Day in the Life of a Scribe

From one of our student scribes:

Typically, I will work in the evening after going to a few classes during the day. This works well with my schedule, since the emergency department is always open. I get in my car and drive 20 minutes from Allendale to downtown Grand Rapids. I am able to park my car in a parking garage and walk a short distance to the entrance of the emergency department. From there, I sign out my laptop and prepare for my shift. I log onto our staff website where I can clock in, see what shifts I am scheduled for, and find several resources that I am able to reference throughout my shift. Once my provider arrives, I introduce myself and discuss the upcoming shift ahead along with any provider preferences they may have. We usually will start seeing patients right away, at a rate of 2-3 patients per hour. This leaves me with time to work on my charts in between seeing patients and make sure I have all of the information I need from the provider. While in the patient room, I listen and gather information for several aspects of the chart all at once. About halfway through my shift, I take a few minutes to grab a bite to eat and refuel for the rest of my shift. During the last hour of the shift, I spend time wrapping up the rest of my patient charts with the provider. Once I have submitted all of my charts and am dismissed from the shift by my provider, I clean up my workspace and put my laptop away. Then I head home and enjoy the rest of my day! Throughout the shift, I have the opportunity to ask the provider questions and chat with them about their decision making process. This is helpful for me, as my goal is to go to medical school one day.

As I am a full-time student, I usually work two shifts per week. I am also able to work more shifts if I want to or trade shifts with other scribes. This has helped me during busy exam times, so that I can focus on studying for my exam, then work a few shifts after my exam is over. Each shift lasts between 8-9 hours on average, but I do often spend a bit of extra time after my shift is over to make sure my charts are complete before sending them to the provider. The emergency department is very unpredictable, which means some shifts are slow and others are very busy. During slow shifts, I have time to chat with providers and get their advice on the future of medicine. I may even have time to study for my classes or chat with other scribes who are on shift. Busy shifts may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but after a few months of practice, I felt more than prepared to handle any patient load. During these busy shifts, the key is staying organized and I make sure to keep a running list of my patients with details on what information I need to obtain to complete the chart. I then will check off each item as I obtain it, to make things less overwhelming.

Scribes take a heavy workload off of providers by completing all patient documentation. This allows the provider to spend more time talking with patients and making phone calls on the patient’s behalf. They also are able to enjoy their shift more and chat with their colleagues. The most significant impact is that the providers leave their shifts on time. They know that their documentation is complete, and they don’t have to spend hours after their shift completing patient charts. You can tell the patients are happier when the provider is focused on them and their concerns, instead of worrying about capturing all of the details while in the room. The providers know they have a reliable scribe who is documenting all necessary components of the chart.

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