Andrew J.H. Park is an MD Candidate attending UCSD School of Medicine. Andrew joined ScribeConnect in 2014 as a medical scribe and was promoted to Senior Training Officer in 2015 to assist in the development of our training and educational programs. We had a chance to talk with Andrew about making the most out of your medical scribing experience, preparing for med school, life stuff, and more.
SC: Where and what you are studying – what your next steps are in your career?
A: I am currently a second-year medical student at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. My scribing experiences at Long Beach Memorial have had a huge impact on my career trajectory, and I plan on pursuing residency in emergency medicine. Who knows, maybe I’ll even work at LBM and have a ScribeConnect scribe of my own! They would need to keep up with all of my SmartPhrases, though.
Further down the line, I might pursue a fellowship in Ultrasound medicine, but my big-picture clinical interests in emergency medicine include opioid dependence, addiction, and medical ethics.
SC: What are your short- and long-term goals in medicine?
A: Short-term goal: Pass the STEP USMLE. I’ve been denial about this upcoming exam this past Fall quarter, but come Winter term, I’ll have to start sneaking in some extra flash cards while on the elliptical at the gym, or something like that. Just kidding. Or not.
Long-term goals: Become a driving force in the medical humanities, champion awareness for mental illness, depression, and physician burnout, and write a couple books. First year was a difficult year for me in terms of mental health and wellness, and I want to make sure that I can create a nurturing work environment for myself and my peers. I’m heavily involved with the Human Condition, which is our medical school’s literary and arts magazine, and I work with the school to promote wellness events to address and destigmatize mental health and wellness.
SC: What are some things you got from scribing and managing that you have found most helpful on your path so far?
A: Learning to work hard and smart. Constantly asking myself, how can I make this system better? For example, take something like SmartPhrases, which are helpful because they provide shortcuts to phrases that I need to use on a daily basis. So, I do the same thing with emails, since Apple has keyboard replacement texts.
Time management. Being comfortable with feeling overwhelmed, because medical school is a constant barrage of information.
The power of candy. Bring Andes Mints to clinic, give them to the nurses, and you have friends for life who will go out of their way to make your experience better.
The language; the language! One of the best takeaways to med school from scribing was the familiarity and ease with all the medical terminology and treatment plans from the ED. It just gives you this baseline of “okay, I got this” that you really need in the first year of med school. That and notes. Because of ScribeConnect, I can write really good notes. In my sleep. Which is sad.
SC: Do you have any words of wisdom for scribes and those in application processes?
A: Hmm. I don’t feel like I’m at a position to provide words of wisdom, since I’ve only just got here myself. But if there were things I would tell ‘younger me’ over and over again, it is to enjoy the process: plan ahead for tomorrow, but don’t forget to enjoy today as well. I’m saying this in the hope that I will someday take my own advice. But speaking from my own experience, to any scribe who’s struggling with the med school application process: If you need to take another year off, do it. (I took three years off, applied twice, and accumulated more rejections than I could count). Learn from your failures, but don’t waste them. No one’s dying regret was ever “I wish I got into medical school one year earlier.”
Another observation that I noticed—and this could apply to scribing and any other process of skill acquisition—is that after you reach a certain level of proficiency, your skills start to plateau, and the only way to improve is to focus on the details. Figure out what details matter to you, and stick to them; the small things that other people don’t see. I think this is what keeps the mind stimulated and prevents skill stagnation. As an example, I try to keep a level of interaction with my patients, and I focus on their eye color. With every patient I see, I try to memorize their eye color in the initial encounter. This keeps me accountable: If I don’t remember their eye color later while I’m writing the note, then I didn’t listen enough, didn’t observe enough, and ultimately didn’t pay attention to other details that mattered.
SC: Anything else fun you’ve been doing?
A: Outside of medicine, I like to collect wristwatches and rejections, the latter which I store in a mason jar on my bookshelf. On days when my hip and shoulder do not ache, I enjoy surfing and writing flash fiction. I have become increasingly fixated on cooking, which I believe will help train me to deal with stressful situations in the ED, because, you know, the ED is basically like a kitchen.
I work a side hustle as a content editor for a medical school admissions company, which is a fun way for me to pay my experiences forward (as well as pay off my loans).
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