Amelia Mackarey of Clarks Summit, a fourth-year medical student at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM), recently completed the six-week Epidemiology Elective Program (EEP) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
Mackarey’s six weeks in Atlanta occurred just as the CDC issued guidelines regarding vaping and began rolling out its novel coronavirus response.
“I got lucky. I was at CDC during a very exciting time,” she said. “In regard to vaping, I had the opportunity to talk to state health officials and attend sessions on communicating results of CDC’s research on vaping. The main take-away for me is that, while most lung injuries occur from illegally sourced products, no child should vape. Pediatricians have a responsibility to ask about vaping and build trusting relationships to encourage teens to disclose any use.”
As CDC launched its novel coronavirus response, Mackarey was tapped to report to its emergency operations center (EOC).
“It was very exciting to see the response get off the ground,” she said. “During an emergency, CDC calls people from every division to the EOC and they teach you what you need to do in your new role.”
Mackarey was assigned to work answering incoming calls for guidance from state health officials and doctors.
“It was very intense, but I loved it and I wished I could have stayed longer” she said. “I’ll always carry this experience with me.”
EEP introduces medical and veterinary students to applied epidemiology, public health and global health through hands-on experience and mentorship by CDC subject matter experts. Mackarey said she applied to the program because she hoped to learn to focus on disease prevention, especially regarding issues like nutrition, physical activity and obesity that affect children.