Super Star Blogs!

Who is your Squad?

Who is in your corner? Your circle? Your round? Your squad?

Too many premeds and med students try to go at this all on their own. Year after year, I hear stories from students struggling in school and now trying to find a way to improve their chances at getting into medical school or residency. I personally don’t believe you are ever too late to fix a problem but I just wish more students would seek help from the get-go. A solid way of doing this is by having a mentor, adviser and YOUR SQUAD.

As I discussed in a previous blog, you are 95% more likely to accomplish a goal if you have accountability partners and meet with that person/people periodically to strategize. I don’t think you get that! I said… you are 95% more likely to accomplish a goal! This is where your squad comes in. There are two well-known squads I think have set great examples for URMs while tackling the medical journey. Let me share a little about them.

The Three Doctors

Many of you are familiar with their story from reading their books (The Pact) or watching their film. These 3 brothers come from my birthplace, Dirty Jersey (Newark, NJ). Dr. George Jenkins, Dr. Rameck Hunt, and Dr. Sampson Davis all grew up poor and fatherless. They met in high school and formed a pact with one another that they would all push each other through school all the way to becoming doctors. Their counselor at Seton Hall, Carla Dickson was very instrumental in their journey. She helped solidify the trio’s pact knowing that if one gave up, the other two would likely follow suit. These men have served as role models for so many, letting them know you can make it out of any situation but they exemplify the importance of forming a squad and solid mentorship.

The Pulse of Perseverance

Dr. Max Madhere, Dr. Pierre Johnson and Dr. Joe Semien are another trio with a remarkable story that also may never have come to fruition without the formation of their squad. They showed true perseverance by overcoming extremely tough childhood obstacles before meeting up at Xavier University as premeds. This is where the brotherhood formed. They pushed each other through classes and MCAT struggles, making sure that no man was left behind. That is solid! They now inspire many students by breaking down stereotypes, providing scholarships and speaking. For those of you in the Chicago area, look out for our 2020 Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit where Dr. Pierre Johnson will join us to share his story.

So, who should be in your squad? Ideally, two or three peers who are highly motivated, supportive, trustworthy, serious, students who can and will push you. You should all get along and be able to relate to one another. Jealousy should be rooted out immediately and you should be able to share true feelings with one another. It’s an “all for one” mentality; so even when one has “made it” they’ll be the biggest cheerleader for their partners lagging behind. Every woman or man brings their unique traits to the table. You’ve got to be real with each other and if one isn’t pulling their weight or constantly bringing the team down you may have to eventually cut them loose before the plane crashes. If you feel it would help, you may even give your squad a name, logo, or wrist band to remind you of your team’s goal.

I hope you are all inspired by these two squads. Please share any other squads you know of.

So, who is your squad?  

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Dr. Daniel is a practicing Endocrinologist, mentor and blogger at www.diversemedicine.com

Congratulations to Ragul!  Student of the Week!

1. Tell us about yourself. Hello! I’m a senior at the University of Arkansas majoring in Biology. I came to Arkansas as a child and have been here ever since! I like to binge watch Netflix, go to different coffee ships and go hiking often!

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite teacher has to be my Bioethics professor Warren Herold. Professor Herold had the unusual rule of no phones and/or laptops out. That meant the 30 of us present were forced to listen to him, and honestly I ‘m so glad he did. Professor Herold taught bioethics in a way that was broadly applicable but very nuanced at the same time.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? As a child, it was apparent to me the privileged life I lived as I visited my grandparents in their rural village in India. Every day I played with kids who came from mud and thatched houses. Kids my age worked in the farm and others went to the city as child laborers to support their family. One day, one of my friends didn’t meet me at the cricket field like we’d planned. On inquiry, we found out that he was bedridden with a fever and his parents couldn’t afford a doctor. There was no health center in the village. Hearing this, my parents and I rushed over. I saw them lay him down in the back of the mud house. Noticing his body shaking uncontrollably, my parents gave him some Tylenol to bring his fever down. Of course, as a child, I didn’t understand how the Tylenol brought the fever down but that instantly sparked my interest in medicine.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I want to be a primary care physician after medical school. Every trip to India, my grandfather would take me to his doctor friend that ran a primary health care clinic in a nearby rural town. It was that doctor who taught me how to use a stethoscope, allowed me to watch his diagnosis of patients and explained to me the art of medical practice. Watching the pain and suffering of children in rural villages and interaction with my grandpa’s doctor friend ignited my passion to be in medicine and to serve those communities that are underprivileged and underrepresented.

 

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? My coolest experience in my pre-medical journey is definitely being able to 3-D print different objects! I currently with the Cardiovascular Biomechanics Lab on campus, and very frequently do I have to use SolidWorks and MATLAB to help design the equipment needed. So being able to design something and then just click a button to make it was so cool!

 

6. What is your favorite book? I’m a total geek so I don’t have just one favorite book, but I have to go cliché and say the Harry Potter series.

 

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. I was actually a “priest-in training” at one point in my life! I attended a religious and service oriented boarding school in India, and one time I was approached asking if I wanted to enter finish that program. Unfortunately, a year later I moved back to the U.S., but it was still an amazing spiritual experience.

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?

Definitely somewhere in the public health field. I was very involved in policy debate throughout high school and college and working the public health topic showed me the many gaps within the state’s and nation’s healthcare system. Being in public health would allow me to be a part of the change and allow me an inside perspective into the failures and success of public health policy.

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?

My biggest obstacle has honestly been myself. Being a pre-medical student is very hard and being surrounded by other pre-medical students who are doing so much better than you is even harder. There were many times I thought someone had to be super smart and perfect to be a “Pre-Med”, but I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. It’s my senior year now, and as I’ve been applying to medical schools, I’ve talked to so many other applicants who’re in similar situations. Everyone sees the perfect, ideal self they could be and that puts a lot of emotional and mental pressure on students. The only thing you can do is to calm yourself down, focus on the things that need to be done and find an amazing support group. For me it’s my best friends I’ve known in high school and in college. Without their support and my self-realization that I’m not in this alone, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the life of pre-med student.

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine?

I like Diverse Medicine because it’s actually one of a kind. I don’t know of any other site or organization online that is actively there to support pre-medical students. Like literally students are able to connect with different MD’s, PhD’s and various students all over the country to share their experiences and get advice from people who know the actual process very well.

Take a Break and be Thankful

The world of medical education is competitive. No matter how much we try to shape a collaborative environment, from day 1 of the premed journey, we’re taught to compete to be the best. Get the highest grades, highest MCAT score, most shadowing, most publications….When you stop and think about it, that’s a pretty tough environment to be in. Today, on Thanksgiving 2019, I’d like to encourage all of us to take moment to be thankful.

I’m thankful for a lot of things, but today, I want to let you know how thankful I am for the DiverseMedicine.com community. You all have been a distant family to me for many years. I’ve watched so many of you start off as premeds, move into medical school, and now some are preparing to start residency. There are few things in life that bring me greater joy than watching your success.

Today, take a break. Step away from the hostile/competitive medical environment and simply say thank you.

What are you thankful for this year?

Congratulations to Bolaji! Student of the Week!

1. Tell us about yourself. I’m a senior at Ohio University, majoring in Biological Sciences. In my free time I love to read, work-out and try new food. My main extracurriculars are my volunteer positions with a food bank/soup kitchen and hospice care. Due to growing up in similar conditions, I plan to serve underserved and disadvantaged communities as a physician, so volunteering in such settings is important to me. I am currently on the road to becoming the first physician in my family.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher was my high school sophomore English teacher, Mrs. Repko. Her confidence in me as a student and as a person, allowed me to be more confident as well. She taught me how to articulate and defend my positions and she always said, “When I see you, I see a leader. I can’t wait until you see the same in yourself.”

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?Like many other pre-med students, diseases and illnesses experienced by myself and my family members highlighted the impact of medicine on our daily lives. More specifically, my father’s rare disorder piqued my interest in the field of medicine. As a middle-school student, I researched my father’s condition, and was fascinated by the intricacies of the human body that I had been introduced to; The newfound fascination coupled with my desire to improve the lives of others, especially through their health, showed me that medicine would be my career of choice.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  I am interested in specializing in pediatrics, family medicine, or psychiatry. These specialties are know for having significant continuity of care so the long-term relationship cultivated with each patient is why these three specialties resonate with me.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  The coolest experience I’ve had so far was working in a psychology research lab on a study that involved experiments with human participants (IRB approved of course). Working in a research setting that involved people was much different, and in my opinion, more rewarding, than the science bench research that other pre-meds around me have described. As a physician, I expect to regularly speak with patients and recognize medical issues, which is similar to the experimental exercises that I’ve done with research participants.

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is Graceling. I love fantasy and dystopian genres, and this book is definitely the best that I’ve ever read.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. One interesting thing about me that most people don’t know is that I am bilingual; I speak English and Yoruba, a West African language.

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?  If I could not be a doctor, I would probably be a teacher. I enjoy the sharing of knowledge and assisting others in their understanding of topics.

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?  My biggest obstacle as a pre-med has been with experiencing imposter syndrome. Attending a PWI, and not seeing many people who looked like me on a similar path to medical school, made me question my abilities and sense of belonging. To combat these feelings, I searched for and found African-American mentors, who are in various stages of medical training. Their presence, advice and encouragement have made a world of a difference.

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine?  The community feel of Diverse Medicine is my favorite aspect of the website. Every user willingly uplifts another and offers advice for the betterment of fellow users. It is a positive space that explores our journeys as pre-meds and prepares us for what lies ahead.

Day in the Life of an Endocrinologist

Endocrinology is the branch of medicine focused on managing hormonal imbalances and disorders. This includes conditions such as diabetes and metabolic disorders, thyroid disorders, adrenal disorders, gonadal disorders, pituitary disease and bone disorders. Our training consists of 4 years of medical school, 3 years of internal medicine (residency) and 2-3 years of an endocrinology fellowship.

I chose Endocrinology as my subspecialty because I consider it to be a practical field with a relatively good lifestyle. With the epidemic of diabetes and obesity (especially in the African American community), I wanted the opportunity to make an impact. I’ve always been intrigued by very mysterious diseases which once solved can often be attenuated by balancing ones hormones. I’d like you to follow me as I show you a typical day for me.

Rise and shine. I typically wake up at 6:30am to start my day. A few times a month I travel to a satellite clinic which is quite a distance so I’m up by 5:30am on those days.

 

Got to start the day right. I typically get in a 20-30 minute work-out at home. Morning exercise has a ton of benefits like boosting energy, lowering blood pressure, burning fat, building muscle, preventing diseases.

All done as the sun rises. Let’s get this day started!

Breakfast of champs. I pretty much eat a bowl steel-cut oatmeal and drink my full glass of water every morning while I chat with the wifey. 

Kissed the wife and baby and I’m off to work.

I practice primarily in a smaller blue-collar, town (population 30,000) with median household average below the national. The population is predominantly Hispanic.  I serve as the only Endocrinologist in this town and neighboring cities covering an area of 100 miles.

Pulling into my beautiful clinic. We have a total of 4 medical doctors (primary care and pain management) and 3 advance practice providers (nurse practitioners). Our neighbors next door are surgeons, primary care, and neurology. Most of us (including myself) are employed by the hospital in town.

My first patient is scheduled for 8:30am. I typically see anywhere from 16-25 patients a day.

Long morning. I saw a good mix of cases from diabetes, thyroid cancer, low testosterone and a pituitary tumor. What’s for lunch? I typically rush to the hospital cafeteria or pack my lunch and eat while I work on my clinic notes. 

I have to clear my head after the long morning. I typically go for a 15 minute walk before clinic resumes at 1pm.

Done for the day (sort of). I typically still have some notes and tasks I will still need to complete at home. really need to tidy this place up. I’ll need to share a pretty mysterious case I encountered with you very soon. Stay tuned! 

And… I’m out! Technically, I’m on call 24/7 for my patients and the local hospitals but it is very unusual to get an emergency Endocrine case. Occasionally, I will have a patient I need to visit at the local hospital.

My beautiful drive home.

By far the best part of my day! 

Thanks for following me today. Feel free to message me or ask any questions if you are interested in learning more about the field of Endocrinology. 

Congratulations to Nichelle.  Student of the Week.

1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Nichelle. I’m 22 years old and obtained my B.A in Psychology at Brooklyn College in May 2019. I love psychology and am working to become a Psychiatrist. Currently, I am at Texas Southern University completing my pre-med post-bac.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?

It’s so hard for me to decide on a favorite teacher because I’ve had so many, however, one that comes to mind is Mr. Lucas. He was my 10th-grade geometry teacher. Whenever I fooled around in class he’d always threaten to tell my dad because he knew my dad didn’t play those games and that’s just what I needed. Before I graduated high school, I remember telling him I was going to become a doctor and he called me “Dr. Solomon”. He was speaking it into existence for me and I’ll never forget him saying that.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?

I first decided I wanted to become a doctor when I was in high school. My pediatrician Dr. Maria, who I’d been with since I was a baby was amazing. I could tell she really cared about me and my family and she inspired me to become a doctor. She told me about her and her daughter’s journey to becoming a doctor. She both encouraged and inspired me.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?

As of now, I am interested in Psychiatry.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?

My premedical journey has just begun but I’m excited about everything I expect to experience with all the new people I’ve been meeting. I recently got a new job in a hospital and I’m looking forward to learning a lot and meeting even more new people.

6. What is your favorite book?

My favorite book currently is Christine by Stephen King. I love horror novels and he’s one of my favorite authors. There’s also just something about a good mystery that keeps me on my toes.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.

I love Anthropology. I took my first Anthropology class to fulfill a core class requirement and then I fell in love. I actually decided to minor in Anthropology along with African-American studies.

8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?

If I couldn’t be a doctor, I would become a Psychologist. My passion will always be in the world of psychology and helping others.

9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?

My biggest obstacle as a premed student has been myself because I dealt with a lot of doubt in my abilities. I overcame these doubts by having an amazing and encouraging support system. When I was explaining some of my doubts, one of my mentors asked me, “Why wouldn’t you be able to become a doctor?”. Her question made me really think about it and realize that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to as long as I put in the work.

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine?

What I like most about Diverse Medicine is that it connects Doctors, pre-med students, and medical students together. Networking is very important and beneficial. The mentoring aspect is also great especially for someone like me who doesn’t personally know any Doctors or medical students. 

How to make an IMPACT!

How to make an IMPACT!

Day in and day out, we go about our business. We do all the little things we believe we’re supposed to be doing. Checking off all our little boxes just to make it to the next task. For most people, that’s an okay way of living, but for those who have a growth mindset, checking the boxes isn’t enough. People like us want to have a real I.M.P.A.C.T. I’ve created this acronym to help you evaluate your impact score. Go through each letter and see how you’re doing.


INDIVIDUALISM

In today’s society, this has almost become a bad word. People always want you to hop on the bandwagon and do what the group is doing. When you veer a little off path, they’ll reign you in and say you’re getting out of line. That’s very unfortunate. The truth is, we need people to express their individualism for innovation to arise. We need leaders who are willing to go against the grain and challenge modern principles based on their own individual experiences.


MENTORING

One of the greatest ways to impact society for good is to teach those coming behind you to be successful in the areas of your expertise. Mentoring is critical for everyone to progress in life. A major factor in your impact score is whether or not your pouring into the next generation. You don’t want your good works to live and die with you. Leave a legacy via mentorship.


PARTICIPATE

While it’s important to be an individual and leverage that to be avant garde, it’s important that you connect with others and participate. Keeping all your talents to yourself if a major waste of your potential. It’s important that you participate in initiative of others’ as well to help move their projects and ideas forward.

**Bonus P=Prayer. I believe in the power of praying for others. Never underestimate it!


ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

Society progresses based on our understanding of the world we live in. Part of our goal as leaders in whatever field we’re in should be to advance it’s knowledge. This is the drive for academic excellence. Without knowledge, there is no progress.


CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO

To have a true impact, you have to be willing to challenge ideas and people. This plays strongly off ‘Individualism’ above. You need to stand your ground and ALWAYS act with integrity. That means truly valuing your values.


TELL YOUR STORY

This is one of the most underrated aspects of making a major impact. Once you’ve achieved something great, it’s important to tell your story so others can be inspired, motivated, and educated. There are countless people out there who would benefit from hearing how you’ve made it this far. Tell them!


What suggestions do you have for our community to help them have a greater impact?  Please share.

Thanks for your service!

On this day we celebrate our vets!

Thanks to all the veterans out there including Afghanistan vet, Greg Proctor who has been an active member on Diverse Medicine supporting his peers and was even voted premed of the year 2018. Below are some of his recent pictures while deployed to West Africa. While there, he sought out opportunities to assist school-age children. He created various fundraisers generating up over $5,000 to support this community. Electronic equipment was purchased, school transportation repaired, power restored to the off-site office, teacher salaries were paid, and food was purchased. He has sought for further assistance to help this community. Check out Greg’s diversemedicine profile and his feature as premed of the year. Help wish him well on his premed journey and a happy Veteran’s Day.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=127&v=BabZhWSUe8w&feature=emb_title

Keeping up with the Joneses

Dr. Dale and I were honored with distinguished alumnae awards at our old high school over the weekend. It was special seeing our former teachers and having the opportunity to thank them for all they did for us. We were given the opportunity to share a special high school memory that impacted our lives and this is what I shared:

Every year during the off-season, our basketball team would march out to the track for our annual mile run. As sophomores, we were the youngest but wanted to prove yourself. This was our first time on the track. An interesting thing happened as the race progressed, you quickly recognized that the leaders were all sophomores. So much so that we were beginning to lap some of the upperclassmen. At the end of the race, the top finishers were celebrating giving one another high fives while coach patted us on the back. We were on top of the world after destroying all of the upperclassmen. Little did we know we would be back out on the track the following week.

You should’ve seen our faces the following week when coach told us we had to run the mile run again but this time, he wanted us to beat our last week’s time! I wanted to yell, “but we gave it all we had last week and we even beat the big bad upperclassmen!” I still remember the snickering coming from the upperclassmen as they watched our faces. They purposefully paced themselves the week before because they knew the real race was not finished.

You’ve got to stay in your lane and run your race!

Needless to say, I learned a great deal that day. I learned to pace myself; it’s not how fast or well you start but how you finish. I learned to dig deep and find a way to be better today than I was yesterday. Most importantly, I learned not to compete with others. I am my biggest competitor. So many students struggle trying to keep up with the Jones’. I’ll let you in on a little secret… the Joneses are broke! Well, not necessarily, but we really never know what the next person is going through or what they did to get there. I’ve seen too many students become so focused on what their peers are doing that they become anxious, depressed, jealous, or end up hurting themselves in the long run. There is nothing wrong with gaining motivation from others but never lose yourself because you are competing with them. We all have our own timeline. Make sure to stay in your lane and run your own race. This can be extremely liberating.

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Dr. Daniel is a practicing Endocrinologist and blogger at www.diversemedicine.com

Diversity Inside Out

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a few stories written about my team’s efforts to develop leaders in the field of medicine with a specific emphasis on diversity in medicine. I’m always grateful and honored to be featured, however, I’ve began to notice a recurring theme; one that has been bothering me a bit.

One of my favorite children animation films is Inside Out [SPOILER ALERTS COMING]. In this film, a young girl by the name of Riley moves to a new town and struggles to adjust. It becomes clear that she feels “boxed-in” and trapped in a situation that she doesn’t want to be in. She even goes to the point of trying to run away from home.

This film does an excellent job of showing the mixed bag of personified emotions leading to Riley’s decisions. The real star of the show is her favorite emotion, Joy. Throughout the film, Joy works relentlessly to change Riley’s mood and bring the “joy” out of her. You see, Riley’s external environment was controlling her. The move to a new town along with it’s various adjustments impacted her performance and subsequently the way others viewed her.

Lately, I’ve felt boxed-in. I’ve felt like Joy trapped in Riley’s mind. I get the sense that people look at our efforts, and lump them solely into the box of diversity work rather than what they truly are; leadership development and systems improvement efforts. The impact of our work, and many in the field of “diversity” goes far beyond meeting quotas and making sure we have enough representation. The true fruits of the work are the outcomes in system improvement.

It’s a constant battle working to help people appreciate that. It’s a constant battle reminding them that just because we do “diversity” work, doesn’t mean we are great in other areas as well. It’s important that we don’t box people into diversity, but rather, we realize that diversity emanates from inside every individual, and out into the world. It’s inside out!   


Have you struggled with similar feelings as mine?  Being boxed in when you know you are so much more.   Please share your thoughts.

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