Student Spotlight: Keonna Gravely, UVA '20, UVA ED Scribe Program

Keonna Gravely
Keonna Gravely, UVA '20

   Keonna Gravely is a Pre-Health Advising Peer sharing her story on being a Scribe in the UVA Emergency Department. 


What year should I be to apply to the scribe program?

It seems that preference is normally given to third and fourth year students because it is a 2-year program and most students scribe during their bridge years. They do not typically give preference to first or second years, BUT that does not mean it is impossible! In fact, I was hired during the Spring of my second year!


When and where can I apply?

The application for this cycle is currently open and is due on Sunday, February 3rd. You can find the application on UVA Handshake by searching “UVA Scribe.”


What do I need to submit with my application?

You must submit a resume, cover letter, unofficial transcript, and a screenshot of your weekly class schedule with your application.


What is the application process like?

After you have submitted your application, you can expect to be contacted a week or two later to let you know if you have made it to the next round, which is interviews. The interview lasts about 15-20 minutes. It will be facilitated by two of the head scribes (former UVA students who are over the scribe program). Another week or two following the interview, you will be informed if you have been chosen for the position or not.


What is the training process like?

After being hired, you will have classroom training every Wednesday evening for a couple of months. Then you will begin to shadow a current scribe in the ED for about a month in the ED to apply the skills you have learned in the classroom. Lastly, once you feel comfortable, you will have a release shift where you will be evaluated on how well you are carrying out the duties of the job. Once you pass, you will be a scribe on your own!!


What first got you to apply as a scribe?

I spoke with quite a few current medical students about meaningful things that I could do to not only strengthen my application but also something that would help me prepare for medical school. They each advised for me to become a scribe simply because it gives you exposure to healthcare and medical terminology, something that they said was the hardest thing to grasp during their first year of medical school. One medical student even said that she noticed that her classmates who scribed seemed to be a bit ahead during their first year.


Were those initial expectations met? If you were considering going into healthcare before you became a scribe, how did your views change?

 I have learned a vast amount of valuable information and I have been doing this a little shy of a year now! Being that UVA is a teaching hospital, the attendings and residents truly want to share their knowledge with you. For example, one patient who presented to the ED had a stroke and the resident showed me what that looked like on a scan, it was super cool! So feel free to ask them questions on the job!! If I ever had a doubt about medicine, this job has only reassured me that this is where I want/need to be!


What does your daily work look like? Do you get to work closely with physicians and patients? What are your duties?

The most important duty that we have is to be present with the resident and patient during the initial assessment. Here, you are responsible to write down any pertinent information (symptoms, quality of symptoms, duration, exacerbating/mediating factors, etc.). Once you have this information, you type up their HPI into their chart, the most important part of our job! The HPI or History of the Present Illness is essentially a story depicting why the patient is currently in the ED.  You are also expected to enter physical exams, ultrasound pictures/readings, and ECGs in their charts.


How many hours are you expectedly to work weekly?

As an Undergraduate Scribe you are expected to submit 24 hours of availability weekly, one of those shifts being a weekend shift (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Keep in mind that as a UVA student employee you are only permitted to work 20 hours a week so you will not have to work the 24 hours you submit. You can specify how many shifts you want to work. I typically work one 8 hour shift a week.


How do you think working as a scribe helps you personally, professionally, academically, or towards your career goals?

I have learned so much and have a better idea of what I want to do with my own future career as a doctor. Being exposed to healthcare has shown me things that I would like to see changed/improve and hopefully I can have something to do with that when I become a doctor. Just honestly an amazing position in all aspects.


Why did you become an ED scribe instead of research and clinic scribe? What do you like and don't like about being an ED scribe instead of being a clinic or research scribe?

All undergraduates begin as scribes in the Emergency Department, once you graduate from undergrad, you can choose whether you want to remain in the ED or go to clinic! I personally love the ED but may consider clinic just for a new perspective if I decide to stick with this during my bridge year. Other than that, I do not know much outside of the ED scribe position.


Lastly, how do you like it so far? What are the good and bad aspects of the program itself and being a scribe in general?

I love my job! I have gained a vast amount of valuable skills and have had the opportunity to make many meaningful connections with attendings, residents, and medical students. I would say one thing to consider about becoming a scribe, though, is that you do not have any direct patient care with this position, unlike being an EMT. Our responsibility is strictly documentation, while you do get to observe resident’s evaluating their patients, you do not get to do this yourself.