Medical Scribes

What Are Medical Scribes? The Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered how doctors find the time to get everything done each day? The pressures of working as a doctor are immense, yet they still do appointments, surgeries, and consultations nonstop throughout the day.

For many doctors, the secret is working with medical scribes. This is an essential role that makes it easier for doctors to do everything they have to do, without dropping the quality of their services.

What are medical scribes? You might have heard this term before, but didn’t understand exactly what it meant.

Not to worry—we can help! Keep reading to learn more about the role of a medical scribe, why it’s important, and how you can get started if you want to work in the industry.

So, Just What Are Medical Scribes?

By definition, a medical scribe is someone who transcribes or documents an appointment between a doctor and a patient. It’s an important role that assists the doctors and allows for faster, more accurate recordkeeping.

You can think of a scribe as a transcriptionist or record-keeper, since this is essentially what they do in their role.

Here are a few medical scribe duties that will help you better understand the role.

Document Doctor-Patient Encounters

When it comes to medical scribe responsibilities, their main objective is to record all notes between a doctor and a patient.

The type of doctor can vary, as almost anyone in the profession can benefit from a scribe. Scribes are used by all sorts of medical professionals including dentists, ER doctors, specialists, and general practitioners.

They’ll take notes during consultations, record key outcomes and developments, and write down any other relevant information about the encounter. This could include background on a patient’s medical history, procedures performed, medications, or current health complaints.

As you can imagine, a scribe needs to be able to work both fast and accurately. They will also need to respect the confidentiality of the patient, keeping all of their medical details private when taking notes.

Add Information to Electronic Health Records

Once the appointment is over, a scribe will add all of the details from the meeting into the patient’s electronic health record, also known as the EHR. This is a secure, digital version of a patient’s medical history.

Instead of keeping files for each patient, like in the old days, more and more health systems are moving to the EHR system. This is more secure, allows information to be accessible from anywhere.

The EHR system also makes it easier for multiple specialists and doctors to coordinate a patient’s care.

A scribe will record all key data into the EHR, ensuring it’s there as an accurate recording of the patient’s appointment that day.

Assist the Doctor

In addition, the medical scribe will also assist the doctor as much as possible, almost like a personal assistant. Doctors are incredibly busy, running from one patient to another.

To avoid them spending their valuable time taking notes, the scribe assists them by doing this for them, freeing up their time for other patients. This also reduces wait times for patients, as the doctors can finish one appointment and head straight to the next one.

Working with medical scribe companies results in doctors feeling more energetic and less burned out, which is a common occurrence. Sometimes, scribes might even help with administrative duties, like booking appointments or taking phone calls.

By taking over clerical and administrative tasks, a doctor can accomplish more each day.

However, scribes are not trained medical professionals, so they will never give medical advice or stand-in for a doctor.

Other Duties

Scribes will often help with tracking down information such as recent MRI results, x-rays, or notes from a patient’s visit with another doctor, then summarizing and collating everything into their EHR.

This saves the nurses and clinicians time as well, as the scribe will update the patient’s history on their behalf.

What Training Is Required?

Does the above all sound like a fantastic career? Medical scribe jobs are increasingly in demand, as more and more clinics move to the EHR system.

This means now is a great time to get started in the industry. If you want to make a career change, it helps to have fast typing skills, the skills to work well under pressure, and a willingness to learn medical terminology.

There are also medical scribe courses that you can take, helping you learn the basics and get started. Once you complete your course, you’ll probably spend some time working with a more experienced scribe to help you learn on the job.

In most cases a high school diploma is sufficient, so you don’t necessarily need a college degree for the role. Once you get started, you’re sure to keep learning as you go, since the role is varied and can bring new challenges each day.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Medical Scribe?

Hopefully, you can now better answer the question, ‘what are medical scribes’? As a patient, you’re likely to encounter scribes during your appointments, so this article should help you feel more comfortable around them.

Or, if you’re looking for an exciting career in the medical field, working as a scribe might be right for you. If you want to get started, look for scribe training courses online or locally.

Also, some of the larger medical scribe companies offer training for new recruits, so check out local job postings to learn more.

Then, you’ll be on track to start your incredible new career, helping doctors and patients each day.

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