As part of your research into pre-medical clinical experience opportunities, you may have come across medical scribing as a way to gain exposure to clinical settings. Read on for information about what medical scribes do, who can become a medical scribe, how scribing can help set you up for success in a future medical career, and more.
What does a medical scribe do?
In the last few years, the use of electronic health records (EHR) has expanded in the United States, leading to doctors and health providers to rely partly on medical scribes to document and maintain patient data. As a medical scribe, you’ll accompany a physician, nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant during patient interactions and take down relevant information to enter in the patient’s records. You will also perform several clerical or administrative duties for the physician you’ve been assigned to, such as receiving and alerting the physician of lab results, completing patients’ chart information, and processing admitted and discharge paperwork. This allows doctors to spend more time diagnosing and treating patients and less time handling records.
How to Become a Medical Scribe
Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent and an interest in the medical field can apply for a scribing position. If you do well in fast-paced, stressful environments, take constructive criticism well, are computer-savvy, and can multitask effectively, scribing may be a good fit for you. You’ll do especially well if you have some knowledge of medical terminology and can type quickly.
Keep in mind that scribing positions are not intended to be seasonal; in general, scribes are hired under the stipulation that they will scribe for approximately two years part-time (e.g. two 8-12 hour shifts/week or 8-12 shifts/month) or one year full-time (e.g. four 8-12 hour shifts/week or 16-20 shifts/month).
Why Be a Medical Scribe?
To Help Your Medical School Application
Scribing is an incredibly impressive addition to anyone’s medical school application. By being a scribe you get both hands-on clinical experience and built-in shadowing opportunities. And because it’s a long-term commitment, it will show medical schools that you’re invested in your medical career. You’ll be able to say with certainty—and with examples—that you’ve done your research into the field of medicine and are fully confident that you will succeed as a physician.
You should include medical scribing on the Work and Activities section of your AMCAS primary application. If you want to emphasize it even more, you can select it as one of your three notable experiences and write a concise description of your time as a scribe.
Medical scribing also gives you face time with doctors who may be able to write you letters of recommendation.
To Help You During Medical School
Scribing will give you a leg up in many areas of medical school and residency: you’ll already know much of the medical terminology others will be struggling to memorize, and you’ll be familiar with how to interpret labs, take a patient history, and perform physicals (although you won’t have performed them yourself as a scribe). Not only that, but you’ll also be comfortable in a hospital setting and have already mastered skills necessary to being a great physician, such as patience and discretion, as well as maintaining your composure in stressful situations.
Additionally, the doctors you worked with during your time as a scribe may be able to connect you with other physicians in the fields that interest you for research projects or clinical work.