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Greetings from Atlanta aka Hotlanta (seriously, it’s always sunny and 20 degrees warmer than Ann Arbor, love it)!

Panorama shot of Atlanta from Piedmont Park right before fall arrived!

It’s been a while since my last post and I have so many updates from my year off!

First, as some readers may know, I moved down here in July as I completed studying for USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge before taking my year off. Thankfully I survived that exam and I can now take a break from any important standardized tests for the next year! I also completed Step 2 Clinical Skills, which showed me how quickly you can lose confidence in your clinical skills and medical decision making if you don’t keep reading and practicing!

Second, I survived my first (and hopefully only) government shutdown. Yes, even though I’m not a real government employee, as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Applied Epidemiology Fellow, I was not allowed to enter government facilities. Instead, I would wake up and drive over to Emory (CDC’s next door neighbor) to work on my projects out of their health sciences library. At first it was exciting to return to my old campus and see how the School of Public Health facilities have drastically changed, but after a few days I missed my comfortable cube (in a closet) at CDC. Once I got tired of going to Emory, I began to explore all the awesome coffee shops in town, including dancing goats in Decatur, Octane coffee on the Westside, Condessa coffee in the Old Fourth Ward, and others! I’m now an Atlanta coffee connoisseur, no big deal. And did I mention I love my fellow fellows? With them I’ve been hard at work discovering new restaurants and neighborhoods in Atlanta. Here is our fabulous unofficial group shot…

CDC Experience Fellows 2013-2014

Other updates, I’ve been traveling… a lot… which makes me very happy but has sadly cause me to neglect my blogging! Don’t worry, I’ll do better. Second and third year of medical school were just so busy that I only did the essentials when it came to traveling, like seeing my family in Panama. This year is my year to catch up with all the friends that I’ve failed to see in the last years, thus trips to Philadelphia, Miami, and Spain! My boyfriend is also taking a year off from medical school and is getting a Masters at the Harvard Kennedy School, so trips to Boston will be frequent this year too! All this traveling has made me quite excited for next year’s residency interview season. Already a bunch of my classmates are have started jetting across the country for residency and I can’t wait for it to be my turn too! Here are some pictures from recent trips…

Biking around Boston with my boyfriend. See the beautiful fall colors?

River views of Boston!

Exploring the Harvard Kennedy School

I escaped fall for a sunny day in South Florida.. back at my alma mater, University of Miami! I'm a Miami girl at heart!

Walking around the Miami Wynwood area, we came across this great art gallery. I saw this art piece and felt it encompassed my career thus far. Sometimes dreams may feel impossibly big, but it takes dedication and hard work to see them fulfilled.

The more I reflect on my decision to take a year off and join the CDC, the more I realize this will be a career defining and life changing experience. I highly recommend all medical students consider taking a year off for career exploration, research, or even travel. In my case, for the last year I’ve known I wanted to be an Ob/Gyn, but what about beyond that? What will be my impact on medicine and public health? Will I get back to my global health roots? This year has me thinking of the big picture and appreciating life outside medicine too. I’m curious to see where my path will lead me from here… but I’m having fun exploring the possibilities.