|Headshot from this year that I forgot to post lol
It's my 10th blogiversary, y'all! Okay, now I'll admit I've done a horrible job of keeping up with the blog lately especially given that this is only my fifth post of the year, but today is still super special for me. When I started this blog, I had just received my first acceptance into medical school, and after scouring the web and not being able to find anyone with a similar story as mine, I wanted to create something to not only document my journey through medicine, but help inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams as well. I feel like I have accomplished that goal and soooo much has happened over the last decade! I went from being a scared premed unsure if I could ever accomplish my goals to being a now third year plastic surgeon in training literally living on answered prayers! So, with that being said, I'm going to use this post as a reflection and celebration of how far I've come and then end with a review of the past six months, so bear with me for what will probably be a super long post (as usual lol).
So, here is what I am celebrating with this blog today:
The Power of Sharing Our Stories
Over the past decade, I have shared my struggles, my failures, and my accomplishments. I was originally told that as a premedical student and single mother with low stats, that I would not make it into medical school. Then I was told that if I did make it into medical school, that I would never be able to pass my board exams or graduate. Then I was told that my dreams of becoming a surgeon were absolutely unattainable and that it was literally impossible to pursue my dream of becoming a plastic surgeon as a DO and someone who previously went unmatched. And yet, look at me now: a thriving third year plastic surgeon in training, public speaker, and published author, who continues to accomplish everything I was told I couldn't do. This blog has helped a lot with some of my successes. When times got rough for me and I thought I couldn't continue to push through, it was your words of encouragement that kept me going. When I thought I was alone on my journey and no one else could relate, I received messages from others on a similar path that inspired me to keep pushing. This blog has connected me with so many incredible individuals over the years, and it let me know the importance of sharing our stories.
Single Motherhood and Medicine
I just realized that those of you who have followed this blog from the start have practically watched my daughter grow up! When I started this blog she had just turned 7, and now my baby is 17! Accomplishing my dream of becoming a physician while being a single mother was probably one of the biggest hurdles I thought I would face, and there were definitely a few naysayers who didn't hesitate to offer their opinion about how my goals were impossible as a single mother, but we made it! Looking back, it has literally taken a village though! I am grateful for the many people and classmates who helped babysit so that I could make it to the lab and thrive as a medical student. I am grateful for my sister who stepped in to help once I became a third year medical student and needed to spend more time away on rotations. I am also grateful for my family who stepped in after graduation and let my daughter come live with them so I could focus on intern year (they refused to let me move her to "dangerous" Philly lol) after not matching the first time. But most of all, I forever remain grateful to have such a smart, loving, kind and considerate daughter who has never complained about the time medicine took away from us and who continues to be one of the most supportive people in my life. Becoming a physician and navigating medicine is hard by itself, but it's even more demanding when another life depends on you. I hope the single parents who have followed me over the years have gained inspiration from my posts to keep pushing and pursue your dreams with fervor. Allow your children to be your driving force and not what holds you back. Because even if you think they aren't paying any attention, your children are watching and being inspired by you.
Minority Women in Osteopathic Medicine
When I first started this blog, it was very difficult for me to find female minority osteopathic physicians. I briefly started a minority women in medicine section where I highlighted a few DOs, but unfortunately I didn't continue the series. Since that time, I have actually met half of the women in my Minority Women in Medicine section in person and formed great connections! And the crazy thing is that from this blog, I got a chance to meet and interact with my biggest minority female DO inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee. I previously highlighted her on my blog almost a decade ago, but did not personally interview her. Shortly afterwards, I got the chance to introduce her to my school as a speaker, then she was a great supporter of one of my committees during my time with the Student National Medical Association, and then fast-forward to 2021 and we're not only sitting on a panel together at a major conference, but she gave MY introduction! This blog has allowed me to make so many connections with amazing women in osteopathic medicine, and I hope using this blog as a platform has helped show my fellow DO student readers that we do exist.
Paving the Way
When I first created this blog ten years ago, I was unsure if there were others out there like me, and this blog has connected me to so many great individuals on a similar path. Even more so, it has given me the opportunity to not only share my story, but help pave the way for others. Over the past ten years, I have shown that it is possible for a single mother to make it through medical school, proof that it is still possible to be successful after not matching, and that although it may mean a longer road and a bit more struggle, with grit, dedication, and persistence, anything is attainable. I went from being an underdog of a premedical student to paving the way as a thriving medical student, the first DO student to become national president of the Student National Medical Association, ending my medical school career as a recipient of a memorial medal given for outstanding achievement, and to now recently being told that when I finish residency, I may become the first Black female DO plastic surgeon (crazy, right?!). I am thankful that this blog has allowed me to share my journey, and hopefully it inspires you to do the same. I am literally living on answered prayers, and looking back through old posts shows me just how far I have come.
The last thing I am celebrating is YOU! I am so thankful for anyone who has taken the time over the years to stop by and read my posts. In my mind, no one actually reads my blog (it helps me continue to write freely lol), but every now and then I am reminded that people actually do. I still remember going through security at the Philadelphia airport a few years back and one of the workers recognizing me from my blog. Completely made my day! I also love that people of all genders and from all walks of life have found my blog useful. It truly makes me happy to know that my story continues to help others. You all are the reason why I have continued to keep up with this blog over that past ten years, and I thank you so much for the encouragement.
Now for life updates:
It has been about six months since my last post which means I have a ton to update you on! I feel like everything is a big blur, so I will start where I am now and work my way down. Hopefully I'll remember all the major highlights from each month.
As of November, I am currently in Orlando, Florida completing two months of pediatric craniofacial and plastic surgery, followed by one month of pediatric surgery. So far, it has been an awesome experience! My first day involved a quick orientation and then I scrubbed into a 12-hour microtia case where we completely reconstructed and created a new ear! It was such an incredible case and my first real life exposure to the procedure. I also got to harvest the the full thickness skin graft on my own for the case from measuring to removing, so I was pretty excited at the level of trust given to me on my first day with new attendings. So far, we have performed everything from cranial vault reconstruction, to cleft lip/palate repairs, to even breast reductions on teenagers. I even had my first Tessier #7 cleft patient and have experienced patients with things like Pierre Robin sequence and 22q deletion in real life now (previously it was all textbooks and videos). For those of you who follow my YouTube channel, I know I've been slacking the past three months on releasing new videos, but I think my next educational video will definitely be on the craniofacial aspect of plastic surgery. Make sure you subscribe, if you want to follow my journey visually! But overall, November and December have been a bit busy, so I've pretty much been under a rock everywhere. I'm definitely enjoying Orlando, although it is a bit chillier than Miami, but my schedule is so packed that I highly doubt I'll make it out to Disney. We shall see what January brings. The hospital I am at is absolutely beautiful though, and it has been great working with babies and children as it is not something I am exposed to often. Academically, I recently submitted a journal article this month, so I'm excited for its release as well, although it will likely be sometime next year.
October was an intense month, but I loved it! I pretty much operated every day and was given way more autonomy in the operating room, so I was super happy. Somehow in between all the operating, I was even able to submit an academic book chapter and keep up with my academics as well. I started out the month with a trip to Las Vegas where I attended the Allergan Surgical Solutions Symposium, and it was incredible. I attended so many great sessions, was able to perform a hybrid breast reconstruction at a cadaver lab, connected with awesome individuals in general surgery and plastic surgery, and I even had time to hit the club and see T.I. perform in person. Later on in the month, I was able to take my daughter on a family trip to my alma mater LSU. My sister and I are LSU grads, and my mother is a West Point graduate (actually the first Black Woman from the state of Mississippi to graduate from there), and LSU was playing Army, so it was an amazing trip to show my daughter both of the schools represented in our family. We're only a year from her applying to college, so it was a great way to mesh quality time with college visit time.
September was another month away from home as I completed my trauma plastic surgery rotation. It was an insanely busy month as my co-resident was out the first two weeks with COVID and then the incoming resident was on vacation my final week, so I was pretty much on call the entire month for plastics at a level one trauma center. I definitely had some great cases and got more comfortable managing complex trauma repairs on my own in the ER and trauma bay, so I can't complain. Luckily, I was able to take a weekend off and attend the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS) Annual Clinical Assembly in Chicago where I sat on a panel and was able to give my perspective on the barriers facing osteopathic physicians in plastic surgery and ways we can hopefully advance them within the field. This conference was also a full circle moment for me as I ran into a wonderful surgeon who was a resident when I was a fourth year medical student doing an away rotation at her hospital. We reminisced about my time there and I was just so surprised she remembered me. Also in attendance was one of my chief residents during my time as an intern in Philadelphia, and just seeing this person reminded me of how much I went though and managed to overcome. It was also great just being surrounded by DOs in surgery for a full weekend as this is something I rarely get to see.
|Miami Lady Docs :)
I spent the month of August rotating with my program director and a couple of my female co-residents, so it was all about the girl power! I always enjoy when I get to work with my program director and I'm always learning a lot from him and my co-residents. I think the highlight of the month for me though was getting to attend a Black Physicians Brunch in Miami alongside the University of Miami residents. It was great being able to fellowship and connect with my peers in a safe place. Other highlights in August included seeing Beyonce in concert (waited until the last minute to get super cheap tickets), visiting a close friend in Georgia, and getting to spend a little time back home in Atlanta where I got to see an Atlanta United game. Other than that, I don't really remember most of the month lol.
|Fun night with Tom Cruise
July was pretty much all plastic surgery, but I guess the highlight of the month for me was getting to see the premiere of the new Mission Impossible movie for free with a surprise appearance by Tom Cruise! He literally walked around the entire theater taking selfies with everyone (which I did not take since I looked a mess), and the movie was actually really good.
June was another trauma plastic surgery month, but I got the chance to spend a few uninterrupted days with my daughter where we had her first official college visits, checked out the Miami zoo, made candle, and just overall had great mother/daughter time. It was a great end to her school year and a great start to my now third year of residency.
I think that pretty much covers all the updates over the past six months. I still can't believe I am almost halfway done with my plastic surgery residency, and I am in even more disbelief that I have managed to keep up with this blog for ten years! To be honest, I prefer typing up blog posts to creating videos and other content as that is so time-consuming for me. I still debate if I should continue blogging though since more people tend to prefer videos. If you're reading this, I would love to know your thoughts on what you prefer. I love having this blog as a journal to remind me of how far I've come, and I hope you have found it inspiring too. But anyway, in an effort to keep this somewhat short, I just want to say thank you again for reading my story and sharing in my journey over the past ten years. It really means a lot to me, and I can't wait to share even more wonderful things in store with you all.