FLINT -- Scribe is an ancient word, having its roots in the occupation of making handwritten copies before the invention of printing.
But Kettering University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint have fast-forwarded the word into the 21st Century technology.
The school and the hospital formally introduced their new "Physician Scribe" program in a press conference at the hospital Friday.
Basically, today's physician scribes will be Kettering pre-med students. They will assist doctors at Hurley with the hospital's new electronic medical records system -- wherever the doctor needs that help, whether at the patient bedside, or the emergency room, or anywhere else.
The program takes advantage of Kettering's unique educational model, in which students alternate between terms spent taking classes at Kettering's campus and terms spent working in jobs directly related to their majors.
Michael D. Roebuck, M.D., an emergency room doctor who is also Hurley's chief medical information officer, said the scribing program was born out of the hospital's move to electronic medical records, which went live March 4, 2012.
"We were concerned about the impact on physicians of taking all their work and putting it on a computer," Roebuck said. "Not all physicians are nerds, and we were concerned they would struggle. We were looking for help."
So Roebuck turned to Melany Gavulic, Hurley's CEO -- herself a Kettering grad -- for ideas. "She sent me to Kettering," Roebuck said. "And the program has been a success here (at the hospital) and a success there (Kettering). The scribes made this transition a whole lot easier for us. They serve as user support and help the doctors do orders and notes."
Roebuck said the scribes help Hurley avoid one side effect of EMRs that he was worried about -- "in some EMR implementations, doctors and nurses stare at the computer all day and not the patients. With the scribe program, scribes take over the computer work while the doctor is in the room."
Scribes can be attached to a particular doctor, following him or her around all day and transcribing all that they do into the EMR. Or they can be assigned to a particular unit, like the trauma center.
"The doctors love it," Roebuck said. "It's a safety net for them, they don't get stuck, and the medical record doesn't get in the way of care. Doctors also enjoy the opportunity to be a mentor."
Alexandria Petit, a senior biochemistry major from Waterford who has already been accepted to the Michigan State University medical school, has been working as a scribe at Hurley during her co-op terms since the program was first implemented a little over a year ago.
Both Roebuck and Petit emphasized how much close contact and access medical scribes get to the inner workings of medical care and the hospital.
Said Roebuck: "It gives unprecedented access to a hospital setting for students who hope to pursue a career in medicine. ... They get to touch every nook and cranny in the hospital."
Added Petit: "You get to meet the doctors, you get to live their life day in and day out, which most people don't get to do until their third year of medical school. ... I figured it out that if you worked here for every term of co-op at Kettering, you would have about 4,000 hours of clinical experience."
Originally planning to be a pediatrician, Petit now said she's leaning more toward emergency medicine. So is Erika Williams of Burton, a double major in business and pre-med at Kettering. "I like the lifesaving situations," Williams said. "As a doctor once told me, you don't have time to think, it just comes to you, you just do it."
And Kaila Hart, a sophomore from Grand Blanc, said the program also gives the students a chance to become intimately familiar with EMR software: "We're always inventing or coming up with new ideas for this program."
Kettering added its pre-med program in 2008. Since then, 15 students have completed it and applied to medical schools; of those, 11 were accepted to at least one medical school.
Find out more about the Physician Scribe Program at www.kettering.edu/global-leader-stem/physician-scribe-program, and for a look at Petit, visit www.kettering.edu/news/elbow-doctor.
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