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Scribe Spotlight: Christina Alarid

The scribing profession is a diverse community of passionate care team members. From students to career scribes, there is a wealth of opportunities and experiences for those working as medical scribes. ScribeAmerica is proud to highlight some of our top scribes to learn more about what motivates them, how they got into the profession, and what the future might hold. Team member Cat McAlpine sat down with Chief Scribe Christina Alarid to discuss her work in New Mexico.

Cat McAlpine: Thanks for joining me today, Christina. Would you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Christina Alarid: Hello! I’m Christina Alarid and I’m the Chief Scribe at the Presbyterian Rust Emergency Department, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

CM: I’m grateful for the opportunity to chat with you, I’ve heard lots of great things from your team. Can you walk me through what a typical day looks like for you?

CA: I have about 20 or so scribes underneath me that I’m responsible for. A lot of my time is spent creating schedules, managing shifts and times, and things like that. I try to communicate with my scribes a lot so that they don’t feel like they’re alone or they don’t feel scared to ask questions. We have a great team. 

CM: What do you focus on or encourage in your team?

CA: I’ve been really lucky that a lot of the scribes who got hired around the same time as me are still with us. We have a really good core team of people and we’re all doing the same job. We’re all here to learn and grow.

I do some of the training for every new team member. I always want to emphasize that you’re gonna get as much out of this job as you put into it. Almost everybody, in our profession is trying to be in the medical field. I always tell them, if you learn and grow and take every little nugget of information they’re giving you,  you’re gonna get a head start on med school, or wherever you’re headed next.

CM: You said that many scribes have a next step that they’re looking for. Do you have a next step? Where do you want to take your career?

CA: Yeah, I’m going to med school at some point. I don’t know how long it’s going to take but I’m going to get there. So many of the providers I work with have become mentors. They have great recommendations. I take on all the recommendations they give me.

CM: Do you find scribing for the ED Department different than maybe other specialties that you would be in?

CA: Yeah, actually, I also work in the surgical services area as well. The chief there in the orthopedic section picks up shifts in the ED so I’ve known her for a long time. I started scribing there late last year and it’s a whole different world.

Doing the orthopedic notes is highly specialized. So they want you to know that specialized information. Whereas, in the ED they know a little bit of everything. It’s great either way. I have good experiences on both sides.

CM: When did you start working as a scribe?

CA: I started just before COVID. I graduated in May 2019 and I planned to work as a scribe for six months and then do my MCAT and then… everything stopped. I started scribing just in time to get a good feel of what the ED had for me before our whole world came tumbling down.

I worked as a scribe for one year and then I got promoted to Ambassador Scribe. trained a whole bunch of people for a little bit less than a year. Then, I was promoted again to Chief Scribe and I’ve been doing that for almost three years now.

I feel like the emergency department has so much to offer. You can have 12 people lined up with abdominal pain and they can all have different, diagnoses at the end of the day. 

I think that’s a really important piece of it that gets me going. I want to dig. I’m curious. I want to help you.

Christina Alarid, Chief Scribe,
Presbyterian Rust Emergency Department, Albuquerque, New Mexico

CM: Where did you graduate from? What did you study?

CA: I graduated from a major university in New Mexico. My background was in engineering. I didn’t do pre-med or any of those courses until my last year and a half of college. 

I went far with mechanical engineering. I just realized that while I was passionate about engineering, it’s not a sustainable workflow for me. Maybe it’s that I’m a little too passionate, or maybe being a female in an engineering field can still be a challenge…

CM: As a woman you have to work harder for the same result.

CA: Yeah, you kind of have to prove yourself before you can be at the same level as others in the field. So I kind of explored my options.

My grandmother was a nurse in labor and delivery. When I was going into college, she said “Don’t be a nurse, you’ll never see your family.” I knew I wanted to do something in the healthcare field, but her advice kind of stuck with me. Then all these years later, I went back to school.

I walked into the counselor’s office, and it turns out she was the counselor who advised me when I first started college…and her name happened to be the same as my grandmother.

CM: Can I ask what your grandmother’s name was? 

CA: Gloria

CM: Gloria, that’s a beautiful name.

CA: Anyway, my counselor asked why I’d never thought about becoming a doctor. It had never occurred to me that I would be competitive enough or know enough to do that kind of thing.

CM: What’s been your biggest motivator for moving into medicine? Was it because of your grandmother’s inspiration, even though she didn’t want you to go into it?

CA: Her experience gave me that initial little spark.

CM: And now you work as a scribe, and that helps feed that passion?

CA: I think just being a scribe, and seeing the versatility of the job, especially in the Emergency Department, does keep me excited and interested. I said I do orthopedic scribe work, but I’m also an MA at a private spine clinic.

CM: You’re busy.

CA: Yeah, crazy hours. But, seeing a private practice versus orthopedic specialty versus emergency. I feel like the emergency department has so much to offer. You can have 12 people lined up with abdominal pain and they can all have different, diagnoses at the end of the day. 

I think that’s a really important piece of it that gets me going. I want to dig. I’m curious. I want to help you. Like, let’s figure this out so you feel better.

CM: Overall, what has your experience at ScribeAmerica been? You’ve had a couple of promotions and you’ve discovered a lot more passions, but just kind of talk to me about the big picture.

CA: I think ScribeAmerica gives you this window to look through that other jobs don’t. I think the experience that it provides you is complete. You get to see the patient, you get to read all their notes before you go in…Then you go talk to them and you hear their story.

A lot of times the provider will talk with you about it, or they’ll talk with a colleague about it and you get to hear what’s going on in their brain for this patient, what their next step is. I think it’s a complete view of a whole patient visit.

CM: Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about becoming a scribe or are starting as new scribes?

CA: Keep going. Things can be hard for pre-meds. We work ourselves to the bone. We want everything to be perfect. We want to be smartest and the fastest but you can’t always be that. I think you should keep going anyway.

I’m a little bit older than many of my scribes right now. It can be frustrating when I’m the same age as some of the doctors but you never really miss the boat. It’s on your timing. ScribeAmerica will provide you with some excellent opportunities to learn. You’ll get there eventually. Don’t give up.

CM: What’s life like for you outside of work?

CA: We put together an Emergency Department softball team and I was the coach of that. It was really fun. I also work a lot in my church. We do this thing called Pit Stop, where we fix cars for elderly women or single moms who maybe can’t afford it. Oil changes, breaks, things like that.

CM: That’s so cool.

CA: It scratches my engineering itch. What else do we do? 

Well, I have four dogs. They’re crazy. But you can’t do life without them. And then my daughter, she’s 16 turning 17 this year. She’s just like the greatest person I’ve ever met. The rest of my hobbies just relate to her. We do all kinds of volunteer things. I’m trying to get her to be a well-rounded person.

CM: It sounds like you’re a very well-rounded woman yourself. So, you’re probably setting a very good example.

CA: Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it. Right?

CM: Yes, it will be.

Code Blue Crew, the Presbyterian Rust Emergency Department softball team

Christina followed up with us to share that she will be starting medical school in 2025. She wanted to add that she’s very thankful for her support system, most of all she’s thankful to God first, her daughter, her family, and her work fam. Congratulations Christina! We’re proud to have been a part of your journey.

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