A revolutionary program pairs SVSU with Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, and everyone — student, physician and patient — stands to benefit. The program trains undergraduate students to be “physician facilitators,” scribes who create medical documentation for physicians.
Ordinarily, after seeing patients, emergency room doctors spend hours filling out charts from memory, a practice that can lead to burnout and occasionally even errors. Now, students known as physician facilitators simply type up observations immediately, so electronic medical records are created on the spot.
John Lowry, the kinesiology instructor who heads the program and teaches the class, said, “Doctors keep telling me, ‘Now I have time to actually practice medicine!’”
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Benefits abound for students, too: paid work experience, confidence with medical terminology, hundreds of clinical hours, and relationships with practicing physicians — exactly the sort of things that polish a medical school application.
Plus it helps students make the decision, letting them make an educated choice of whether they want to invest the large amount of time, energy, and money required by medical school.
Tim Holden, a sophomore enrolled in the class, said it gives him a better perspective. “I know that I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Then when you listen to the doctors you get to hear the same terminology in use, as they’re applying it to a patient. If I decide to go to med school, it will definitely give me a huge leg up."
Lauren Refice is a working scribe and pre-medicine major. “It’s done a lot for me,” she said. “To get into med school, they want you to do job shadowing, but when you do that, you don’t really learn that much from it.” When she job shadowed, she got about four or five hours at a time, she said.
“But since I’m now an employee at Covenant, I can work 30 hours a week and see everything that’s happening in the E.R. — that’s a lot more experience, job-shadowing, and a lot more really cool things to see. It’s a really great opportunity for anyone thinking about medicine.”