Life as a Scribe

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

As I rushed up to the sliding glass doors that marked the entrance to the Emergency Room, my heart pounded with exhilaration. Patients were sitting in chairs, lying on stretchers, and nervously pacing the floor. With a dry mouth and sweaty palms, I entered, peering into each room and observing the ill patients who lined the halls. This trip to the ER was a life-changing experience for me. However, I was not in the ER for a personal emergency; I was there to begin my first shift as an ER Scribe. My job as a scribe requires me to shadow an ER physician and create a medical record of each patient’s visit to the Emergency Room. Utilizing a wireless Tablet PC that is integrated into the hospital-wide database, my duties are much larger than simply jotting down notes. I interpret the medical history, record the physical exam, and document medications, x-rays, and CT scans. The complex and fast-paced environment of the ER requires that I be familiar with medical terminology, comfortable with mature situations, and able to effectively communicate with multiple types of healthcare professionals. I knew this would be difficult. I am the youngest employee in the company, and all of my coworkers are already in college or beyond. Before I began my first shift, I had trained for hours in the computer classroom, ears pricked to the faint sounds of the activity in the ER one floor above me. When the day arrived, I thought I was fully equipped with all of the necessary tools; however, I was not nearly prepared for the reality of the ER.The greatest challenge I faced was the effect that human suffering would have on me. On that first day in the ER I was confronted with a young woman, just a few months older than I, whose self-inflicted wounds were clearly visible through the bloodstained gauze on her wrist. Her troubled past, filled with drug addiction, parental suicide, and teen pregnancy, had provoked her to commit this act. Her misfortunes haunted me for days, as I realized she could easily have been one of my classmates. The connection created by our proximity in age afforded me a rare, intimate look into a vulnerable life. Later in my shift, I was called to the bedside of a man in his fifties who was undergoing CPR. The physician confidently administered a single electric shock, and the patient was revived. I looked over at the family, whose tears were replaced by an expression of hope as the heart monitor began to register renewed electrical activity. With the building emotion in the room, I thought to myself, “His family will now enjoy his company for another day.” I had never considered what it would feel like to see a human being rescued from the grip of death. This man was a stranger to me, but in a small way I was now a part of his life.Standing in that room, I realized the importance of what we do in the ER. I pondered the difference between working at a coffee shop and working in the hospital. If one was to mistakenly put the wrong mocha in a frappuccino, the result might be an unhappy customer. However, if I mistakenly enter the wrong medications into the ER chart, we might have a dead customer. Mistakes are not an option.Reflecting upon my experiences as a scribe over the past several months, I have realized that the world’s challenges are much bigger than a SAT test, an English essay, or a Calculus quiz. How I approach my future will be forever impacted by the maturity I have gained by working in the ER.As I drove home after a recent shift, I considered the significance of health, and the impact of illness on people’s lives. When I arrived home, I gave my mom and dad a hug, affectionately patted my younger brother on the head, and went to my room to do my homework. I neatly laid my uniform over the back of my chair, and I gazed at the company logo on my shirt.I felt like I could take on the world.

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