Thursday, December 31, 2015

Closing Out 2015!

NYE 2015 Happiness :-)

Wow! I can’t believe it’s the last day of 2015! It doesn’t even feel like a whole year has flown by. This has been an extremely busy, yet rewarding year for me, and I am super happy to end it so that I can see what amazing things 2016 has I store.

If I had to pick one word to describe me in 2015, I would have to choose “blessed.” It’s probably something I say every year, but there’s just no other way to describe it. I was blessed to be able to continue on my journey to becoming a physician, blessed to continue to have a healthy and happy child, and blessed for the many experiences and lessons learned throughout the year. Every year just gets better and better, and this year was no exception. I just pray that I can continue to learn, grow, and inspire in 2016 and beyond.

Tonight, I plan on ending the year by entering into my happy zone which involves a good book and a bottle of wine :-) I honestly can’t remember the last time I was able to read for pleasure, so I am super excited for tonight. The book I will be reading is called In Stitches: A Memoir by Anthony Youn, MD. It took an extensive internet search, followed by a visit to my local library to get it, since it wasn’t in stock anywhere in the area, so I hope it’s worth the read! Tomorrow I will make the trip back to my parents’ to spend the new year with them and my daughter before bringing her back to our normal routine, but tonight, I relax.

Wishing everyone a very safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve and an even happier, wonderful, and prosperous New Year! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Weeknd Fall Madness Tour, Star Wars, and Rotation Results!!!!

Sisterly Love!

The past week has been absolutely crazy, but soooo much fun!!!! A few months ago I got some really good tickets to see The Weeknd, and since my sister loves his music just as much as I do, she jumped at the opportunity to come to town and see him with me. The only catch was she had to stay the entire week and bring my daughter back with her to my parents’ house since I have exams this week and the little one doesn’t have school. She didn’t put up much of a fight on that one though, and it was great having her here. It really is amazing how much my daughter leaves me alone when my sister is around, and I really enjoyed having her here. I’m currently trying to convince her to come live with me (free babysitting!!!!), but she absolutely hates the Atlanta traffic, and won’t budge :-( Anyway, the concert was great and I included my favorite pictures at the end of this post :-)

Embracing My Inner Princess Leia

On Thursday, I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I took it as an opportunity to embrace my inner Princess Leia. I think I pulled it off very well….What do you think? Lol The movie was great, and I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but I highly recommend it. After that, I locked myself in my room for the entire weekend and my sister took the little one out of town so I could focus. It definitely paid off, because today I received a great grade on my endocrine exam despite all the fun I had last week.

The Med School Study Grind!

In addition to having a great exam today, I also found out where I will be next year for clinical rotations! This was something that was stressing me out, so I am happy that I finally know. I’m even more excited that I got my first choice, which was the Northeast Metro Atlanta area, and I don’t have to move!!!! Rotation spots were done by way of a lottery, and I was so worried that I would have to find a new place, have my daughter change schools, and figure out how I would handle being on call next year and not knowing anyone in the area who could swing by and help when needed. I was also stressing about moving expenses (which the school does not provide) and the fact that I would most likely have to handle all of this around the same time I take my board exams. It literally feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders! This was something that I knew I had no control over, so I just prayed about it and put it all in God’s hands and it worked out perfectly. I know I would have made the best of anywhere I was assigned, but this definitely makes life a lot easier for me, and my daughter was really happy about the news as well.

6 Months Away from My Medical Board Exams!

But anyway, that’s about it for me. I have a small exam tomorrow, and then I’ll be officially free!!!! I started my board study schedule two weeks ago though, so I’ll be staying on top of my questions throughout the break. I am now 166 days away from my first exam date, and I’m not taking any chances with these exams! I’ll try to do another post before I drive to my parents’ house later this week, but if not, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and overall Happy Holidays!   

The Weeknd Fall Madness Tour

The Weeknd!!!!

The Weeknd and Travis Scott


Travis Scott!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's My Two Year Blogiversary!!!!

I can’t believe it has been two years since I first started this blog! Yep, another year has passed, and I still haven’t run out of things to write about! LOL I just wanted to give all my readers a huge virtual hug and an even bigger thank you for continuing to stick it out with me these past couple of years. I started this blog with the goal of inspiring and letting other people out there know that it really is possible to accomplish any dream, and I hope I have done and will continue to do a good job of that. Even though my schedule is a lot more hectic (which leads to less frequent posts than when I first started the blog), I still look forward to the moments when I can get on here and type out all my random thoughts. Blogging makes me happy and reading all the uplifting comments I receive from my readers makes me even happier :-) So thank you, thank you, thank you, and please keep reading!!!! I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you all. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#StayMadAbby but I'll Stay Great :-)

I skipped my senior year of high school and attended Kennesaw State University full-time as part of their Joint Enrollment Honors Program. I had a baby my sophomore year of college, went through a divorce, and STILL managed to graduate with my class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Chemistry from Louisiana State University. Later, I received my Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Saint Joseph. Now, I am 2 years away from receiving my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine - Georgia Campus. So, how's that for a slow track? #‎StayMadAbby #‎ByeScalia

If you follow me on any form of social media, then you’ve already seen the above picture and comment that I posted in response to the Supreme Court case involving Abigail Fisher and the University of Texas Austin. Typically, I’m not one to post anything political or news-related to the blog, but I just couldn’t help myself when it came to this issue.

In case you are not aware of what I am talking about, Abigail Fisher was rejected from UT Austin back in 2008 and decided to sue the school on the basis that she was rejected because of her race (she’s white), and the school’s affirmative action policy allowing a minority to take what she believed to be her spot at the school. Never mind the fact that she didn’t actually have the GPA or stats to get accepted into the school in the first place. In the case of Justice Scalia, he cited a brief earlier this week that said something along the lines of blacks should attend “slower track” schools where they can have a chance of doing well. I won’t get into all the specifics here, but what I have written is to just give you an idea of the background. You can Google the rest if you’re interested.

So why did I feel compelled to put in my two cents? It’s simple really. Most of my life people have thought most of my accomplishments have come from being given a hand up due to my race. This is probably especially true now when people learn that I am in medical school despite having extremely low undergraduate stats. If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, then you already know that there is a lot to my background that contributed to some of my low stats, and that my numbers don't even tell half of the story. But to hush up all the naysayers, I’ll just say this: All my accomplishments are the result of hard work and dedication, so for anyone to think I made it this far by taking the spots of "more deserving" people is pure BS! My stats may have been low during my undergraduate years, but I was doing more and going through more than most people. Find me a person who can raise a child as a single mother (without the help or money of their family), work two jobs, stay heavily involved in extracurricular activities, AND maintain a high GPA while pursuing one of the hardest degrees at their university, and I’ll shut up, LOL. There is nothing “slow” about the track that I have been on, and if anyone feels that I might have taken their spot either in college, grad school, or medical school, then they should probably take a second to stop and check their unspoken privilege at the door. So go ahead and stay mad, Abby, because I am going to go ahead and continue to be great. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Happy December!

Took advantage of the holiday to dress up a bit

Happy December!!!! I have two exams next week and I've finally put together a decent board study schedule, so it's going to be an extra busy time until I take the exams in June. Blogging makes me happy though, so I decided to take a quick break to update everyone. 

First off, I hope everyone reading this had an awesome Thanksgiving! We started back classes last week, and even though I had the entire previous week off for vacation, last week was even more relaxing. Since I dropped my daughter off at my parents' house for the week, I was able to focus on studying, got to semi-sleep in, and it was just really nice having no major responsibilities outside of class and studying. Driving back for Thanksgiving would have taken a lot of time, so my family said it would be fine if I missed it this year as long as I agreed to spend Christmas with them in a few weeks. Plus, my daughter was having so much fun that she didn't really care that I wasn't there. I used the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving day with an old college friend who lives in Georgia, but will soon be moving back to Louisiana, and we had a blast. I also got to eat some good food, meet some new awesome people, and I really enjoyed reflecting back on our college days and the growth that we've both achieved over the years. The rest of the weekend was just as enjoyable, and it was really nice having some true "me" time for a change.

A Night of Orthopedic Fun! (One of these days I'll buy some green scrubs lol)

My sister brought my daughter back Sunday night and she agreed to stay for an extra day so that I could attend an arthroscopy workshop on Monday evening at the Atlanta Medical Center. This was an event put on by the Ortho Club at my school, and the current orthopedic residents took time out of their extremely busy schedules to teach us how to do bone reductions and the like. We got to use the same tools that they use in the OR, and there was a rep there to explain how everything worked. We also got to have one-on-one time with all of the residents and get their advice on boards, rotations, and just about anything else that came to mind. I was happy to see that they have a female resident in their program, and I definitely used the opportunity to get a female perspective on the field. Outside of that, the best part for me was getting the chance to learn how arthroscopy works. There was an actual cadaver shoulder and knee available, and the residents showed us the different landmarks and how to navigate through each section. It was an extra cool experience and it coincided with the musculoskeletal sections that we are currently covering, so it was a double win :-)   

Future Surgeons in the Making!

I think that's pretty much it for the updates. Outside of studying, my daughter's school will be having a holiday lunch tomorrow, so I am looking forward to attending that, and I have a few things planned in the coming weeks that will make this month extra fun. Of course the studying will come first, but I tend to do better in classes (and keep my sanity) when I take the time to have a little fun every now and then. I'll try my best to keep up with my weekly posts this month, but don't be upset if I skip next week because school comes first! Until next time :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Medicine and Mount Everest

I successfully finished the first term of my second year of medical school, which means that last week was my vacation week, and tomorrow I go back to reality. Having the week off, you would think I would have embraced the opportunity to be as lazy as physically possible, but I managed to stay busy with board studying and an entire checklist that I had been putting off due to classes. I also spent this weekend driving back and forth out of state to drop my daughter off at my parents’ house so that she can have a fun Thanksgiving break while I attend mandatory lectures this week:-/

Despite staying fairly busy, I did make it a point to take a few hours every day to completely relax. I love movies, so I pretty much used this time every day to watch a different movie. One of the movies I finally got around to watching was Everest, and the following quote from the movie inspired me to write this post: 

“It hurts. It’s dangerous. It costs a small fortune and ruins relationships…why?”

When I heard this, the first thing I thought about was the path to becoming a physician. Technically, medical school doesn’t really hurt, but it has its moments of pain just like anything else in life. It hurts to not perform as well as you would have liked sometimes, and it definitely hurts when you have to miss important life events such as graduations, weddings, etc., but I knew exactly what I was signing up for when I started on this path. When I think about it now though, the application process was what hurt the most for me. Nothing hurt more than dealing with rejection after rejection over a span of multiple years, or having so many people not believe in me and my dreams. So yes, this path does have its fair share of pain, but the good outweighs the bad so much, and I wake up every day smiling and happy to be where I am at in life.

As for the dangerous part, I don’t think many people understand how dangerous it is to be a physician. It’s a lifestyle that involves constantly being exposed to deadly pathogens, having the risk of accidentally cutting/injecting yourself, patients that may physically cause harm to you, and the constant danger of being sued. Plus, it can be a stressful job, and we all know that stress is not a good thing for the body. Personally, I’ve always been a bit of a risk-taker, and I tend to thrive in stressful environments, so I say, “Bring it on!” LOL. Even with every single precaution taken in life, there is usually some risk of danger, so I prefer to stay positive, be as prepared as I can, and face things head on.

As for it costing a small fortune, I really don’t think that needs too much clarification. Unless you’re lucky enough to come from a wealthy background or have multiple scholarships, then becoming a physician WILL cost you a small fortune. There really is no way around it. Not only do I have loans that I will need to pay back from my undergraduate and graduate years, but you can add close to $300k worth of debt to that when I graduate from medical school. People think I am joking when I say that I will probably owe close to half a million dollars worth of debt when I graduate, but with interest rates and such, I’m really not. The good news is that it will all be paid off eventually, even if it takes me decades to do so. I don’t think it’s possible to put a price on someone’s dreams, and for me, this journey is priceless and worth every last penny. Plus, it’s not only an investment into my future, but into my child’s as well.

The last part of the quote about ruining relationships isn’t really one that I can say applies to me, but it might for other people on the same path. I’ve heard that medical students and physicians have a high divorce rate, but I was already happily divorced before I entered medical school, and school keeps me way too busy to pursue traditional romantic relationships anyway. As for ruining relationships with friends and family, I disagree. Most of the people in my circle understand why I can’t be around all the time or why I have to miss important events, so in my opinion, if pursuing my dreams leads to a loss of any relationship, then it really wasn’t meant to be in the first place. It may sound harsh, but I honestly cannot devote my energy to catering to the feelings of people who only want to be around during easy times. My focus needs to be on performing well, so the only relationships worth entertaining in my eyes are those that bring positivity, support, and overall good vibes. 

So as you can see, this quote really hit the nail on the head for me when thinking about this very long (but amazing) journey I have chosen to be on. There is no other path that I would rather be on, and I absolutely love every moment, be it good or bad, so there really is no question as to why I choose to stay on this path. I’m sure there will continue to be moments when I question my decision to pursue medicine along the way (especially when I’m sleep-deprived, stressed out, and hungry lol), but as long as I keep my sights focused on the finish line which includes impacting lives and really benefiting the world around me, then I will continue to climb my medical Mount Everest. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday to My Little Love!

They Grow So Fast! 9 Years old and Awesome!

Hi everybody! It's the last week of the term, and I'm trying to finish strong, but I couldn't end the day without publicly wishing my little love bug a very happy birthday!!!! I seriously can't believe it's been nine years since I gave birth! It is an absolute blessing to have such an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, and talented daughter, and not a day goes by that I don't let her know that. Whether it's dealing with my crazy study schedule, letting me slide when I forget things, or being super independent so that I have few issues to worry about, she is my biggest support system and definitely a huge help in this crazy journey. She also makes life super interesting. This morning she walked into my room dancing at 6am, and the first thing she said was "look at the flick of the wrist, it's my birthday!" LOL! She's definitely my child! But anyway, I won't ramble. We had a mini celebration today, but I'm definitely looking forward to celebrating again once this week (and first term, yay!) is finally over. I hope everyone is having a fantastic week :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meeting My Inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee!

Me and my inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee!

This medical school journey is just full of surprises! This past Friday, I had the amazing experience of not only meeting Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, but I was given the incredible opportunity to introduce her to my school! If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, then you already know she has been a huge inspiration to me. I not only did a previous blog post on her almost two years ago for my “Minority Women in Medicine” section (SEE HERE), but I also quoted her in my personal statement for my medical school applications (which can be found HERE). So this should give you a pretty good idea of how much of an influence she has had on me. I also had the chance to attend a Champions of Healthcare gala Friday night where she was the keynote speaker, and one of my schoolmates took my daughter for the weekend so that I could attend the event and focus on studying for my final Cardio-Pulmonary-Renal exam yesterday (glad it’s over!), so it was a very happy weekend indeed!

For those of you who do not know who Dr. Ross-Lee is, she not only is an osteopathic physician, but she was the first African-American woman to become dean of a United States medical school. Her list of other accomplishments would be too much to mention in one blog post, but there are links included in the previous post I wrote about her if you would like to know more. She is also the sister of the legendary singer Diana Ross, and the aunt of actress Tracee Ellis Ross, for those of you who see some resemblance, lol.

Introducing her to my school was a special moment for me because I originally met Dr. Ross-Lee in 2008 as a pre-medical student attending the SNMA national conference in NYC. It was at this conference where I was first introduced to osteopathic medicine, and where she said something that has always stuck with me: "qualifications are a measure of opportunity and not of worth." This was the quote that I used in my personal statement, and it was also what gave me the push to continue to pursue medicine. As someone who applied to medical school as an extreme underdog with both a low undergraduate GPA AND low MCAT scores, it was easy at times to feel like I wasn’t worthy enough to get into medical school and pursue my dreams when I was going through the process. When she said this, it let me know that my dreams were worth something, and that I had to continue to fight for what I wanted. So for me, it's not only crazy, but a complete blessing that, 7 years later, I was able to walk up as a current medical student and current SNMA President of my school to introduce this extremely phenomenal woman.

It’s moments like this that let me know I am on the right path and that everything really does happen for a reason. I couldn’t understand the process when I was going through it (and I still have moments like this), but when everything starts to fall into place that’s when I realize how truly perfect God’s plan is.

One of my major goals is to one day be an inspiration and impact lives the way that she and so many individuals in healthcare and other fields have done for me, but I know I still have a long way to go. To my pre-medical readers, I hope this post will inspire you to not give up on the path toward reaching your goals despite any obstacles you may encounter. To my medical student readers, I hope you will look at this post to see the importance of inspiring and uplifting those around you, and to my healthcare readers, this post is my way of saying thank you for being an inspiration to us all!   

White Coat: Evening Edition

White Coats, Black (future) Doctors...I love my GA-PCOM SNMA Crew!

Had a great time attending the 2nd annual GA-PCOM Champions of Healthcare Gala

Happiness is when your friend takes your child for the weekend and brings her back with her hair fully done! #YouDaRealMVP

Monday, October 19, 2015

Involved Single Mother in Medical School? Who's Watching Your Daughter???

My daughter helping my group with community service this past weekend

I am a single mother to two toddlers. I am not in medical school, yet, as I still have to officially finish my bachelor degree (this is my last semester) and then finish up my prerequisites to medical school. But, I notice you have so many pictures of having a night on the town or taking a trip for a conference. I do not have any free time. I realize my kids are still really young and I hope it gets better when they actually begin school.

My question is: Who do you have watch your daughter when you go out with friends or go to a conference? Do you have a nanny or is there a different option you have found to care for your daughter? I would just like to have a more balanced academic/family/social life like you seem to have, so any advice you have will be appreciated.

I love your blog! :)

This was a comment someone wrote a while ago that I thought would make for a great blog post. While I usually make it a point to write about where my daughter is when I’m doing certain things, I never realized how to new readers, or someone just scrolling through my posts, that it might look a little odd that I’m able to be involved with so many different things as a single mother. The purpose of this post will be to give a little more insight into how I am able to deal with a child, medical school, and the million other things that I have going on in my life.

The biggest benefit I have over some of my peers with children is the fact that my daughter is a lot older. She’ll be turning nine next month and is pretty independent. She’s in school at the same time I am in school, studies when I do, and if I get caught up in studying, she will either remind me that I need to cook or help her with something.  When she was a toddler, I was trying to make it through my undergraduate courses, while working at least two jobs, so it felt like I had no life at all. I was also very wary about having people watch her because she wasn’t old enough to tell me if anything bad were to happen, and I really couldn’t afford babysitters to begin with, especially when I was paying expensive weekly daycare fees (after care is way cheaper!).

Nowadays, things are definitely a lot different. You know that saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, now that I am in medical school, that saying could not be even truer! My classmates and peers at my school have been a major help in allowing me to take care of business while raising a child from the very beginning of my first year. Last year, when we had mock anatomy lab exams in the evenings, one of my classmates would allow me to drop my daughter off at her place so that I could go take the exam without issues. And whenever I wanted to go out for an evening or just have some time to myself another classmate would watch my daughter. The same pretty much applies to this year, and I’m pretty sure at least half my class has either watched or interacted with my daughter at one point or another, lol. When my entire group wants to get together for a night on the town (usually to celebrate birthdays), I use (such a lifesaver!). I was actually really lucky this year, because the current babysitter I use actually sent me a message with my daughter’s name (completely freaking me out), and then it turned out that my child was in the same class as her son last year, and we had already met multiple times. So now when I do need a sitter, my daughter gets the benefit of hanging out with one of her classmates :-)

So, no, I do not have a nanny, and I try to avoid paying for babysitting whenever I can, even if this means having to bring her to an event with me (if I feel it is child-appropriate). The crazy thing is that I just realized this year that a masters student I’ve been friends with on-campus has a daughter who is the same age and has the same personality as my daughter. Since we’re both single parents, we’ve been switching weekends with the kids and it’s been great! Labor Day weekend, my daughter had the chance to have her new friend stay over the entire weekend, and when I needed to go to Duke University School of Medicine for the SNMA NLI, my daughter spent that weekend over their house. It’s pretty much a win-win situation for everyone involved.

As for next year when I start rotations, I’m not sure how I am going to do things. We will be ranking our desired rotation spots sometime next month and then hopefully before Christmas, I will find out where I will be next year. Right now, I am considering an anchor location where I would be in one place for at least all of next year, as opposed to the floating “J-track” where I would pretty much be in a different place around Atlanta (up to 2 hours away) every month, but I really don’t know. Either way, I may end up requesting a cost of attendance increase so that I can get a nanny during my rotation times, but all of that is up in the air until I find out where I’ll be next year.
But to make a long post short, life as a single parent definitely gets better as your children get older. I’m sure I’ll be biting my words when my daughter hits her teenage years, but that’s when I’ll be busy with residency, and boarding schools might be an excellent option at that point. For me, it’s really important to have a balance between school, family, and a social life, or I would probably be completely miserable. I couldn’t do half of what I do if I didn’t have such wonderful peers and a daughter who really wants to see her mommy succeed. I also have an awesome family, and even though they’re 6 hours away, they don’t mind watching the little one over the summer or during some of her longer holidays. It’s a lot easier for me to be away from my child for conferences and such because I realize that everything I do will eventually make her life better one day, but I understand that other parents might not feel the same way. There are always going to be times when it gets tough, but as long as my child is happy and thriving, and I’m succeeding in my goals, then I’ll continue to balance it all and find a way to make it work.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It’s All in God’s Hands

Happy Sunday!!!! Today seems super fitting for this post :-) Most of you reading this know that I stay pretty busy balancing just about any and everything, but even though it seems like I always have everything under control, there are plenty of times when I feel super overwhelmed and just want to retreat and hide away from the world. For most of the month of September I felt this way, but I was too busy to really focus on it (not sure if that’s a good thing or not, lol). The funny thing is that when I tried to tell people this, they didn’t believe me because I didn’t “look” like anything was wrong with me and I was still handling everything without any issues. Looking back I was pretty much just stressing out for no reason at all, but it still would have been nice to sulk and have someone be my support for a change instead of the other way around.

Anyway, this past week I attended a Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) meeting, and it gave me just what I needed to get back into focus. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this on the blog, but my absolute favorite bible verse comes from Philippians 4:6-7. It’s what I read before every exam, whenever I feel stressed, and during times when I start to doubt myself. I bring this up because it’s rare that I’m able to attend CMDA meetings (because they usually conflict with other organization meetings that I serve as officer in) and at the start of the meeting a paper was passed out, and my favorite scripture was at the very top of the page! The topic of discussion was “How to Counter Negative Self-Talk”, and it was exactly what I needed to hear because sometimes I can be my own biggest enemy.

In medical school especially, it’s easy to feel like you’re not good enough to be there or that you might fail, but at the end of the day it is important to remember who is ultimately in charge. Although I know that it is possible for us to give ourselves more than we can bear, I know that God will not. My main priority is to work hard and continue to develop my gifts so that I can contribute to the world and one day be a blessing to others. I know that the road won’t always be an easy one, but knowing that I am working towards my calling, and that giving up is the only way I can truly fail, helps me push through. For me, it is important to always keep in mind that everything lies in God’s hands, so I will continue to work hard and let everything else fall in place.

I posted the above picture with bible verses as a reminder to myself to remain positive whenever I start to feel the negativity creep in, but I hope it helps some of you in the same way it has helped me :-)  

Random pic, but I looked really cute on Friday, LOL!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SNMA September 2015 NLI Recap

Fresh off the plane and ready for business!

I’m a couple of weeks late, but I just had to do a recap of my experience at the most recent Student National Medical Association (SNMA) National Leadership Institute / Board of Directors’ Meeting. This NLI was hosted by Duke University School of Medicine from September 11 – 13, 2015, and it was a really great experience! The theme of the NLI was “Mental Health, Social Media, and Leadership in 21st Century Medicine,” and every workshop and speech did a great job of incorporating the theme.

Meeting Flow

I had class that Friday morning, and then I had to make sure my daughter was squared away, so I ended up catching a late afternoon flight to Durham, NC. When I finally checked-in to my hotel, and made it to the welcome reception, I had missed most of the welcome speech. The last fifteen minutes that I was able to catch were really powerful though, so I hate that I missed most of it. Luckily, there was still a lot of food available and I was right on time for the National Committee meeting that was held much later that night.

"A Conversation about Race"

The next day during breakfast, there was a very powerful “Conversation About Race” presented by some of the medical students that really hit me hard. Of course, everyone is aware of what is and has been going on in the news, but to see all the new victim faces up on the screen and past faces (such as that of Emmett Till) really hit home for me. To discuss the entire presentation would take up an entire blog post of its own, but current medical student Samara Jinks (MS3) helped lead the discussion, which began with a YouTube clip of her that can be found HERE.

Dr. A. Eugene Washington with PMBM Kevin Anderson (left) and SNMA President Anthony Kulukulualani (right)

The rest of the day involved workshops that dealt with topics such as finances and establishing our own personal branding. During lunch we had a chance to have a Q&A session with Dr. A. Eugene Washington, President & CEO of Duke University Health System, and it was a great interactive experience. It really was interesting hearing about his journey through medicine which involved leaving medical school twice to pursue other passions, and ending up in OB/GYN when it was thought he was highly unlikely for the path. At the end of the lunch, he was presented with a SNMA t-shirt by our current National President and Pre-Medical Board Member as seen above.

Took a small break for photos!

The rest of the conference involved Board of Directors meetings where we discussed everything related to the organization and ways to improve it. I really do love my position as Osteopathic Schools Co-Chair, and it feels great being able to be a much larger influence within the Student National Medical Association. I also enjoy attending these meetings because it allows me to network with so many different and unique individuals who are where I want to be in life. I especially enjoyed the final dinner of the NLI where we had the chance to sit and eat with current residents at Duke. My table had an anesthesiologist resident, and while he thought I was absolutely crazy for wanting to pursue surgery, he gave a lot of great advice about the school and area in general.

Duke Selfie :-)

I think that pretty much sums up my experience. I flew back home that Sunday afternoon after our final meeting, and I had an OMM exam that Monday morning, so I didn’t get a chance to really experience the nightlife or the general area of Durham since I was in my hotel room studying during my free moments. I did receive a ton of great information from the school though, so maybe I’ll get the chance to come back during an away rotation and explore when I'm a fourth year medical student :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Meeting the 14th Surgeon General of the United States

Pictured with Dr. Antonia Novello, 14th United States Surgeon General

Yesterday, I had the amazing honor of introducing Dr. Antonia Novello, the 14th Surgeon General of the United States to my school! Not only was she the first woman AND Hispanic to hold the position, but that's just one huge accomplishment out of a long list of many that includes being the New York State Health Commissioner during 9/11. She is such an inspiration, and the lecture she gave was really powerful and on point!

My daughter and Dr. Novello loved each other!

The evening before Dr. Novello came to my school, I had the opportunity to join a group of student leaders in having an informal dinner with her. I almost did not attend the dinner because I had a major exam yesterday morning to prepare for, and I also had a conference call Sunday night that conflicted with the dinner. At the last minute, I decided I would stop by to introduce myself and I asked if it would be OK to bring along my daughter (which received no objections) since I did not get a babysitter due to my original conflicts. The dinner ended up starting earlier than planned, so I was actually able to stay for the entire time, and I was so glad I brought my daughter because Dr. Novello loves children! My daughter also Googled Dr. Novello prior to the dinner and wrote a list of questions for her to answer, which apparently surprised everyone, lol. They ended up talking and taking pictures together, and now my daughter is super inspired to go into medicine.

Always an honor to introduce amazing individuals

As for the actual GA-PCOM Diversity Speaker Series, Dr. Novello gave a very powerful speech that focused on the disparities between minorities in both a personal healthcare aspect, and in a medical profession aspect. It was shocking to hear the small number of black men there are entering into medical school, and the fact that black women make up the largest number of applicants to medical school, but the number accepted absolutely does not reflect it. It definitely hit a nerve with me, and made me even more determined to become a leader in healthcare, so that I can be a part of the change that is desperately needed. I especially liked the ten principles to live by that she added at the end of her speech. I was not writing as she spoke, so the bolded below was taken from a blurb about the event on the GA-PCOM Facebook page:

 “She discussed her 10 principles, born from her experience, that have helped her in her life journey. They include: 10) Be a pioneer. Don't be afraid to forge into new directions; 9) Do not deny your roots as you walk the ladder of success; 8) Never underestimate your capabilities; others will do it for you; 7) Achieve the highest level of education - it is the key to the door of opportunity; 6) Set goals for yourself and when doing so, make them realistic and then share them with those who believe in you. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit; 5) When you get to the top, don't forget you owe something back to your peers, your family and your community; 4) Don't be afraid to speak your mind; 3) Take care of yourself spiritually, physically and mentally; 2) Never lose your sense of who you really are, even when others believe they know you better than you know yourself; and 1) Plan big and dream greatness.”           

Dr. Novello's note to my daughter. Such an amazing gift!!!!

I honestly wish I could get a transcript of the entire speech, because it was really good and by far, one of my favorites! Afterwards, we all presented Dr. Novello with gifts from the different student organizations, and she was really happy to receive a framed group picture of all of us from the night before. She made it a point to mention my daughter to the crowd and how impressed she was by her, so you know this made me an extremely proud momma! I even made sure to give Dr. Novello pictures of her and my daughter from the night before as she requested, and she returned one of the smaller pics to me with a note for my daughter that really made my day. I am definitely going to have it framed, and I know it is something that my little one will cherish forever :-) This will be added to the list of one of my most memorable moments as a GA-PCOM student, and I am so incredibly blessed to have wonderful opportunities like this, AND be blessed to have the ability to expose my child to great people and experiences at the same time.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Sooo Many Updates!!!!

I can finally breathe again (at least a little, lol)

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since my last real post! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog; I just really haven’t had the time. Fortunately, I’ve finally caught a moment where I can just relax and unwind, so I’m happy to be spending it reflecting and typing out my thoughts from the past few weeks. A few of the experiences deserve separate posts of their own, so I will be typing them out tonight, but sharing them on different days this week.

As for right now, I feel like I have been under a rock for at least the past week (apparently the Emmys were on last night???), and I’m just trying to get back in touch with reality. This morning, I took a major exam and less than an hour after that I was introducing the 14th Surgeon General of the United States to my school (more on that in a separate post). Yesterday, I not only attended a dinner with the former Surgeon General, but I (along with my co-chair) held the first conference call of the SNMA Osteopathic Schools Committee shortly thereafter, and I still had to study for this morning’s exam in the midst of everything else. Last weekend, I was at Duke University School of Medicine for the SNMA National Leadership Institute / Board of Directors meeting (I will post about this separately as well), and I flew back to Atlanta only to prepare for an exam I had the very next day. I think a few days prior to flying out to North Carolina, I performed my very first prostate and female GU exams on real patients, and in between all of this, I have been in and out of meetings, studying, and attending class. I’m also still taking care of my parents’ dog, and I even managed to play the super mom role and host my daughter’s friend over for an entire weekend not too long ago
So as you all can see, I have been extremely busy!!!! I apologize for the delayed responses to e-mails, messages, etc., but nowadays it's so easy to get behind on things of that nature. I’m not sure if the workload of second year medical school courses is just extremely intense or if I’m just way too involved, but it feels like I have a lot less free time this year. I’m hoping it is just this term though (we’re currently in Cardio-Pulmonary-Renal), and that things will get smoother as the year progresses. I can’t wait to give more details on all of my recent awesome ventures, so I hope you all will check back in this week for the extra posts I have in store!

Thursday, September 3, 2015 Follow-up Interview as a 2nd Year Medical Student!

Hey, Everybody! It's been an awesome week, but I am so happy that tomorrow is Friday!!!! Anyway, just wanted to log on to let you all know that my follow-up interview with is now live! It's hard to believe that one year has passed since I had my first interview as a newly accepted medical student, and it's even crazier to see how much I have been able to accomplish in such a relatively short time period. Click HERE to read the full interview (it also has a link to the original included), and don't be afraid to tell me your thoughts! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Reflections #Katrina10Years

On this day 10 years ago, I remember auditioning for MTV's "Wanna Be a VJ" contest at the Mall of Louisiana, and it was a completely gorgeous day outside. I had just started college a few days prior, so I didn't have a TV or access to the internet in my dorm room yet, but I do remember being confused about an emergency hurricane meeting held that night in the dorms and getting a lot of phone calls from worried family members asking if I would be driving home. Once I finally figured out what was going on, it was too late to leave as contraflow had already started and traffic was jam-packed. I wasn’t too worried though, because I had been through hurricanes before. Hurricane Katrina quickly changed my perception of hurricanes when it hit later that night, and it was hard seeing so many people around me literally lose everything they had. Following the storm, classes were cancelled for a while, and since our campus was one of the few locations in the city with power, I spent the next couple of weeks volunteering at the LSU PMAC where they were flying in victims from the storm on a daily basis. Whether it was helping with triage, sorting through donations, or just talking to people at the center, I tried to help out in any way I could. To this day, I still wonder about a few children I helped entertain, feed, and spend time with while I was volunteering there.

When many people think about Hurricane Katrina, images of flooding and individuals in despair come to mind, but I choose to stay positive. For me, Hurricane Katrina represents resilience, hope, and strength. To witness people lose their family members, personal possessions, and homes, and yet still have the strength to smile and say that it would be OK, really made an impact on me. It was an experience that exposed me to the power of a community coming together, and it taught me to always be thankful and maintain hope, even in the darkest of situations.  



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ECGs, Parties, and Awkward Paintings

Learning ECG tracings and playing with my phone features

I’m a week and a half into my second year of medical school, and loving every second of it! It’s definitely way more material to digest than first year, but it’s by far more interesting! Right now, I am taking a little study break because I just spent the last few hours trying to understand ECG tracings and figure out where things lie on a QRS axis. I’m still not 100% confident with the material, but luckily our first exam isn’t until Monday, so I still have some time to get it right. The first exam will cover mostly cardiac physiology, pathology, and pharmacology, so I still have a lot that I need to master in the next few days. Second year is already proving to be way more time-consuming that my first year was, but I actually enjoy learning the material since it is all very clinical based.

Gorgeous Future Physicians!!!!

The school wasted no time getting us back into the swing of things last week, but I was able to stay on track and even have a fun weekend. One of my classmates finally turned 21, so we all went out to Atlanta to celebrate on Friday. It was our first time being back together as a group since the end of first year, and I think I finally got enough of the party/summer mode out of my system so that I can really focus this term. We got some great pics out of it too :-)

I love it when I can get dressed up and go out :-)

The next morning, I volunteered at a SOMA 5K table sit and brought the little one along. I have no idea what I was thinking volunteering to be up at 8am when I knew I would be out partying until the early morning the night before, but I made it through. My daughter had a blast though, and she enjoyed interacting with my classmates and eating food that should have been for the runners, LOL. I was sent a photo yesterday of her that someone took at the event, and I had to include it on the blog because it is just too cute!

Love this girl!!!!

On Sunday, I took my daughter to a painting studio to hang out with and meet one of the daughters of a friend at my school who is in the biomedical masters program. It was funny because we met during orientation a year ago, and knew we were both single mothers, but never noticed our daughters were the same age. I’m all for my daughter making new friends because that means she can play with them instead of bugging me when I’m studying! The girls had a great time, so we will definitely be having some play dates and switch-offs in the future. The painting studio was also an interesting experience since it was the first time the little one and I went to one. Oddly, the painting of the day was a flower, and while literally EVERYONE in the studio was following the instructor and painting beautiful flowers, my crazy child saw a painting of a wine glass on the wall and decided to paint it! For the record, I don’t even drink red wine, so I have no idea why that particular picture caught her eye, but considering she painted it with no guidance whatsoever, her painting came out amazingly well! She insisted that I hang it up on the wall in her room, so I just hope no one questions it when they come over, because there really is no explaining that one!

Mommy/Daughter Artwork

Well, I think that’s about it, and I want to get in a couple more hours of studying before I call it a night, so I hope everyone is having a great week! I probably won’t post again until after the first exam, but hopefully that will be a happy post. Apparently, it’s also National Dog Day, and since I am still babysitting my parents’ dog, I’ll end the post with a picture I took of her earlier today :-) Until next time!

Happy National Dog Day!!!!

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