Matching for the 2nd time (Part one)

2019 Part Two: Not matching a 2nd time (Part Two)

2021 - I finally matched!

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.

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