Working As a Medical Scribe-Summer 2017

Lately, I have been reflecting on how thankful I am that I was presented with the opportunity to work as a medical scribe this past summer. I knew that I needed clinical experience for my medical school applications, but I had never considered scribing simply because I was unfamiliar with what it was or how to go about finding a scribe position. I vividly remember being surrounded by all of my friends that were accepting internships and jobs last Spring and I felt so frustrated after being rejected from many clerical and minimal patient care positions at local hospitals. I was worried I would get stuck lifeguarding or working in the food industry, until I came across an ad by ProScribe on Indeed.

I applied for the job that was posted from Dayton, OH.  45 minutes from home was not a big deal for me because I felt lucky to find a position in a hospital environment that required no previous experience working in healthcare. I applied for the job, received a Skype interview, and the rest is history. I found out that the position was not located in Dayton, but was located in Sidney, OH which is approximately 1 hour from my house. I was nervous about dealing with the commute so early in the morning, making 8 hour workdays even longer than they should be. I almost revoked the position, but then I remembered an important lesson that I had learned during my first year at Ohio State: when an opportunity strikes, take it. This lesson comes with heavy digression, obviously no one can accept all opportunities that come their way! But something inside me was telling myself to try the position out because it could be one of the most valuable experiences of my undergraduate career.

Valuable doesn’t do this experience justice. I adjusted to the commute fairly easily and made it worth it by celebrating the end of each work week by stopping at Chik-Fil-A on the commute home. I was exposed to what medicine is truly like firsthand. I was able to witness healthcare and medicine in real-time, and I truly grasped the reality of life as a physician. This ER staffs mostly travel ER doctors, and because of this, I was able to work with a lot of different physicians from different backgrounds. I learned so much about the elements of a patient chart, the typical approaches to common chief complaints, the normal values for vitals and metabolic panels, and what life as a physician is truly like.

The lingering question is, did it meet my expectations? Do I still want to be a doctor? If anything, this experience enhanced my decision. I say YES to medical school and to medicine over and over again, with no hesitation. I remember becoming tearful during my commute home one evening because of how excited I am to be a doctor. I cannot wait to eventually be the person serving others through medicine, and being a person that is awarded immediate trust with a patient’s wellbeing. I cannot thank ProScribe and the team at Wilson Health Memorial Hospital enough. I know that my memories and experiences there have shaped me into the kind of doctor that I aspire to be.

Year in Review-My First Year at Ohio State

I remember heading to orientation with my mom on June 24th, 2016. I was frightened but I was also excited. Even though I had spoken with students from my high school that had already attended orientation, I felt very scatterbrained and overwhelmed during orientation, and I unfortunately left with a negative outlook on my decision to come to Ohio State. How am I supposed to know what classes to take? Am I really qualified to take honors biology? Should biology, calculus, and chemistry be taken together during my first collegiate semester? I received poor instruction regarding these things and my GPA suffered after my first year at Ohio State. I realized after a few lectures in my honors biology class that I was the only student that had not taken AP Biology in high school, simply because it wasn’t offered at my high school. Yikes!! I missed the professors’ expectations dramatically. There is so much that I know now that I wish I could have told my younger self. Sometimes I get frustrated and I think that maybe if I had received better guidance at orientation about my chosen classes, then I wouldn’t have a danger zone GPA looming over my head, but I have to thank this experience more than resent it. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in my first year at Ohio State, and I truly grasped the necessity to fail before the capability to succeed.

I learned that skipping class is a big, bad idea. I would brush off the 8:00am calculus lecture because I knew the notes would be available from one of my diligent study buddies. And I took calculus in high school so I already knew everything, right? I was sorely mistaken. I occasionally sleep through my alarm and end up running to my 9:10am’s this semester, but I have learned how important it is to prioritize going to class and giving the material your undivided attention for those 55 or 80 minutes.

I learned that making flashcards is a sure way of failing a biology exam that asks you to conceptualize and analyze. My biology exams in high school were definition based, so why wouldn’t it be the same in college? *buzzer* The score on my first biology exam suffered because I was simply not connecting the dots. I learned that sitting in the SEL library for 8 hours on the Saturday prior to the Monday exam was far less valuable than studying every day 1  week before the exam for 1-2 hours.  Quality > Quantity rules the methods of efficient studying, and flash cards are useless for trying to understand the sigmoidal hemoglobin curve.

I learned that everything counts. I think back to places where I missed a few silly points in my chemistry lab or on chemistry homework, and how that could have constituted the small percentage difference between the B+ that I received and the A- I could have received. Never take anything for granted.

Most importantly, I learned that I can’t do it all. I went to the activities fair on the oval during the first week of classes, eager to join some amazing organizations, and I wound up joining 3 different Pre-Med clubs and having 20+ emails the next week from way too many organizations that I had minimal interest in. I have spoken to other students and I know that they suffered from the same behavior. As high achievers, we think we need to put our eggs in 10 different baskets and it is the only way we can achieve our goals. I learned that it is so much better to choose a few different organizations that you are passionate about than having back-to-back meetings every week night.

I am by no means an expert on all-things-college after learning from many failures during my first year at Ohio State. But I know that I came into my second year with wisdom from these experiences that has allowed me to be more successful in all of my endeavors during my second year. My first impression at orientation was quickly absolved by all of the amazing experiences I have had and the amazing people that I have met during my first year as a college student.

Values and Career Aspirations-Is There a Connection?

I think that one of the most exciting things about becoming an adult and experiencing the world on your own is the ability to develop a platform for yourself–by that, I mean making decisions about what to believe, what to value, and how to act on those beliefs and values every day. In one of my classes, we recently completed an activity that assessed our strengths by answering a variety of questions. My top 5 strengths were perseverance, spirituality, gratitude, love and humor. I was surprised at how accurate this virtual strengths assessment was, and I think that these top 5 strengths are very attributable to who I am. After analyzing our strengths reports, we were handed a set of cards with different values on them. Examples include love, diversity, service, compassion, family, friendship, etc. We had to divide the cards into 2 piles: values we found to be important and values we found to be not important. We then divided our ‘important’ category into our top 10, top 5, and then we ranked our top 5. My values in order were spirituality, love, service, compassion, and family. I find all of these values to be extremely important, and I believe that they closely align with my career aspirations.

Something I recently discussed with other girls at a bible study was the concept of defining our purpose. On any given day, if someone asked me to define my purpose, I would probably answer that I believe my purpose is to serve others through medicine. At this bible study, I realized how flawed my answer is. It is so easy to miss out on the bigger picture as a college student. Our priorities surround maintaining a 4.0, nailing savvy internships, participating in a variety of extracurriculars, and we’re all supposed to maintain a heightened social life while trying to balance all of these things. I know that my viewpoint will contrast with many based on differing spiritual beliefs (that I wholeheartedly respect and accept), but I think our purpose is severely skewed by societal norms and expectations. Our purpose lies in something greater than us, and I believe we are meant to serve others not for our personal gain, but for a God who created us.

So I have had to spend some time reflecting and asking the question: is there a connection between my values and career aspiration? If not, how can I reassess my aspirations to fit values that serve a greater purpose? If I’m being honest with myself, when I was growing up, I think I wanted to be a doctor because in my younger mind, being a doctor meant financial security (aka large home and expensive vacations) and it was my idea of leadership and success. As I have matured and have been able to define my values and priorities, I see that my predisposition of being a doctor is secure in the values of love, compassion, and service. I am excited that my values and career aspirations align, and I believe that they will continue to align as long as I remind myself that my purpose is much Greater than it seems.

The Mundane

I was recently asked if I have any skills or qualities that I view as assets but are not traditionally valued. It took me a few minutes to come up with an answer. Is there anything I do that is out of tradition? The majority of my identity falls under the backdrop in the United States–white, Christian, middle class, expected to go to college and have a career. On a widely diverse campus, it is hard to not feel bland and disinteresting because of my traditional values and customs. After pondering this question, I came up with something that I think might not be traditionally valued–the mundane.

I grew up in a rural town that is slow paced and peaceful with a family that valued game nights and Sunday mornings more than weekdays and busy weekends. When I came to college, the hustle and bustle of everyday life as a student in a large city shocked me. Between late nights studying and late nights spent with friends on the weekends, I grew exhausted and I longed for time by myself spent knitting, reading, or even just enjoying silence. I felt drained during second semester and I was truly ready to leave school and return home to my family. It’s ironic how excited I was to leave my small town and come to a big city full of opportunities (and endless restaurant options), yet after being at Ohio State for a while, I became nostalgic and had a greater appreciation for the atmosphere that I grew up in that celebrated the mundane.

Coming into a new school year, I decided to prioritize time spent valuing the mundane and reflecting by myself. I try to carve out 1-2 hours each week to do something leisurely and peaceful whether it be going for a walk outdoors, reading a book outside of the reference and textbook realm, or going to a coffee shop with friends. I think that finding a balance between working hard and valuing the mundane is extremely important in our younger years. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.” I think that living by this mantra is key to feeling in touch with your place in the world. Most days, we are forced to live life in the fast place because our culture values efficiency and time-saving strategies. But I believe it is very important to consciously exit the freeway on our off days, mentally slow down, and spend time looking at a life from a simplistic perspective.