A Day in the Life

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a medical scribe for the UF Department of Emergency Medicine? What does a scribe really do? What does a typical day in the ED look like?  How can this experience benefit you as you prepare for a career in medicine? 

You have questions, and we have answers. Please read through these accounts from current and former scribes to see if a position in our program may interest you. 

Emily DeGrange – Current Head Scribe

“Being a part of the UF Emergency Medicine Scribe program has been one of the most rewarding and unique experiences of my undergraduate career. Prior to joining this program, I had minimal healthcare experience and little idea what career I wanted to pursue. It was through scribing that I ultimately decided to go to medical school, and after every shift, I am further motivated to achieve this goal. I truly believe there is no pre-health experience like scribing, as you get to see the provider’s thought process behind an initial evaluation, plan, and diagnosis. Additionally, working in the ED has exposed me to a wide range of patient populations, allowing me to determine where exactly my interests in healthcare lie. 

When asked what a typical day in the life of a scribe is, my answer is there isn’t one. While we perform many of the same duties for each patient’s note, every case is different. In general, when scribing at the Emergency Department, we are responsible for four major parts of a note: History/ROS, Physical Exam, Medical Decision Making, and Differential Diagnoses. The History of Present Illness is the subjective ‘story’ of why the patient came to the ED and what exact symptoms they are having. The Physical Exam is the provider’s hands-on assessment of the patient. The Medical Decision Making is the general ‘plan’ the provider composes in order to determine the cause of a patient’s symptom. It may include things like tests/imaging to be completed as well as medications given for relief. Lastly, the Differential Diagnoses is the list of possible diagnoses obtained from the provider for what they believe may be causing the patient’s symptoms. After putting all of these parts together, you should have an accurate account of the patient’s ED visit that day.”

Maddie Mills – Former Head Scribe 2021/2022

“The most common question I was asked as Head Scribe of the University of Florida Emergency Medicine Scribe Program is ‘What is a typical day like?’  My answer is this: There is no typical day in the Emergency Department. No two shifts are ever the same, and that is what sets this program apart as the premier job experience for those looking to pursue a career in medicine. No matter the specialty you’re interested in, there is a high probability you will see some aspect of it during your time in the ED. Don’t have an interest yet? No problem! I guarantee you will find one (or multiple) here. This experience has, by far, given me the best glimpse into my future career in medicine.

In lieu of a ‘typical day,’ I’ll describe my usual routine as an EM scribe. I arrive on shift 15 minutes early to set up my computer and mentally prepare for the day ahead. I greet the provider, and off we go to see our first patient, ranging from a simple upper respiratory infection to a cardiac arrest. You never know what will come through the doors. I listen intently to obtain a full history from the patient, EMS, or caregiver accompanying the patient, and then I perform extensive review of the patient’s previous medical records to find pertinent information to include in the note. While completing the note, I listen in on the provider’s presentation of the patient and make note of their plan of care. After finishing the note, I double-check for any errors and then share it with the provider. At the end of the day, after seeing an average of 20 to 25 patients, it is time to leave and get ready to do it all over again next shift!”

Seth Hendricks – Current Medical Scribe 

“Hi, my name is Seth Hendricks, and I am an undergraduate at the University of Florida, majoring in Nutritional Science with a minor in Spanish. I began working as a scribe in the EM program Aug. 2021. I have completed the training period and am now working individually with the emergency medicine providers. While the learning curve is steep and the emergency situations can be intense, this job has been the most rewarding and inspiring part of my UF career, in that it has encouraged me to attend medical school and become an MD. Our scribe trainers are amazing and expect the highest standard of work from us by the end of our training. Through training, I always felt extremely appreciated by the providers I scribed for on shift. My trainers were incredibly encouraging and relatable while maintaining an especially high standard of excellence for our program. In this scribe program, you can escape the cutthroat pre-med world and find a group of fellow students willing to assist each other in achieving our dreams of becoming medical providers. The emergency providers are truly amazing people who inspire me to one day take the baton and fulfill their role in helping our local communities.” 

Susan Lo – EM Physician Assistant / Former EM Scribe

“The experience I had while working as an EM scribe helped set the foundation for being a physician assistant now! It was as a scribe that I first learned about many things I still use today, such as the clinical decision tools we use to rule out emergencies like a blood clot in the lungs or a head bleed in a child with a head injury. I saw my first diabetic foot ulcer as a scribe, learned what ovarian torsion was, and started to understand liver failure – to name a few conditions among many that helped me grasp the information I learned in school. I can confidently say scribing gave me a leg up in my PA program. It also gave me an early opportunity to shape my practice as a PA. Working side by side with our providers, I not only got a unique glimpse into their diagnostic thought process but also a firsthand view into what it takes to be the kind of compassionate, thoughtful health care provider I wanted to be, too. Plus, I made great connections with doctors, APPs, and staff – some of the same people I have the delight of working with today. And, of course, I’d like to think I write great notes! If I had to rewrite my journey to being a physician assistant, I would definitely be an EM scribe again!”