At the elbow of a doctor

Mar 6, 2013

Kettering University’s Physician Scribe program is helping create a bridge to 21st Century medicine.

Alexandria PetitAlexandria Petit is a new kind of medical pioneer – a Physician Scribe.

American hospitals are currently in a frenzy updating their Electronic Medical Records (EMR) with a pressing sense of immediacy. New government mandates from the Affordable Care Act have created deadlines for health care administrators who are already dealing with medical personnel with varying technology skills, rising health care costs and stronger privacy standards. 

New solutions are needed. Petit and other Kettering University co-op students are part of the answer. Petit is among the first Physician Scribes, a joint program between Hurley Medical Center and Kettering University, both in Flint, Michigan.

Physician Scribes, or medical scribes, provide technical support and training for medical professionals using the new EMR system. Their role is to enter the details of the patient encounter into the hospital’s records system, freeing up the physician’s time to focus on the patient. Their work is done on bedside computers and portable computers.

"We're among the best trained staff on the EMR system in the hospital so we are capable of supporting anybody's use of our EMR. We routinely help both physicians and nurses," Petit explained. "We are helpful in many ways, but this is mostly a support job with incredible benefits."

C. Logan Sancraint, Zachary Beavers, Melany Gavulic (foreground), Dr. Michael Roebuck, Alec Cherny, Muhammad Ghias, Alexandria Petit, Kaila Hart, Korrine Ketchum, and Kelsey Lemke

Logan Sancraint, Zachary Beavers, Melany Gavulic (foreground), Dr. Michael Roebuck, Alec Cherny, Muhammad Ghias, Alexandria Petit, Kaila Hart, Korrine Ketchum, and Kelsey Lemke

Korrine Ketchum, a senior at Kettering from Flushing, Mich., said Physician Scribes can help a hospital overcome the enormity of a new documentation system. “We cut the work in half. We’re there to assist with a technical issue, yet we’ve gone through all the Epic training so we can be very helpful to all users.”

In a treatment roomDr. Michael D. Roebuck, Chief Medical Information Officer at Hurley Medical Center, said having computer-savvy young, bright students around has been invaluable. “They get to touch every nook and cranny in the hospital.”

It’s also a career exploration dream come true for a premed major, Dr. Roebuck said. “It’s an opportunity for students who hope to pursue a career in medicine to get the kind of professional exposure they need to help them decide on their likes and interests in medicine.” 

Petit agrees. “Scribes have unprecedented access around the hospital,” she said. “I explore what kind of doctor I want to become every time I’m at the hospital. For example, I never thought I’d like Emergency Medicine. I’ve discovered I can help people in important ways and not necessarily be a primary care physician. When I get to medical school, I’ll already be prepared and professional in a hospital setting,” Petit added. “A Kettering education turns you into that kind of person.”

Comparing notesLogan Sancraint of Grand Blanc, Mich., said he enjoys his family’s questions, like: what did you see today? “They feel very proud that I get this level of experience in college,” he said. “Not many others applying for medical school will have done anything like this. We get to live this, every week. And,” he noted, “we are defining what the next class needs to include in their preparation. Our experiences at Hurley set the standard for the Physician Scribe class.”

Kaila Hart, a sophomore from Grand Blanc, Mich., said the setting is supportive and energetic. “A doctor has a problem with a record. We try to make their lives easier or find someone who can. We’re always inventing or coming up with new ideas for this program.”

Hart said she has already formed a strong professional bond with the physicians she works with. “It’s a warm and close relationship. You get to see their lives and what they do on a daily basis as a doctor. I get to see some of their amazing cases and the strong focus on the patient at Hurley. It has taught me so much already,” Hart concluded.

Dr. Stacy SeeleyNot a typical college experience.

Setting a new standard was exactly what Kettering’s leading premed academics aimed at with the Physician Scribe program. “In its short history, the Scribe program has attracted college age students who are interested in health professions, such as premed and nursing students,” said Dr. Stacy Seeley, department head of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Premed Director at Kettering. “The approach taken by Kettering and Hurley is to develop a focused, on-line curriculum where students will learn about professional behavior in the hospital and experience health care directly. We want to create experiences that will greatly benefit our premed students and help them to determine if they have the drive and passion for a career in medicine.”

Dr. Patrick AtkinsonDr. Patrick Atkinson '91, professor of Mechanical Engineering and co-adviser for Kettering’s premed program, said being a Scribe is especially valuable because premed students can obtain six months professional experience each year while still an undergraduate. “The Scribe co-op is an ideal environment for an aspiring physician to see what it’s really like to be a doctor, day in and day out.

“I am so excited that were able to put together something that is so cutting edge,” Atkinson said. “It really represents a paradigm shift for us here. I tell my students that I’m bringing my A game and I expect the same of them.”

How it began.

Hurley and Kettering’s Physician Scribe program was born of mutual need. Melany Gavulic, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hurley Medical Center, is a 1991 graduate of Kettering. As an alumna of the University, she was acquainted with Dr. Patrick Atkinson, a professor of Mechanical Engineering and co-adviser of Kettering’s premed program. “I knew there would be different ways we could partner with Kettering, we just needed the right course of action,” Gavulic explained. “We knew the problems -- a brand new $40 million medical records system that few knew how to implement; an aging workforce with varying comfort levels using technology; and Hurley’s ongoing need to find and attract new medical talent for the important ongoing work at our hospital.”

She said the high-powered synergy began with her first conversation with Drs. Atkinson and Seeley. “They were looking for relevant co-op experiences for students in Kettering’s premed track. I told them about our need to implement the new medical records system. It was a ‘problem – problem: perfect marriage’ situation right from the beginning,” Gavulic said. 

“The thought of having a fresh set of eyes watching for themes, identifying patterns and offering solutions was ideal,” she said. “In the meantime, students are able to take in what life is like in a hospital – an ideal partnership is born. What a great way to use engineering talent. In fact, how about if next they invent the bed table of the future. The possibilities are endless,” Gavulic concluded.

Contact: Patricia Mroczek