A letter of appreciation from scribes to ER doctors

Appreciation is a major driver of job satisfaction. This letter is from the scribe staff at my hospital, bidding us farewell after 10 years of service. It’s a reminder that the work that you put into a relationship may not be immediately obviously helpful but can be transformative in the lives of others, especially those who are younger or at an earlier point in their careers. No matter what kind of day I’m having, I am reminded that my actions are being witnessed and that they matter!

To the doctors of the Emergency Department of CalvertHealth Medical Center –

Oftentimes when we are asked what our job is, we’re not entirely sure how to describe it.
Sure, we are scribes by job title and our job description is to help medical providers care for their patients without the time-consuming burden of documentation. Simple enough on paper, but it is an oversimplification of what many of us have gone to do throughout the months or years we have worked here. So, how do we describe to someone the true nature of our role alongside you as a doctor?

We are your right-hand people. Perhaps the most quantifiable aspect of our roles, we
have maybe documented hundreds of charts. We have likely made thousands of phone calls. We have probably been on hold for at least an hour or two of our lives during said phone calls. We have filled liters full of cranberry juice for thirsty patients. We have carried pounds of warm, heated blankets and hunted for what feels like is the one sole pillow in the entire department to give to patients. We have walked miles throughout the department, both right next to you and without you.

We are your students and mentees. Many of us applied to be scribes in order to
experience first-hand the decision-making process of an ED doctor. Due to your generosity and teaching spirit, we have received much more than that. From learning the process of the patient’s journey throughout the department, to practicing sutures on banana peels, to watching emergent procedures, to learning the significance of many lab and radiology results, we have been fortunate to have the special behind-the-scenes perspective. We are not (yet) medical students so to you, teaching came without the pressure. Teaching instead came from your innate devotion to nurture the next generation of medical providers and for that, we are forever grateful.

We are your confidants. It is no surprise that being an ED doctor comes with its own
unique stresses and burdens. As the closest in physical proximity to you, we often heard your quiet curses and loud complaints for those who hindered the care of your patients. We listened empathetically to your worries about your patient’s critical condition. We grieved alongside you when you lost a patient and had to tell their loved ones the worst news of their lives. We shared your happiness for the CT scan that showed a cancer patient’s tumors were shrinking. We laughed at your jokes to lighten the mood of an otherwise horrible and busy shift.

We are your witnesses. We are either lucky or very unlucky to have worked in an
Emergency Department during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lucky in the sense that we have had the honor of watching you as a front-line worker save lives at the risk of your own. We watched the way you adapted to the constantly changing protocols, news, and updates to make sure you did the right thing for your patients. We witnessed your struggles, your losses, and your triumphs. We see the kindness and compassion in your eyes for your patients. We see the physical, emotional, and mental toll of working in a high-stress environment.

Lastly, we are your friends. The time we have spent side-by-side at our stations left us no
choice but to at least make small-talk. For many of us, we have been lucky to develop great relationships with many doctors. We hope that we can stay connected for the rest of our careers.

The scribes at Calvert are very grateful for the learning and fun experiences we have all
gone through in the past 10 years. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your calling to serve. It’s never goodbye, it’s always “Talk to you later!”

The Emergency Department scribes at CalvertHealth

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