A Scribe Case Study: Alyssa Kettler

When did you first hear about medical scribes?
I first heard the term ‘medical scribe’ from a friend of my mother, a nurse at Fairview Hospice. She knew that I was looking for meaningful work to undertake before pursuing medical school and suggested I explore scribe opportunities. After extensive online research, I began scribe training with Elite Medical Scribes.
Why did you decide to become a scribe?
I knew medical school was in my future, but also knew that a gap year or two would serve me better when that day came. I could have sought out work in a number of areas, but never would have gained the medical experience and perspective that I did working as a scribe. Spending 40 hours each week for two years in the Regions emergency department taught me in the realest of terms what my days would look like should I become a physician.
How has working as a scribe impacted your career plans?
Though bound for medical school, my time spent at Regions and Fairview solidified my path to become an emergency department physician. Regions is a teaching hospital, and as such I was able to ask questions between cases to really understand how a physician thinks and why they make the decisions they do. The work, even low acuity care delivery, was fascinating and it taught me something new every day.
What value did you provide physicians?
I provided a level of detail that is so much greater than a physician’s, simply because I am documenting in real-time versus a physician going from memory many hours later. In taking over that charting responsibility, I save a physician 2-3 hours of work at the end of each shift. And over time, as the scribe-physician relationship falls into rhythm, physicians are able to see more patients, not to mention all the additional face me they are able to provide their patients.
What is the most challenging aspect of a scribe’s work?
The most challenging part of the job is also the most rewarding. As a scribe, your job is to document medical decision making. Not just the decision, but the context. At first, that process – listening, processing, documenting – is inundating. But in short time, you develop the rapid processing and critical thinking skills essential to a scribe’s work and to my future success as a physician.
What advice would you give to someone looking at a job and education in the healthcare field?
Spend time as a scribe. Whether you are confident in the role and field you have chosen or you are just beginning your career exploration, the experiences you have as a scribe are unlike any other. You’ll be shadowing physicians, developing understanding of their decision making. You’ll become fluent in medical terminology, processes, and work flows. You will begin to understand in real terms what you love, and what you don’t love, in the healthcare space. You won’t regret it.