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Q&A: Cooper Bullough

We asked Cooper Bullough, Emergency Department Scribe alum, about his experience working with ScribeAmerica:

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started with ScribeAmerica?

I attended Union University in Jackson, TN for undergrad. I was offered a scholarship to play baseball which, in addition to its strong academics, was why I chose Union. I played 5 years of college baseball, majored in Biology and Psychology, minored in Chemistry, had an absolute blast, and met the girl who is now my wife.

My college experience was amazing, but left little time for dedicated pre-med prep. Outside of taking the required courses, I was able to do very little to strengthen my medical school application, leading to rejection in the first application cycle. I knew scribing would be a great way to strengthen my application, so I applied to ScribeAmerica and became a scribe! I worked nearly a year as a scribe in the ED at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and I give 100% credit to that experience getting me into medical school my second application cycle.

Why are you interested in working in healthcare?

In college, I went through some tough times and developed some unhealthy lifestyle habits. Through the process of correcting these habits, losing 50 pounds, and reforming my physical and mental health, I developed a deep passion for helping others do the same. Working as a scribe further deepened this drive, as I saw the massive impact that positive lifestyle changes can have in health outcomes.

What have you learned from exploring different areas of medicine? What is your preferred speciality?

Working as an ED scribe was beneficial because there was constant interaction with a wide variety of specialties. I was able to get a good idea of what the day-to-day looks like for many different specialties. I learned that I do not want a long-term career involving overnights. I also learned that I want a specialty that involves longitudinal patient relationships. The fast-paced environment of the ED was certainly lively and intense, but I don’t think it is how I’m best suited to help others. My goal is to be an endocrinologist specializing in the management of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

What advice would you give future scribes?

By far my biggest piece of advice is to have humility. Remember that our primary role as a scribe is simply to make others’ jobs easier. Embrace that mindset! Show that you are simply there to help by not repeating mistakes, paying attention to details, and asking reasonable questions when you are unsure. Lastly, avoid trying to rationalize your mistakes. We all make mistakes, especially early on. Nobody wants to hear why the mistake was made or what you were thinking. Simply own it and don’t repeat it, and that goes a very long way in earning the respect of the doctors you will be working with.

Do not underestimate how far ahead scribing can put you. There were constantly medical students on rotation that I talked to that expressed how valuable scribing is. Learning things like terminology, how to use an EMR, the basics of physical exams, the medical decision making process, possible differentials for common presentations – these are all things that pre-meds that haven’t scribed may have never seen. Be a sponge and soak up all of this knowledge because it can put you miles ahead of where you would have been without scribing!

What is next for you in your professional career?

I am currently working as a General Manager of a baseball academy, as well as giving baseball lessons. I’ll continue in this role until my wife graduates from pharmacy school May 2023, and then we will head to Johnson City, TN where I will begin medical school at Quillen College of Medicine in July 2023.

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