In the summer of 2017, I was extremely fortunate to spend one month living in Athens, Greece, shadowing surgeons from all different specialties. I was a wide-eyed nineteen-year-old who had dreams of becoming a physician, and I was ready to take on the world. Spoiler alert: I hated surgery. Sure, the procedures were interesting, and the complexity was alluring. However, I hated standing for 10+ hours at a time, and I longed for more patient interaction than was offered behind a surgical curtain. I left that internship feeling defeated. I wondered if the reason I didn’t enjoy surgery was because I wasn’t “cut out” for medicine to begin with.
When I returned to school that fall, a friend told me that the emergency room she worked at was hiring medical scribes. She knew that I wanted to go to medical school—at least, she thought I did, although I wasn’t so sure anymore—so she thought of me. After contemplating for weeks, I decided to give it a shot and submitted my application.
The ER was no joke. The pace seemed impossible to keep up with—sometimes 40+ patients a shift, including traumas, codes, and more. The medical terminology was a beast in and of itself, but understanding the medical decision-making process and trying to figure out the charting preferences of 50 different providers was a whole new ballgame.
Enter again from stage left: self-doubt. For the first few months, I could hardly keep up. I was constantly feeling behind or confused, and again, like I couldn’t handle it. I was on the brink of quitting when something changed inside me. The part of my sympathetic nervous system that had been telling me to take flight was suddenly telling me to fight.
I decided that if I was truly going to give up on my dreams of pursuing medicine, I better be able to say that I gave it everything I had first. After countless hours of self-studying, research, and hard work, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing. And once I had some knowledge behind me, working became fun. I soon grew to love the fast-paced environment and the complexity of cases. I loved feeling like every single day brought new challenges and that each time I clocked out, I was leaving there with more knowledge than when I clocked in. I realized that I had always been “cut out” for medicine—I just hadn’t believed in myself enough to give it a fair shot.
After graduating from college and moving back to Washington, I traded in the ER for a new job in primary care with Scribe-X. I was already sold on applying to medical school, but it wasn’t until I started working at HealthPoint that I realized medicine wasn’t just what I wanted to do; it was the only thing I could see myself doing. I enjoyed the fast-paced environment of the ER, but primary care brought an entirely new reward: actual relationships with the patients. I loved looking at my schedule and recognizing nearly every name on it. I loved the Christmas cards in the breakroom, the teenage patients that the providers had delivered themselves, and every simple joy in between.
Fast forward to 2020, and I was driving across the country to start medical school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Not only had the providers from Scribe-X written my letters of recommendation for medical school, but they gave me application advice and even sat with me in an exam room to practice interviewing when we didn’t have patients. What’s more—one of the providers, Dr. Kalsi, actually moved to Omaha the same year as me! He claims that it was to be closer to family, but really, I think he just wanted to hang out with me.
Dr. Kalsi and I have stayed close the entire time I’ve been in medical school. I get dinner with him and his wife about once a month, and he even tutored me on interpreting EKGs when I had been struggling. He lent me some of his old textbooks and even gifted me his old medical pocketbook for my clinicals.
If you’ve made it to the end of my story, and if you take away only one thing, let it be this: if it weren’t for scribing, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have given up on medicine a long time ago. A dream I’d had for years, thrown out the window because of self-doubt. I wouldn’t have the support system, the relationships, the self-confidence, or the joy that I have now. And that, dear reader, is the most valuable gift I have ever been given.