by Hema | Nov 18, 2013
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.
by Hema | Aug 11, 2013
Greetings from Atlanta..
I officially packed up my life in Ann Arbor, bid goodbye to my friends, and drove 12 hours south to my new home for the next year. Crazy.
I’m now all moved in to my new place and ready to start work at the CDC (August 19th), but first, I have to take USMLE Step 2 CK! Uh oh! I can’t believe the big day is tomorrow! I feel like I’ve been studying for ages, although it has really only been 4-5 weeks mixed in with my move. I’ve read all the books and done all the Qbank questions, so its time to sit down for this grueling 9 hour test and come one step closer to becoming a doctor…
I love exploring new and exciting study spots. Law school atrium. I feel smarter just sitting here.
Rackham Graduate School study halls are always a favorite. I studied here for Step 1 too!
A new Ann Arbor study spot discovered.. Songbird Cafe! Love it.
I travel light.
My new study spot in Atlanta overlooking Buckhead (my apartment's balcony). I think I'll enjoy "studying" here for the next year.
Although settled in hundreds of miles away, my thoughts and prayers remain with classmates, family, and friends in Michigan after the tragic loss of one of our own. His smile, energy, and life will never be forgotten.
To the Class of 2014 – My heart is with you. Love you all.
by Hema | Jul 10, 2013
Greetings from the depths of the graduate school library as I take a quick break from Step 2 studying to update you on my life!
I am no longer a fresh M4 as I successfully completed my ICU month and a clinical elective in Ob/Gyn. It feels great to have completed a challenging rotation in the ICU and to have solidified my future career path in Ob/Gyn! I’ll be catching babies at 2am for the rest of my life! I love it!
This month I decided to not take on another rotation and just give myself time to focus on Step 2, plus I needed time to pack up my Ann Arbor life and move… to Atlanta! Don’t worry, I haven’t decided to put my medical career on permanent hold and I’m certainly not running from the beautiful Ann Arbor summers. Instead, I’m taking a year off to explore some of my other career interests, specifically public health. I was accepted into the Applied Epidemiology Fellowship Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (check out: www.cdc.gov/CDCExperienceFellowship/). This program funds 8 medical students from around the country to spend a year at the CDC in Atlanta gaining practical training and experience in epidemiology and public health. I’ll be working with the Immunization Safety Office at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. I’m so excited it feels unreal.
My office for the next year! Look familiar? Hint: Watch Outbreak or Contagion!
Even with my year off, I’ll continue to blog and update you all on my experiences down south! The blogging world then gets me for another year when I return to complete my M4 year with graduation set in 2015!
Take care! My next post will be from my new home in Atlanta! 🙂
by Hema | May 27, 2013
Hey everyone.. it’s been a long time since my last entry and I’m happy to announce I finished and survived third year! It’s amazing how time flies when you are having fun.. and kind of stressed. 🙂
In celebration of finishing M3 year and prior to starting M4 year, I traveled to Panama with my boyfriend to see my family, friends, and of course, dogs. I love having visitors because it gives me an excuse to be a cheesy tourist (minus socks and sandals of course)! And don’t worry, I took lots of pictures. Panama Canal? Check! Old Panama and Casco Viejo? Check!
Views of the city of Panama
Sailing into the canal on our tour
Panama Canal up close
View of the panama canal waterway
Leaving home was incredibly difficult after that exciting week, but it was time to get back to reality! I returned to Ann Arbor and began M4 year in the Medicine Critical Care Unit. It was also my first month as a sub-I, which essentially means I’m an intern in training with more hours and responsibilities compared to before, plus I report directly to the senior resident. I love the new role, but it has also given me a lot to reflect on in terms of life and death issues. Walking through the ICU, it’s hard to ignore the multiple tear streaked faces and groups of family huddled around a loved one. Within my first two weeks, I unfortunately lost 3 patients. Some of these losses were unexpected, but most came after many years of struggling with a chronic, debilitating disease. Family meetings to discuss goals of care conversations (ie escalating care with no benefit vs comfort care) were difficult but necessary. I can now see the immense value in making a patient comfortable as they spend the little time left with loved ones. This does not mean a patient has “given up,” instead its a matter of enjoying the life they have left instead of being poked and prodded in a hospital bed surrounded by strangers and hospital equipment. Just because we can do invasive and advanced medical interventions, does not mean it is always for the best of the patient and their ultimate goals, thus goals of care conversations are essential.
Even with the stress and long hours of the ICU, I’ll be taking some time to enjoy beautiful and sunny Ann Arbor. Summer is a season filled with wonderful street fairs, restaurant week, and outside cafes and food carts! I’ll keep you all updated on the mini-breaks I take to enjoy the season!
by Hema | Mar 10, 2013
Hello world! Its been ages!
A lot has happened since the last time I blogged out my thoughts and feelings on medical school. I am almost done with third year! Amazing! Every rotation has been a unique learning experience. I started with internal medicine in May and was amazed at how much and how quickly I learned. At the beginning of the rotation, I barely knew what Liver Function Tests (LFTs) were and certainly did not know how to interpret them. On my second month of medicine, got my first choice of inpatient GI/Liver, so I had an entire month to master the liver and lumen. By the end of the rotation, I felt like a young hepatologist in training and developed a genuine passion for cirrhosis of all things! Since internal medicine, I feel like I’ve just been building on this amazing base of medical knowledge. Each rotation is another block on top of the knowledge pyramid!
Even with the stress and intensity of third year, I was able to go home to Panama and see my family over the holidays. We took a quick trip to Capetown, South Africa.. my first time to the continent! Although the trip was amazing, just getting to South Africa was a huge ordeal! We had four connections spanning three continents in two days! Crazy. During our layover in Germany, I realized I ran out of passport pages (SA has a two page limit or else deportation!), so during our layover I ran to the embassy just so I wouldn’t risk deportation upon arrival. Thankfully, I got my pages and hoped on to our double decker plane (Airbus A380?) ready for a trip filled with food, wine, and sights. Here are some memories from the trip:
Hoping on this two floor plane.. Destination: South Africa!
The view from table mountain overlooking Capetown
Vineyards outside Capetown
Delicious meals in Capetown? Of course! I planned out every single meal with advanced bookings... food is my passion.
More vineyards.. wine tasting heaven
With those great memories from Capetown, I came back to school ready for the stress and excitement that is surgery. The hours were long and the expectations were high, but I survived the rotation! I’m now in the final stretch of my clinical duties with one month of neurology and another month of family medicine. So excited to almost be done with third year!