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ReConnect Scribes Teach Case Studies to Douglas County Youth

The Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon (AHECSW) is approaching one year since the launch of our newest educational program, Reconnect Scribes. This program is designed for post-graduate students who plan to take a gap year between undergraduate school and entrance into higher-level medical programs. In this unique model, gap-year students are employed full-time as medical scribes in a clinical setting while simultaneously gaining patient contact hours and applying to advanced degree programs, such as Medical, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant school.

Current Reconnect Scribes are all placed at the Umpqua Community Health Center. They have had the opportunity to scribe for Family Practice Doctors, Women’s Health, and also for clinic Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. Most of the scribes have had the opportunity to work with multiple providers throughout their experience, as the clinic uses them in flexible ways to accommodate the needs of provider and patient schedules.

In addition to the hours worked as a medical scribe, the Reconnect Scribe program also has a teaching and education component that combines both the Reconnect Scribe program and the Bright Works Oregon (BWO) after-school program. The scribes were given medical school case studies authored by Doctors and Professors from OHSU; the topics of these case studies ranged from diabetes to COPD and other respiratory diseases. With the help of AHECSW staff and several outside resources, each scribe developed his or her own case study into four teachable lesson plans that would be presented at separate BWO chapter sites.

Scribe Lucas Short helps lead a dissection activity with Phoenix School/Roseburg High School Students.

Lucas Short presented a case study on Optometry and Ophthalmology to the Phoenix Charter School BWO. Audrey Taylor presented a case study centered around Diabetes to the South Umpqua High School BWO and Jaide Farr presented a case study on Respiratory Diseases to the Sutherlin High School BWO. Due to there being only three BWO sites, one scribe worked with the Umpqua Community College (UCC) EMT Program to teach his case study. Michael Graham was given the opportunity to present a case study centered on renal diseases to the UCC Paramedic students. Each scribe met with the students for two hours a week over four weeks, and each week was a different activity or lesson related to the case study topic. These case study units included dissections, labs, and presentations from local healthcare professionals. For example, Lucas included a cow eyeball dissection and a presentation from a local optometrist, Dr. Greg Valle. Audrey invited a registered nurse with Type II diabetes to speak to the students at South Umpqua High School and lead the students through a blood sugar activity. Jaide encouraged her students to examine the ways in which tobacco companies advertise the perceived benefits of smoking and mask or ignore the serious health consequences of smoking. Michael arranged a trip to a dialysis lab to give the UCC students an off-campus learning experience in the field. Each case study was different and every scribe put their own experience and personality into their teaching methods.

This component of the Reconnect Scribe program pushed the scribes out of their comfort zone. Firstly, developing the case studies forced the scribes to transform complicated medical language into teachable and understandable medical information, which is something that these scribes will have to do with their future patients. Secondly, the scribes had to learn how to command a classroom, keep the students engaged, and maintain a lesson plan for two hours. Lastly, the scribes had to simply relate to the students, listen to the students, and have a good time. Ultimately, the scribes learned more about themselves and the population that they will be serving in the future.

In it’s first year, the program has been a resounding success. AHECSW has used an evaluation process throughout the pilot to seek feedback and information on the success of the program. Patients, clinic staff, providers, and the scribes themselves have all indicated that the experience has been incredibly positive. We are constantly evaluating what we are doing and seeking ways to improve the program and make it scalable to other regions and clinics.

In March, AHECSW launched promotions for the next cohort of Reconnect Scribes, who will begin their experience in the summer of 2017. We promoted the program at every Oregon college and university by reaching out through Pre-Health Academic Advisors and Professors. Our number of applicants in the second year was over four times the number of applicants from 2016. We are currently selecting applicants for interviews and will be making final selections in mid-May. In addition to continuing our partnership with the Umpqua Community Health Center, our goal is to expand to new clinics and locations in Douglas County in the year to come.

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