Former Scribes Return to Vituity as Providers

Jeff Axten

Jeff Axten , PA-C

Physician Assistant, Mercy General Hospital and Methodist Hospital of Sacramento
Elizabeth O'Connor

Elizabeth O'Connor , PA-C

Physician Assistant, John Muir Medical Center - Walnut Creek

Published August 11, 2015

Several Vituity scribes have gone on to become Vituity physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Today, Beth O'Connor, PA-C, and Jeff Axten, PA-C, share how scribing prepared them for a career as health professionals — and why they chose to return to Vituity as providers. To learn more about Vituity's scribe program, visit our website.

Perspectives: Welcome Beth, Jeff. To start with, can you tell us why you chose to become a scribe?

BO: When I graduated from college, I was planning to go to medical school down the road. But first, I wanted to take a few years off and get some work experience in the field. I reconnected with a childhood friend of mine who was also interested in the health professions and she said, "Look, I have this awesome job. You should come and shadow me one night." As it turned out, she was an ED scribe for Vituity. I went, got hooked, and ended up scribing for the next three years.

JA: My story's pretty similar. All through college, I knew I wanted to do something in the health professions, but I wasn't sure what. I took a lot of jobs to gain clinical experience, because I knew I'd need it for just about any professional school I'd apply to. And that led me to scribe for a year at Mercy Medical Center Redding’s ED, which is also staffed by Vituity.

Perspectives: How did you choose your current career path? And did your scribe experience influence that decision?

JA: Scribing was one of the main reasons I became a physician assistant (PA). Originally, I was thinking about going to medical or physical therapy school. I'd heard of PAs, but it wasn't until I started scribing that I learned what they do every day, how they interact with patients and fit into the healthcare team. And the more I learned, the more I thought it was a good fit for me. I really wanted to have some independence in managing my patients and making decisions about their care. At the same time, I was also looking for a balance between work and family life.

BO: I can relate. When I started scribing, I was thinking pretty seriously about going to medical school. As a scribe, I had the opportunity to work closely with some amazing providers of all types. And over the course of three years, I realized that being an emergency medicine PA would be the best fit for me. I loved the idea of being involved in clinical care and procedures, and the PA role seemed like a good fit for my lifestyle.

Perspectives: How did your scribe experience help you during your PA training?

BO: As a scribe, I worked in a very busy ED with a lot of high-acuity patients. It gave me a lot of confidence interacting with patients and providers, especially in high-stress environments.

JA: My scribe experience gave me a leg up on almost every aspect of PA school. Through that experience, I gained a lot of insight into how providers think. As you're scribing, you're following them through the process of diagnosing and treating an illness. You also get a handle on how to document properly, which is something most PA students have no experience with. It provided more real-life exposure than any other pre-professional clinical experience I had.

BO: Another great thing about scribing is that you learn a lot about the human side of healthcare practice. You spend a lot of time watching the providers interact with patients and colleagues. So you learn a lot of lessons about how to build rapport with patients and work as a team.

Perspectives: What brought you back to Vituity after graduation?

JA: All through PA school, I kept an open mind about specialties. But for me, nothing ever topped emergency medicine. I'd always enjoyed it since my scribe days. I'd had a positive experience with Vituity, and it seemed to me that they really respected their PAs. And the Vituity providers I'd worked with at Mercy Redding were very team-oriented, which I was realizing isn't true of all EDs. So applying to Vituity was a no-brainer, and right off the bat I was hired to work at Mercy General Hospital and Methodist Hospital of Sacramento.

BO: As I was finishing my clinical rotations and thinking about jobs, I knew I wanted to be in emergency medicine, and I knew Vituity was a strong organization to work for. Then one of the Vituity PAs I'd worked with reached out to me and said, "Hey, we're hiring new grads. You should definitely give us a call when you graduate." So I applied, interviewed, and got my first job with Vituity at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.

Perspectives: What are some of the best things about returning to Vituity?

BO: As a PA, one thing I've really enjoyed is working at multiple sites. In the past, I split my time between St. Rose, Doctors Medical Center and John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek. Every site has very different patient populations, and each one helped me grow as a clinician. And it's nice knowing that if I ever have to move, chances are there will be a Vituity site nearby.

JA: I'm relatively new to my team — I just started in fall of 2014 — and the welcome has been really overwhelming. The medical director, the PA/NP lead and the whole staff were really friendly and accommodating, which helped me get oriented and adjust to the demands of the job. I feel really fortunate to be on this team.

BO: Another exciting thing: since returning to Vituity, I've had a chance to work with the scribe program. I was scribe manager at St. Rose when their program started a few years ago. And right now I'm working with Dr. David Wei to manage the program at John Muir. It's really fun working with the scribes, because I've been in their shoes, and I can really relate to what they go through in their jobs and their hopes for the future. By sharing my experience with them, I feel like I've come full circle.

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