College and medical group partner on scribe program


GVSU’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences is located on the Medical Mile in downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via

A university has partnered with a physician-owned medical group to train both students and graduates for work as medical scribes at local hospital emergency departments.

The Grand Valley State University Scribe Academy is a collaborative partnership between GVSU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Health at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids-based Emergency Care Specialists.

Jeff Trytko, director of the GVSU Scribe Academy, said the aim of the free program is to produce a “best-in-class” scribe workforce.

Scribes work with emergency department providers to document patient care through the use of electronic medical records.

By utilizing scribes, doctors are able to provide better patient interaction.

"It allows me to interact more effectively with my patients," said Dr. Joshua Kooistra, who works in the emergency department at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. "I can focus on the story a patient is telling me, without having to have a computer or chart in front of me during my interaction."

Demand for emergency department scribes is growing, according to Ryan Cook of Emergency Care Specialists.

“Health care providers are striving to increase their interaction with patients instead of their computers," Cook said.

Becoming a scribe is also a good introduction to the medical profession.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for Health at GVSU, said ideal candidates for the program are college students who are interested in pursuing a health care career or college graduates with a degree in health professions or the sciences.

Clark Vredevoogd is one of those students.

Vredevoogd graduated from Michigan State University, and prior to applying for medical school, he was searching for meaningful employment.

"My goal during that time was to find a position that would challenge me both personally and professionally and provide me with the opportunity to gain unique medical experience," Vredevoogd said.

He enrolled in the GVSU Scribe Academy and graduated from the program last May.

He then put his new skills to work, documenting the interaction between provider and patient in a local emergency department.

Vredevoogd said the process made the provider more efficient and improved the patient's experience.

The scribe training program includes four weeks of online and classroom instruction and 40 hours of working in an emergency department.

Participants are then expected to commit to a minimum employment term of 18 months, with an average of two shifts per week.

Trytko said the university's next Scribe Academy cohort begins Aug. 5.

Cohorts are filled on a first come, first-served basis.  

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