Career Development

What Does a Medical Scribe Do?

Find out what a medical scribe does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a medical scribe.

Medical scribes are healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. They don’t provide direct patient care themselves, but they do play an important role in the health care process by documenting everything that happens during a doctor’s appointment.

Medical scribes take detailed notes on every interaction between a doctor and their patient. This includes everything from physical examinations to conversations about treatment plans or next steps. Scribes also commonly record vital signs like blood pressure or temperature readings, as well as any diagnostic tests or procedures performed during the visit.

Medical Scribe Job Duties

A medical scribe typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Maintaining confidentiality of patient information, including doctor’s notes, test results, and treatment plans
  • Entering data into the electronic medical record (EMR) as dictated by the physician
  • Writing down observations from the examination and documenting them in the patient’s chart
  • Recording physiological data such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, etc.
  • Recording insurance information, including name and policy number for each patient visit
  • Arranging for appropriate tests to be performed by ordering them through the physician’s office
  • Taking dictation from physicians during examinations and writing up reports of findings
  • Taking notes during conferences with other health care professionals, such as nurses or therapists, who may not have access to the computer chart
  • Performing office tasks such as filing records and placing orders for supplies needed by the practice

Medical Scribe Salary & Outlook

Medical scribes are typically paid an hourly wage, which can vary depending on their level of experience, the type of medical facility they work in, and the specific duties they are tasked with performing.

  • Median Annual Salary: $49,500 ($23.8/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $57,500 ($27.64/hour)

The employment of medical scribes is expected to decline over the next decade.

As hospitals and other healthcare facilities continue to implement electronic health records (EHRs), scribes will be less needed to help physicians with charting. In addition, as EHRs become more user-friendly, fewer scribes will be needed to teach physicians how to use them.

Related: In-Depth Medical Scribe Salary Guide

Medical Scribe Job Requirements

A medical scribe candidate needs to satisfy several requirements for the position, including:

Education: Most employers require medical scribes to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some employers prefer an associate’s degree in medical administration, health information technology or a related field. These programs typically include coursework in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and other health-related topics.

Training & Experience: Most medical scribe training happens on the job. Training may include shadowing a current medical scribe or a medical assistant to learn the workflow of the office and the specific software and computer programs. Training may also include learning about the different departments and the roles of the various medical professionals.

Certifications & Licenses: Though certifications are not a requirement for the role, obtaining certifications can give you the competitive edge you need to succeed in a medical scribe position.

Medical Scribe Skills

Medical scribes need the following skills in order to be successful:

Medical terminology: Medical scribes use medical terminology to understand and interpret medical records. They need to understand medical terminology to accurately record patient information and accurately relay information to medical professionals. Medical scribes should be familiar with common medical abbreviations and acronyms to accurately record patient information.

Communication skills: Medical scribes often communicate with patients, doctors and other medical staff. They should be able to communicate clearly and concisely to ensure everyone understands each other. Medical scribes should also be able to communicate with patients in a way that is sensitive to their needs.

Attention to detail: Medical scribes must be able to pay close attention to detail when recording patient information. This is because the information they record is the foundation for the treatment a patient receives. If the information is incorrect, it could lead to an incorrect diagnosis or treatment plan.

Organization and time management: Medical scribes often work in fast-paced environments, so it’s important for them to be able to manage their time well. This includes being able to prioritize tasks and manage their workload effectively. Medical scribes also need to be organized to ensure they have all the necessary information and tools they need to complete their tasks.

Computer skills: Medical scribes use computer skills to input patient information into electronic health records. They also use computer skills to search for information about patients’ conditions and treatments.

Medical Scribe Work Environment

Medical scribes work in the medical office or clinic alongside the physician they are assisting. They also may travel to off-site locations where the physician provides care, such as nursing homes, home visits, or hospitals. Medical scribes typically work a regular full-time schedule, although they may be required to work evenings or weekends to cover for absent colleagues or to meet the needs of the medical practice. The work can be fast-paced and stressful, as scribes must be able to keep up with the physician’s dictation and enter the information into the patient’s medical record in real time.

Medical Scribe Trends

Here are three trends influencing how medical scribes work. Medical scribes will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Telemedicine

The growth of telemedicine is a trend that is quickly changing the medical industry. This trend allows patients to receive care from doctors and nurses without having to visit a clinic or hospital in person.

As telemedicine becomes more popular, medical scribes will need to be familiar with its procedures and protocols. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with patients and doctors over the phone.

Patient Engagement Is Becoming More Important

As patient engagement becomes more important, medical scribes will need to develop skills that allow them to connect with patients on a personal level.

This means that medical scribes will need to be able to not only take accurate notes, but also understand what those notes mean for the patient’s overall health. In addition, they will need to be able to communicate with patients in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident in their care.

More Use of Technology in Healthcare

The use of technology in healthcare is becoming increasingly common as hospitals look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. One area where this is being seen is in the use of medical scribes.

Medical scribes are professionals who work alongside physicians and other healthcare providers to document patient information. By using technology such as electronic medical records, medical scribes can help hospitals save time and money by reducing the need for manual data entry.

How to Become a Medical Scribe

A medical scribe career is a great way to get started in the healthcare field. As a medical scribe, you’ll work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals, learning about their jobs and how they work. This will give you a better understanding of the overall healthcare system and help you decide if this is the right career for you.

You can also use your time as a medical scribe to build your resume and gain experience in different areas of healthcare. Many scribes go on to become nurses, pharmacists, or other types of medical professionals.

Related: How to Write a Medical Scribe Resume

Advancement Prospects

Medical scribes can advance their careers in a number of ways. One is to move into a management position, such as lead scribe or supervisor. Another is to move into a different area of medicine. For example, a scribe who starts out working in a family practice might move to a specialty clinic or a hospital. Scribes with strong computer skills can also move into other computer-related positions, such as medical coding or billing.

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