If you have an interest in a career that combines your passion for the medical field and your desire to assume administrative responsibilities, then you might consider becoming a scribe. Read on for information about the skills, education and training required to begin working in this profession. Use this guide to learn how to become a scribe and to build an effective resume for this career.
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What Does a Scribe Do?
A scribe, or a medical scribe, generally works for physicians to create and maintain a patient's electronic medical records. They will document a patient's office visits and treatment plan information.
The role of a scribe is to assist with the administrative duties of a physician, allowing them to focus more on the medical care of patients. Scribes can work in private or group physicians' offices, hospitals, clinics or surgical centers.
Common scribe duties and responsibilities include:
Clerical tasks, such as gathering patient information.
Technical tasks include entering new information and updating existing data in electronic health record systems.
Customer service tasks include interacting with patients, doctors and other medical staff.
Transcribing medical histories.
Scanning documents to digitize patient records.
How Do You Become a Scribe?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2021, medical scribes had a median annual wage of $30,100, which means that half of the workers in this occupation earned more than that amount, and the other half earned less. Additionally, the lowest 10 percent of medical transcriptionists earned less than $22,810, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,190.
No college degree or technical diploma is required to become a scribe, though some employers prefer candidates with a degree in a pre-health track. Taking college-level courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry and medical terminology is beneficial.
Get your certification.
Meet the hiring criteria by becoming certified. You can obtain a Medical Scribe Certification from the Medical Scribes Training Institute to become a certified medical scribe in several medical specialties, including Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Urgent Care, OB/GYN and Pediatric Medicine. The American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group also offers medical scribe training and certification programs. Certifications may vary by state; medical scribe training programs offered through community and technical colleges do not award certificates but make you eligible for the Medical Scribe Aptitude Test (MSAT) to become certified to perform clinical training and duties.
Jumpstart your career with an apprenticeship. If you’re interested in becoming a scribe, a formal apprenticeship program will provide you with the experience and network needed to advance your career. Check out these apprenticeship opportunities.
Create a job-winning resume.
Demonstrate that you have the training and experience needed to become a scribe. JobHero’s Resume Builder is the fastest way to create a professional expert-written document, with interactive tools and pre-written content to showcase your credentials. Check out our latest scribe resume samples to help you make an impressive industry-specific resume.
Self-motivated individuals who enjoy working with people and possess strong computer literacy skills will likely be successful as a scribe. Strong listening, verbal and written communication skills are essential, as a scribe must obtain patient information and relay details to physicians accurately. They should know medical terminology and billing codes and display decision-making and organizational skills.
Other key scribe soft skills:
Insights from a Scribe
In order to gain more information about becoming a Scribe, we spoke with Jackie Reynolds, Executive Vice-President of Operations for ScribeAmerica. Our question-and-answer session with Ms. Reynolds follows.
What is the common career path for a Scribe?
Most Scribes are interested in continuing their careers in the healthcare field through medical school, PA school, nursing school, etc. and therefore only commit to the position for our minimum requirement of 2 years part-time, or 1 year full-time before leaving for school. We do have Scribes who stay well beyond the minimum commitment as they work on their resumes, and applications for schooling.
Experienced Scribes become fluent in medical terminology, familiar with the breadth of medical illness and how a medical provider examines the patient, which tests are ordered, how medical decisions, differential diagnosis, and patient disposition is made. Thus, Scribes proceed to excel in post-graduate health degree programs.
Additionally, while most Scribes do move on to fulfill other professional goals, many have found that the experience and income received justifies choosing becoming a medical Scribe as a career. These individuals become chief Scribes within their department, then project leaders and regional managers. Nearly all of our senior leadership, regional managers, project leaders and junior project leaders started out as a Scribe in a local hospital.
What should someone consider before becoming a Scribe?
Considerations before becoming a Scribe include being able to commit to the minimum requirements, in addition to the rigorous training schedule and long shift times. Given how intricately a Scribe is involved in patient medical records, there is a tremendous amount of medical terminology, anatomy/physiology, EHR and site specific department workflow training that needs to be mastered before being able to start working solo.
While rare, there are some potential risks, not unique to being a Medical Scribe, but shared by all healthcare personnel that should be considered. The following are some examples of the risks: fainting at the sight of blood, falling and suffering a laceration, being exposed to airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and meningitis, and fatigue the next day especially if you work a night-shift.
What are some of the most important skills for Scribes to have?
In addition to the qualities listed above, a decent typing speed is encouraged given the vast majority of our Scribe programs operate on an EHR. Also, any experience with medical terminology or anatomy/physiology is encouraged.
On a personal level, scribes learn to appreciate the complexity, strength and frailty of the human condition and have an opportunity to display compassion and maturity.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Scribe?
Scribes are a valuable part of the healthcare team and provide much needed relief to the overburdened provider. An additional benefit of a medical Scribe job is the unique experience earned by working directly alongside physicians. Scribes gain a deeper understanding of medical terminology in a clinical setting that gives them a notable advantage in their career path in medicine.
How Much Do Scribes Get Paid?
Medical Scribes earn an hourly median wage of $17.84. The lowest hourly wage for Scribes is $11.63, with those earning the highest wages for this profession being paid $29.52 per hour.
Top 10 States for Scribe Salary
Scribes in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.
The following resources have been assembled to help you access as much information about this career as you can as you decide whether this is a profession you would consider pursuing.
On the Web
The Scribe Industry Blog
Hosted by PhysAssist Scribes, this blog provides insight into the career with personal accounts, industry news and more.
Medical Scribe Journal
ScribeAmerica provides a blog that relates professional news and trends in the Scribe industry.
The American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS)
This nonprofit organization provides Scribes with the opportunity to become certified and offers various professional development and support programs, including webinars, continuing education and public speaking programs.
American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group (AHDPG)
Founded in 1992 as Transcription Relief Services and becoming AHDPG in 2010, this organization offers online training and continuing education opportunities to medical Scribes.
The Ultimate Medical Scribe Handbook: General Edition
An extensive text covering training required for those seeking to become medical Scribes to prepare them for working in clinical settings. Specific editions for those specializing in primary care, emergency care and orthopedics are also available.
Medical Scribe Training Manual 2016 Edition
This comprehensive book covers everything a medical Scribe would need to know, from basic anatomy to medical terminology.