ER Scribe to PA student

How did you get the job as a scribe?

The pre-PA advisor at my college sent out an email about ER scribe openings, so I sent in my resume. From there, a telephone interview was conducted and then an in person interview. Applicants were narrowed down at each step in the interview process.

What did you do as a medical scribe?

As an ER scribe, I shadowed medical providers (physicians, PAs & NPs) as they saw patients and took notes on the patient’s history. After the provider left the room, I continued to gather information from the patient including HPI, ROS, family history, social history, surgical history, and drug allergies until I had sufficient information for charting purposes. I think went back to my station and completed the subjective portion of the patient’s chart using the hospitals EMR.

What were your hours?

I worked ten 6 hour shifts per month, usually 2 or 3 days per week. I worked all hours of the day, and often worked about two night shifts per month. I was able to tailor my work schedule to my school schedule so I never had problems working my shifts and making it to class.

How did you balance work and school? Were you involved in anything else? 

I felt like I balanced work and school fairly well. I started scribing at the end of my sophomore year. This allowed me to develop my study habits and get used to the university level work load before adding a part time job. I was involved in other organizations including the pre-PA organization at my school, a Christian sorority, and the American Red Cross Club of which I was an officer. As a freshman, I was only involved in two organizations and did not have a job yet and slowly added things. This helped me because I was able to gauge how much involvement I could handle.

How did it help you before PA School (insights, application, interviews)?

Scribing was very helpful throughout the application and interview process of PA school. I gathered quite a few hours for CASPA from my job. I split my time between shadowing and patient contact on CASPA as I felt this was an accurate representation of how my time was actually allocated. I also wrote about my scribing experience in my personal statement. I believe that the experiences I had while scribing gave me insight into medicine that helped me gain admission to PA school.

How has it helped you in PA school (didactic and rotations)? 

Learning how to talk to patients is much more difficult than one might expect. It’s difficult to organize all the information you must gather from a patient and remember to ask each question that is needed to complete a chart. The most beneficial skill I acquired as a scribe was learning how to take a history from a patient. I was unconfident and disorganized in my communication with patients when I started scribing, but made huge improvements after working as a scribe for 2 years. I am thankful that I learned this skill before PA school, as I believe it gave me an upper hand when it came to gathering history during OSCE’s and at the start of rotations.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part of scribing was being a part of the team during a code. As a scribe, I was the bottom of the totem pole, so I stood in the corner with my clipboard and just made sure I was out of the way. My job during a code was to record the time everything was done (CPR, intubation, meds, etc.). I loved watching so many people giving one patient their all. It’s fascinating to see such a chaotic scene that is still somehow organized as each member of the team is performing their specific job. Occasionally, the physician would call out what time a med was given or how long CPR had been performed, and I got to answer. This made me feel as though I was a very small part of the attempt to save a life.

Do you have any tips for pre-pa students? 

When it comes to gaining admission to PA school, grades are the most important aspect of your application. Your GPA should be your top priority, but with the steep increase in competitiveness of PA school admission, you will need to have more than just good grades. Experience is vital as well, and scribing is one of the best ways to acquire medical experience. Of course, there are many avenues you could go down to gain experience, and I would encourage students to explore other options as well. Scribing was beneficial to me both academically and personally, and I believe it was one of the biggest reasons for my acceptance. Good luck to you all!


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