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 :)

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Update: Plastic Surgery Intern Year Month Four

I'm never this cute when I'm at work lol

I'm officially in month four of plastic surgery residency and just realized it's been a while since I've caught everyone up to speed. During my last post, I was in the middle of my second month of general surgery. Since that time, I've completed an orthopedic surgery rotation, and now I am on a urology rotation. I'll do my best to reflect on the highlights of the past few months.

Proud of my daughter!

I normally end with updates on mommy life, but shortly after my last post, my daughter decided to inform me of her very important first color guard performance literally two days before it happened. I was still in the middle of my general surgery rotation, and told her there was no way I could be there, but of course the mommy guilt set in. So, the next morning I asked my chief if it would be okay if I left early the next day to see my daughter's performance, and I was super surprised when he said yes! I was beyond happy and booked my plane ticket a few minutes later, but didn't tell my daughter since I wanted to surprise her. The next morning, I woke up at 5am, rounded at 6am, attended 7am didactics, helped with floorwork (luckily there were no cases that day), and I was out the door and to the airport around lunchtime. I had to catch two separate flights, literally ran to make my connecting flight,  and was forced to check my carry on which was then placed on the wrong plane, but I managed to make it to my daughter's performance right on time :) It was worth all the hassle and she did an excellent job! #ProudMommy

#BlackGirlMagic in the Operating Room!

September was all about Orthopedic Surgery. As a medical student, I never rotated in the field since I chose Plastic Surgery as my surgery selective, so it was definitely a new experience. I got to wear the hood for the first time and I have to say it was awesome. It came with a nice fan and it was great not having to worry about things accidentally splashing or hitting my face. With that being said, all the drilling, sawing, and hammering was not my cup of tea lol. I'm more into soft tissues and being a bit more delicate, but it was a super fun experience. Hand and extremity reconstruction is a huge part of training as a plastic surgeon, so it was nice getting my feet wet on the orthopedic side. My favorite part of the entire month was getting to operate alongside my friend and fellow black female surgery intern. With black females in plastic and orthopedic surgery being in the super minority (seriously, look it up...there are less than 100 black female plastic surgeons in the United States), I was delighted when one of the medical students took the above photo of us. Two black female surgeons, one in plastic surgery and the other in orthopedic surgery, breaking barriers, and living proof it's possible to achieve your dreams :)

Rocking the lead gear on a few urology cases!

As for this month, I just finished my first week of Urology, and I'm continuing to learn a lot. It's been a healthy mix of clinic and operating, and I'm enjoying seeing the diversity within the field of Urology. The last week has consisted of removing cancerous prostates, knocking out kidney stones, and resecting bladder tumors. I even scrubbed into my first hydrocelectomy case the other day. I am always fascinated by how Plastic Surgery incorporates into other specialties, and plastic surgeons work very closely with urology when it comes to things like Gender-Affirming surgery. It's nice getting down the foundations and anatomy that will become important as I progress through my training.  

3 months reading and finally finished!

In other news that likely no one cares about, I reached a huge accomplishment the other day: I finished reading my textbook! My goal at the start of residency was to read one chapter a day. Doesn't seem major, but when you take into account handling the floorwork, operating, and being super tired when getting off work, reading can be hard. I've also been incorporating learning modules and questions into my study routine, so I try to make sure I balance everything equally. During my previous intern year, I was often so overwhelmed with learning how to be an intern, on top of studying for my final board exam, that reading was the last thing I wanted to do. This time around, I feel like an OG, and work-like balance comes super easy for me. I actually enjoy studying and learning, but I guess it helps that I'm finally in my dream specialty.

Making time for food and play!

As for work-life balance, I still believe in the "work hard, play hard" lifestyle. I take my rotations and studying seriously, but I make sure to take time to enjoy Miami life whenever I can. I've learned that people here really love being on the water, so of course, I had to take part in the yacht experience. Additionally, I've tried a few great restaurants, inadvertently got into a Trey Songz and City Girls concert for free last month, and last weekend I went to see Martin Lawrence and other comedians perform and laughed for hours! I am continually thankful to reside in a city that offers the best of both worlds in terms of training and fun.

Life in a nutshell :)

That pretty much sums up the last couple of months. In addition to my urology rotation, I will be participating in a few events this month geared toward my passion of mentoring and diversifying medicine, so I look forward to sharing those experiences. As always, I'll aim to update everyone again next month, and I hope everyone reading this has a very productive and positive week. Back to the grind!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Little Sunday Inspiration :)

Overcoming the odds to become your favorite Plastic Surgeon

I originally posted this on my social media accounts, and realized afterwards that it would've made a great blog post. Re-posting it here since I realize I have a few readers that aren't on social media. Hopefully this will help inspire anyone fighting through feelings of imposter syndrome or constantly being doubted.  I'll make sure to type up a regular update post soon and I wish everyone reading this a fantastic week :)

For anyone out there working towards a dream and facing constant discouragement, here's a little inspiration👇🏾: ⁣
When I had my daughter during my sophomore year of college, they said I would probably drop out or not graduate in 4 years...Graduated with my class and on time⁣
When my undergraduate GPA took a hit in the midst of leaving an abusive marriage, taking on a full course load and working multiple jobs, they told me I didn't have a chance of getting into medical school...Took a few years, but got the short white coat and started medical school in 2014⁣
After I got into medical school, they told me I would never pass my board exams and go on to graduate after previously taking the MCAT four times and never achieving a high score...Passed all my boards on the first try, graduated without issues, and now I'm a fully licensed physician⁣
When I said I wanted to publish a book, they told me the niche was too small and only a few people would buy it...Currently admiring the hundreds of copies sold and great reviews⁣
After more than one unsuccessful residency match cycle, they told me I should give up my dreams of becoming a surgeon because it would never happen, and that my chances of matching into plastic surgery as a medical school graduate and DO were basically zero...Matched into a categorical integrated plastic surgery residency and currently on the way to becoming a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon⁣
Now when I say I'm going to accomplish something...they stay quiet 😎
But anyway, the whole point of this post is to say don't let anyone discourage you from going after your goals. A lot of times a person will tell you that you can't do something based on their own personal limitations, biases, and inadequacies. When someone tells me something is impossible, that just translates as having to work harder, taking a little longer, and muting out all the naysayers to achieve it. Be your own champion, let the haters talk, and make sure you let them watch you work and overcome the odds.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Smile Brilliant Collaboration + Favorite Electric Toothbrush Free Giveaway!

Loving my new cariPRO ultrasonic toothbrush!

Happy Sunday! This is a deviation from my usual posts, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to host a free giveaway and give you all insight on another great product :) You may recall in the past I partnered with Smile Brilliant to review their custom-fitted teeth whitening system (click here to read the original post and see ALL the pics), and I was VERY pleased with the results. It was my first time ever trying teeth whitening, and you can see the dramatic FIRST time difference below. Super impressive! I've continued using the product every so often since that time and my teeth are dramatically whiter. 

My actual first time teeth whitening results!

This time, I've partnered with Smile Brilliant to introduce the CariPRO Ultrasonic Toothbrush. Unlike other electric toothbrushes, this one relies on extreme vibration (40k vibrations/minute) that will have you feeling like you just left the dentist's office. This was actually my first time ever using an electric toothbrush, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. When it comes to oral health, my goals are simple: to keep my smile looking great and my mouth healthy. This affordable ultrasonic toothbrush goes above and beyond accomplishing these goals. My mouth feels cleaner, my teeth are staying white, and I enjoy the 5 different cleaning mode settings ranging from teeth whitening to gum massaging. I also like that this toothbrush is approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) to properly time & pulse to change sectors so there is no guesswork involved with figuring out if you're spending enough time brushing an area. And even though I've only had the product a few weeks, the battery life is still going strong without having to charge it. It might be my first, but it is by far my favorite electric toothbrush!

Just one of Smile Brilliant's many awesome products

Smile Brilliant's lab-direct process makes achieving professional results at an affordable price easy. In the last few years, they've taken this model and expanded their line of oral health products to include something for everyone -  from the newest in the cariPRO line - a cordless water flosser that allows for easy and effective cleaning, to a custom night guard system to protect the teeth from nighttime grinding. But don't just take my word on the product. Try it out for yourself! Click the links below to enter the free giveaway or shop for your own cariPRO toothbrush or other Smile Brilliant product, using my code for 20% off. 

20% off coupon code: aspiringminoritydoctor20

Giveaway Time!
Now's your chance to win a FREE cariPRO Ultrasonic Brush! Click the link below and fill out the super short and simple form for your chance to win!

* Giveaway open for 9/12/2021 - 10/3/2021 11:59pm PST
* Eligible countries: US, UK, Australia, & Canada

best electric toothbrush

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Thriving and Smiling: An August 2021 Update

Always happy to operate!

Wow, what can I say? I'm in the second month of my plastic surgery residency, and truly loving every single moment of it! Not a day goes by that I don't wake up with a smile on my face and excited for the opportunity to pursue my passion. I'm still in a bit of disbelief that all this is happening, but it just makes me push to work harder. Anyway, I got off work early today and finished my studying, so time for an update!

My first month was a great transition back to residency life. I was on the General Surgery service at my main hospital, and our patient census was manageable to the point where we had all the notes, rounds, and floorwork done before the first case of the day. This meant I was in the operating room almost daily, which was great! Additionally, we took home call which was a lot different than my previous program. On call days, we were provided an Iphone which was used to receive consults and text back and forth to other services. A million times better than holding a pager! I had to cover both campuses of my hospital, but luckily I live pretty equidistant to both and I didn't receive too many calls in the middle of the night. I honestly enjoyed being able to come home during my call, take a shower, and semi-relax. During my previous time as an intern, call days consisted of 28ish hour shifts where we stayed in the hospital. It was so nice being able to sleep in my own bed last month! The only downside with home call is there are no post-call days, but even with being woken up and having to come in every now and then, I usually got a decent amount of sleep. No post-call days off also meant I didn't have to miss out on all the good cases the next day, so I was happy. 

Work hard, play harder #MiamiStyle

To wrap up July thoughts, I honestly couldn't have asked for a better first month. I scrubbed a decent amount of cases, had time to study daily, AND even managed to have a social life! Living in Miami is such a cool experience, and I managed to find a circle of fellow black female resident physicians who I hang out with whenever our schedules align. I never really cared about where I would end up for residency since securing a categorical spot was my top priority, but now that I am in my training, I truly see the value of location. I mean seriously, who needs to fly away for a vacation, when you literally live in paradise?!?! Plus, the warm weather and sunshine on my days off will probably be a huge help when it hits the winter months and residency fatigue starts to set in. 

New hospital, New Badge

As for August, this month I am rotating at an outside hospital and on a service which covers General Surgery, Vascular Surgery, and Surgical Oncology. The volume is a lot heavier than last month, but I feel a bit more in my element since I tend to thrive in busy environments. Additionally, the hospital I'm rotating at has an established General Surgery residency program, so it's fun working with, learning from, and interacting with the other residents. I thought it was just my program, but the surgical culture that I've experienced throughout my time here across different hospitals has been such a pleasant experience. Teaching and teamwork are valued, all the residents I've interacted with are helpful and nice (even the chiefs), and off time outside of the hospital is respected. I'm enjoying soaking in as much knowledge as I can while improving my skills, and being in environments that value residents makes the experience even better.

Not even the mask can conceal my happiness!

I just finished my second week of the August General Surgery rotation, and I have to say it was probably my favorite so far. Monday was a busy day with an early start. I arrived at work at 5am and quickly helped my team update our patient list in time for 6am rounds. I also have Plastic Surgery didactics every Monday at 7am, and it was my turn to present that day so around 645am, I left the team and found a quiet spot to present my lecture on Wound Healing and Scars. I think it went pretty well and I was happy that I was able to make it both informative and succinct since we usually have to make it to our cases afterwards. Following didactics, I found my team and my chief was like "Good news, you're going on a field trip!". I thought he meant to go find something in the hospital, so I was surprised when the other resident offered to drive. Turns out one of our attendings had a case at an outpatient facility, so we were off to do surgery. There are no words to begin to describe how amazing it was! The attending let me scrub in and complete the cases from start to finish with him working as my assistant. Even more awesome was the fact that he cheered me on, gave compliments, and when I asked how I should proceed, he let me figure it out on my own. It was my first time since starting this year where I felt alive and in my element. The attending was even nice enough to let me update the families, and since they were all Spanish-speaking, he allowed me to have the conversation but stood by my side and helped when I was unsure of how to say something (my basic conversational Spanish is decent, but I'm working on my medical Spanish). The facility even bought lunch for all of us, so you know I was super happy! On Wednesday, the same attending had cases at our hospital, so I had the opportunity to scrub with him on an open inguinal hernia repair. Not going to lie, I was beyond happy that the chief resident scrubbed into the case too, because there was no way I was going to be able to figure out what to do on that case lol. We pretty much did the entire case together with the attending guiding us and acting as an assist when needed. It was incredible! Moments like the ones I experienced last week are a reminder that I am on the right path and it makes all the long hours and hard work feel truly worth it.  

She's growing too fast!

Oh, and in non-residency related news, my daughter started the 9th grade last week. Can you believe I'm the mother of a high school Freshman?!?! So incredibly proud that she continues to grow and thrive while being supportive of me reaching my dreams. I'm so incredibly blessed!

A reminder that I look good outside of these scrubs lol

Welp, that's pretty much it for updates. I have been working this weekend, but it hasn't been bad. Turns out it's not a true "call" weekend, but just a weekend where I come in like a normal day, do rounds, complete the floorwork, scrub cases if any, and then go home when the work is done. There were no cases today, so I was able to come home early enough to get slightly ahead in my readings, do a few sets of questions to reinforce my knowledge, and now have time to relax, type this post, and go find some ratchet TV to watch before going to bed tonight. My next post most likely won't be until next month when I'm on Orthopedic Surgery, but I look forward to sharing more of my adventures with you!

Sunday, July 4, 2021

From Urgent Care Physician to PGY1 Plastic Surgeon!!!!


Ahhhh I can't believe it's been almost 3 months since my last post! So much has happened, and the past few months have been a whirlwind of change and excitement. I honestly haven't had time to sit down and type up a full post, but I will do my best to catch everyone up on this one. This post might be a bit lengthy and random, but guess I'll start from the beginning :)

Closing my chapter as an urgent care physician!

After Match Day, the most important things on my list were finding a place to live, obtaining my training license, completing onboarding work for my program, and making as much money as possible before going back to residency pay. I worked a ton of shifts, taking only Mother's Day weekend off, and on May 16th, I finished my last shift as a full-time urgent care physician. My last day was so busy that everyone joked the patients must have known I was leaving, LOL. I didn't finish until a couple hours after my shift ended and this was AFTER having to close the doors early due to the large number of patients. The bright side is, I was surprised with cakes, a card, and gifts from everyone I've worked with, and it made me feel so loved. Unfortunately, we were so busy that day that none of us actually had a chance to celebrate at work, but I was happy to celebrate and go bowling with a few of my faves a week later. I've been blessed to worked with some great people over the past couple years, and I will surely miss them. 

Officially a Floridian!

As for finding a place to live, I am now a Florida resident and finally settled in! I got very lucky with finding a safe, affordable place that is super close to the hospitals I will be rotating at. I secured my place in early April with the help of an awesome realtor who not only went above and beyond, but sent me full videos of my place which included the drive around the area, and picked up my keys for me when it was time to move in so I could stay in Georgia and finish working. Once I finally made it here, it took a few weeks to get settled since I decided to buy all new furniture (so many trips to  IKEA!), but now it finally feels like home :)

Blessed to have some of my SNMA fam in Miami!

The day before orientation I got the chance to hang out with some of my SNMA fam and residents from another residency program in Miami. We spent the day having fun on a boat, and it was such a great way to kick off my training. I am beyond blessed live in a place where I already have a built in support system. It's no secret that residency is hard, but having people around that you can trust and vent to makes it so much better.   

My Plastic Surgery team!

Orientation week started June 14th and was a two-week affair. Nothing too exciting to note, but it was nice meeting all the new interns in the hospital and everyone in my program. I even got a chance to hang out with my co-interns outside of orientation, and I am so lucky to be training with such an awesome group of individuals. 

My 1st First Author Publication!

Oh wait, I forgot to mention that I finally have a first author publication! It was during orientation week that my case report was published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports. Even though I have multiple publications, and even published an entire book, I feel so much achievement at finally being listed first on a peer-reviewed academic publication. To break it down in layman's terms: this was basically a report on removing a gallbladder in a 32 week pregnant female, and it was a case I helped perform during my original intern year in general surgery. Having this published during my plastic surgery residency orientation was a great closure to the general surgery chapter of my life. If you're interested in reading (it even has cool pictures!), you can find it HERE (Click "Download PDF" at the top if you want to view the full neat version)

Much needed bonding time with my daughter!

After orientation ended, I had a few days until my official start date of July 1st, so I took advantage of mommy-daughter time. My daughter will be starting high school this fall, is actively involved with band, recently made the color guard team, and said she would like to stay with my family and near her friends out of state instead of moving to Florida. I grew up military and went to 4 different schools during high school alone, so I agreed to let her stay and have the stability I never had. This means we will not get to spend as much time together, but I've always stressed quality of time over quantity, and she's always been so supportive of my surgery goals. With that being said, during my final days before starting, I joined my daughter and her friend for a mini vacation in Orlando. I got us VIP tickets to the park which allowed us to skip to the front of every line and jump right on the rides. We enjoyed 14 rides including the newest rollercoaster that was super intense, got a tour through private areas of the park, and had the greatest time together. It's always worth it seeing a smile on her face, and I love creating memories that will last a lifetime.

First day of residency selfie!

After my trip, it was time to get to work! Like most residents across the country, I started on July 1st and it was actually a great day. I arrived at the hospital around 6am and after rounding on my patients, I spent a good part of the day learning the system and getting access to the major things I needed. I didn't feel like a fish out of water, and felt like I was moving at a decent pace. I also wasn't on call, so I was able to leave at a decent time and come home to study. I am on the General  Surgery service for my first two months, so it feels good being back in familiar territory. Plus, I really like the culture of this program so far. I can tell it's going to be a great year, and I'm ready for all the learning and growth that comes with it!

Happiness after operating for the first time in 2 years!

On my second day of work I got a chance to operate for the first time in over 2 years! I can't tell you how good it felt to be back in the operating room. From scrubbing, to gowning, to performing the most basic parts of a procedure, and even getting grilled on my knowledge by the attending surgeon, I've missed it all. The operating room is truly my happy place and I feel so incredibly blessed to be in this position. So many emotions!

Your PGY1 Plastic Surgeon!

I think I've pretty much summed up the last few months as succinctly as possible. Even though I haven't been actively blogging, I have been making an effort to quickly jot down highlights from each day in a journal. I'll try to update the blog at least once a month, but at least now I'll have a reference to catch everyone up in case I get too busy to sit down and type. Outside of being an active team member and learning as much as I can during my rotations, my biggest focus is on reading and studying so that I'll perform well on my in-service exam in the spring. This means blog posts may be infrequent, but you can still catch me on social media. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts, and I look forward to sharing all the exciting times ahead. As for today, I've completed my presentation for didactics tomorrow and finished my readings, so I feel like I've earned relaxation time for the rest of the day. Until next time!

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