Biology major at Grand Canyon University by day and hospital employee by night, Allison Olshove works long nights as a medical scribe in the emergency department for HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center. Olshove is not your average student with a job just to get her through school. Instead, she has a very important job that uses what she learns in her classes and puts her to test on the job.
College Times: What is a typical day like as a scribe?
Olshove: A typical day in the scribe-life is pretty cool because you are working one on one with a doctor … I show up at least 15 minutes early to get my computer started up and the workstation ready to roll because when the doctor is ready, so are you. At my hospital the average amount of patients we see in one day is 20 to 30 and it is important that you keep track of everyone and their charts. In the room, my job is the silent witness, practically invisible. Scribing doesn’t necessarily mean typing word for word what the patient says. But when the doctor is obtaining history it is crucial to document everything the patient mentions because it could all be relevant. My main job is to organize it into a story as best I can and keep track of the timeline for each patient. This means if the doctor has to consult a cardiologist about bed four, I document time, who, and what was said in bed four’s chart. Overall, the days are never boring and it is always nice when we get to develop relationships with the doctors. That is when work is no longer work!
Do you ever feel like you are living in an episode of “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy?”
Yes! Some doctors are just like [Dr. Gregory] House, so incredibly smart and knowledgeable with the extreme ability to solve a case, also equipped with the special attitude we all learn to love. Some of the traumas we have are quite similar to the energy and chaos seen in these shows, but I would say there is much less drama here than in ‘Grey’s [Anatomy.]’
How do you handle working extreme hours/night shifts?
I had never had to work a night shift before so at first I was legitimately freaked out about changing up my sleep schedule. Now, I really enjoy night shifts because sometimes it is less chaotic and there is just something about the crew. Otherwise, working 10 and 12 hour shifts does not affect me anymore. It feels normal now and by enjoying my job, it is much more bearable.
Have you had to work with any extremely serious/memorable cases in the ER yet?
Unfortunately, I have had a few memorable cases. We are a trauma level I hospital and are pretty busy. On one particular night we got a father and son who were struck by a large vehicle standing near a building. The son was fortunately in stable condition, but the father lost a limb after being caught between the vehicle and building. In trauma cases the scribe usually takes a paper and pen to stand in the corner and consume the least amount of space possible… I watched as the patient was wheeled in and listened to the history provided by the paramedics. I was in shock as I actually saw the muscle tissue and bone exposed on this patient’s leg… The patient was sedated and taken up to surgery after that.
How does this prepare you for any future career you have in mind?
I see everything here. I see sick people and how they function and I see what these doctors and nurses do as the care providers. I am learning so much. I know more about health conditions and what medications are likely to be given than I ever have before…. I also observe how the [doctors]talk with a patient and other providers, which will be useful when it comes time for my bedside manner. I even know how to operate the computer system we use. This knowledge I have and the relationships I am developing are priceless.
Can you provide some information on how to get involved in a job like yours at a hospital for those who may be interested?
We are employed through Scribe America. I would suggest going online and applying [at scribeamerica.com]. Scribe America is nationwide so it is all about narrowing it down to the city and hospital near you. Sometimes it is about who you know, but like you would any other job, apply and follow through with the interview process. The key is to present yourself in a professional way that you would like observed by a physician.