For this edition of Summer Spotlight, I spoke with Elizabeth Love ‘20 about her experience working as a bilingual medical scribe in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Elizabeth is a Spanish major, rows crew and is an Outdoor Action leader. With an interest in becoming a physician, Elizabeth worked as a scribe this past summer at Casa De Salud, a non-profit community health clinic that provides clinical and mental healthcare services to uninsured immigrant populations throughout the St. Louis metropolitan region.
Elizabeth first heard about Casa De Salud from her high school Spanish teacher. Interested in spending a summer near home and supporting her local community, Elizabeth eagerly applied to the clinic’s summer internship program and was hired as a scribe. In her role, she served an important support role for a patient community that was primarily (but not exclusively) Spanish speaking. While many of the doctors and staff at Casa De Salud were bilingual or multilingual, many were not, particularly the existing scribe staff. Elizabeth’s presence meant that providers and patients could converse completely in Spanish without the need for an interpreter translating the medical record into English.
For Elizabeth, most of her days were spent in the clinic, sitting with doctors as they diagnosed and treated patients, and recording information into the electronic medical record (EMR). Prior to the start of an appointment, she and the doctor would go over any previous history in the patient's medical record. Most of the time, Elizabeth would type the information directly into a computer but she said some doctors preferred not to have computers in the room while they were working with patients. In that case, Elizabeth would sit and listen to the patient/provider interactions and then confer with the doctor afterward before entering the information into the EMR. Other doctors engaged with Elizabeth as she was taking notes and would give her extra information they wanted to be included in the medical record.
This internship was not Elizabeth’s first foray into clinical experience. Like many aspiring physicians, she had shadowed doctors before. However, in those scenarios, she was an observer, not a participant in the provider in the provider/patient relationship. She said that sometimes when shadowing doctors she felt like she was a burden to the process more than a facilitator. Her internship at Casa De Salud gave her an opportunity to contribute actively to the healthcare delivery process all while serving an at-need community near where she grew up.
Asked if she had any advice for first-years and sophomores applying to summer opportunities Elizabeth said “the application process can be very stressful but trust that it will work out” if you are proactive and “open to different options.” Elizabeth said that in her summers she has often ended up with opportunities that were not exactly what she thought she would be doing initially and yet the experiences have been invaluable to her on her premed journey.