Monday, August 8, 2016

Movin' to Twitter!!

With a super busy schedule ahead over the next few years, I've decided to create a Twitter account where I'll be posting my progress on this looooooonnnnnnggggg road I'm on. And with the 140 character limit, there's NO danger of me getting too verbose or not having enough time in my day to post an update on a more regular basis!

My Twitter info is: Doc201X@Doc201_X

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The looooonnnnnggggg road ahead to MCAT greatness..............

So with my database class out of the way (OMG, that class was KILLER!!!), I'm now pretty laser focused on the MCAT, MCAT bio to be exact for the rest of the summer. For now, I'm using the Khan academy videos, cliff notes in bio subjects, and my tried and true EK materials. I still don't have a "formal" plan for studying for my retake because I decided that I could not do a lot of time consuming things at the same time. But I am making sure to do something MCAT related 3X/week during my super busy weeks, and 5X/week during times like those I'll have between now and the Fall semester.

Needless to say I was HIGHLY disappointed at my performance on the first passage and I completed it with a 3/7, but quickly averaged 5/7 on the remaining passages I completed. My goal however is ~87% or higher which amounts to missing at most, 1 question on any given passage. And with my years long experience is preparing/taking this exam along with tutoring other students, I think this is a realistic goal.

Movin' on, with everything going on in Texas and around the country last week, I opted out of going in to work last Friday. Knowing both DART and Dallas police officers made what happened just a tad bit more personal than it probably would have been otherwise. My kid was also supposed to be in Dallas for a field trip during her internship this weekend and I was so happy when they decided not to come. I'll also be so happy when she comes homes, because her cat is really working my last nerve:

This is the cat that acts more like a kitten with each passing day, lounging on MY favorite TV spot. Then when you nudge her into moving so you can sit down on YOUR chair, she hisses at you, gives you the evil cat eye, then sashays to another area of the family room, LOL!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

And just where do you think you're going to put THAT?

This post has a gyn flavor, so if you're the squeamish type, you may want to skip reading this one. ;)

To the VERY few people I regularly talk about finishing medical school with (no one close to me except my kid these days), I always get asked why a medical school goal at such an older age. And the answer is pretty extensive based on the medical experience I've had over my entire lifetime. But it also comes down to 3 personal and career reaffirming gyn appointments.

The first occurred when I was a married graduate student studying Chemistry at one of the best Chemistry departments in the US. I went in for my yearly pap a year after the birth of my daughter, and was asked the standard questions at these types of appointments. But there's one question which to this day. seems to absolutely leave my health care providers surprised and flabbergasted. Actually let me correct that, it leaves my non Black healthcare givers surprised and flabbergasted and the typical exchange goes a little something like this:

Provider: "How many children do you have?"
Me: "One".
Provider: How many pregnancies have you had?"
Me" "One".
Provider: "That includes pregnancy terminations?"
Me: Deep sigh, followed by a LONG pause..................................................................."One".

Now my providers typically know I'm educated because it often comes up in conversation during that awkward chit-chat that occurs when you have your legs spread wide open during the pelvic exam. So this idea that I don't know that abortions count toward the number of pregnancies is complete racially tinged bunk IMHO.

And so this has gone on since 1996 up until a few weeks ago except after 20 years, the exchange went like this:

Provider: "How many children do you have?"
Me: "One".
Provider: How many pregnancies have you had?"
Me: "One".
Provider: "That includes pregnancy terminations?"
Me: Deep sigh, followed by "no shit, the answer is still one".
Provider: "Ma'am, I just needed to make sure you knew what I meant".
Me: "Thank you I appreciate that, but truly you don't think I'm almost 50 years old and didn't know that".

For the record, I'm not making ANY judgments about people who made the decision to terminate a pregnancy because I realize that it's probably the most difficult decision a woman can make.

Here's another experience that helps solidify why we need more Black physicians or at the very least, culturally astute ones. This also occurred when I was a Chemistry graduate student:

Provider: "Your test results have come back showing dysplasia?"
Me: "Really?".
Provider: "It's due to the presence of HPV" (a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical changes including cervical cancer).
Me: "I don't recall you mentioning that I was being tested for that, so how do you know that's the cause? ".
Provider: "I didn't test you for that, I just know from experience that most cervical changes are caused by HPV".
Me: " You can't assume that's the cause without proper testing". And there's nothing in my medical history what would cause you to draw that conclusion without laboratory confirmation. Thank you for you time, I'm going to follow up with another Gyn".

Now I'm not saying you can't be a married graduate student, with only one pregnancy/birth, and not get diagnosed with HPV. And having spent time in a rural health clinic in a college town and having basic common sense, I know that anyone sexually active is at risk for an STD, married people too. But I also know that this Physician "diagnosed" me with HPV because I was a Black female. She also never asked if I was a "DES daughter" which given my age, is a common sense question  to me (I had a first cousin that died from cervical cancer at 15 who was a DES daughter).

My final "bad gyn to medical school experience" occurred more recently and this one may not be as racially obvious as my other 2, but suffice it to say that if teed me off (and hurt like hell) too!!
The image of this post shows a variety of different sized speculums, which for the uninformed, are instruments used during gyn exams. Now I usually don't have "issues" with this exam but I did this time because the FP trained in Gyn decided to use the largest speculum on the tray. Now if I had birthed an baby Elephant, that would make since to me. Or if I had had 15 kids, that might make sense to me. Or if I was a prostitute, that might make sense to me. Maybe being 400 pounds and 8 feet tall, might make sense to me! But assuming I needed the largest speculum on the tray is like assuming that because I'm a Black woman, I also have a very large ass. And if I had a large ass, would that necessarily mean I require a large speculum? Needless to say two things will never happen again. One, I will NEVER see another FP trained in Gyn and two, I will ALWAYS check the size of the speculum the Doc is going to use BEFORE they do the freakin' exam!!!!

Edit: Now that I'm doing research again in infectious diseases (ID) especially HIV, I know all to well what "the numbers" show are far as the rates of ID in the Black community. But I also know that if I go to a rehab clinic and take a sample of the number of injection drug users (IDUs) in the group, that rate/number will probably be pretty high. So as a person becoming an expert in stats, I can say that sampling is everything when it comes to drawing medical conclusions. And when I look at the data (which I have access to given my current position/educational endeavors), the ONE commonality that is pretty glaring to me when it comes to IDs/STDs are the rates of infections when the data are (And yes, "are" is the right word, data is plural ;)) stratified by education and most especially, income. OTOH, I also know having lived in one of the richest counties in America (in the Metro DC), that a LOT of what should get reported in a medical record, never does..

So for numerous reasons including those I just mentioned above, I just don't trust stats derived from populations I know for a fact, aren't truly normalized. Put another way, I can't trust it!

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to pick a medical specialty?

I saw this on Linkedin in a few months back, but I'm only now getting around to positing it.

Seems pretty accurate to me, what do you think, LOL??

Saturday, June 18, 2016

10 Randoms thoughts

*Image from the SNMA website

So in the absence of a real post, I thought I'd post 10 of the random 10 million things that are running through my mind at any given moment of a day. Here they are in no particular order:

1) I wonder if finishing med school will "cure" my mind of always having 10 million random things running through it, or will it just create 10 million more?

2) My kid has been away at her internship for almost a week and I miss her terribly.

.........after a brief moment of tears before I continue....

3) It was the DUMBEST idea EVER to take an advanced database class in only 6 weeks! URGH!!!

4) The weekly HIV clinical conference I attend is getting SUPER interesting!

5) I was finally approved to attend the Ryan White HIV/AIDS conference in DC and I can't wait to get back home! Turns out that as a non clinician (Imma' fix THIS!!), I get last "dibs" on everything, thus I'll have to stay at a hotel different from the one the conference is being held in.

6) Looks like that gyn surgery I've been putting off for a while will have to be scheduled sometime in the near future. Major BUMMER!!!!

7) The 2 HIV related research projects I'm working on are coming along quite nicely!! :)

8) I've been approved to volunteer at the local indigent hospital in a position to be determined starting in August. I'm leaning toward the baby cuddler program, but I'm leaving that open until I have to make a decision.

9) Formal MCAT review has been nonexistent except I'm learning a LOT in my med term class.

10) It's hot as fish grease in Texas right about now, but I still LOVE living here! :)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Preparing for hades, otherwise know as summer in Texas

So with my academic summer plans set, I prepare for what is supposed to be the hottest summer on record here in Texas. And to all who don't believe global warming is real, I say spend a summer in Texas, you'll quickly think otherwise, LOL!!

Update: Some of my readers may be wondering how things worked out with the student from hell I had last semester. In the interest of professionalism and privacy, all I'll say is that she flunked the ACS (American Chemistry Society) created final exam. And with that, nothing more needs to be said.

Movin' on, one of the classes I'm taking this summer for my HIT certification is medical terminology and this class is definitely NOT the same as the one I took in the early 90's. Based on what I've seen in the book so far, it's more like anatomy/physiology "lite". And that's good since I'll be taking A&P I/II next Fall and Spring (in retrospect, I'm glad to not be taking these classes this summer as I originally wanted before the classes were cancelled). I'm also taking advanced courses Health Data Science as needed/required for my research and for my PhD. Most exciting for me, is that I finally get to learn EPIC in detail, one of the most popular electronic health records systems used in US medical facilities.

Yeah, this summer is going to be GREAT!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Done and DONE!!!

Last week, I submitted my final grades for the chemistry class I taught this past spring semester and let me say that I've NEVER in my ENTIRE life been so happy to be done with a teaching assignment! And with that said, I'm just gonna move on but suffice it to say, I'm so looking forward to a summer of NOT teaching!

Movin' on, my schedule for the summer is a somewhat moving target as I'm waiting to hear back from my PhD adviser about whether or not additional sections of a course I'd planned to take this summer will be opened. I'm good either way but can admit that I could definitely use that time in MCAT prep. Speaking of the MCAT, my course schedule for my HIT certification did get changed to require I repeat A&P I & II( that's anatomy and physiology 1 and 2) for this Fall and next Spring. And that could be a blessing in disguise since that would by default include some MCAT subject material too. But that would also mean that my exam date would get pushed back until May 2017 at the earliest which really isn't that big of a deal since I'm not planning to apply to med school until 2018/matriculate in the Fall of 2019, after I finish my PhD.

As for my abstracts, while I certainly have been able to generate some promising results in the 3 short months I've been on this research gig, we just don't have the statistical power to publish anything substantial just yet. But I've been given permission to attend the two meetings I was submitting abstract for anyway, one of which is the Ryan White 2016 HIV/AIDS meeting being held in August of this year in DC. So this will be a trip back home for me and since I haven't been back since we relocated to Texas in 2013, it's a welcome opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities in America, Washington DC!!

Finally, I know I blogged a lot about how frustrating my teaching experience was for me this past Spring, but I think I'll be able to get my "mojo" back over the summer and teach again this Fall. I'll just be doubly sure to teach only 2 classes and NOT 4!! :)