Emergency Medicine Firsthand: Hugh Newcomb ’18

December 4, 2018
Jane Hobson ’22
Hugh Newcomb
Photo of Hugh Newcomb ’18 Photo credit: Courtesy of Hugh Newcomb ’18

Less than a year after graduating, Hugh Newcomb ’18 is working at an Inova Health System hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, as a medical scribe. His position allows him to directly observe emergency patient care and learn new medical skills.

At Oberlin, Newcomb studied chemistry and biochemistry. Outside of class, he was involved in a variety of activities. Newcomb was a singer in the acapella group ’Round Midnight, an officer of the 3D Print Club, a residential assistant, and a cook at Pyle Co-op. Newcomb also spent time building theater sets in Hall Auditorium.

Advising sessions with Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Pre-Medical Program Lynne Bianchi and former Associate Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rebecca Whelan helped guide Newcomb toward his current job. Bianchi and Whelan told him not to rush into medical school right after graduating. Instead, his advisors suggested Newcomb try something new—getting involved in research, working as a scribe, or even taking on something totally unrelated to medicine.

Newcomb’s decision to become a medical scribe was based on his interest in emergency medicine. During the winter term of his junior year, Newcomb completed a wilderness emergency medical technician (EMT) program through the National Outdoor Leadership School, which combined reading and lectures with hands-on rescue scenarios. Newcomb says this experience inspired him to pursue a career in emergency medicine after college.

Newcomb has enjoyed his work so far. He says, “Every one of the physicians I've been able to work with so far is incredible, and it seems like they do what they do not only because they love it, but because they are completely fascinated by it. I feel so lucky to be able to work with people that are so committed to helping every person who comes in, regardless of the severity of their condition.”

In addition to his full-time job, Newcomb volunteers in the hospital’s research department, where he is studying communication and quality improvement for hospital patients. On top of this, Newcomb finds time to work at local farmers markets on the weekends.

Over the next year or two, Newcomb plans to continue working as a medical scribe before applying to medical school. He says, “I know it sounds a little crazy to be trying to balance working, conducting volunteer research, working on the farm, and studying for the MCAT. Honestly, I'm still deep in the process of trying to figure out how to make it all work. But I do love everything that I'm doing, and can't wait to see what the next few years hold for me.”

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