CRAFTING WELLNESS STORY
You Say Doctor, I Say Magician
An Emergency Medicine Doctor who was once a little boy from Haiti thought his doctor was a magician because he would give him medicine to fix his asthma. That belief would inspire young Gagou to one day become a magician himself. Watch our latest podcast and hear how struggle, tribulations and obstacles were overshadowed by a little belief in magic. ✨
I wanted to be a doctor because to me, I thought being a doctor was like to be a magician. That's really what I thought it was because I suffered from asthma as a child and, and my mom would take me to hospital and they would give me these medications. Well, now I know they're doing this but like back then I, I didn't know what they were giving me the which has given me stuff and I will feel better. You know, and I just Oh my god, I would see this tall guy was like this long white coat, you know, I mean, his stethoscope was like, this long, you know, is like, wow, this guy looks like a magician. I want to be a magician when I grow up. You know, and you know, eventually later on as I'm growing up, I'm realizing oh, you know, they're not, they're not magicians, they're healthcare workers.
Welcome to our MDF Instruments® Crafting Wellness podcast. I am so excited today to introduce you to Gayou, he is an emergency medicine doctor.
I'm excited to be with you guys. Honestly. You guys, the company means a lot to me. So I'm just excited to be here with you guys.
We're so excited to have you! Can you kind of just give us a little introduction. Just tell us your name, where you're from, where you are right now, and what you do?
Okay, so my name is Gayou Serafin. I'm a PGY One at JacobyMontefiore Einstein, you know, emergency program right now. I was born in Florida, on a Tuesday, but the same Friday, I was taken to Haiti. And I grew up there until I was like, 16-17. And, you know, I initially didn't have any plan. You know, I had the dream of becoming a doctor. But I didn't have any plan on becoming a doctor until years and years later, when I moved here to New York. I currently live in Queens, New York right now. And I've been living here for the past 13 years and, and I'm working in the Bronx, as an emergency medicine doctor.
Okay, so you left Haiti when you were 16-17. And you came to New York right away?
Yeah, I came. So I came. So my sister was at the time. So. So I like to say one of the reasons I like to say I was born in Miami, but I'm really a Haitian at heart, was because of my experiences in Haiti. Obviously, I grew up there, obviously. But really, what's really impressive is that I grew up in Haiti between a certain time between the Yeah, I mean, I was there all my life, you know, but I feel like the timeframe between 1998 to 2005 is what makes me Haitian. You know, the Haiti, Haiti was a complete mess at the time, you know, like governmental allies. And, you know, just like so many civil war is going on at that time. And I think that that experience is what makes me Haitian. But it was getting very, very difficult, it was getting increasingly difficult for me to go to go to school. Like, you know, that there will be like, you know, just different manifestations, and then just war in the streets. And sometimes I couldn't, you know, I could, I would go weeks and weeks, I couldn't go to school. But my sister at the time had already left Haiti, my sister left Haiti, like in 1997 1998, that's 99 or so. She was studying law here. And, you know, around 2004 2005, when, when my mom realized that it was very difficult to send me to school, because I was going to school by myself at the time, she had to go to work. So it wasn't that easy for her to take me to school and go to work. And she realized it was difficult. So she sent me to New York where my sister already was, because she didn't want to, she didn't want to study in New York anymore. She wanted to study law and become a lawyer. And she just came to New York to finish high school and she was already here at John Jay College in New York City, studying pre law and I decided to just come and live with her for a little bit and we move then she was living in Queens in a one bedroom apartment. And eventually that changed because of the the super just couldn't handle the place anymore. So she was then put in a house in a family house where she had like a room in the house but she was sharing everything else in the kitchen, the bathroom and we share the kitchen the bathroom with one Egyptian men in three men from Honduras. Well, two from Guatemala from Honduras, and I just was I came and I stayed with her and we just we just bring that out from there, you know?
Wow. Yeah, I mean, that's that's shows some toughness and some resilience there you know, going to to New York, so young and following your sister's footsteps? Sounds like she set a good example. So I'm sure you're really close with your family.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, as far as the as far as setting the tone, and making sure that education was important. It started with my uncle, that it trickled down to my mom, but my sister definitely took the torch like she definitely carried everything. You know, because she was very serious about school. And that really affected me because I felt like I couldn't really sit back You know, even though I was growing up in Jamaica, Queens at the time, which was a very super dangerous area, but the way she was carrying herself, I couldn't sit back and act like school wasn't important to me. So even if I wanted to be on my slack, or whatever the case is, I couldn't do it because my sister was already setting the trend. And I couldn't I couldn't sit back and not follow for sure.
Yeah. So okay, so how did you find your way into medicine, then from there, tell us a little bit about that journey.
So medicine to me, um, to me, it's like, full of layers. I wanted to be a doctor because to me, I thought being a doctor was like to be a magician. That's really what I thought it was because I suffered from asthma as a child. And, and my mom would take me to hospital, and they would give me these medications. But now I know they're doing this, but like, back then I, I didn't know what they were giving me. They were just giving me stuff. And I would feel better. You know, and I just Oh, my God, I was see this tall guy was like this long white coat. You know, I mean, his stethoscope was like, this long, you know, is like, wow, this guy looks like a magician. I want to be a magician when I go. You know. And you know, eventually, later on, as I'm growing up, I'm realizing, oh, you know, they're not. They're not magicians, they're healthcare workers. But it still left something with me. What became very much impressive was, was when I was born in Haiti, you had all these different types of organizations, like, you know, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and all these different big organizations that would come and set up shop in my neighborhood in Haiti, I didn't have these long lines of people who couldn't get health care otherwise, throughout the year. But every time these guys came by, you know, they would just do these long lines around these mobile clinics in the neighborhood. And that left an impression on me. So when I came to New York, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, I knew that I wanted to get into medicine. But I didn't have a plan. Like, I had no clue about the MCAT. I had no clue about, you know, volunteering. I had no clue that it took like, you know, two years of biology, four years of chemistry, you know, like one year of general chemistry and well, two years of general chemistry two years of organic chemistry, along with biochemistry. I didn't I had no clue. I have no clue. I didn't know you had to take physics and you have to calculate and you have to English. I didn't have no clue. I went to Queens College. And while I was there, I was pretty much I don't want to say lollygagging around, but I was pretty much going with the flow. You know, going with the flow is like, you know, I'm just taking classes, but I don't really know how to really apply my semesters the correct way to really become a doctor. Then I had a heart attack in front of me. Back in 2000? Well, I would say yes, I was in 12, he had a heart attack in front of me. And I didn't know what to do. And it just was at home. And we took him to Queen's Hospital. And I just remember seeing all these doctors coming outside because they thought he had a stroke. But he was having a heart attack. Panic, you know, because I drove him to the hospital myself, because he didn't he didn't want to wait for the ambulance, my job to hospital I was like skipping red lights all throughout the you know, all throughout queens, you know, I just, I took like 15 minutes, but I got him there. And I just yelled, You know, my dad is sick. And everybody I'm told that at least like two nurses and three doctors came out. And they took it from me. And I realized as they were going, these little tabs like emergency emergency I will see in all of their badges. And I was like, You know what, I need to figure out, I need to figure out exactly how to become a doctor. So I went back to Queens College and I started having a conversation with people. You know, I was having a conversation with my math teachers, my biochemistry teachers, and I was just still I'm like, Listen, I want to be a doctor, but I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have any help. I don't know. You know, nobody, nobody in my family is a doctor and, and they just pointed me to the right people. And thank God for this lady at Queens College. Her name is Maureen Pierce anion. She's a counselor there who specifically works with black students at Queens College. Her name is Maureen Pierce, and we call her Miss PA. And she took me under her wings. And then I realized that I was one out of seven black males out of at least 2000 students applying each year to go to med school and she was taking care of us. And she was telling us what to do. You know, she was saying you know, you got to get an A in this class, you have to you have to take this class and you have to get at least a B plus. And you have to take this class and you have to get at least a minus and she would just lay out things for us. For me specifically because she gave me one on one time. So I'm very grateful to miss pa Queens College for doing that. So that that really is my journey up until up until the year before I took the MCAT to go to medical Cool, yeah.
Wow. Yeah, it sounds like you know, we talked about this a little bit on the podcast other times that, you know, not to be afraid for people to reach out and ask for help, because you've never done something before, and you don't know how it works. And if you don't come from a family that has any kind of similar career path is whatever you're pursuing, it can be really challenging to kind of go over all of the obstacles. And then on top of the other challenges, it's, it can be hard, so
it must be is the reason why, technically, I came across you guys. Uh, you know, because before Miss PA, I wasn't doing anything, I'll be honest, I wasn't doing any volunteer work. I wasn't, I was just taking classes at Queens College. And you know, and to be to be frank with you. I didn't do biology or chemistry, I did apply mathematics as my Bachelor's, mis Pa was the one who told me okay, it's okay. If you do, it's okay. If you do a major in theater, a major and so it's all medical students out there, it's okay, if your major is not a, it's not a bio major, it's okay, if you don't have a bachelor's in bio chemistry, or physics, that's fine. But you must find a way to at least gets your, you know, two years of biology, you know, two years of general chemistry, two years of organic chemistry, plus maybe like a year plus or minus a year of biochemistry, or microbiology, whatever you want to call it. And then you take calculus, and then you take, you know, you make sure you have your English literature or whatever literature practices that you know, because they want to make sure before you go to med school that you're proficient in English, you know, so, so really, as a medical student, so this is my advice for medical students, you should be you should be involved. Yes, you have to take your classes, you have to you have to do well, but you should be involved in your community, you should be volunteering at a local hospital, because medical schools will look at that you should be participating in outreach communities. And you know, just, you know, just communities that make you look like you're, you're an individual that you're not staying at home and studying all day, or that you're not participating and helping the world in any kind of way. So when Miss PA, she gave me the opportunity to go look for local hospitals around my neighborhood, to find out how I can help as a volunteer, and more importantly, she gave me vouchers to go to medical conferences. Okay, that's the most important thing because as a medical students, when you go to these medical conferences, you're going to see all these big shot doctors, and you're going to see these residents, and you're going to see the medical students. So as a pre med student, you're going to be inspired, and you're going to feel like okay, you know what, I can make it if I see this girl, she can make it, I can make it too. And I went to AMEC, which is the annual medical educational conference. It's directed towards minorities, students, it's everybody, everybody goes there. But the majority of the people that go there are minority students. It's actually because of the pandemic. They haven't been doing it. But when I went there, and I went at least three times during my pre med, you know, my pre med years, this is where I met a lot of people. And I made a lot of connections. That is my way into medicine. To be fair, and Frank. And this is where I'm at MDF®, because you guys have you guys had a booth there.
Okay, yes, I see you representing there with our stethoscope
2000 2013. I don't remember the name of the guy that was there. But you guys had a booth there, MDF® I remember you guys very well, because at that time, I didn't know about you guys at all. Actually. I would see people with littmanns and stuff like that, but I never heard of any other stethoscopes honestly. And this guy was there. And he was just he had these racks and racks of like, you know, like stethoscopes and boxes, just said MDF Instruments®. And I remember seeing him and I'm like, Hey, like what the hell is this is why I said this. This was like, Oh, what is that? And he looked at me, I always saw stethoscope. So I was like, Okay, how much is it? He's like, Oh, it's like 100 bucks on 150 depending on what you're looking for. And I was like, What do you mean? He's like, Well, we specialize in cardiology, you know, and stuff like that. So, you know, a lot of our stethoscopes are geared towards that. And I was like, I don't want to I don't want to be a cardiologist anyway. And I was like, Well, can I get one? And he was like, well, um, check back with me later. And I remember picking up one and it was it was heavy, but like, but heavy, like basically at the bell and the diaphragm, like, you know, you could feel it. And I just remember putting it on one of my friends chest and to hear and auscultation and I was like, Whoa, I couldn't really hear everything with this. But I just left it alone. I put it back and just mind my business. And then two days into the conference whenever I think everybody was leaving and everything like that. And they have sold a lot. I remember you guys sold a lot of those that the scopes there, and people liked the product. And I remember passing by and I was like, Man, you guys, you guys are selling out the stethoscopes, what's going on? So a lot of stethoscopes I see that are gone now. And he looked at me, he's like, Don't worry, I got one for you. And he handed me a stethoscope, I don't have it with me, it should be in my room somewhere. I don't see it now. But it's somewhere in my room. He gave me a stethoscope. And I remember he was like, You know what, go out there and be a good medical student. That's what he said to me. And I just, I just couldn't believe that he gave it to me. And that stethoscope cost. I think about like 150 $153. I remember and I was like, wow, he gave it to be I can't believe he did that. And so imagine this is I'm in my I'm a pre med medical. I'm a pre medical student. I'm not I'm pre med. I'm not a medical student yet. So I didn't use that stethoscope until years later. Because I wasn't in med school, I was still like trying to get to med school. So it wasn't until three years later that I use that stethoscope And I'll tell you, that's that stethosope made me shine on the floors. As a medical student, I'll tell you, I caught so many murmurs with that stethoscope murmur that make me look like a genius in front of my attendess. So MDF®, you guys rock.
We absolutely love hearing that, you know, that was probably Darren, probably the owner of the company, just by the sounds of it, but I'll have to check in. I love hearing that story. It's a great story. You know, we love getting involved in medical missions and donating stethoscopes all the time, and just giving back because of global health and health care for all and just making sure that people have the equipment that they need to facilitate that health, you know, and it can be difficult sometimes in other places around the world who don't have access to the things that they need in order to even do the job that they're trying to do in the first place. So with with not only the damage from the earthquake, but now with the with COVID. And then also just the violence and the politics and like everything going on over there.
Um, yeah, so there's been many, many different earthquakes, but the worst one was in 2010.
You know, it's, um, it's, I'm sure that at some point, you were, you know, when we were talking earlier talking about UNICEF, and you were talking about being inspired when you were a kid and seeing those long lines of people. Is that something you maybe will do in the future is, is maybe go back and volunteer and do anything like that? Or have you done work like that?
The only reason I haven't done it this year was because I'm still waiting on my seniors to like, you know, set it up. This was good about being a junior. You know, it's just waiting for them to set it up. As soon as it's set up. I'm going definitely, you know, there are a couple of people who already went to Jamaica to do ultrasound, I didn't go because I wasn't I'm not. I mean, I love ultrasound. But I didn't feel like this, you know, I didn't want to, I didn't want to go at the time, because I was still getting my feet wet. As a new doctor still learning how to do the system, still learning how to manage patients, you know, effectively. So, you know, I didn't go but what I'm noticing is that people are going more and more now, people are picking back up the old stuff that they were doing before the COVID pandemic. It for sure by next year or you know, by summertime, if anything's going on, I'm definitely going for sure.
For sure. Yeah, well, you know, always just let us know if there's any medical missions going on that you get involved with, you can email me or anyone else.
You guys, where you guys are very, like, it's very easy to reach out to you guys. And it's so funny, because now that I'm a I'm a medical doctor, you know, I feel like talking to you guys is just like, it's, it's it's just a report. You know, I remember I don't I don't know if I lost the stethoscope. I really don't remember recently. So let me grab this. I think I lost it. There's a stethoscope. And then like, you know, like, you guys like just sit like you guys sent me this. I was like complaining on the phone with someone. And I was like, Yeah, you know, I I'm gonna get a stethoscope and blah, blah says I want you to carry on. I'm like no. And she was like, Well, I'll tell you something. So you could carry it so you don't lose it. And she sent me this. And I have multiple stethoscopes. I mean, this one is also MDF®, as well as the scope. So most of my stethoscopes are cardiologists stethoscopes because I'm in the ED it's very noisy. So I need something that that's going to give me when I'm ascualtating a patient I'm going to get a good isolation in my ears, but I'm also going to get great death especially with a diaphragm. So I need that so you know she sent me this and I'm so greatful. You guys are just nice. You guys are really I love
it. I love hearing that. I'm glad that you get good use out of them. I would love to talk a little bit more about I don't exactly know where you are in your journey. Are you in residency now? Or Did you already finish that?
Well, I'm in. I'm in residency right now,
you're a junior in your residency. So is that four years?
Yeah, just medicine. So emergency medicine goes two ways. You can do three years, or you can do four years, most most trauma, trauma or county or trauma Level, Level One centers, level one trauma centers, or county hospitals are four years. Why? Because, because they want to give you the option of being able to navigate, you know, because there are different types of Emergency Medicine doctor, you know, some emergency medicine doctors, they don't really deal with trauma, they mostly deal with just medical problems, you know, they, they deal with heart attacks, they deal with strokes they deal with, with with seizures, they deal with, with, you know, somebody coming in because they having like a very bad pancreatitis, a very bad abdominal infection. That's what they deal with. So they stabilize those patients. And then you have emergency medicine doctors, who all they do is deal with gunshot wounds all day long, you know, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, you know, motor vehicle accidents, crushed bone crushing injuries, you know, some emergency medicine is very, is why, but it's a mesh of things. And for me, specifically, it was important for me to be in a setting where I can do both. And that's why I'm in a four year program. So I'm in my first year of my four year program was done. I'm about to become a second year doctor now soon. But yeah, basically, I, I started medical school in 2017. And I was at downstate, I was in Brooklyn, Downstate Medical Center. And I trained basically at Kings County and downstate, which are also for your programs. But being in New York, I matched at Jacoby Hospital Center, in the Bronx. And, and I'm happy there because, man, this, the types of stuff that I deal with every day is just just incredible, you know, Brox is different. It's very don't it's like the home of the brave, you know, in terms of the violence, in terms of things that goes on there, you know, it's like, you know, last year, my first few months, I was seeing a gunshot gunshot cases every day, you know, the violence is very, very concerning over there. But it feels good to be there, especially as a black doctor, because I get to really be hands on in the presentation of different things like, you know, a lot of them are black teens, you know, black males that are coming in with like stabbing wounds. And yet, we had a had a shooting, you know, near near our hospital in the Bronx, which was very traumatic for a lot of us. So, you know, I'm in a four year program. But for the medical students who are interested in becoming an emergency, medical doctor, please understand that you can do three years, okay, you can go to a three year program. And you know, you do three years, don't worry. I would say don't worry, because they usually see that in three year programs, the trauma, the trauma experiences are the same, that is true, but you will be you will be adequately prepared if you do three years for trauma. But what I do notice is a lot of people who do three year programs, they're not really interested in going to county hospital, they're interested in being like, medical emergency, not surgical emergency, per se, but medical emergency. So I wanted to do both. So that's why I'm in a four year program.
I see. And, and so kind of talking about going back to the trauma and the gunshot wounds and the stabbing and for you, how do you handle all of that kind of stress that you're yourself probably going through because you're there to obviously try to save their life or heal them, fix them. And I know that's a lot of pressure, but also just the weight of, of being a doctor and knowing that sometimes you're going to lose a patient and you don't always have the easiest days. What do you do for yourself to kind of like, come back to zero or mentally kind of unwind from that or is there anything you can do and just love to hear kind of what you what you have to say about that?
What I I'm very good at compartmentalizing things in my life. I know that when I go to work, I'm here to do a job and I'm here to like be be what patients need me to be. They need me to assess them. Look Get them, figure out what's wrong with them, and make sure they get home safe, or make sure that they go upstairs in the hospital and be treated further. So for me, that's, I'm not saying it's easy, but for me, it's easy for, it's easy for me to understand. I'm not saying it's easy, it's easy for me to understand what my role is in that situation. Actually, I was talking to one of my friends, yesterday, when you asked me this, it's hard to be in a situation where somebody can die in front of you. That that really stressed me out a lot over the past year, because literally some of these cases are, if I don't act, now, this patient will die. If I don't act now, this patient will will like will have a very, very permanent, long lasting issue. If I don't do something right now, if I don't think fast, something bad will happen. That's very challenging. But I understand the role that I mean, I picked emergency medicine, because that's what I love. And that's what you know, I just want to be able to patch people, you know, very quickly see if they need to go home and see if they need to come inside of the hospital. What I really do, I try to keep my my life as grounded as possible, you know. So I like I'm a bass player, like I played a bass. I also dance like, you know, like salsa, we they call it? Well, they call it salsa, but me I call the Cuban music, because salsa is really Cuban music, and people have this misunderstanding of what it represents. But it really comes from African roots, and it developed in Cuba, with black Cubans. And, you know, I just try to make sure that a lot of my friends in my especially my friends, you know, they're they're grounded people, you know, when I get out of the hospital, I disconnect as much as I can. I don't I try not to think about, you know, those bad cases as much as I can. And yes, I have a lot of fun stories as well being in the emergency. To funny stories that you could take out some of the saddest stories, for sure. But man, some of the funniest stories that you could possibly think of.
Oh, I bet you want to give us a funny one.
You want to hear a funny story? So he was actually recent, this guy, this guy goes in, and there's nothing wrong with him. But the thing is, he just want to get checked out, you know, he want to get checked out and he wants to write. And he's coming in and I went to see my hair. You know, I heard that you're here, Ed, but I don't know why you're here. Like, what brings you to the emergency room? And he's like, Well, Doc, to be honest with you. I just want some food. And I just want to sleep here. And I just want to be left alone. I'll say, Well, you know, this is a hospital, right? And you know what, I'm supposed to be doing this. This is not what we're doing. We just want to fix the boy send him home. And he's looking at me. Well, technically, that's what's going to fix me right now. And that's what's gonna send me home. If you could just give me some. Just let me sleep here for a little bit. I was like, You know what, alright, I'll give you five hours. I'll give you some food. I'm gonna get some blood work with you. If there's if nothing's wrong with you, you go to home. He looked at me, he smiled back.
Wow. One way to get away from home, I guess,
was this guy who came in and he came in. So he came in, he had an accident. And he came in, and we had him in the trauma bay, because you know, we want to we just want to make sure if somebody comes in for an accident, we want to make sure that nothing's wrong with them. There's no bleeding we do. Like there's no internal bleeding or anything like that. You know, we check out you know, we do a survey to make sure they're protecting their airway, they can talk, they have good pulses, or throughout, and they can follow us and everything like that. And, you know, when we get into the trauma bay, he, you know, he just was looking at us, he said, Hey, why am I here? I was like, Well, you had an accident. Are you aware of this? He's like, Yeah, but I told the organiser, I didn't need to come because I can walk. I can think I have no issues. Nothing's wrong with me. So I need to be like, Well, okay, I get it. Can you at least let us check you out? You know, before we send you out, you know, because you know, you had an accident. I was like, did you have any nausea? Like, no. Do you have any vomiting? No, any headaches or visual changes? No, no, no, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. And then we're like, Okay, well, alright. So that nothing's wrong with you. But please let us just do some imaging. Make sure there's no broken bones and you can go home. He's like, alright, Doc, I'll let you do whatever you want to do. But just so you know, I have a lot of piercings below my belt. So just so you know. No Pinky hanky. Alright, can all of you nurses turn around right now? Before I get undressed? Look like, you know what? This guy's fine. He's gonna be fine. He just got off the bed. You got to dress you got to like turn our backs. He's like, no, no. Okay, everybody. No, let me take up my bed. No, look, you're not gonna look at me. You're not gonna look at me. Let me take on my pens, give me the gown, and I'll get undressed myself. Nobody's gonna look at me. If we had to literally walk around. Let them get dressed. All right, good return. Now I was like, Yeah, I'm ready. I'm ready.
Oh, my gosh, it sounds like you meet some interesting characters. Oh, yeah. That's really funny. I love to bring it back a little, you've already given such great advice. Do you have any other advice you would want to give to any students? Or anybody who's thinking about doing similar careers? You going into emergency medicine?
Oh, yeah. I mean, well, as far as emergency medicine goes, I feel like a lot of us. Well, I let me speak for myself, because I don't know what everybody else is feeling. Um, as far as I'm concerned. You know, I chose it, it's a lifestyle, be prepared for that. It's a way of practicing medicine, medicine is practice different ways in different fields, you know, you know, you're going to have an OBGYN, you're going to have a surgeon, you're going to have, you know, nephrologist, or you're gonna have like a hepatologist, you're gonna have a GI doctor, they all practice medicine a certain way. You as an emergency physician, your job is to figure out, what is this patient going to need, you know, this decision needs to be in the hospital, that's really your job, that's your job, essentially, does this patient need to be here, right. And you must be able to really analyze that, and make a good decision based on that, because the last thing you want is to send somebody home who needed to be in a hospital, and it's something that happens to them, it comes as fallback it falls back on you. That's number one. Number two, you must be able to like juggle medical issues versus surgical issues, because you got to meet the best of both worlds. And that's important to know that, you know, you're gonna deal with both of these circumstances a lot. What I would suggest for any medical student is pick an actual County Hospital to volunteer, don't volunteer in a clinic, you know, I understand it's very easy, you go valid in a clinic, but you know, that's like should be on your side stuff, you know, like a volunteer in a county hospital, where you're going to see gunshots, where you're going to see people coming in with stab wounds, you're going to see people coming in with stab wounds to the face. The other day, I saw this guy cut up from, you know, ear to ear, you know, and think God has seen that before, because I felt like if I had that was my first time seeing this, I don't think I would be able to take care of this guy. But I had been seen that before I volunteered at Jamaica hospital before. And I've seen so many different things there. That by the time I got to Jacoby but but even by the time I got to Kings County and now magic Kobe, I feel like you know, I can handle these, like very gruesome looking presentations. And also, at the same time, be ready for the other stuff like, you know, people vomiting on you, you know, on patients not wanting you to take care of them, patients pushing you patients, they're getting very, very agitated patients coming in on all types of drugs and toxins that you don't know about. And they're, they're aggressive and, and they're aggressive, and they can die on you. Because those, those drugs can kill them. You know, a lot of, especially in the Bronx, you know, a lot of patients do heroin, a lot of them do synthetic marijuana, a lot of them do all types of drugs that can cause him to have a heart attack or cause him to have a stroke. And, and you must be ready to see these things up. I would suggest you really volunteer in a county setting, if you want to be an emergency physician. So at least you've seen some of the most serious and, and yeah, somebody of the most serious things that you you know, that you that you can come across as a doctor?
Yeah, I think that's really great advice. I have a curious question. Just hearing you talk about things do you ever run across people who, who kind of are forced into the emergency room because by either by ambulance or something like that, and are worrying about the cost and the price of what their visit is going to be if they don't have health insurance and stuff like that? Do you ever does that seem to be kind of an issue there? Where you?
Well, the thing is as as an emergency as an like, one of the policies of the emergency room is we don't refuse anybody regardless, regardless of their insurance status, regardless of their would it pay or not. Now, I don't know what really goes on with billing afterwards. But I can tell I can assure you there's a lot of people who Under the emergency room who do not have any type of income, they're homeless, they're not, you know, they're they don't have I know, they probably don't have a penny to their name. I know that for a fact. And we still take them on, we still treat them we still, you know, I've never seen, I've never seen somebody get worried that we're going to treat them and we're going to build them. I've never seen that. I've I haven't had that experience myself. But what I can say is we've had a lot of homeless people, a lot of people who do not, you know, didn't just do not have the money to have the proper care and emergency setting, and we still take care of them doesn't matter. Yeah, absolutely.
I think it's just important that people know that because you don't want someone not going to get the help that they need, because they're worried that they can't pay for it. If you have an emergency and you need to go to the emergency room, please go to the emergency room. Because I know people in the past I've known people who worry about the cost of things, and then they don't go and they get really sick, sometimes, you know, could have been prevented if they had gone sooner. So I wanted to kind of bring that up. But I also wonder, yeah, I wanted to ask you two hours, like do you go from working day shift night shift? Are you primarily in one or the other? Or does it kind of just is it change week to week.
So all this week, I was working from 8am to 8pm, or this week and the sun starting Sunday night, I'm going to work from 8am. So 8pm to 8am. So they keep me going back and forth. That's tough. That's one of the toughest things, but I think that's what happens during residency. You know, when you become an attending after your residency, then you can definitely make a decision on what you know, because that's when you start to talk about contracts. You know, I know different attendings. They only work nighttime, because they're not interested in working data and the only way to work at night, or attendings that I've never seen work during the night, they're not here during the night, there are attendings who do not work during the weekends, you know, depending on the type of contract that you do, you can decide but as a resident, you don't get to decide because your seniors are doing the actual schedule. So me like especially me, oh my god, this is like so tough. But I usually work from 8am to 8pm, or 8pm to 8am. And sometimes it just goes back and forth. And sometimes I'll go weeks, we only work days in algo weeks, we only work nights. And but especially this week, they're just past, you know, I'm going back and forth. You know, last week, I was night, then this week that just passed. I was days, and in this week, starting Sunday, I'm going to be mates again. So, yeah, as a resident, it's a much that's something that you have to be prepared for.
Yeah, how do you do you have any tips or tricks or anything to get you through that? Are you relying on heavily on coffee? Or how are you acclimating your body through those changes,
get used to it, you'll get used to it because you start to adjust. The first time, what I would say is, the first time I had was drinking, like I was drinking a lot of coffee to stay up at night. But then, depending on where you are, it things get so busy, that it's okay. You know, you know, things become so busy in the emergency room, you know, you're only you're probably going to have only but so many shifts where nothing is going on, I promise you something is always going on at trust me. So at some point, you adjust, but honestly, I'll be honest, like, when I work nights, my days are destroyed. Basically, I work the whole night. And I sleep the whole day, forget about it, as opposed to when I'm working. During the day, I can work from eight to eight. And then at 8pm I don't really go home, I can go somewhere else, have a drink, meet some friends, and you know, maybe even go see a show or whatever the case is in the city. And then I go home and get ready to you know, start back again in the morning. But during night time forget about it. I went from 8pm to 8am and from 8am to like 6pm I'm sleeping.
Yeah, I imagine that's really challenging, but sounds like yeah, you're you're getting through it and you're you're not too far away. So it's a little bit longer. Yeah. What do you think have been some of your biggest challenges either as a resident or pursuing medicine or just in general, while you've been kind of on this path? What would you say your biggest challenges have been?
So it before I became pre med, when I was growing up, I grew up in Queens, and I didn't grow up around a lot of you know, like I grew up in a very, very tough neighborhood. It was a good neighborhood, but it was like you know, some of the influences around there was just not ideal. So getting to getting to To become a pre med student was a little bit challenging in terms of, you know, I went to Hillcrest High School. And the this the statistics are not that good for black males. To make it to college, I think it was like 18%, even, I think only 18% made it out of the two years, the two first years in college, because, you know, it was like mostly college dropouts. So one challenge academically was very challenging. Especially because you're learning so much new information. I mean, that's what medicine is all about. You're learning bio, you're learning chemistry, and you're you're learning anatomy and physiology, and you're trying to find a way to really synthesize all these things together. And that's kind of challenging. No, for me, and I had to adjust myself a lot to really figure out how to take all of these informations, and synthesize them in a way where it makes sense and make sense clinically, because you know, as a doctor, you know, I'm not a PG doctor, MD doctor. So I need to figure out how this has been affect my patient. And I need to figure out how I'm going to manage this for an actual human being not theoretical issue. So that was a challenge for me. Second challenge, I think, for me, especially on this journey, was just, you know, not having proper mentors. I think if you don't have the proper mentors, you're not going to make it far. It wasn't until I got the actual, you know, until I got Miss PA, you know, Maureen Pearson and from Queens College, that's when I started having like a clear guidance, and to like, you know, okay, you know, what, alright, this lady is telling me what to do, I'm going to trust her, and I'm going to do what she tells me to do. And I, obviously, I became a doctor. Another challenge right now, for me, is working long hours, and still being able to have a life, that's challenging. But it's very doable, especially in emergency medicine, because you're going to work like five days out of seven, you're going to have at least like, you know, you're going to have two days off, quote, unquote, where you can figure out how to maximize your time outside of the hospital. It's a challenge, but you should be able to do it. And also, one of the biggest challenge is not changing, you know, not I wonder promises that I made to myself is, I'm not going to change in terms of where I come from, the way I see the world. And the way I I'm supposed to represent my families was to represent my people. You know, when I say my people, I have my own definition of that. It's not like the traditional, oh, yeah, we're black. And, you know, I mean, like, No, my people, and that's personal to me. And I think everybody that's there will be personal to them as well. But there are things that I'm out here fighting for there, you know, cultural things that are important to me, there are societal things that are important to me and becoming a doctor that sideline you from that it could sidetrack you from that it could tow you off of that. And, like, even look what I'm wearing today, I'm wearing my Central Park Five t shirt here. Because, you know, you know, societal justice is important to me. You know, making sure young black males, you know, stay out of the prison, you know, justice system is, is important to me, there are multiple things that are important to me. And you can be so focused and becoming a great doctor, which is important. It's important to become a great doctor. But I can't let it take me away from from some other stuff that are also important to me in my life. Because you have to be multi dimensional. You can't be a flat individual, you have to be a well rounded person. And yeah, I have, I have to make sure that I don't get I don't forget somebody things about myself.
And so beautifully said, Yeah, I think it's really important that with anything that you're pursuing that it doesn't become your whole life, it's a part of your life, but it can't be your all of your life. It we have to live in between, you know, you have to make a life in between the pursuit of the dream, the pursuit of becoming a doctor, because it does take a lot of your time, it takes a lot of your time. While you're there, it probably takes a lot of your brain power when you're not there. And so it's definitely challenging. But I think if you realize that it doesn't always have to be like that. And at some point, you do have some sort of control a little bit, hopefully over your schedule that you can kind of find that balance that's really important for anything that you're doing.
Yeah, you know, it took something to happen to me, you know, it took something in what happened to me, unfortunately, was my dad having a heart attack in front of me. And that was one of my biggest drivers. And I think what I would encourage medical students who will read this, you know, hear this podcast is that you it's okay if you if you want to be a doctor, you don't So you have to have a tragic reason to become a doctor, okay, is what I'm saying. But do find something, do find something that will solidify your emotion and wanting to do it. You know, because because I've noticed many people become doctors and they quit after a year or two, actually somebody, one of somebody I know quit, like, a couple of months after becoming a doctor. Because they realize this was not for them. And that's, that's one of the worst ways to find out, right? When you actually become a doctor, that's when you realize, okay, I don't want to be a doctor. That's because they probably didn't analyze exactly why they wanted to be a doctor, you know, um, I think for a lot of us, we do it because medicine is our thing. You know, we really feel like, we like dealing with people's problems in a scientific way. We like to figure out what's going on with their pancreas, we like to figure out what's going on with their heart, we like to figure out what's going on with their kidneys. That's important to us, you know, we love it. It's not, it's not like we're just sitting here and just like, oh, you know, we just got to become a doctor, I'm gonna make a lot of money and know that that's not enough. So, find a good reason why you want to do it. And once you do find a good reason, you know, whatever you feel like is putting urgency and you doing it, make sure you do it right away. The last thing you want to do is just letting you he was blown, letting your years blow by, and you're not working on becoming, you know, becoming what you're supposed to become. And also don't be afraid if you feel like this is not for you. If you feel like medicine is not for you. That's okay. You know, a lot of a lot of people go to, you know, medical school, because their parents wanted them to go to medical school, you know, they're trying to follow a family legacy. And I understand that that's very much understandable. But if you don't feel like it's for you, it's okay to not do it. Don't feel ashamed. Don't let anybody push you into this. It's okay. If you don't if you don't think that this is for you. And be like me. What I mean by that is, like me, I'm an avid salsa. I'm actually a DJ, I'm a salsa DJ. I play I play in New York City. I play multiple places. I play at Sahadi. Industry City. I play with Chino points, you guys can look up these guys. They're great bands, quite the Watauga they're great bands in New York City that plays salsa. I don't like to call it salsa, but I know that's the big name for it. It's really Masika Kuwana. And, you know, keep yourself very diversified. You know, me, I speak four languages. But um, I
Okay, wait four languages, what do you speak? I want to hear.
French is my first language, you know, because I grew up in Haiti, and because we were colonized by the French, and you know, that's one of the reasons why is my first language because when I started to go to school, I spoke French, and I speak Creole, which is the native language of Haiti, you know, Creole. And then when I came to America, when I came to New York, like I told you, I lived in, I lived in a family house with my sister we lived in in one bedroom, but we were sharing the house with like, three guys, two was one dude. And one was one was from Guatemala. So I learned how to speak Spanish with them. And, obviously, English, so you know, I keep myself very diversified in terms of that I go out with some of my friends, a lot of my friends, they, they're very surprised, like, you know, like, one of my best friends is from Colombia. And, and what I'm actually one of my best friend is from Colombia, and another best friend of mine. He's from Cuba. And we speak in Spanish all the time. And I just like hanging out with these guys, because they're not doctors. So I feel very comfortable having like a life outside of medicine with them. And you know, playing the bass and you know, having fun with with with, you know, with them is like something that is very important to me, it helps me stay alive and it helps me stay. Stay very much active in the city apart from medicine. So, you know, do that. Don't Don't be boxed in, please don't be boxed in.
I love it. I know I saw you are so passionate. And it's one thing I really really admire and love about you as you can tell that you're full of life and full of passion and that you go for it. And you live your life and enjoy it. And I think that's great, great advice. For languages. Wow. You You're pretty busy. You play the bass. You DJ, you dance your doctor. You speak four languages. I'm sure there's a million other things. I don't know. You're probably a five star chef. I mean, who knows? Great though, I mean, it's really important for people, you know, in anything that you do, if you become super focused, hyper focused on something, then you really are only doing yourself a disservice. Because there's all these other facets to you that you're never really going to get to explore. Like, maybe you're really good at learning languages, maybe you're really good at math, maybe you're really good at dancing, or singing or writing poetry or whatever. But if you never take the time to actually discover other parts of yourself, then that's just gonna go undiscovered. And you're not going to be the full version of you, that you should be and also for languages and still can't get over it, but it has to be great for being adopted. In the Bronx. Yeah, it is. Okay.
Even in the Bronx, they mostly speak Spanish just trying to speak you. And so that's very important to, for me to be able to speak with them. You know, like some, some patients, they don't talk to me in English, they can't speak English. They only speak Spanish. So, like that. But the interesting thing is, I taught math before medical school. I was teaching math at Queens College, I was a math teacher.
Yeah, it doesn't surprise me because you were talking about all the math you you. Knowledge,
mathematics. And while I was waiting to take my MCAT, I started working as a math adjunct at Queens College. So yeah, I, I don't think, you know, when, I guess one of my biggest advice I would give to medical students or people who want to go into medicine, you don't need you don't need to be a bio major, you don't need to be a chemistry major. You don't need to be a physics major, please, please get rid of that notion. If anything, medical schools are looking for well rounded individuals, before everybody thought, oh, no, I have to be super smart. I have to be a nerd in biology, I have to be a nerd in chemistry. And that's the reason they're going to accept me. That is false. That is false. Be yourself. If you love music, you can be a music major, and still go to med school. If you love philosophy, you could still be a philosophy major and go to med school. That is fine. They're gonna take you as long as you have good grades, and your biologies, your chemistries, these are just classes that you have to take. You just have to take those classes and be able to endorse it to the medical school and say, Hey, I took these courses, can I apply here and I have my bachelor's in physics, or I have my bachelor's in philosophy, or I have my my bachelor's in acting. That's okay. There was a girl who was in my medical class, medical school class, who was an actress before going to med school. Graduated, she's doing family medicine. Now, somewhere I don't remember where. But she was an actress before. So you don't have to be a biologist before you go to med school, please get rid of that notion. That is not the purpose here. The purpose is to be an individual who can understand science, okay? Put it put its practicality into real life and know how to deal with people. And I'll guarantee you, most of my med school teachers, that's what they were looking for in us. They were looking for, okay, can you actually educate a patient into making them take the right medication? Can you explain to them what's going on in their bodies? While they're in poor health? Can you do this? It's not about sitting here and describing the Krebs cycle to a patient, like, you're not going to do that, you know, it's not about sit here and explain to the patient why their creatinine levels, you know, what the nephrons doing in the kidneys, that's causing the creatinine levels to go up, you know, if anything, you're gonna explain to them that, okay, you know, your kidney is not functioning well, you need to do this or you need to do that, oh, your your blood levels, your blood glucose levels high, because you're not eating well, or you're not taking insulin, or you're not taking your medication properly. You're not going to sit here explain to them exactly what's going on in your body or in their body. That's your, that's your job, your job is to know what's going on with them. And to you let them know what they're supposed to do to make sure that they stay healthy. So please forget about the notion that you have to be a scientist for you to be for you to go to med school. Okay.
Oh, that's so well said. I'm really glad you brought that up because I didn't know that. I didn't know that. And I talked to a lot of people on these podcasts and I had no idea that you could you didn't have to major in those things to go to med school so well, it sounds like you are a great doctor and you're going to continue to be one. So I'm really excited to see and check in with you. Hopefully maybe in a year or so or check in and see how things are going with you. But I would love for you to just for everyone listening and watching if they want to reach out to you how they can find you listen to your music DJ anything any social media handles or any kind of spot you want to send people to you can verbally say it and then I will also be linking it down in the video for people to click.
So especially a medical students, like my page is I think my page is like heavy on music. But honestly, anybody can reach out to me there because if you go to my Instagram, my Instagram is God Gu, underscore Grayson, it's G A, G O U underscore Grayson, gray, s o n. And basically, is it my Instagram is all about math, medicine and music. Right now mostly focused on medicine and music. So if you want to reach out to me asked me for any advice, please go to my Instagram and just you know, hit me up there. I don't mind you know, talking to anybody who like I'm, I'm, I'm mostly I'm busy. But at the same time, if I have some downtime, and I'm on my Instagram, I never shut people away. I never act Superstone anybody. So if you text me on Instagram, for sure. And you can see me play the bass as well. You know, I'm not gonna play the bass right now. But I have so many videos coming. So and especially if you're in New York City, please check me out. I'm very much approachable. I'm very much um, I'm reachable. You can reach out to me. There's always some events that I'm going to be a part of. And you can always come there and meet me without any issue. So you know, that will underscore Grayson is my instagram handle. Yes. You
have to check it out. I've seen it from with my own eyes. It's awesome. multifaceted, man over here, jack of all trades. So yeah, great. Well, it was so wonderful having you on our podcast. Thank you so much for joining today. It's been a real pleasure
MDF®. You guys are great. You guys are amazing. Listen, I'm wearing it. This is what I use. So, you know, you guys. I love having a piece of you guys with me when I'm in the emergency room. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for all that you do.
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