Options for non-board certified physicians
Still unempowered, I kept my secret to myself and the chosen few I had opened up to and prepared to take the exam again. I partnered with others who like me had not passed and we studied together and supported each other during the lows of doubt and insecurity. I worked full time, studied when I could, and was a mother the whole way through; and I failed.
Wow, that word even now as I type it hurts. I had taken this test a total of 3 times and had yet to pass. I began to spiral down a dark hole. How was I going to support my family? How was I going to pay back my massive student loan debt? As a single parent, I am the sole provider for me and my son. In one year I would lose my board eligibility; essentially my career as a physician was on the brink of being over as well as my means of supporting my family!
There are few options now a days for physicians who do not have the desired title of Board Certified. Hospitals privileges are unattainable, insurance companies unwilling too “allow” you to be a provider for their patients. Practices refrain from wanting you if you are not BC/BE. Four years of medical school, 3 years of residency, MCAT, USMLE exams all completed, state licensure obtained, DEA license purchased, and still one exam preventing me from the career I long desired, dreamed, and dedicated my early youth for. There was no other choice—something had to change. I contacted the ABIM to see what my options were as this was my last year of eligibility. My prime question centered around my options if I didn’t pass this year. On the website there was a statement:
“A candidate who is no longer Board Eligible may nevertheless apply for a certifying examination, but only if the candidate has: (i) completed at least one year of retraining in the relevant specialty after the expiry of the candidate’s period of Board Eligibility, but no more than seven years before the application; and (ii) met all other requirements for Board Certification in effect at that time. Retraining will require the successful completion of at least one year of additional residency/fellowship training in an ACGME-accredited U.S. training program or an RCPSC-accredited Canadian training program and an attestation from the program that the candidate has demonstrated the requisite competency for unsupervised practice. Candidates and diplomates remain subject to other ABIM policies and requirements for certification, such as the Re-examination policy.”
I nevertheless followed their instructions because I had no choice and reached out to my former director. She to her dismay had no concrete information about what a retraining year looked like either. She assured me she would contact the ABIM and see what she could learn but advised me not to give up; since I had one last year to take the exam. She suggested that I get in touch with the Testing Center on campus to see if I had a testing or learning disability. Could that be it? Did I have an undiagnosed learning or testing disability that evaded me for years only now to rear its head? She doubted it but it needed to be evaluated. Speaking with the counselor it became clear that she agreed; it was highly unlikely that I had a learning or testing disability that had not previously shown up. So what was the issue? Well one of the pieces that the counselor helped me discover was that I have a hard time trusting myself and taking a leap of faith in myself. Another issue was that I have a tendency to answer the question that I think I’m being asked not the question that is being asked.
So armed with this I decided I needed to take a step back and focus solely on this exam and being a mom. So I did. I quit my job, neglected my friends and devoted myself to my son and my exam. I fought through self-doubt constantly. I second guessed myself on every question. Thinking I was missing something. Fearing that I somehow did not learn what I needed to in 8 years of training. Why did I feel this way; because others before me had seemingly passed this test with ease. Here I was on the brink of failure with no safety net; nothing to fall back on. Despite years of caring for patients and living my dream I was in jeopardy of loosing it all. I doubted my calling. I never doubted God, but I doubted that I heard Him correctly. I doubted that I was on His path for my life. I was ashamed and alone. I bore this shame in secret because to do otherwise was considered taboo and a marker of weakness.
As the exam grew closer my anxiety increased and my confidence dwindled. In the last month of the exam I lived and breathed nothing else. My parents looked after my son while I studied. With each question I answered correctly my confidence grew and with each question I missed it was shattered into a million pieces. The few people that I opened up to about my failure would ask how the studying was going...others would offer prayers and well wishes. I felt inadequate, fraudulent I couldn’t figure out how I was able to take care of patients but still was not deemed worthy based on a test. I then came across three quotes from Michelle Obama:
“When you are struggling, and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago—something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives—and that is the power of hope. The belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” – Michelle Obama
“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”– Michelle Obama
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”― Michelle Obama
The day came and I sat for the exam and as I was logged in by the proctor I prayed. I thanked God for my calling and vocation and began my exam. When I finished I felt spent; I truly had done all that I could. If this was not enough I had no idea what the next step was and apparently neither did those at the ABIM. But what I knew for sure was that no matter what the test said I was enough. While I seemingly had to pass this test in order to continue on the traditional path of medicine I would not let it determine or limit my future. I am a doctor and I always will be.
Written By: Kharia J. Holmes
This article was originally published on WomenInWhiteCoats.com
2019 has been a year of trials and tribulations. If I had to name this year I’d call it “Love Through Adversity”. I quit my job in March to give me time to focus on being a mother to my son and also to give me time to study and prepare for my board exams. As I look forward to the year 2020 I pray that I will be able to bring forth the lessons and strength I gained into the new year.
Last year I started a trend of categorizing my resolutions based on the www domains so the saga continues.
TEASER: I’m also planning on a new platform launch this year so stay tuned
This year is here and I choose this year to find joy in the journey! Come along with me!
Living inter-generationally is not an easy feat and truly it’s not to be entered into lightly. While I’ve never been married I think I’m safe when I say that it’s almost as perilous as marriage. So my quick story in how I ended up living intergenerationally was that I have a home about 1 hour away from my ‘rents. I became pregnant, made the decision to raise my child as a single mother, and changed jobs and my parents house was closer.
So it started out as a temporary change due to logistics that has continued on due to convince and a sense of familia. Going through this process there are things that I have learned about what it takes to live successfully as a GAWD (Grown Ass Woman Da** It) with your parents in their house.
Even if you are moving in with your parents to save money—do not take advantage of their good nature. Contributions to the household needs no matter how small go a long way. My parents won’t let me pay rent because in their mind I’m paying for a mortgage which is true. So I buy food to keep the fridge stocked. If there is something that is needed like a new filter for the fridge I’ll purchase it. Laundry detergent, soap, lotion, etc things that we can all benefit from I purchase so that they do not. Its a small token and way to give back to them.
BE FLEXIBLE AND PATIENT:
Flexibility and patience go hand in hand. If your parents are anything like mine they raised you to respect your elders and also to have a strong personality. Living in a combined house with such strong personalities can cause friction. Add on raising a child as a single parent and you have a potentially explosive situation with a differing of opinions. I will admit my head is hot at times and I’m very strong willed, I was raised to be so by my parents. As a grown woman living in my parents house patience and flexibility have been imperative skills; and I must admit that I am still cultivating them ??♀️.
Overall one must be intentional. Intentional with how you start and end your day. Intentional with your inner circle of friends and what you allow to influence your sphere. Intentional in seeking out opportunities for growth and new experiences. Intentional in spreading positivity towards others.
Step 1: Naked Baby—I let my little one run around and play naked while I intently and purposefully played with him and watched him for his signs and tells that he needed to potty. This was the hardest part for me because messes will happen. He pooped on the floor; he peed on the floor. He did it over and over again until I learned his signs and began to anticipate his pattern.
Step 2: Commando Baby—Then I had to put him in pants with not diaper and no underwear. The washing machine became my best friend. I contemplated buying more clothes for him because I felt like I couldn’t keep up, but I remained strong and focused that this time would pass. We stayed at home initially most of the time because I was afraid of what would happen outside. But I learned that we couldn’t stay locked in the house forever. I learned to pack extra clothes, and to monitor and time his fluids if we had a planned outing. I learned how to pull over on the side of the road and help him pee outside.
Step 3: Emerging Independence—it was so cute how after he started getting the hang of things he started wanting to help empty his own potty and wanted to flush the big commode. I eventually learned to let go while he carried the bowl to the bathroom. I learned to move the potty further away from me and allow him dignity and privacy (though he often calls me into the bathroom and often sits in the bathroom with me ??♀️)
Step 4: Growing in Steps—we tried moving his step stool to the big commode however with no handles I got worried about his turns and transitioning so I went to Amazon and bought Potty Toilet Trainer Seat with Step Stool Ladder. This has him using the adult commode like a champ!
I know that eventually I will need to teach him how to potty standing up and will need to work on night time potty training but as this process has taught me. Everything in its season! ?
As a parent and a single mom my life significantly changed with the arrival of my son but I will say I NEVER thought I’d have to change my face cleansing routine!
BONUS:::LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask:::
I love this sleep mask for my lips. I don’t know where it’s been all my life!!! I put it on at night and in the morning my lips as so kissably ? smooth.
As I go through the process of trying to rid my life of things that I no longer need I am surrounded by lots of things that I purchased in anticipation of my newborn that looking back almost 3 years later I never used or hardly used.
Here are my 5 top purchase regrets:
Hope this list is helpful on saving you from traveling down the road I did but if you are anything like me you might just do what I did. Read them, chuckle, and say…”I’ll be different she just didn’t know what she was doing” LOL! 😂🤦🏾♀️😂
While my house may be messy since my little one I’m still a neat freak at heart. I’ve SLOWLY been learning to embrace a state chaos and mess with earnest strive for organization.
I used my breakfast table as the hard surface and opened up the lawn trash bag and then taped it down to the table on the underside. That’s it! Really simple. Put the paint directly on the trash bag surface or on a plate. Then sit back and enjoy the wonderful chaos and beautiful mess that follows. When the paint session is done use wipes to wipe down not only your toddler but also the trash bag and your surface is ready to go again.
I hope that this DIY hack works as well for you as it has for me. Let the painting and mess begin! 💚👨🏾🎨
It was my birthday so you know I had to go into the closet and create a special look or two 😘. This year my birthday plans were pretty low key. I had lunch with a “friend” and dinner with my awesome family so I only needed two outfit changes.
For my late lunch outfit I drew inspiration from @GarnerStyle. However $300 dollar jeans were not in my budget. Thanks to Lane Bryant I was able to find something comparable in my price range. I’m wearing an 18P because ya girl is “shorty by nature”. I’m thinking about getting another pair in non-petite size to have a wider cuff. What do you think?
The top was courtesy from my closet from long ago. I’m not sure where I got it from but you can get a similar look here. I accessorized the outfit with a necklace from Zulily and earrings I’ve had for years. I pulled the necklace into the look with a cute and surprisingly comfortable pair shoes from Target and a lovely MKF purse from Zulily (don’t sleep on Zulily). But if you slept on Zulily here is a comparable purse also at Target that you can get while you pick up the shoes 😁
Summer time has come and the pools have opened up! It’s the time for skin exposure. Getting my wardrobe ready for summer is fun and this year it called for new swimsuits. This year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and look for a two piece 👙. While I technically I have worn a two piece in the past it’s usually been a tankini style to cover my belly and rolls of fat. This year I vowed not to purchase a tankini and to purchase a true two piece and become more comfortable with my new body. On my hunt I found 2–one that was sporty and one that was sexy. I was done but a surprising one-piece suit caught my eye and begged to to be worn 😇
Now I think all I need is a splash of water 💦, a martini 🍸, and a man to fan me and I’m all set. 🥰
Embracing my imperfection and striving for perfection through grace.