Medical Scribe Program Benefits Students, Community

Medical Scribe Program
Medical Scribe Program
Medical Scribe Program
Medical Scribe Program
Medical Scribe Program
Medical Scribe Program

Amid a nationwide shortage of physicians and healthcare workers, an innovative, collaborative program between A.O. Fox Hospital, SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College seeks to help turn the tide.

Tami LaPilusa ’12
Tami LaPilusa ’12, Pre-health professions program coordinator

Beginning its fifth year this fall, the Medical Scribe Program lets SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College pre-health students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom by working as medical scribes at A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta. The program, which allows students to earn clinical hours needed for admission to graduate programs, is believed to be the first scribe partnership between baccalaureate institutions and a health care facility. 

As scribes, students work two four- or five-hour shifts a week for an entire academic year, attending patient examinations, taking notes in a software system designed for hospitals, and entering those notes into patients’ medical records, essentially serving as personal assistants to Emergency Department physicians.
It’s a mutually beneficial program that illustrates the power of experiential learning and the value of community partnerships.

“Pre-health students get the hospital experience they need and benefit from mentorship by A.O. Fox doctors, who write recommendation letters for the students’ graduate admissions applications,” said Eileen Morgan-Zayachek, associate provost of academic programs. "And Fox Hospital physicians are able to focus on patient care — delivering faster, better service.”

Student Theresa McGovern ’22
Theresa McGovern ’22
Student Emily Schnapp ’22
Emily Schnapp ’22
Student Katherine Figueroa ’22
Katherine Figueroa ’22
Student Lili Sturge ’22
Lili Sturge ’22

From Student to Scribe

The Medical Scribe Program was developed by Morgan-Zayachek alongside Jeffrey Heilveil, professor of biology, and Dr. Reginald Q. Knight ’74, senior vice president and chief physician executive for the Bassett Healthcare Network. It is open to students who have attained junior standing and successfully completed Anatomy and Physiology I and II and a one-credit course in medical terminology. Students can receive academic credit for their participation, which fulfills the experiential learning requirement for biology majors and exercise science majors.

Medical Scribe Lili

Before they begin work as scribes, students complete the onboarding process required of all A.O. Fox employees and a special training program in medical scribing that includes online modules and in-person exercises.  

“The students receive paid training, followed by a part-time job,” said Tami LaPilusa MS ’12, pre-health professions program coordinator. “They learn what it’s like to have a job, since, for many, this is their first employment experience. They learn to better manage their time. And by seeing the other side of the patient-clinician interaction, they gain a much different view of what it means to be a health care provider.”

With students helping out seven days a week, the hospital has seen reduced wait times in the Emergency Department and increased patient satisfaction overall, officials said. 

“For A.O. Fox Hospital, the collaboration has proved invaluable,” said Knight. “Students are gaining critical clinical skills, insight, and experience to complement their education. At the same time, their services are greatly improving patient care experiences. As a SUNY Oneonta alumnus myself, I am so proud to be a part of this program and see its growth.”

Scribing Their Way to Success

Medical Scribe Emily

The 2021-2022 Medical Scribe Program cohort included 13 students —11 from Oneonta and two from Hartwick. Kieran Wohlfarth ’20 worked mainly in internal medicine and shadowed two doctors, one of whom was the main hospitalist. 

“At the beginning of COVID, I got to sit in on board meetings with him and see the planning process and how things ended up so different from what we initially expected,” said Wohlfarth, who has been accepted into a Master’s in Public Health program in epidemiology. “I was extremely privileged to have a seat in that room.”

Gianna Trillo, a Class of 2020 alumna who is applying to PA school, gained insights “on how to effectively meet patients’ health care needs.”

“I was present for the hardships that many endured, and I learned how to empathize with them,” Trillo said. “This confirmed my career choice, and I will be forever grateful.”

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