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Neuro: I love the eyes, but the brain? Not so much

As you can tell, I’m slowly but surely recapping these past few months. This brings me up to the FINAL block of my first year of medical school – Neuro! The neuro block for us was 8 weeks (March 20th – May 19th) and included neurology, psychiatry, and ophthalmology, and of course, all the physiology, pathology, histology, and anatomy associated with it all. Basically, it was A LOT.

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After my cardiopulm experience, I was determined to make this a better block – to get back on my self-care and start exercising regularly again, to get back to cooking, and basically reestablish balance. Earlier in the year, I signed up for a half marathon, so I had no choice but to train or get injured. This was some motivation because my race was during this block! At the same time, I had a lot of things going on. I was still planning my wedding, had an engagement shoot scheduled in Philadelphia, had a national conference I was going to in Atlanta (SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference) and would be missing 3 days of lectures, and again, neuro was A LOT of material.

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On top of all that, I discovered (perhaps partially due to all the craziness I had going on), I wasn’t overly moved by what I was learning. Alas, as fascinating as some of my classmates found the brain to be, I was like mmm, I’m just tryna learn this material and move ON. There were several neural pathways/ tracts to know and a myriad of neurological disorders to differentiate from. I was like bruhhh! But then we got to the ophthalmology material, and something clicked. I could actually SEE the pathology and say yes, that’s glaucoma, or that’s a retinal detachment etc. It also helped that I felt a personal connection to what we were learning (The biographical film “Ray” on Ray Charles life is one of my favorites! And also disparities in health care, as can be seen in ophthalmology, always peak my interest). That’s when it dawned on me. I liked being able to diagnose by imagery. I wanted to be able to SEE the pathology. The whole guessing game and having to piece together a puzzle was absolutely thrilling to some of my classmates, for me, I was like nahh, neurology isn’t my calling. Ophthalmology was fascinating to me and turned out to be my favorite part of the block. In my opinion, it was also well taught by the professors, so of course that adds to the positive experience.

Due to all the things I had going on, this block turned out to be mentally, one of the most challenging. To summarize:

  1. We decided to post-pone our wedding from next year to my 4th year of med school. Planning as a medical student is hard. Trying to coordinate schedules when you’re both in medicine is difficult. And having a multicultural wedding involving family members in different countries is so sooo hard. In addition, having a wedding date that requires you to plan during your Step 1 study period is such a HORRIBLE idea. In summary, I’m glad we changed the date. It allowed me to also focus more on neuro and I needed that!
  2. We still did the engagement shoot in Philly. And the pictures were amazing! I had a whole situation trying to find a dress, and ended up deciding on Rent The Runway last minute. The dress turned out to be perfect!
  3. I ran the half marathon although I didn’t train as well as I would have liked. To top it off, on race day there was a huge rain storm with thunder, lightning, the works! The half marathon ended up being cancelled while I was racing due to safety reasons. I made it though 9.5 miles though!
  4. The SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference was LIT! I learned a lot, met some of my social media friends, got to spend time with my fiance (we attended the conference together), and Atlanta is such a FUN city. I can certainly see myself settling there in the future.
  5. I eventually caught up on the lectures I missed because of the conference, but maaaan, it was STRESSFUL. Shout out to my fiance for encouraging me and tryna keep me sane, Lord knows I was in panic mode for a bit.
  6. I made it through Neuro and finished my first year of medical school! Officially a 2nd year med student! Thanks to God for the strength through it all. There was a lot of craziness in that block!

Resources used:

And here’s a sneak picture of our engagement shoot! It was a great experience thanks to Tonjanika Smith Photography.

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Just Keep Swimming…

It’s crazy how fast this musculoskeletal (MSK) block has gone. It wasn’t that long ago that I was making my first cut into my cadaver and then trying to reflect gluteus maximus to see piriformis, gluteus medius and the other underlying structures. Now fast forward 6 weeks later, and here I am:

  • 1 day away from my MSK OSCE (an assessment of my patient interaction/ communication skills using a standardized patient, as well as my ability to give  a shoulder and knee exam)
  • 3 days away from my anatomy practical
  • 8 days away from my block exam

It’s definitely GRIND time. There’s a lot of material in this block and because it’s also different from the others, it feels a bit overwhelming. I’ve been making to do lists everyday and trying to accomplish as much as I can..”Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” as my homie Dory would say.

This block was also a lot of fun. I serve on my school’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) executive board and we had our regional conference on my campus. It was a blast! A lot of work when it came to planning, but the conference was a GREAT turn out and ultimately a success.

During this block, I also went to my first suturing workshop. Check out my handiwork below. Now I know my stitches aren’t good BUUUUT there’s a first time for everything. It was a pretty cool experience!

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Anyhoo, I just want to encourage others who are also studying for exams right now, WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT! We’re so soooo close to the end of this semester. Stay encouraged and power through. And if you need to recharge, listen to some Salt-N-Pepa, and PUSH IT! Push it reaaaaal good all the way to the finish line 🙂

Looking into the eye!

The scrub life continued this week. More and more anatomy, but this week’s focus being upper limb. I’ll be honest, I reeaaaally like anatomy. When I went to the gym this week, before I would use a weight lifting machine or use the dumbbell to work a specific muscle, I would think about the muscles I’ld be working, its different actions and innervation. Geeky I know, but it makes it so much more fun and interesting. Right now, my trapezius and levator scapulae muscles are killing me from an intense lifting session I had 2 days ago. I blame all the dumbbell shrugs, barbell rows, and lateral raises I did. It was a GREAT back day.

On a different note, my quest to explore different specialities also continued this week. Since school’s started, I’ve shadowed once in the labor & delivery unit (ObGyn), and radiation oncology. This Thursday, I shadowed an ophthalmologist (an eye surgeon). Why ophthalmology? Well it’s one of those specialties medical students don’t get exposed to until like 4th year when you request it as an elective. So legit very little exposure. Also, it’s one of the few specialties that has a nice balance of surgery AND medicine – which is something I’ve been on the hunt for. Basically, a significant number of your patients you’ll see for several years and form relationships with (longitudinal care), and at the same time, you also get to do surgery. Another major plus: the hours aren’t as crazy as other surgical specialties. Dope right?! Anyhoo, the ophthalmology department here at OSU is pretty open on letting medical students shadow and actually encourage us to reach out if we have an interest. So I took the opportunity and shadowed in the clinic.

Let me just say right now that I was surprised by how busy it was. I guess it’s just never occurred to me how common eye problems actually are. The ophthalmologist I shadowed is a cornea specialist so she does cornea transplants and deals with a lot of cataracts among other things. She allowed me look through the device they use and examine patients’ eyes – their cornea specifically (with permission of course). I could see stitches from cornea transplants she’d done on them, some mild cataracts in some patients, I was just like whooaaa! Her patient interaction was also phenomenal. That’s actually one of the things that impressed me the most. She knew her patients really well, their family life etc and always engaged in some conversation about that before beginning the exam. All in all, I enjoyed the experience and it further confirmed that I do like an aspect of longitudinal care. Also worth noting is that her patients were really diverse and also really thankful. It makes sense though, I would be really thankful too if I had problems seeing and all of a sudden could see clear as day. I was told to reach out if I would also like to shadow in the O.R. and see some surgeries. I’m definitely planning to. Ophthalmology is known for being advanced compared to other surgical specialities when it comes to the technology they use, so looking forward to seeing this.

Below are pics from google on some things I saw. Stitches in the eye from cornea transplant and some cataracts. Cool stuff! I hope you all have a good rest of the week! Stay positive. Always forward 🙂

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And So Begins MSK

Week one of musculoskeletal block is officially in the books! I’ve pretty much lived in scrubs all week since we’ve had anatomy lab every single day. We’ve covered the entire lower limb, some MSK embryology and some radiology as well. This whole week I kept thinking, thank God I took anatomy over the summer! It’s certainly made learning a lot easier. I don’t remember everything and honestly, origins and insertions can kick rocks, but still, familiarity has definitely helped.

My anatomy lab group has been cool. It’s so interesting finding out who wants to go into surgery and is of course eager to cut. I like cutting, but do I want to go into surgery? I don’t know. I just know I’m tryna learn this material REALLY WELL and the faster our cadaver gets cleaned up, the better.

On a different note, I had clinic this week. I mentioned this in a previous post but as part of our curriculum, we’re assigned to a longitudinal practice (LP) – mine is a family medicine practice – in which we go every 2 weeks and practice our clinical skills. This was my second time going and I basically helped check patients in and took all their vitals signs – blood pressure, pulse, respiratory, temperature etc as well as helped do an EKG. We have different objectives for our LP depending on the block we’re on. Since we’re now on MSK, in addition to other tasks, I’ll have to take a history of present illness on someone with a MSK condition during one of my visits. LP has certainly been a learning experience. Big plus is, I’m no longer nervous about taking an accurate blood pressure using my stethoscope. Initially, I struggled with this because I would sometimes miss the first sound, but having done it so many times now, I’m much better.

Also, I voted yesterday! Since I’m in Ohio, a swing state, and considering how crazy this election is, I decided to do early voting and get it off my checklist. I voted early Friday morning. There were no lines, it was awesome! If you haven’t voted, please please vote!!! I’m hoping that when Tuesday rolls around, I’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief that the right candidate to lead this country and represent the United States, actually won 🙂

On that note, back to books I go. We have a quiz on Monday, so its study mode. Hope you all have a nice and relaxing weekend!

“Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!”

Time just keeps MOVINGGG! It’s been two months since my last post and so much has happened since then. I had my first block exam – it went well (hallelujah praise Him!). Also learned some things about how I study best and what works well. My school is pass/ fail for first and second year but I set some personal goals of my own because **cough cough** I want scholarships (these loans y’aaaaall), so yea, just plugging, studying hard, and trying to stay above the average. At OSU, you’re automatically granted a merit scholarship if you’re in the top 25% of the class. This is done at the end of each academic year. It’s an internal ranking, so it’s still pass/ fail but when it comes to scholarships, grades do matter. Since med school is not easy and EVERYONE is smart, I mean we’re talking high averages, this is soooo hard but hey that’s why it’s called goals right?

I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things, specifically learn some clinical skills. I learned how to do a venipuncture (blood draw), take vitals (blood pressure, temperature etc), give oxygen therapy, do a vision test, give an injection/ vaccine and some other things. We were also assessed on those skills, so yep I can do a blood draw and give injections. Cool right? As part of our curriculum, we’re assigned a longitudinal practice where we go every 2 weeks and practice our skills – taking a history and physical, and the things mentioned earlier. I was assigned to an OSU family practice, so my preceptor is a family physician. A few of my friends were assigned to other specialties – Hematology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, it truly varies. Most people were assigned to a family practice though. Wednesday is my first day so I am EXCITED, at the same time, nervous, cuz y’all I’m still just a first year Lol.

Another exciting I’ve done is shadow in Labor and Delivery. I scrubbed in, was in the OR, saw twin deliveries, one of which was a breeched birth, it was seriously cool! I can’t say that it confirmed OB/Gyn was for me, but it was definitely an awesome experience. In general, I think I like the OR environment, perhaps there could be a future for me there, who knows. At the same time, their schedules though, I don’t know if I’m bout that life haha.

Besides that, I’ve been trying to find this whole med school, social, family, relationship balance. The struggle to maintain a consistent workout regime has been REAL for me. So much studying to be done, it’s like bruuuhhh, who got time to workout?! But at the same time, it all boils down to time management; it’s definitely a juggling art. My next block exam is in less than 2 weeks so it’s very tempting to just go into lock down mode, buuuuut I’m reminded everything is all about balance. Actually, it’s part of the reason I decided to buckle down and finally write (or maybe I’m just trying to procrastinate…perhaps both Lol).

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Also, with all the craziness going on in our politics, I filled out an absentee ballot application. I figured I wouldn’t have time to go to the polls, so it was for convenience. That said, PLEASE VOTE Y’ALL! Major key! Like seriously. Tomorrow is the last day to register in Ohio, which so happens to be a swing state, so if you’re in my state, again please vote 🙂

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start, let’s make it a great one!