Saturday, October 31, 2015

What do YOU need?

I just LOVE the song by Justin Bieber "What Do You Mean" and found out from my kid that what I thought he was saying "need" was actually "mean".  But I thought it would make a good post topic anyway, so here's my list in no specific order. What do I need?

1) A 4 day vacation to a Caribbean island, STAT!!!

2) Another cat, I really miss having 2 balls of fury love!

*nosy cat chasing birds from inside

3) A chef for a month, the thrill of eating out has LONG gone (especially in Texas where they give you 3X the "normal" amount of food) and cooking everyday is starting to get old! AND tiring!!

4) A sports car, now that I haven't been a "tennis Mom" in almost 3 years, I'd like to trade in my SUV for a car "on fleek" for the next few years, LOL!!

5) Some clarity now that I've been accepted to a PhD program in Biomedical Informatics. I actually didn't see this one coming!!

6) Relating to #5, a PhD sounds "stronger" than a Doctorate in Health Data Science so I need confirmation that my suspicions are true. Le sigh!

7) A "cuter" way to carry my books and laptop, I feel like an old bag lady with this thing.
*my uncool looking back saver

8) Some consistently cool weather for fall, temps in the 90's in October is just BAD!!!!! URGH!!!!!

9) The energy to keep going at full speed throughout the day, of course getting to bed before 12:00AM would certainly help.

10) To continue to be thankful for all that God has blessed me and my family with through tough times and good times! Life is TRULY a rollercoaster and I wouldn't have it any other way!! :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tools of the trade

* a yellow highlighter disguised as a injection device

So as I mentioned last week, I attended a premed "fair" at one of the top medical schools in the US which just happens to be in hot arse Texas. And despite some trepidation about how I would feel attending with people around the same age as my daughter, I ended having a great time and "connected" just fine.

Turns out that there are a few middle aged folks at this institution though I still haven't decided if I'll add it to my list. And in retrospect, moving to Texas when we did was a masterstroke since there are numerous med school options with the opening of TWO new medical schools in the state this year alone. But then given the commonplace morbid obesity here, Physicians are definitely needed!! So as of today, there are ~4 school on my list the names of which I'll keep to myself until I matriculate ( when you talk as much smack as I do, it's just common sense to play it safe since this seems to be the era of EXTREME hateration, LOL!!! Speaking of that, shout out to "Illinois" and "MUSC" ;))

Anyway, I'm really glad this semester has kicked my butt as much as it has so far because I really needed the adjustment to my motivation and more importantly, my organizational skills (eternal shout out to Whitney for the upteeneth time!! :))

I'm also leaning toward finishing my Doctorate before matriculation (assuming I have a choice) since I've come to the realization that having dual degree career aspirations in middle age brings on too much negativity. Of course, I've heard this ALL my life starting in my teens, the ONLY thing that's changed is the reason. So rather than telling naysayers to kiss where the sun don't shine, I may chose to matriculate as a Dr. instead.

And speaking of being a Dr., I'm thinking (again) that a residency in Preventative Medicine followed by a fellowship in Clinical Informatics, may be a good fit. Especially in Texas. I'm starting to see way too much in terms of bureaucracy with indigent care which makes me think that while serving undeserved patients is a personal calling, there may be a more fitting way for me to do so. Plus, I think this career could give me the flexibility to every now and then, volunteer my serveries in a country that needs Physicians. Sure, I won't be "certified" to practice medicine, but I'd certainly be willing at assist those who are in whatever possible capacity. I figure that since med students do this kinda thing all the time, there ought to be space for a Physician board certified in a non patient care field to do so too!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When it rains, it pours

*Image of recent flooding in Texas

I knew when I got up 1 hour later than I had intended, it was going to be a challenging day because: 1) I NEVER wake up late and 2) I HATE being late to work! So I called the school I signed up to work at to let them know I would be very late. The time was 7:05AM which was the time I should have been heading out of the door especially because people in Texas don't know how to drive in the rain when flooding conditions are present.

So as I'm dropping my daughter off, I'm telling her than since I'm so late, I should just call in. Plus I had a bad feeling that I couldn't shake to which she responded, "Mom maybe you should just go back home" which she almost never ever says to me. But I said, no I'm going to show up because it's unprofessional not to, especially at the last minute after I've already told then I'm coming.

Seeing a police car in front of a school isn't unusual for the kinds of schools where I choose to work. Seeing 2 as I was parking my car only raised an eyebrow. But when I saw the third police car, I should have turned my a$$ around, called in to say I couldn't' show up, then went back home and got back into my bed!!!

But no, I decided to "do the right thing" and report to work anyway. BIG MISTAKE!!! Though I'd called in to let them know I would be very late, the secretary got a serious 'tude with me when I went to clock in. So between the perimenopausal PMS I was dealing with, getting soaked coming into the building, and the "police officer reunion" being held at this elementary school, I responded in a pretty curt way. Harumph, LOL!!

Now I'm heading out to the cubical (disguised as my classroom) when I see the a$$ drawz of whom I would later learn is one of the reading teachers, but whom I assumed was a parent by the tossled dirty blond hair, large "tramp stamp" CLEARLY showing, the off the shoulder top showing a bra strap, and flip flops that were better suited for a pool party than teaching reading to a class of children.

So my day goes as normal until after lunch, when as my class is walking up to the classroom, "tramp stamp" let out a scream so loud, I can still hear her ringing in my hears. Apparently her class decided to as a group, run over to the nearby play ground instead of returning to their room with her. And as I looked at her as my (quiet class) walked by, I'm certain I gave her the death stare of the century since these were the exact same kids that an hour earlier were working quietly at their desks in MY room. In fact, I didn't have to reprimand these kids AT ALL during our science lessons.

What happened next....well...... "tramp stamp" decided to come to my classroom and in front of the entire class, call me out in the most unprofessional of ways, for the death stare I gave her for screaming at the kids. So between the perimenopausal PMS I was dealing with, getting soaked coming into the building, and the "police officer reunion" being held at this elementary school, I was compelled to respond as follows:

" I don't know why your here, I suspect you need a paycheck. But I'm here to show these kids that despite their upbringing, environments, and poor teachers, they can aspire to be more than cashiers and professional athletes when they grow up. Now all morning long, I've heard nothing but screaming from you and disruption from your kids ALL MORNING LONG. So instead of asking me why I gave you the look I did when you screamed at those kids something you would never have done if they looked like YOU, perhaps YOU need to check yourself for the kind of personal and professional  example you're setting for these kids. Because from my perspective, I don't see where you're doing either. Now if you don't mind, I have a class of well-behaved students with bright futures to teach. Have a good rest of your afternoon".

About 10 minutes after my "chat", the vice principle comes in and asks me if there's a problem. And I say: "Yes, there's a big problem. The problem is that you have a teacher here that think it's appropriate to scream at the top of her lungs at children and to allow them to run around uncontrollably. And based on the written answers these kids have turned in for their science lesson, she isn't doing a good job of teaching these kids anything either. I work at schools like this all the time, and I have never seen anything like this at any other school. And it's a shame."

Needless to say what was supposed to be a two day assignment (that I was going to change to one day when I got home for the evening), became one when the Principle a Hispanic woman, informed me that my services would not be needed the following day. And this was her very unprofessionally written response to my email to her of what happened with "tramp stamp" earlier in the day.

I've documented my experiences working in disadvantaged schools pretty often on my blog over the past years, and with this one exception, my experiences have all been wonderful. Challenging but wonderful, and I've been offered numerous opportunities by the Principles I've worked with to make this my full-time gig. But as I learned 20 years ago as a chemistry teacher at an inner city high school, the "system" isn't set up to truly help these kids succeed and this bothers me GREATLY. The fact that other minorities are often complicit in this failure of a system (like this Cuban principle) really  REALLY angers me. Still, I hope that in the short time I spend with these kids reminding them of how smart they are and of how much they can achieve if they work hard and stay out of trouble, that something will stick with at least ONE of them. Because as my daughter said when I picked her up and told her about my day, try as I might, I simply can't "save" every kid that needs it. And it was that realization that made me cry after I sent the principle the email essentially chastising her for not doing more for the children who need the help the most.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

These kids......

Being the quasi writer I am, I can't put into words the feelings I get working on a regular basis with disadvantaged kids. And what I also know is that it's almost impossible envisioning yourself doing something if you never see anyone that looks like you doing it. So while I grew up reading about Dr. Percy Julian a famous Black Chemist, I NEVER in a million years thought I could do the same because I'd never SEEN a Black Chemist. Even with two college educated parents. But not long after I met a Black Chemist working at a majority institution, I became a Chemistry major and the connection there isn't coincidental. Of course, if I had attended an HBCU I'd have seen examples of Black folks majoring in science a LOT sooner, but that's a topic for another day.

Movin' on, after WEEKS of struggling to get organized, I'm finally there and I'm seeing the benefits, a straight "A" average in all my classes. That isn't to say that all my grades have been "A's" thus far, just that that's where I am now and will remain for the reminder of the semester. I'm also maintaining pretty good progress with my MCAT studying, though there's room for improvement as far as how much I review is concerned.

This weekend, I'm attending a premed fair at one of the top medical schools in the country and while I think my age is a substantial "barrier" to my admission to this school, I'm going because I certainly won't get admitted if I don't network and apply anyway. I'm just looking forward to the looks of bewilderment I'm certain to get from people who I'm sure will be wondering what I'm doing there at my age, especially since I've decided to leave my edges slightly silver. Speaking of age, I found this HIGHLY inspiring article in DO magazine about med school matriculants in their 50s:  

If I'm being realistic (and honest with myself), I pretty certain that my best options for med school matriculation are at a DO school and that's perfectly fine by me. The first med school to ever recruit me as a premed was a DO school, my pediatrician growing up was a DO, so I've long since been comfortable with the idea of having the letters DO behind my name rather than MD. More importantly, I'm very comfortable with myself and my abilities so I'm not concerned about having to "defend" this choice should it come down to that. My work will continue to speak for me, I'm sure!!

Lastly, I met with the other profs yesterday at the college I'll be teaching Chemistry at next Spring, and I have to say that I'm really looking forward to it! :) I've also volunteered to help students with their research projects so that adds an extra sense of purpose to me teaching chemistry at this school primarily attended by URM students!!! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The best premed major is..........................

*image from

.............Health Information Management/Health Information Technology (HIM/HIT)with a minor in Biology. For this post, I thought I'd share some info rather than focusing on my premed/Doctoral student life, LOL!!!

Why the big push for HIM/HIT? Simple, a Physician spends an obscene amount of time handling/creating health data and I realize this more and more each day as I get more exposed to the health data side of medicine. Plus, a certified HIM graduate (with an RHIA), would make BANK (good money), while gaining everyday access to the bread and butter of medical practice, medical records and health/medical data.

Of course, my current experiences in Health Data Science biases my opinion about premed majors, but the job market and the ~50% med school rejection rate is the primary reason I'm not pro Biology or Chemistry majors for premeds anymore. So I say, why not get a jump start on the data and language of medicine!

I also think this is a great second degree program too, plus there are a few you can do online while holding a full-time job!!! Following graduation and after getting certified, you could work from home as a few HIM gigs are virtual (especially coding positions) which works great for premed parents.

Here's a link to a list of AS, BS, and MS programs in Health Information Management, Health Information Technology, and Health Informatics: Directory of AS, BS, and MS programs in HIM/HI:

Check it out if you're looking for an interesting and in demand major! Speaking of in demand, the RHIA was recently listed #2 on a list of certifications worth having. Certifications in demand:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Working Day and Night!!!

So the title of this post is a spot on definition of what my life is these days, and I honestly wouldn't have it ANY other way!! After a few rough weeks of adjusting, I'm finally in a great place school and career wise though I have to resist the temptation to continuously question why in da' hell it took me so long to get to this VERY comfortable and focused place. MCAT wise, I'm doing concurrent review in Biology and Chemistry and as I've previously mentioned, regularly tutoring a student in chemistry is that extra push I needed to get the lead out so to speak. The book I'm using is below and it's an updated version of the book I used in undergrad 30 years ago.
I realized recently that what Profs are teaching these days is a LOT more extensive than the stuff I learned, so I decided to upgrade my "equipment". Speaking of Profs, I interviewed for a part-time position as an Adjunct Chem prof at a local college starting in the Spring and I'm looking forward to doing that again too, but in a MUCH more socially and financially diverse school than the one I worked at a few years back. And in the spirit of yet another revelation (not that I needed this one), I've come to the conclusion again that educational environments work best for me!!! And for the future, that means that I'll likely end up working at an academic institution as a Research Physician if I don't go the Locums route which still looks VERY appealing too. As it relates to building my career in health data/health informatics/health information technology, I've decided that based in large part on my past job experiences, that I will ONLY work for someone with the "Dr" title moving forward. Now I realize that this sounds educationally elitist but the reality is that working for someone I outeducate has led to the worst jobs experiences I've EVER had. In today's work environment, people seem to worry about you either taking their jobs or having to work for you one day (although most times, it feels to me like most people still have a high school mentality). At any rate, I've simply decided to avoid what I know does NOT work for me. Plus, you add the fact that I'll also be working on my Doctorate (classes, which would have to be signed off by my Supv), and now I could have a recipe for an insecure Boss explosion!!! Thanks, but I'll pass on that!! So that might bring up the question of how will I adjust to being a med student who frequently works with/around people with less education. Well, I 1000% respect folks who have something to teach me plus, those folks know going in what my ultimate goal is so as a student, I'm NO threat to their current job security. And since medical school is a place for me to learn, I have absolutely NO qualms about the fact that they'll be PLENTY of people for me to learn from no matter how much education they have. However, the biggest differences between med school and answering to someone I outeducate on a job is that: 1) The people I'll be around in med school will be there to teach me something I'm dying to learn and I gladly accept this. Most importantly, I'm NO THREAT to their current position as a lowly med student. So I expect an entirely different situation than the one I've experienced as a hospital employee. Finally, being the daughter of an Advanced Nurse from a family full of Nurses, I know better than to disrespect Nurses who make up the majority of healthcare professionals in hospital settings.

The last topic I want to blog about today is that I decided to go ahead and pursue my Doctorate concentrating in Health Administration and Health Data Science because I realized that there's NO real reason I can't keep ALL my education and career goals in play at the same time as long as I'm willing to work hard. I realized that all I really needed to do was change the company I keep to positive folks, share details of my career goals with folks on a "need to know basis", and bust my tail to get both the organizational skills and motivation to multitask on multiple levels ALL THE TIME. But the single most important thing I needed to do was to have the faith that God gave me multiple talents for a reason and that if I maintained a "faith of titanium", there was absolutely NO REASON I couldn't do what I've talked about FOR YEARS!!! So right now, I'm preparing for the MCAT, teaching/tutoring Science courses, working on my HIT/Health Data Analyst certification which doubles as Doctorate course prep too.
*multitaking without compromising style
I'm also volunteering with Komen and participating in organizations related to my future as a Physician (through SNMA) and Health Data Scientist (through Women Who Code and Blacks in IT). And when it's cool in hot a$$ Texas, I manage a couple tennis matches too!! Yeah, it's an understatement to say that I work day and night!!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Being mindful of the company you keep

If there's ONE single thing I understand more and more and I contemplate my application to med school in middle age, it's that my goals and dreams are a gift, one that I must be very mindful of whom I share them with. Because when it comes to negative people who feel stuck in whatever career path they've chosen or are just plain negative people, it becomes obvious that they are more often than not, incapable of sharing in my happiness, to be in a position where I can pursue whatever goal I want as long as I'm also prepared for the sacrifices that come with that choice. Whew, that was a LONG sentence, LOL!!!  But it was also was my daughter's statement to me recently that I seem happier than she's ever seen me and far more career "settled" since I've significantly cut communications with EVERYONE who's ever had a negative word to say about my goals of becoming a Physician. And I mean EVERYONE including, VERY close relatives. 

Now I know I may be taking quite a few liberties with the following biblical quote:
2 Corinthians 6:17"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."

But the fact is that it applies to many things in life figuratively speaking, that negativity is an "unclean thing" that can derail even the best thought out and executed plans. So I've done what I needed to do and for the first time in YEARS, it feels that my plans are coming to fruition. In fact, I know for sure they are!

So on that note, I can say that I’m on track to be ABD or having all but my dissertation completed by the time I matriculate into med school and my regular readers over the years may recall that this was always my original plan. How I got off track has been pretty well documented on my blog, I’m just so thrilled to now have a focus and direction to be very excited about. And next year, when I start regularly travelling to meetings for SNMA (Student National Medical Association), AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association), and a yet to be determined 3rd organizational meeting, I’ll really start to feel like this is MY time, and 2016 will be MY year!