There are a lot of things that medical schools look for in prospective students, and the list can be intimidating. All throughout your undergraduate years you will hear health advisors and professors saying profusely how medical schools want students who are driven, hardworking, knowledgeable and experienced. Seems simple enough, right? But what about when you realize all the other things students have to juggle? They say your GPA must be between 3.7 and 4.0, your MCAT score has to be high to be considered competitive and make sure you are doing community service, extracurriculars, maintaining your health, getting your hours done, getting leadership experience, clinical experience, research experience etc. There is so much effort that goes into our undergraduate years, especially as honors students, and so much sacrifice must be made in order to make our dreams a reality. Although it can be very challenging, it’s all rewarding in the end.
So, how do we become a competitive applicant? What can we do that will make us stand out in the eyes of the admissions representatives and acceptance committees? But most importantly, what can we do to become better prepared and experienced, and show that we have a clear understanding of what we would be getting ourselves into? The answer is simple– become a medical scribe.
A medical scribe is a student who becomes the personal assistant to the physician or physicians they are working alongside, documenting what is happening in the emergency room, gathering information for the patient’s visit and assisting the doctor in performing the best patient care. This is the holy grail of experience that a medical student can have, and 2018 graduate Brianna Samonte can attest to this.
Brianna was a medical scribe during her junior and senior years here at GCU. Brianna decided to become a scribe because she wanted to gain more exposure to the medical field and learn as much as possible prior to entering medical school. She mentioned that although one must have a schedule that is conducive to scribing, it is important to prioritize school, saying, “I think it is feasible to work part-time as a scribe and be a full-time student, but you really need to evaluate the rigors of your classes and other commitments such as clubs, other jobs and volunteering.”
According to Brianna, it isn’t necessary to take more advanced classes before becoming a scribe. Brianna also says that staying very organized, doing homework and studying ahead of time is important so that you wouldn’t be stressed about classes at work. Scribing is fun, “but it can be very intimidating at first,” says Brianna, mentioning however, “I was lucky that my company EPScribes pairs you with the more easy-going doctors when you are training– I had a trainer to show me the ropes.”
When asked about the challenges she faced in the beginning of her scribing job, she said that speed was one major thing she had to work on, as “scribing involves a learning curve; the more you do it, the better you get at multitasking and charting efficiently.”
On the topic of sacrificing time, Brianna says that becoming a scribe is not as time consuming as some might think considering that you aren’t truly working a full 24 hours out of the two days of the week that the job requires. Scribing allows students to become totally immersed in the medical environment, and Brianna explains that even though she struggled at first, what kept her moving forward was her motivation to practice medicine and learn openly, saying, “I didn’t always love the job of scribing and the pressure associated with it, but I love medicine and that helped me always keep the end goal in mind. I also had really good friends that were a great support system for me and helped be a source of de-stressing.”
When it comes to time management, Brianna advises students who are interested in acquiring this job that school is first priority, and you should dedicate your best efforts to everything you do without having to have one area suffer, like GPA. She mentions that “medical schools like to see that you can handle multiple responsibilities and balance them all,” and that scribing is “a good opportunity to practice and build those skills.”
Overall, Brianna advises that students should definitely take advantage of this experience saying, “Take the job and find out. You do not want to find out that you cannot handle the ‘unpleasantness’ of medicine when you are in your fourth year of undergrad or even starting medical school.”
Not only is scribing a good way to gain valuable experience in the medical field, it opens doors and provides resources and offers benefits for students applying to medical school. According to Brianna, “Physicians become good sources for letters of recommendation, and it allows students to network with doctors and keep those connections,” admitting that even though it was hard at first to build these relationships, it was beneficial in the end because she was able to get to know them and ask her questions regarding medicine, school and the future.
If you are interested in enhancing your skills and being challenged to go outside of your comfort zone to do something that can help you on the path to becoming a physician, do it, because according to Brianna, “scribing was by far my best clinical experience that taught me the most about medicine and what it takes to be a physician. I learned how I want to interact with patients and it further reinforced my passion for the field.”
Grand Canyon University’s Honors College provides motivated and ambitious students with the opportunities they need to succeed at GCU and in their future careers. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the Request More Information button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.