Super Star Blogs!

Who is Looking out for the Med Students and Residents?

Yep, you’ve got it. You’ve got the Swine flu.

It was my second year of my internal medicine residency and I was the sickest I could remember ever being in my life. Fever, coughing, night sweats, chills, and…. the first and only migraine I have ever had in my life. I was miserable sitting in my third floor one-bedroom apartment. I still find it a bit funny thinking back. I remember my mom and dad knocking on the door and I walking in my apartment draped in garbage bags. My mom had the antidote in her hand. A pot full of pepper soup. [Anyone with Nigerian blood knows what I’m talking about.]

According to the CDC, the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) led to the death of 151,00 – 575,000 people worldwide during the first year. 80% of these were individuals younger than 65 years of age unlike the flu. Apparently, older individuals had built up enough immunity to that type of virus that they did not suffer as much as the youth. Those were interesting times but we were nowhere close to where we are today. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a different beast from the H1N1 virus. It appears more contagious and to have a higher mortality rate. It is most deadly in those over age 60 who have comorbidities unlike H1N1 that target younger populations.

After my quarantine period, I returned to the wards like nothing had happened. Back to seeing patients. Back to taking calls. Back to studying. Back to little sleep. My fellow residents weren’t too thrilled that they all had to take prophylactic Tamiflu during my absence and they weren’t silent about this. I don’t recall ever feeling as though my life was threatened by the virus but I do remember looking forward to getting back to work. I guess the sense of servitude to your fellow man superseded all fear. Or maybe it was the fear of missing work and having to extend my residency.

Looking back, I can appreciate how the voices of medical trainees can go unheard during a pandemic like this. I am hearing stories about students stepping up to assist in busy hospitals. Many 4th year medical students across Europe are now being asked to join the workforce early. At the same time, I hear stories about concerned medical students serving with inadequate protective equipment. There are no good solutions I have heard thus far and it can especially be very tough when your performance is being evaluated by a resident, fellow or attending. Now as a practicing physician, I have a seat at the table and get to voice my opinions and concerns to colleagues and hospital administrators.

I’m curious how premeds, med students, and trainees are handling this current pandemic. Do you feel safe? Are your voices being heard?

Stay safe out there. Limit your exposures and listen to your gut at all times. 

COVID 19 – Hysteria???

Lions and Tigers and COVID…oh my!

So, I’m a lung and ICU doctor…today that translates to a lot of people wanting my opinion pertaining to the impact of COVID 19. Let me preface this short post by stating even though I am a specialist, I am NOT an expert of COVID 19. Nothing in this post is intended to be advice or medical guidance. So don’t say…. “But Dr. Dale Said…”

The main question I seem to be getting is whether or not everyone is freaking out for no reason. Is this mass hysteria or appropriate precaution? Schools are closing, the NBA has suspended it’s season, and worst of all…it’s so hard to find TOILET PAPER! Why is everyone tripping!!!!

In brief, my answer to the question is NO, we are not over exaggerating the situation. People who disagree with that stance use Influenza as a key argument. Yes, the flu has killed a lot more people, but at least we have a general idea of what we’re dealing with there.

COVID 19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. The virus that causes it, coronavirus, is commonly thought of as your typical cold. Yes, it is VERY likely that you have had a strain of coronavirus in your life. As a matter of fact, you’ve likely had coronavirus multiple times. But you probably (well, some of you reading this may have had it by now) haven’t had SARS-CoV2. This is simply the name given to this specific coronavirus that we’re dealing with at the current moment.

If you’re watching the news and you’re a relatively young and healthy individual, you may be thinking, even if I get it, I’ll be fine, so what’s the fuss about? I’ll tell you what the fuss is about. Our elderly individuals in society and those with underlying health conditions may not be fine. These “hysterical” precautions we’re taking are in large part to protect these populations. And as a society, we’re all linked. 

So it these groups take a huge hit, we ALL take a huge hit. I’ve seen some individuals make flippant and sarcastic comments about the entire situation. My response to that is we need to be sensitive to our fellow humans and ensure we are doing all we can to protect everyone.

A second reason our massive response to tackling COVID 19 is appropriate is we must buy time to prepare our healthcare systems for large influx of patients we may see as a result of this disease. This is a particularly unique situation because not only will the number of patients increase, the number of healthcare workers will decrease as a result of many of them becoming infected with SARS-CoV2. Even if these healthcare workers are asymptomatic, they’ll still be forced to take time off from work in order to ensure they do not spread the infection. By and large, I believe most healthcare systems across the country are NOT prepared for this. That being the case, whatever we as a community can do to slow the progression would be beneficial for our medical infrastructure nationwide.

Finally, there is a school of thought that by slowing down the progression, we can buy time and allow for seasonal change. Many viruses are seasonal and some believe that as we enter spring and summer, SARS-CoV2 may begin to fade away. As this is our first known encounter with this virus, we cannot be certain, but can be hopeful.

There is NO need to panic, but PLEASE take appropriate precautions, to ensure we’re all doing our part to care and show love to those who are at greatest risk to having negative outcomes from COVID 19.

Free MCAT Study Guides For PreMeds

Hey everybody,

Below is a link to two really helpful FREE MCAT study guides. As far as content review goes, this is great free option. You can review the study guide sections that are relevant to the premed classes you’re currently taking. If a topic in class overlaps heavily with the MCAT study guide, then you know its really important. (tip: press Ctrl+F and search keywords from your current premed classes)

Content review for the MCAT does not have to be expensive. Although it can be hard to find, there are tons of free resources online. In addition to these study guides, there is Khan Academy (vids and problems), YouTube vids, and more mentioned on the website If you need more free MCAT resources/questions/books, email me at or just shoot me a message on here with your email address.

All Free PreMed Info/Resources I’ve found along my journey to medical school can be found at and on IG.

Getting Free Money

Going to college for free was a major goal of mine. I vowed to myself I would never be a financial burden for my parents who had already invested so much in me. The only problem was I did not know how to get this money. I thought I would have to work 2 jobs, donate a kidney and panhandle on the weekends to make this a reality. Thanks to my junior year English teacher, I was able to achieve this goal with all of my organs still present. You see, every morning at the beginning of class, we would grudgingly pull out our journal, flip to the back and begin writing down 5 scholarship opportunities she had projected on the screen. We would write the title and the criteria for each one. By the end of the year I had accumulated a nice list of scholarships, many of which I was eligible for and applied for the following year. I still wish I remembered that teacher’s name. I would give her a huge hug if I could.

A few weeks ago, I was super proud when my mentee (who was accepted to medical school already!) informed me he was applying for a scholarship. Isn’t that awesome? I certainly didn’t take full advantage of applying for scholarships during college but I tell all premedical students to do so. It sure could have helped with books, MCAT classes, etc. 

There are so many organizations with money sitting there waiting for someone to apply for it. In fact, a few years ago on this website, we had a partnership with Kaplan and they allowed us to literally give out free MCAT courses. We struggled to find takers for this FREE $2,400 course yet we received so many messages from students challenged financially. I want to encourage each and every one of you to apply, apply, apply for scholarships and awards. Seek opportunities to be ambassadors. I recommend following these simple steps:

1. Purchase a journal or start a spreadsheet

2. Make a budget and set goals

3. Research scholarship and award opportunities through a Google search or your school’s website and take notes on criteria and deadlines. Make sure source is reliable.

4. Once a month, check in and aim to apply for one of these opportunities

By taking these steps, your pocketbook and maybe your parents will be very grateful. Always be careful though because there are scammers out there. If you have any suggestions on good websites or opportunities, please share. Or, if you have additional tips I’d love to hear/see them.

Beware of The Minority Tax

It’s time to pay your taxes!!! I never believed in the concept of burn out until I finally burned out. For years and years I told myself to push through and that nothing could touch me. Then I realized we are all human and everyone can be touched. This caused me to take a step back an ask myself what it was that drove me to such fatigue. It was the “minority tax”.

Minority tax is the basic concept that when you are one of the few racial/ethnic minorities you’ll be called upon more than others simply because someone who looks like you needs to have a seat at the table. For example, as one of the 2-3% percent of black men in the medical field, I am often asked to do certain tasks related to getting more black men in the field of medicine. Fortunately, I believe that is important work and I enjoy doing it. However, it’s not all things of a similar vein that I desire to do, yet I understand the need to have a representative voice.

The real issue with the minority tax is more often than not, we are not credited for the work that is done. Keep in mind that I said credited, not acknowledged. Typically, we are expected to do the same amount of work as everyone else, PLUS that which is specific to our minority status. That’s why it’s called a “tax”, we have to do more than others. The downside to this is it makes career progression more challenging. It becomes more difficult for us to perform other assigned tasks to the degree of excellence which we otherwise could. Again, I’d like you to pay special attention to my choice of words. I said it becomes more “difficult” not impossible. That is important to note because we still have to find a way to perform at that level.

I’m writing this blog specifically with students in mind. I want you to be familiar with this tax before Uncle Sam comes knocking on your door. Prepare for it and have strategies in place to ensure you perform at a level of excellence while paying the tax collector. The answer is NOT to avoid the taxation. We need your voices at the table. Rather, prioritize what’s important to you, master the work so you become efficient in it, then train up the next generation to do the same.

Nobody said this journey into and through medicine would be easy…but I am telling you it will probably be worth it!

Meet the Man of the Year

This year’s San Antonio Business Journal 40 Under 40 Man of the Year title was awarded to a long time friend of mine, Dr. Ray Altamirano. This is one of the most down to earth, passionate and altruistic individuals I know. He has recently been on the Kelly Clarkson Show and the Doctors TV show and has a very interesting background. He had a unique path to becoming a medical doctor and now has a unique style of practice incorporating art and family medicine to assist his underserved community including undocumented immigrants. Check out our interview with him.

Diverse Medicine: So tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Altamirano: I am Ray Altamirano MD, first generation American born and raised in San Antonio, TX by Mexican immigrant parents. I am a board-certified family medicine physician practicing in ER as well as my own clinic as a fee-for-service practice for the uninsured.

Diverse Medicine: What did it take to become a family medicine doctor?

Dr. Altamirano: I applied for medical school twice in Texas and interviewed with multiple schools only to be wait-listed, twice. I attended medical school in Mexico at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) and completed the 5th Pathway Program to practice in the USA

Diverse Medicine: How was your experience attending medical school at UAG?

Dr. Altamirano: Uphill battle. School was in a foreign country with their own set of rules. Abide or get nowhere. It molded me to be headstrong and gritty.

Diverse Medicine: So, you practice a very interesting type of medicine. Can you tell us a little about it?

Dr. Altamirano: I left primary care after 3 years to pursue higher-paying roles such as hospitalist work and eventually ER. Financially, I felt comfortable, but there was a hole in my heart to practice in my community with the underserved. I founded my clinic not because I needed the job, but I needed peace for my soul. I needed to fulfill God’s work at the community level and start a one-man movement for better care and access for the uninsured and undocumented

Diverse Medicine: That’s amazing! What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about this type of medical practice?

Dr. Altamirano: Most challenging is definitely the pioneering of it. Healthcare for the uninsured is an abyss. There is no system. Get in where they allow you to (and can afford). The most rewarding part is the community coming through for itself. The respect and support from my community

Diverse Medicine: Do you think this type of practice will catch on?

Dr. Altamirano: Yes, I do. We did not invent the wheel. This is how healthcare was in the 1980’s. The doctor and patient with no one to get in the way. There is 100% autonomy to practice as I see fit. This freedom is bliss for an altruist. We are a very close cousin to direct primary care (DPC).

Diverse Medicine: We’ve seen you all over the place on the “Kelly Clarkson Show” and “the Doctors”. How did they find out about you?

Dr. Altamirano: They “discovered” me through local news mediums and social media. Adam King with KABB in San Antonio aired a story on my efforts and the Kelly Clarkson Show producers saw my piece on a Seattle affiliate. Seattle? I know.

Diverse Medicine: This is super cool. I love your artwork by the way. Make sure ya’ll check it out. What inspires you to paint?

Dr. Altamirano: The content of my art has very little to do with my emotions at the time I create it. I usually draw from past-time nostalgia. Usually, things that are light-hearted and make me laugh. My art is called Amar Es Vivir: To Love is to Live. I like vivid colors and am generally flattered when other’s like my work, but each project is process over product. Whatever I was feeling in those times is on canvas to stay and off my shoulders.

Diverse Medicine: What have you learned working with the patient population you work with? 

Dr. Altamirano: I learned that connecting on the human level ALWAYS works. Treat people like family and they respond with their best effort. The coolest experience has nothing to do with the exam room and much more to do with the lobby. I witnessed a man (who could barely afford his own $100 visit) pay for a complete stranger in the lobby because he felt compelled to do so after meeting me. That’s the true spirit of my clinic.

Diverse Medicine: Do you feel diversity is important in medicine and why?

Dr. Altamirano: Diversity is America. Cultural understanding is very important when connecting with people who are already afraid of the circumstance. If the patient relates to you before you even speak, you already started the process on an unspoken level. The rest is passive.

Diverse Medicine: Do you have recommendations for our premedical students, medical students and residents on Diverse Medicine?

Dr. Altamirano: No matter how you think others see you, you are just as important and entitled to seek your passions. I had to go to another country to prove it to myself. There will always be an obstacle: money, uneven playing fields, skin color, that accent you didn’t know you have…but when you recognize that steam engine of grit inside you, there’s no greater power.

Pretty cool huh? If you have any questions for Dr. Altamirano feel free to ask in the comment section.

Permission to be Great!

Amazing how one sentence can change your life forever. My one sentence came about 7 years ago. It was late evening and I was standing outside my developmental coach’s house. Out of nowhere, he began yelling at me. “Dale,” he said, “you don’t know what you’ve got. You’re waiting for someone to let you become great. You’ve already got it in you. Well, I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO BE GREAT!” That’s it.

That sentence changed my life. I felt released to go out an conquer. The shackles had been released. At that moment, I realized that there was really nothing holding me back from chasing my dreams. All excuses disappeared. I had everything I needed to be great. For some odd reason, I just needed someone to say those words.

Here’s my question to you. Do you realize you have permission to be great? Or are you locked in a mental prison made by society? You can’t do this….you can’t do that. Nobody has ever accomplished that before. It’s impossible. All of these are lies! Don’t believe them.

I want you to know that greatness is in you. I’m no Bible scholar but I believe there’s a verse that describes all of us as masterpieces. I take that to mean we are all great. You already have everything that you need to be successful at your disposal. You just have to work for it and G.R.I.N.D.

I’ll leave you with this. I, Dr. Dale, give you permission to be great!

Mamba Medicine

January 26th, 2020… We will forever remember where we were when we heard the news. Shocked… speechless… heartbroken. We all felt the exact same way.

In the days that followed, there was a collective grief and melancholy that flooded social media. This man we all watched play basketball since his teenage years was no longer with us. He seemed larger than life and had accomplished so many amazing feats. I believed the best was still yet to come in his retirement years. Kobe was in a league of his own. He was the last of a dying breed in the league. See, NBA players no longer leave it all out there like they did back then. The top players never partake in the dunk contest and at times skip out on representing our country during international play. It’s a different game now. While they all work very hard at their craft, no one did it better than Kobe Bryant. His Mamba Mentality is unrivaled. This man would be up at 4am working on his game. It really got me thinking about the parallels with medicine and if this mentality translates positively or negatively.

Can you think of what the Mamba Mentality would look like in medicine? I call this Mamba Medicine.

Imagine someone who is extremely passionate and infatuated with being the best doctor possible. This student wakes up before sunrise every morning and gets to the library before everyone else. I can see him or her being president of the premed society and maybe even lead their regional chapter. This hard work would pay off no doubt with a near 4.0 GPA and 99th percentile MCAT score. This same student will aim for the top medical schools and crush that as well on their way to earning a highly sought-after fellowship. See, those with the Mamba Mentality don’t believe in leaving outcomes to fate – hard work is next to God. This is their ticket to success and it consumes their lives. Forget “Ball is Life” – “Medicine is Life”!

Mamba Medicine may look a bit like this. Looking from the outside-in, others will revere this student or doctor. Besides, this is the smartest student in the class and it all comes so easy for her or him. We all know the type. However, I don’t quite envy this individual. In my mind, I see the strain and stress one with this mindset places on their own body. The waking up at 3am to study translates to little sleep. The hours studying or working means very little time spent with their family and friends. The always in a rush leaves little time to eat healthy or take in the beautiful little things in life. The competitive nature makes them suspicious of others. The Mamba Mentality may cause a student to partake in cut throat acts in order to get a leg up on or advantage over his or her peers.

I appreciate hard work and all but I feel we at times do a disservice to individuals with this mentality. We in a way further mold them with positive reinforcement and enable toxic behavior. We place enormous expectations on them and hold them to a different standard. We don’t ask about their well-being enough or encourage them to rest. I believe this Mamba Mentality takes a huge toll on the individual. I would actually liken it to what med students would call a “gunner”. As a practicing physician, this can certainly lead to burnout, depression, addiction and health problems. I picture the TV character House as one with this mentality. He may seem super smart but would you want to be him knowing what goes on in the background?

At the end of the day, I believe many with this mentality don’t take in the big picture and fail to see things holistically. Happiness with this mentality relies on being superior to others around you so you have to outwork them or bring them down. In medicine, it is important to exhibit passion and good work ethic but eating, sleeping and breathing medicine in order to be the best doctor is detrimental to your health. While it may be admirable in sports and entertainment, the Mamba Mentality in medicine can be toxic to your health.

What are your thoughts on the Mamba Mentality in medicine?

In loving memory of the nine passengers who lost their lives.

Congratulations to Jonathan!  Student of the Week!

1. Tell Us About Yourself.  I was born in Memphis, Tennessee raised in Indianapolis, Indiana where I currently live, and attended highschool in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The Episcopal Academy. 1. I am a senior studying Neuroscience and doing physical therapy and human movement research at Feinberg Medical School. I also volunteer at Feinberg’s hospital currently stationed in their organ transplant department. I play on the Northwestern Rugby Team and love to stay fit.

2.  Who was your favorite teacher in high school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite highschool teacher was Mrs. Miklavcic who was my Honors and AP Chemistry teacher. Mrs. Miklavcic was my first African American and she pushed me to be the best student I possibly could.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? I first decided I wanted to be a doctor in the 4th grade. I had just been diagnosed with sever’s disease and was devastated as I had been told I would miss my entire football season. My doctor comforted me and since I was a straight A student he told me that I would be able to replace him one day. Having this idea planted in my head I researched different medical positions and determined I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I am interested in Orthopedics

5. What is the coolest experience you have experienced on your premed journey?  By far the coolest experience I’ve had on my premedical journey was going to Haiti and providing medical service to people living in the mountains

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is The Hunger Games

7. Tell us one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know.  I have a Youtube Video with over 46,000 views

8.  If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? If I couldn’t be a doctor I would either go into politics or radio/television/film

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 was performing well in my classes at Northwestern. Going into college I was already a very hard worker, but in-order to maintain a decent GPA in comparison to the other premeds at Northwestern I learned to structure my life in a way that would make me even more efficient.

10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine? What I like most about Diverse Medicine is how it is able to establish a national network of premed students and connects them with medical school students and doctors giving them the cultural advantage of passed down knowledge that many would not have.

Why You Scurrrrr’d?

FEAR! It’s an emotion that drives us to do unreasonable things. We cry because of fear, we fight because of fear, and we judge others because of fear. Perhaps most important to the premedical student, we don’t try because of fear.

Recently, I had the opportunity to give the MLK Keynote Address at a major medical center. I went on stage and delivered my message to an audience of 400 people or so. When I stepped off the stage, something in me didn’t feel right. I didn’t think I connected with audience as well as I usually do. The feeling was fleeting as it immediately left when people began to approach me afterwards. Two young individuals (one a doctor an the other a now premed) came to thank me. Both had been struggling with the same issue…FEAR.

The premedical student was considering a career in the healthcare industry, however did not plan to pursue and MD or DO degree. When I asked why, he let me know that he was didn’t think we was good enough for it. He was afraid that he didn’t have what it takes. The young doctor was considering applying for a prestigious position, however was also afraid that she wouldn’t be a strong enough candidate to get it. After speaking to both of them, they changed their course and STOMPED ALL OVER THAT FEAR!

Fear holds us back way too much. In this world which we live in, we’re constantly trained to be afraid of things and because of that, to reserve ourselves. This grossly limits our potential to become great.

I’ve decided in my heart that fear has no hold on me. I’m striving for greatness. Will you strive with me???

What fears hold you back in life? Please share.


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