Thomas Chilton is a site coordinator with ProScribe and shares entertaining anecdotes about how his experience as a scribe helped him with the professional school application process and getting into med school.
Thomas has been employed with ProScribe, a national medical scribe company featured on the Inc. 5,000 list in 2019 for the second straight year, and for more than five years has been an invaluable asset to their team. This year was his 5th (and last!) time to apply to medical school. Thomas was accepted to three medical schools and ultimately decided to attend the University of the Incarnate Word Osteopathic School of Medicine in San Antonio, Texas.
Before we begin, it’s important to understand two things:
- What is a medical scribe? A medical scribe is a person, or paraprofessional, who specializes in charting physician-patient encounters in real time, such as during medical examinations. They also locate information and patients for physicians and complete forms needed for patient care.
- What is a professional school? Professional school programs help student prepare for careers in specific fields, such as medical, law, pharmacy, social work schools, etc. The length of these programs vary. Professional degrees are often required before an individual can begin a certain working in a particular occupation.
What is the best advice you would give someone applying to professional school?
Seek outside advice – a lot of it. Don’t be too proud. Consult an expert or someone with experience on the content (and grammar!) of your essays, medical school interviews, activities, work experience, etc. Most pre-med students, myself included, are very enthusiastic… very. They think, “I got this – I’m smart,” but I highly recommend seeking out as many people with experience and expertise as possible to help you. I think that’s one of the things that made a significant difference between when I applied last year and this year.
What has being a scribe taught you about the healthcare industry?
Scribing has taught me that healthcare is very complicated and nuanced. Things are rarely as straightforward as they seem. There are a lot of social and economic factors that influence healthcare. I worked in an operating room and saw a very process-driven form of medicine before I started working with ProScribe. A patient comes in with X, you give them Y drug or perform Y surgery, and they go home and feel better. In the ER, you see the outside influences because you see it raw. It’s not filtered. You get to see what medicine is really like.
Do you think being a scribe helped you get into medical school? If so, how?
100% yes. It gave me real-world examples to talk about in my interview. When I was in my interview in the last application cycle, I had written down all of the clinical hours I had. I think it was something like 7,000 hours. I stopped counting. They had highlighted it in red and asked me if it was a typo. I began telling them about my experience as a scribe, what I had learned, what I had experienced – and they were beyond impressed. ProScribe has allowed me to work in many cities with many different doctors on their implementation team, so it led to a really long conversation about medicine in general. I was also able to discuss my vertical growth within the company from a Medical Scribe, to an Implementation Trainer, to a Site Coordinator that manages the day-to-day operations of the scribes at several facilities within a healthcare group. I think that definitely helped me stand out in the interview.
What was the most interesting case or experience that you’ve encountered as a scribe?
There are many, but two stick out in my mind. One was during the Spurs NBA finals. There was no one in the ER, and this 14-year-old boy came in with a bullet wound. We were asking him where his parents were and how he got to the hospital. He said he accidentally shot himself and didn’t want to get in trouble, so he stole his dad’s truck and drove himself to the hospital. (**Collective gasp**) He was fine, but who wants to tell their parents they shot themselves? He walked himself in and walked himself out.
Another experience was when an old farmer with denim overalls came in and said he’d been bitten by a snake. We asked him if he knew what kind it was, and he said, “No, but I caught him!” and pulled out a bag with a live water moccasin in it. He thought we may need to test the snake.
How do you think your experience as a scribe has prepared you for your future?
First, and most importantly, I learned how to think like a physician. I learned how to give a triage, what questions to ask the patients, how to respond to those questions, what tests to order, and how doctors work within the healthcare system as a whole. I worked at University Hospital in San Antonio where there are 3rd year medical students and very early residents. I have a better idea of the thought processes that go into some of the questions that the physicians are asking the students and early residents because I’ve spent so much time working one-on-one with the doctors and I know how they think. And so, inherently, I know the answers to a lot of questions before the students do because they just don’t have the same experience.
Secondly, it strengthened my network and put me in front of a lot of valuable contacts. In general, that has been one of the most valuable things I’ve taken from this, and also because some of the physicians that I’ve worked with for years are faculty at the medical school so I think that will be very valuable.
If you found this content valuable and are interested in learning more about scribing and the nationwide opportunities that ProScribe may have in your area, please visit proscribemd.com/become-a-scribe or reach out to Brittney Petrovics directly with any specific questions at [email protected] Thank you!