Paulina, a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University, has always dreamed of becoming a physician. She knew that it was vital to understand what it truly entails to be a physician before going to medical school — and medical scribing is a great way to gain that insight. A scribe who worked at a nearby hospital informed her that their company was hiring, so she applied and never looked back. Not only is Paulina consistently gaining knowledge of the ins and outs of a physician’s clinical day and gaining the experience needed for medical schools, but her impact on the physician has been paramount. Paulina gives her physician more time to spend with each patient, allows her to see more patients in a clinical day, and most importantly, helps to reduce physician burnout!
Q & A with Paulina
Q: Are you currently in college?
A: No, I graduated from Penn State in December 2020 with a degree in Biobehavioral Health and a minor in Spanish.
Q: How did you become interested in working as a medical scribe?
A: It’s always been on my list of things to do to prepare for a medical career. I think it’s absolutely vital to understand what it entails to be a doctor before going to medical school, and scribing is a great way to do that.
Q: How long have you worked at Scrivas?
A: Right around 2 months.
Q: How would you describe the culture at Scrivas?
A: I think it’s a great community, the scribes are all great people and we all have a lot in common, being that we are mostly all pursuing the same careers. I have found that there’s always someone there to help me out if I need it. There’s great communication between both scribes and management, which is amazing.
Q: What medical specialty do you scribe for?
A: I scribe for Oncology/Dermatology.
Q: What EMR system do you use?
A: We use Powerchart.
Q: Have you learned more than one?
A: No, this is the only one I know how to use.
Q: If not, would you want to?
A: I definitely could if I needed to.
Q: Please describe a “typical” day on the job.
A: A typical day on the job would start with a quick good morning to everyone, including the MAs (medical assistants) at our station, the doctor, and our nurse practitioner. Then I would log into my tablet and start (Cerner) Powerchart up. I prep the notes either the shift before or the night before just so I don’t have to come in early or anything. I like to prep the notes beforehand because I’m still learning so I get backed up if I don’t do this.
We have our first patient of the day at around 9 AM. After that, it’s patient after patient. We go into the room and start the appointment. I then stand off to the side so I’m not in the way. If there’s a procedure going on, I typically won’t go into the room just because they are small — if I’m not needed, it’s better to not overwhelm the patient. My doctor will tell me what she wants in the notes after the procedure is over. Throughout the day, we will have small breaks during which I prepare the next day’s notes.
Q: Please explain what you enter into the EHR and any additional tasks you do.
A: I always prepare the notes in basically the same way. I will finish up the HPI and the ROS beforehand and leave the physical exam and the assessment and plan for when I’m in the room. I have quite a few macros for Dermatology that I use on a daily basis for most patients. Depending on what they’re coming in for, I will prep the notes differently though.
Q: What is the most exciting aspect of working as a medical scribe?
A: I like working in a clinical setting specifically because I enjoy the contact with the patients. My doctor has extremely good relationships with our patients and they mention how much they love her every time they come, which I think is amazing. As a doctor, you only really see patients for such a short amount of time every time they come into the office yet you’re still building this incredible trust and loyalty with them. The most fascinating part about my department specifically, though, would have to be the Vectra machine. It’s a type of imaging machine with an AI incorporated so we can see the changes in different moles and skin lesions over time. There’s only a few of them in the entire world so being able to use it and see it in action is incredible.
Q: What is the hardest aspect of working as a medical scribe?
A: I think it’s just getting used to the style of note-taking that works best for you and your doctor. It was very difficult at first, especially as a brand-new scribe, to gather every single ounce of information into the note that my doctor might have wanted, and that’s because I didn’t necessarily think the way she does. Once I started to grasp why she wanted certain things in there or why this/that were important in the grand scheme of things it got to be a lot easier to write the notes.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?
A: I love art and pottery. I have been doing pottery since middle school. Being able to work with my hands is a great stress-reliever for me!
Paulina is excited to continue learning and growing as a medical scribe and heading off to medical school in a year. Her passion for healthcare has only intensified since starting with Scrivas. Although being a medical scribe is intense and you have to work hard to help reduce physician burnout, it has been well worth it in her eyes.
There is a favorite quote that she shared with me and that she feels applies to most things in life:
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” – A.A. Milne.
Paulina shared this final thought with me when I asked what she would say to a person interested in healthcare: “Never give up on stuff just because it’s hard or you don’t think you’re good enough. With time everything gets easier.”
Written by: Nicole Bramblett, MHA