Book Review: Becoming

𝙱𝚘𝚘𝚔 𝚁𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚎𝚠 || 𝙱𝚎𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚋𝚢 𝙼𝚒𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚎 𝙾𝚋𝚊𝚖𝚊 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
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Becoming, a subjective experience about Michelle Obama’s childhood in south side Chicago, her pursuit of living the American dream, eventual dissatisfaction with what that meant and finally coming into her own.
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Michelle did not sugar coat her attitude toward politics, her feelings about Obama running for president or the challenges of creating and raising two daughters with the media scrutiny.
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While her voice was pleasant, humorous and candid, a tone that stood out the most was her optimism. The belief that better outcomes are possible even under the worst circumstances. The optimism wasn’t found without real work being put in, it was based on trusting her contribution to her life and society. The understanding of knowing who she was, the company she kept and having faith. She placed emphasis on family, education, supportive friends, being active in the community and finding a balance that works. Becoming provided an up close look into the experiences that shaped her to become the phenomenal woman many admire and look up to today.
A well written relatable piece and I’d recommend it as one the neccessary biographies to read, especially for black men and women.

For – a short short

For the girl who wanted to wear sneakers with her formal dress,

The boy who wanted to be a nurse,

The only black student holding a scalpel in anatomy, expected to be “lucky” for getting admitted,

The parent who had to work an extra shift, to pull enough for grocery,

The student who had to stay behind to copy a $350 textbook that is useless after one semester,

The believers who remain optimistic in the face of obstacle,

For every soul who have known struggle,

No matter how you define it,

Keep going,

Write your story as YOU see fit.

You are inspiring a generation,

A future unlike any other.

Book Review: He Forgot To Say Goodbye

He Forgot To Say Goodbye by Benjamin Sáenz
Publisher: Simon Shuster
Published: June 17 2008
Rated: ❤❤❤❤/5
Buy or Burrow: Buy

People don’t always have to do the right thing for the right reasons—so long as they do the right thing.

Synopsis: Two teens with different social standings have one thing in common : a father they know very little about. Circumstance brings them together and both boys try to understand why their fathers left without saying goodbye 

I believe that we’re searching to understand ourselves in this life and the world around us. To have parents who are present and guiding while young makes that search a little bit easier… but what if you don’t get that? What if you’re missing a mom or dad, because he or she decided not to say goodbye when they left?

He forgot to say goodbye followed Ram and Jake as they try to understand why their fathers left.

Ram’s dad left him and his younger brother and his mom refused to talk about him. Over the years, he made a version of his father in his head, while trying to quietly make something of himself. His fragile heart was obvious from the first page and how he dealt with another person leaving him nearly breaks him. Jake also grew up without his father, a mom that makes you want to yell every time she spoke and a step father that you can’t help but dislike immediately.

The physical difference between the two boys is broad but dealing with an absent father you constantly long for can diminish your differences, especially when you realize that you only wanted them to love and think you’re enough to be remembered.

The novel felt like an unrestrained journal you’re permitted to read and learn from. The young, exposed and flexible tone from both boys made for an enjoyable read even during the tough pages. You don’t have to have an absent parent or be a teen to trust the voice of the characters. It makes you want to promise to be a better version of yourself, hug the ones that stay and love a little harder.

Transition from PA-S to PA to PA-C with ease: First JOB (Part Two)

As one of the top 5 medical careers, a Physician Assistant job is not hard to find. Picking the best one for yourself as a new graduate can be a process. Check out the previous post on proper steps to get your license and average time for credentialing. Plenty of people begin their career with either a job they truly love and stay there for a long time, while some just take the first job they can due to several reasons not limited to paying back loans. My advice is also to be realistic with what you consider a dream job out of PA school. A job where you’ll learn, have support as well be able to grow are necessary requirement. Remember, you’ll have to show up to work, don’t take a job for frivolous reasons have to spend the next year miserable.

When I began to look for a job, I asked myself these questions:

  1. What specialty did I want? Emergency medicine (#1 choice) Surgery, Family Medicine, Dermatology?
  2. What hours was I willing to do? 9-5? 12 hour shifts (#1 choice)?
  3. Days or Nights shifts?
  4. Where did I want to work? Hospital (#1 choice), clinic, private practice?
  5. How far was I willing to travel for a job?
  6. How much was the salary?

Throughout the process, I found myself compromising on either the travel time or salary, but not on the hours. I knew I did not want a 9-5, five days a week job, which eliminated a lot of specialties that required that (i.e family medicine, certain surgical position, dermatology) but allowed me to explore potential internal medicine positions. I even thought of  orthopedic, ENT or neurology as those specialties looked to train new graduates more often than other specialties in my area.

There are different paths to finding a job. Positions recommended by people you know are always great because knowing someone within the organization has proven to help get you closer to an interview than simply sending a resume to the recruiting team. Tell you professors what specialty you’re interested in, or your clinical site supervisor to let you know if there are open positions. These are ways to get information early and apply. I also used Indeed, LinkedIn, recruiters, hospital careers websites and google search engine. There so many jobs opening and many of it will require experience. This could be disappointing, but a few of the time, I still sent in my resume and cover letter. I figured, I had nothing to lose.

Once I started getting positive response from the hiring team, I made sure to prepare my telephone pitch. It included who I was as person, what I was looking for and why I wanted that position. Phone interviews are very common with the recruiters of the hospitals you wish to work for, and it also helps you ask and learn more about a job before going in for a physical interview.

Physical interviews can be nerve wrecking. I remember my first one and my interviewer later told me how she thought I was a shy person (Ha! Anyone who knows me, can attest I’m the furthest from shy!). Since then, I have tried to allow my true self shine through and while I’m still learning, I got better. Practice makes perfect!

Some of the questions I asked during interviews included:

  1. What was their training timeline for new graduates?
  2. What is the turnover rate for employees working in the department?
  3. Is there opportunity for overtime hours?
  4. Are they aware of what a PA does and how do they utilize PAs?
  5. Are you mandated to take calls?
  6. Is there OR time allowed for surgical positions?

Most companies will reach out within 10-14 days if they do not offer the position right there to you. This has happened to me! Some may take a while if they’re still interviewing other applicants. Accepting a position is a commitment and most will ask you to sign an offer letter so they can begin credentialing. There are times where you may juggle a few offers and deciding which to accept will depend on what you really want out of the job. Remember, you ultimately decide if a job fits you, so ask questions and be active in the process.

Be aware of what you’re willing to accept and step forward into the next phase of your career. This can be another long and frustrating process, but staying on track will make a difference in how you handle it.

Share and comment below if you found this helpful!

Transition from PA-S to PA to PA-C with ease: Part One

The Long Space between leaving PA school and practicing as a PA-C

If I could get a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “do you have a job?” or “have you started working yet?”, I’m positive it’d help pay off some of the interest accruing on my loans. While these questions are asked out of interest, it is frustrating to explain the long process it takes. This post is the first of two part that will include how to prepare if you’re finishing up PA School and what to expect after you become a PA-C.

Within 60 days of your last day of PA School:

  1. Register for your PANCE as soon as you can. You can take your PANCE 7 days after your official last day of school, but you can register for it from when your program gives you the okay (my school was at least 60days before we finished). https://www.nccpa.net/pance-registration
  2. Create a resume and cover letter.
  3. Start applying for jobs.
  4. Make a schedule for how you want to tackle your PANCE.
  5. Take your BLS/ACLS/PALS course training if you don’t have them or will be needing them in the specialty of your choice.

Officially a PA.

  1. Study hard and PASS your PANCE as soon as you possibly can. Check out How to PASS the PANCE
  2. Continue to apply for jobs.

Officially a PA-C.

  1. Apply for jobs if you are still searching.
  2. Send in your state registration application. There are usually multiple steps for state registration, read the instructions carefully and pay the required fees. You can start this process while studying for your PANCE. In New York, it cost $115 and you can begin the application prior taking your exam and release your scores after you’ve passed. http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/med/rpaforms.htm
  3. Sign up for your NPI. The easiest of all things you’d have to do. https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/#/
  4. Apply for your DEA – (optional). If your job requires (as most do), your practice may pay for this or waived if working for a state institution. It cost $731 and most people reluctantly pay for this out of pocket. It can take up to 6weeks (Although it has taken less from what I hear) https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/webforms/
  5. If you’ve secured a job prior to finishing school or while studying for your PANCE, then you continue to start the credential process with your job. Private practices take less time to complete as opposed to hospital settings where average time is 3-4 months.

The delay is mainly due to credentialing. I’m speaking specifically for NYC here, make sure to keep in contact with the credentialing specialist assigned to you. There is a medical board that must review your credentials and to my knowledge, they meet once or twice a month and if your documents are not in order, you will not be presented and must wait for the next round. After accepting a job offer, you’ll have to complete a series of request. You must be proactive to email, ask for updates and complete all required tasks on time, otherwise, it will delay how soon you can start working.

Each company requirement for credential varies but you can expect the following plus more:

  1. Complete job application
  2. Medical clearance
  3. Recommendation from program director and clinical supervisors
  4. Background check
  5. HIPPA training and other training related to your job
  6. BLS/ACLS/ATLS/PALS etc as needed.

If you have not secured a job, continue to search, apply and interview.

Completing these steps are dependent on the individual, position and company. This is my experience and will be sharing the part two, which will include details on finding a job, deciding and more.

 

 

Book Review: The Wide Circumference of Love

The Wide Circumference of Love by Marita Golden
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Published: March 28 2017
Rated: ❤❤❤❤/5
Buy or Burrow: Buy

When you’re left without the memories of who you’re and only recall glimpses of the past as your present, how do you deal with it? How does it affect your family?

In The Wide Circumference of Love, Gregory Tate is a renowned architect who is losing his memory and his family are taking different routes to come to term with the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers. His wife, Diane Tate, must learn to shoulder this alone. A first, as she and Gregory always relied on each other in all the trials they faced in their marriage. His daughter, Lauren, followed in his footstep to be an architect but navigating new surprises in her life as she slowly loses the father she was once close to becomes a challenge. His son, Sean, who had a distant relationship with the family worked to bridge the gap and create a new relationship with a man that has now forgotten that he was his father.

Once Gregory is placed in an assisted living-a difficult decision Diane had to make following some troubling events- the dynamic within the family changes again. Finding ways to love the man Gregory once was and would be as the disease progressed became the goal for the family.

This story was more than just about Alzheimer’s. I was in awe of how Gregory and Diane built the foundation of their love, how scared each were of the disease when it began to show and how much can happen when you put love first. The story has several narrators who shared different parts of the experience with the readers. I wanted more narration from Lauren, whose story was one that could be fleshed out into another book as her life was a storyline many people could relate to.

The Wide Circumference of Love served a good dose of honesty on how hard Alzheimer affects the family and reinforced the importance of a supportive family.

Happy Reading,

B.

Wellness Check Up : why you need one

Have you completed your annual physical exam?

An annual physical is an examination of your health history, physical exam and routine lab work including your blood sugar and cholesterol level. It is data that provides basic foundation for your health. It can tell you if you’re anemic, which can contribute to the fatigue you complain about or point out elevated blood pressure readings that can be controlled early or it can simply be unremarkable.

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Unfortunately, not many people find it necessary to complete. A common misconception is if they’re doing “okay”, they don’t need a physical. With time spent working in the health care system, I have seen many issues that a regular physical exam can prevent and try to encourage those around me to complete one.

Annual physical can help to :

  1. Identify issues that you may be at risk and provide guidance to implement changes.
  2. Decreases ED/Urgent care visits. There are many visits daily in the ED that are primary care issues.
  3. Decreases total cost of care in the long run. If your health is recorded with a PCP, you’re more likely to track your history and know before hand.
  4. Improves management of long term medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension, CAD, HIV etc.
  5. Patient and provider relations is maintained for a long time. I’ve been with my PCP for over 8 years and do not plan on changing that. We have an understanding that I wouldn’t want to break.

If you have access to care, please schedule a visit to your primary care provider. Begin and invest in your health, just as you are eating and exercising.  Remember,

Health is weath!

How to Survive Finals Week

First  time in  forever (probably since I started grade school) that I’m not preparing for an exam in December. Here are a few last minute tips to survive finals week. These have worked for me in the past and while I’m not a straight A student, I think I did okay.

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so studious 😉

📝 Limit or stay completely away from social media!! I used to either put my phone on DND or turn it off while studying so I’m not tempted to constantly start complaining about how much work I have 😩. We’re all guilty of this.

📝Eat & Drink! So easy to want to get through a material and forget to take care of yourself. Your health is so important. & I have to eat, otherwise I get cranky 🥴🤣

📝Double check your topics list that will be covered on the exam. If you’re aware of what’s coming on the exam, you can plan how to review your notes, what your weak areas are and how to improve them.

📝If it’s a cumulative exam, review old exam questions if you have them.

📝Triple check the time & location of your exam. Don’t want to be late or go to the wrong exam hall.

📝Ask for help. If you can arrange an effective study group, or call up a friend to explain a few things, don’t hesitate.

📝Exercise. Even if its just taking a short walk, do something to help relax your mind.

📝 Sleep! I always got atleast 5hours of sleep for every exam I ever took. I may tussle in my bed from nerves, but you won’t find me doing an all nighter. Never worked for me. (p.s the one time I got maybe 3hrs of sleep for an exam, I fell asleep while taking the exam 🤦🏾‍♀️, so it’s def not worth it)

📝Do your best. Sometimes the effort put into a coursework doesn’t always translate into an A+.

Best of luck to everyone finishing up the semester!!!

Have a tip to help someone? Share!

Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinka Braithwaite
Published: Nov 20 2018
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Rate ❤❤❤/5
Buy or burrow: burrow

My Sister, the Serial Killer explored the dynamic between two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Korede is older and a nurse while Ayoola is a serial killer. Ayoola killed her latest boyfriend and Korede must help to clean up the mess and hide the evidence. Korede began to wonder about her sister’s latest kill, lack of remorse and how she was dealing with covering up Ayoola’s mess. All to soon, Ayoola drew the attention of someone close to Korede’s heart and she has a chance to save him before he dies.

While I didn’t seek out the plot prior to reading, I thought the title was catching and looked forward to a thrilling story – a total marketing genius. The previous title was “Thicker than Water”, something more approprate for the story, imo. I was seriously disappointed when I found that it contained very little mystery but liked the satirical route Oyinka took on the idea of duty and family. Through unfussy prose, we learned that Korede spent her whole life protecting her little sister from a tyrannical father and many bad decisions. Ayoola was overwhelmingly indulged by everyone, as seen from their mother, to anyone who met her. What I enjoyed the most was how accurate Oyinka displayed picking family over everything else, even if they’re toxic to you. A dutiful trait that runs very deep within the Nigerian culture.

While I didn’t get my dark mysterious novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer was an easy read, something to pick up on spur of the moment and enjoy for its refreshing take on loyalty.

p.s: how many kills does it take for a person to be labeled a “serial killer”? Leave your answer below !
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How to PASS the PANCE

I started this blog post several weeks ago, where I added things, removed some and debated if it was worth sharing with the world. This topic is universal and very subjective because I’m only a recent graduate who is sharing her one-time experience with the PANCE. The rest of the post will be very informal, so judge very lightly.

These are my views on the topic and everything I wrote about is not going to apply to every student.

Was the test hard? Yes, it was.  Probably one of the most challenging exams I’ll ever take.

What study tools did I use? I used Pance Prep Pearls and Rosh Rapid Review e-text as my text resource. Hippo education, PPP question book, Smarty Pance and Rosh Review were my resources for questions. In hindsight, I probably could’ve benefited from an additional study guide, but I am a person who doesn’t like too many sources. Once something works, rarely do I ever want to change it.

  • Rosh: I did all the body system questions, the family, internal, surgery and emergency medicine EORs. I also completed the Mock PANCE to replicate the PANCE in a 5 hour sit down. This was done 7 days before my exam.
  • Hippo: I completed at least 4x 200+ random question per practice exam. I reviewed mostly the questions I got wrong and allowed HIPPO to pick my questions based on my weak areas.
  • Smarty Pance: I did 3 of the comprehensive 225 questions exam during the first 2 weeks of my studying. I didn’t return to use Smarty Pance because it wasn’t as tough as the remaining resources.
  • PPP question book: I only did 160 question out of the whole 600 question book. I was short on time and simply preferred computerized practice question. Although if I had more time, I’d have done more of these questions because they helped.

Tutor or Exam mode while doing questions? I believe that tutor mode makes me lazy as it helps answer future questions. Simply put, I didn’t do any tutor mode. I timed myself for every exam to build up my stamina. You’re going to be taking an exam, so start stimulating that and you’ll be ready. Sidebar, I had about 8-10 min in each section of my PANCE to review my exam and news from fellow classmates was how they were running out of time.

Did I take the NCCPA Pretest?  Yes, I did and totally worth the $50 investment. Honestly, this is the only test that is very similar to the actual test and helps to show where you stand among your peers who’ve taken it. Do not take the pretest until you’ve reviewed all the topics and at least 10-14 before your exam date. It has a way of unnerving even the calmest students, so prepare for it because you don’t want to waste your money or time taking it when you’re not ready.

What were my weak areas? Pulm, Msk, OBGYN & GU were my weak points. I did terrible on reproductive system because I did not review those topics before taking the pretest. Therefore, it is important to finish reviewing all materials before taking it. TRUST ME.

How long did I study? PANCE is an individual race. You must know where you’re as a student and know what works best for you. I took my exam exactly 6 weeks after my first board review. I put in about 10 hours x 4 days a week consistently in the library and a about 6 hours here and there on days I wasn’t in the library.  I needed the structure of the library and no distraction to complete what I needed to do. While this worked for me, it can be different for you. I know a lot of people say you’re studying for PANCE while in clinical rotation, but that time is not the same because you’re still focused on passing an EOR & graduating. There must be time set apart to focus on solely studying for the PANCE and that time varies. Average recommended time is 4-8 weeks depending on who you’re. Some students will take it within 2 weeks, while some will take 10 weeks or more. Its all up to where you stand.

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How much time is too much time? Just as you don’t want to take the exam unprepared, don’t take forever either. You can be ready objectively but subjectively you may feel not ready and willing to keep pushing off the test. If your practice scores show that you’re doing well, your pretest places you in the green and you know your stuff, don’t take forever waiting. Because life will be happening around you, which can affect how well you study if you are weeks to far into it.

What topics needs extra attention? The main heavy hitters to know are cardio, pulm and GI. BUT, reproductive health, GU, and professional practice are content areas not usually given much thoughts to and I’d recommend paying closer attention to them. Personally, I treated reproductive health as a topic that “I should know already” but it turns out that I needed to read and put in more effort.  Do not sleep on professional practice content areas.

Was I anxious? I had a lot of anxiety leading up to my exam and even until the morning I got my result. I was blessed to receive so many great news that morning- my niece was born that morning as well. I believe that being mentally prepared for the exam was just as important as studying for the actual blueprint. We know the material but learning to be a test taker and not doubting yourself is vital. After my exam, I felt like such a weight was lifted and that I could have passed. While thinking about that, I tried to quell my eagerness because you just never know. That was the hardest part and the waiting was bad. Thank God for great friends who will adjust their plans to keep you company after taking that exam!

Does your score matter? I simply have no idea. To me it doesn’t matter if you pass at 350 or 750, because you’re both a PA-C. Your test score doesn’t determine what type of practitioner you’ll be. While studying, ask your faculty what numbers are ideal to be scoring. If you reach out to me personally, I will share what numbers I think can tell you where you stand. I have only my knowledge and other classmates to use as my source for it, which is why I do not feel comfortable sharing it here.

Test taking tips… Do not change the question asked. Answer what you’re given, as it is given. Do not think like a clinician, think exactly like the textbook. Read the last line first and then start from the beginning to help focus. Review questions you answered wrong then find out why you answered it the way you did and learn from it.

Group study or no? I did one group study session with my friends and it was only on cardiology. While it was helpful, we found that we were all at different points and wasn’t going to be productive to keep meeting up. We stayed in touch via video chat, group text and phone call whenever someone had a question, which was very often!

My support system was… My three closest friends in the program were the people I spoke with the most. I shared everything from my anxiety, study techniques, stress and tips with them and vice versa. I limited the amount of people who had access to me during my study time because I didn’t want to interrupt the energy I had cultivated. My state of mind during those 6 weeks were fragile and life was happening all around me and I had to block a lot of it out. You must do what you have to do sis!

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you learned something and will share my experience with the 2019 PANCE with others. It was an exam that put my 27 months in the program to test, to see if I had what it takes to practice. I am blessed to have family and friends who supported me because it was a tough 6 weeks. No one else will be able to understand what you’re feeling, except for your classmates, so it is okay to take however long you need to be ready. If I remember more helpful information, I’ll update this post as needed.

B.

p.s: be mentally prepared by learning how to control your anxiety.

p.s.s: If you are a borderline student or struggled while taking your EORs, PACKRAT etc, then I’d recommend taking your time to evaluate your weak areas and strengthen them. Those areas do not disappear just because you’re done with school. The PANCE is too important and expensive to just “go take it”. There are students who don’t pass or do well, that’s the sad reality of it. It doesn’t mean they’re not smart, they just must adjust to taking a test. Do yourself a great service and do what’s best for you. Check how you’re scoring on your practice test; find patterns in questions you get wrong and alter your studying appropriately.

p.s.s.s: the passing score of 350 from last year exam will not yield a 350 this year according to the information regarding the 2019 PANCE. That means the PANCE was harder this year, which has put alot of people on edge. It is neccessary to stress, because you want that “C” bad, but don’t let the stress stop you from effectively studying and learning to be a better tester.

The 2019 PANCE was a real one, from my experience and the passing rate nationwide.