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Future Pre-Med Students Gain Valuable Experience as Medical Scribes

 Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Left Photo: Lucas Short charts information as Dr. Laurance Choate examines mock-patient Whitney Carnahan, an employee of Umpqua Community Health Center

An Innovative Program: ReConnect Scribes

In June 2016, the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon (AHECSW) launched a new program called ReConnect Scribes. This unique, 14 month program is aimed at college graduates who have completed a bachelor’s degree, but are in their “gap year” between undergraduate school and higher level healthcare programs, such as medical school, physician assistant school, or nurse practitioner school. Our program places college graduates in medical scribe positions in our community. A medical scribe is a person who does all charting during physician-patient appointments in real time, as physicians are treating their patients. This is a great advantage to a physician, as it saves them from having copious amounts of charting to complete after seeing patients all day. Currently, our scribes are working full-time for the physicians at the Umpqua Community Health Center (UCHC).

While recruiting and interviewing candidates for this program, AHECSW focused on students who have a desire to work in rural healthcare settings with an underserved population. The goal is that students who participate in this program return to underserved areas to practice upon completion of their advanced medical degrees. Once scribes were hired, AHECSW provided Scribe training for them through a specialized training program called Scribe University. This allowed scribes to be as prepared as possible as they began their new positions at UCHC. Scribes began working at UCHC in June of this year and will work through July of 2017.

In addition to working full-time at the clinic, scribes are dedicating several hours a week in support of our Bright Works Oregon after-school program for high school students. Currently, scribes are working on developing case studies or “mock patient” scenarios that will be used in our Bright Works curriculum later this year. Scribes will also attend Bright Works chapter meetings and interact with high school students on case studies and college preparation activities. 

Audrey Taylor prepares labwork in-between appointmentsRight Photo: Audrey Taylor prepares lab-work in between seeing patients

Each of the scribes are currently preparing to attend advanced medical programs. Michael Graham, a graduate of Oregon State University, is preparing for Physician Assistant (PA) school. Michael aspires to begin a PA program next summer and has interviews at Oregon Health & Science University and Pacific University. Scribes Audrey Taylor and Jaide Farr are both making headway in their preparations for medical school by taking the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT. Audrey completed her first attempt at the MCAT in September and Jaide will be taking the test in January 2017. Our fourth scribe, Lucas Short is currently considering which medical schools he will apply to and hopes to stay on the west coast for medical school.

Thus far, the program has been a resounding success for both the scribe students, as well as the physicians at UCHC. Dr. Chip Taylor, a family physician at UCHC, says “Having a scribe in the exam room changes the entire encounter in a very positive manner. After 20 years of typing in the exam room I can now return to the days when I sat close to the patient with my hands in my lap and my eyes focused on them attending to their concerns with undivided attention… at the end of the day, my notes are mostly done and I have less paperwork. The fact that the scribes come from rural Oregon is a real positive point for my patients who enjoy having my scribe in the encounter; many patients have taken a real interest in these future healthcare professionals by asking at subsequent encounters how their tests, interviews, and so-forth are coming as they progress in their professional education.”

According to Dr. Jay Richards, the Family Practice & Medical Director of UCHC, “the scribes have become a critical part of our care teams. The providers have all been very impressed with their abilities. They have also taken on process improvement tasks and training to do medical assistant duties, which gives them more hands-on patient care. This experience has provided them a better understanding of routine primary care and allows them a better informed decision as they apply for post graduate training. We are excited to expand the program to hire more scribes for next year.”

Photo Left: Michael Graham scribes for Dr. Chip Taylor at the Sutherlin clinic

When asked about his experiences in this program, scribe Michael Graham said “The scribe program has afforded me the opportunity to learn and grow as a healthcare professional in more ways than I had initially thought possible. Being in a rural federally qualified health clinic, I see numerous barriers to healthcare that individuals in a rural community face that I had previously only read about in textbooks. My position at UCHC in Sutherlin has allowed me to begin to think critically as a provider and to fully gauge my interest in working with the rural community as a PA. Each day I get the opportunity to practice humility, service, understanding, patience and empathy as I both listen to and interact with patients. The lessons I am learning both personally and professionally will serve to make me a better provider and, more importantly, a better person.”

Seeing the program become a success so quickly has prompted plans for future expansion. AHECSW plans to continue placing scribes at UCHC next summer, as well as to form new partnerships with other providers in Douglas County who could benefit from a program such as this. Marketing this unique scribe program will play a significant role in next year’s recruitment success. AHECSW will be reaching out to colleges and universities across the northwest to inform aspiring pre-med students of this opportunity. AHECSW is proud to cooperate with community partners, such as UCHC, to grow this scribe program in Douglas County. The ultimate reward would be to see these individuals return to Douglas County after medical school to provide quality healthcare in our rural community.


Photo Left: Jaide Farr prepares to chart information for Dr. Joseph Amavisca




AHECSW BWO Programs Kick Off for Fall 2015

 Tuesday, December 01, 2015

AHECSW's Bright Works Oregon Healthcare Team Program (BWO HT Program) started out its Fall programming by sending 11 students from Douglas County to explore healthcare educational pathways at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest (COMPNW) and Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). The students that participated in this trip were part of the Bright Works Oregon Healthcare Team Summer Leadership Program. Students enrolled in the leadership program had to go through 20+ hours of professional development and career exploration before being accepted for this trip. Additionally, they were also required to complete a community health project and this summer they chose to focus on a tobacco prevention initiative. The students selected were interested in a variety of career pathways including: nursing, dentistry, physician assistant, and physician. Many of the students selected have also expressed an interest in coming back to serve in a rural community upon completion of their education.

Emma Myers, a junior at Douglas High School in Winston, OR, shared her thoughts on her experience and how it helped to build her confidence. Emma stated that, "Before going to the OHSU campus, med school was surrounded in this mystic haze. It felt like it was some impossible goal, but after going there and meeting their staff I was suddenly aware that these people were just people like me. It helped me realize that my goals were reachable"

Soon after the trip our chapter meetings kicked off in Douglas County. We currently have 33 students enrolled with a representation from Camas Valley Charter School, Douglas High School, Glide High School, Phoenix Charter School, Oakland High School, Oregon Virtual Academy, Roseburg High School, and Yoncalla High School. The chapters are being lead by our college pre-health advisers, Lucas Short and Jason Duval. We have had some great presentations already! We had a wonderful presentation from the Umpqua Community College nursing students.The nursing students were able to present on the steps required to get into the nursing program, the nursing thinking process, and basic vitals. Our advisers were also able to instruct students on how to build a resume and gastroenterology careers. Randy Chase visited our group to discuss the value of communication as a skill for future success and to help support a rat dissection that focused on the digestive system after our discussion on gastroenterology. Through the BWO program our students were additionally able to celebrate Rural Healthcare Day by recognizing local providers, provide outreach in the community during Halloween with South River Community Health Center, and attend a surgical viewing at Providence Medical Center to view a total knee replacement with an orthopedic surgeon.

Emily Do, a junior at Roseburg High School in Roseburg, OR, interested in becoming a Physician Assistant (PA), commented on her experience in the program stating that, "The BWO team has given me an opportunity to fulfill a leadership position while working with new individuals who share my interest in the medical field. I have gained new skills with surgical viewings, dissections, seminars, and working with healthcare professionals. This program has reassured my passion in healthcare careers."     

While future nursing student and senior at Roseburg High School, Crystal Rodriguez, has found the program to be, "impactful, educational, and inspiring" Crystal shared, "I have enjoyed my  experiences with AHECSW throughout the fall semester from dissecting a rat to learning how to become a Registered Nurse.I have learned and gained so much, as well as having the opportunity to show appreciation to the healthcare community around me for supporting not only this amazing program, but for providing amazing care for people in Roseburg."

Taylor Kuntz, a junior at Sutherlin High School in Sutherlin, OR, who aspires to be an anesthesiologist, discussed her appreciation for this program and opportunity by saying, "The BWO program has given me amazing opportunities to advance in my medical field aspirations. Living in a rural community makes it difficult to get hands-on experience with professionals; but thanks to this program I have been able to view a live surgery, take a tour of OHSU, and get CPR certified. The program also gives me a chance to give back to my community." 

The AHECSW team loves the enthusiasm and passion our amazing team of students has demonstrated so far this Fall for rural healthcare. We look forward to welcoming more students into the program this year that have an interest in healthcare. The students in our program not only want to pursue this career, but they have shown that they care about their community and the people in it. Our support from our local partners has continued to be wonderful. We appreciate their continued commitment to inspire youth in our community, as well as provide unique opportunities.

OHSU & COMPNW Experience   

AHEC Program Office



OHSU PA Program

OHSU Medical School Admissions 

OHSU Simulation Lab 

OHSU Surgical Department 

BWO Fall Chapters

Phoenix Charter School- Chapter Host 

Randy Chase- Presenter 

South River Community Health Center- Chapter Host, Presenter, and Event Partner 

Umpqua Community College Nursing Students- Presenter

Providence Hospital Surgical Viewing

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center

Cortney Humbert, Nursing Student- Volunteer 

Gabrielle Webster, Phoenix School Teacher- Volunteer

Fall Supporters

DA Davidson

Mercy Medical Center

Umpqua Valley Regional STEAM Hub 

Fall Program Staff

Jason Duval, Pre-Health Advisor and Winston Chapter Leader 

Lucas Short, Pre-Health Advisor and Roseburg Chapter Leader 

Rose Zoellner, Program Director 




AHECSW OHSU Experience 2014

 Monday, October 20, 2014

AHECSW accepted 21 students from Coos, Douglas, and Lane County that were interested in healthcare careers for their OHSU experience 2014. Students had the opportunity to visit the College of Osteopathic Medicine, OHSU, and National College of Natural Medicine. This is what some of our students had to say about their experience:

“I really enjoyed the radiation portion of our visit. I considered the occupation of a radiation oncologist after speaking with radiation therapy. I liked the fact that you get to interact with your patient for a long period of time.”

- Justin

“I loved all of it (National College of Natural Medicine)! In particular, I liked learning about sutures and the herb garden.”

- Amber

“I enjoyed learning about the history of the DO’s and the basis on which it was founded. The PA group, thank you for helping me discover what I want to do! Surgeons, thank you for the most interactive presentation!”

 - Sara

“This was an amazing trip, I learned so much and had so many new eye opening experiences, I will never forget this. Thanks tons to the presenters and the chaperones, you are all awesome and amazing people for doing things like this and taking time out of your lives to help us students. Bless you all!”

 - Kylee

We would like to thank all of the professionals that took time to talk to our students and provide additional support to them as they continue to explore healthcare as a profession. Congratulations to the students that were accepted into the program!


Dr. Bell, Ed. D

College of Ostepathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest

Jeannie Davis, MPA

College of Ostepathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest

Dr. Vicente Undurraga, MD

Research Resident OHSU

Dr. David Martin, MD

Research Resident OHSU

Andrea Tewson

Radiation Oncology OHSU

Barb Agrimson

Radiation Oncology OHSU

Andrea Williams & OHSU Dental Faculty

Dental Program OHSU

Ted Ruback & PA Department Students

PA Program OHSU

Dr. Robyn Liu, MD, MPH, FAAFP

OHSU Family Medicine at CHH

Brandon Hamilton, Director of Admissions

National College of Natural Medicine

Dr. Ryan Chamberline, ND

National College of Natural Medicine

Isabel Sweitzer, ND student

National College of Natural Medicine

Courtney Bowers, ND student

National College of Natural Medicine

Dr. Shawn Soszka, ND

National College of Natural Medicine