When you’re pre-med, you’re always thinking of how you can strengthen your medical school application. Every medical-related experience you list on your resume gives you a better shot at getting into medical school.
This can be very challenging for a pre-med student. After all, you have classes to take and coursework to keep up with throughout your semesters. You need excellent grades to get into medical school. But you also need volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities to be a well-rounded applicant. And, depending on your financial circumstances, you might need to work.
How on earth are you supposed to balance it all?
Well, you can balance hard classes with easier elective courses. You can use your summers to work or go on voluntary healthcare internships abroad. And you can find a job that incorporates medicine and can help pad your application. That’s why we recommend becoming an EMT, CNA, medical assistant or medical scribe. You can kill two birds with one stone and get more sleep at night.
Are you with us? In today’s blog, we’re discussing how to become a medical scribe. Keep reading to learn how.
The Role of a Medical Scribe
So, what do medical scribes do? A medical scribe’s day revolves around the medical histories and charts of multiple patients. Doctors rely on scribes to take notes during patient exams, to transcribe dictations and to record the medical information that’s exchanged during a visit. You’ll also be tasked with requesting medical records from other clinics, as well as other clerical work that would bog down the doctor.
If you enjoy performing a variety of job functions, then becoming a medical scribe might be perfect for you. You’ll want to type at least 60 words per minute (WPM), be an attentive listener and pay clear attention to detail. Making a mistake could negatively impact a patient, so caution and care are essential. It’s a good way to slowly add responsibility into your job without the sudden shock factor of being a doctor and being responsible for a patient’s life.
The work of a medical scribe allows doctors to see more patients without getting bogged down with computer work. Many doctors are highly skilled in their specialties but don’t type quickly or don’t have time to make phone calls to transfer medical records. A medical scribe’s job doesn’t require licensing. This allows doctors to focus on what only they can do: diagnose and treat patients.
Becoming a medical scribe is a rewarding job while you’re in school. But if you’d prefer a job that’s more hands-on and less computer-driven, you should consider becoming an EMT, medical assistant or CNA. Those positions will give your resume the same boost while providing a different experience.
Training Requirements for Medical Scribes
So, how long does it take to become a scribe? You might need a job right away. The good news is, it doesn’t take very long to become a medical scribe. If you have a strong resume and interview well, you could quickly secure a position.
The job of a medical scribe doesn’t come with state or federal regulations. Because of this, the requirements are based on the policies of the medical practice. A hospital could have different requirements than a private practice. This can get confusing if you apply as a scribe to multiple places. But not having state or federal regulations makes it easier to get hired.
But even with few regulations and varying policies, every medical scribe job requires a high school diploma and basic scientific knowledge. After all, it would be hard to type quickly if you aren’t familiar with anatomy and medical terminology. You might need to transcribe the medical jargon that’s dictated to you. It would make the doctor’s job more difficult if you didn’t understand the jargon.
So, while the rules are more laid-back for a medical scribe, there are still important factors to consider.
Training Options for Medical Scribes
While you aren’t required to go through training to become a medical scribe, it certainly doesn’t hurt. You’ll boost your application and be considered over applicants who lack the training you have. More experience equals more opportunities. Here are some ways you can gain a competitive edge through medical scribe training.
Many colleges offer medical scribe courses for pre-med students. The course itself won’t provide you with a certification, but it will teach you how the job works and give you practice scenarios that will help you prepare for your first position. Medical scribe courses are also available online.
So, if you have a full plate and don’t want to spend more time on campus, look up online options. If your college doesn’t offer any medical scribe courses, or if what they offer doesn’t suit your needs, look up online scribing courses. Your college isn’t your only option.
Of course, you’ll go through on-the-job training just like you would for any other type of position. This training often replaces taking a college course, but there’s no harm in going through both. In fact, your qualifications will increase from doing both.
If you find work through a scribing company, you’ll likely receive your training through them before going out into the field. This helps streamline the process for doctors who need a scribe who is already trained. The busier a doctor is, the harder it would be for them to train a new employee.
So, what does on-the-job training look like? It might start with shadowing an experienced scribe. Seeing their behavior around patients and their interactions with the doctors and other healthcare providers will give you a good sense of how you should behave when you are scribing.
You’ll also be trained in the following areas:
- Medical documentation software
- Radiology, MRI, EKG and other test results
- Discharge procedures
- Basic pharmacology
- Coding and medical billing
- Policies specific to the medical practice where you’ll be scribing
Become a Certified Medical Scribe
Like we said before, you don’t need a certification to become a medical scribe. But being certified doesn’t hurt, either! If you want to get a step ahead, you can become a certified medical scribe.
To get started, check out the American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group. AHDPG offers medical scribe certification courses. They’re recognized as an official source of certification for medical scribes. You can take an exam to become an Apprentice Medical Scribe Professional (AMSP) right away.
The Medical Scribe Certification Exam consists of 100 questions. There are both multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. Your knowledge and applied judgment will be tested.
Want to get the word “apprentice” off your certification? Once you’ve scribed for 200 hours, you can apply to become a Medical Scribe Professional (MSP). If you work 20 hours per week as a scribe, you can become an MSP in as little as three months.
Balancing Classes and Medical Scribe Work
The job of a medical scribe might sound great to you, but you might be worried about the time commitment. After all, you need more than medical scribe experience to get into medical school. You also need excellent grades and a high GPA. If you aren’t competitive enough, you won’t be considered for medical school. The good news is, you can work your job around your class schedule and study time.
We recommend finding a medical scribe position that doesn’t interfere with your class schedule. Even if your professor is lenient with attendance, the risk of missing valuable information is too high. Ultimately, your grades could suffer. If you have classes in the morning, you could find a doctor who works nights. You might lose sleep, but you won’t miss any classes.
Most medical scribes work in one of the following settings:
- Medical clinics
- Private practices
- Rehab centers
- Healthcare facilities
Hospitals, rehab centers and other healthcare facilities usually have a variety of available shifts because they’re always open. They need someone there at three in the morning and three in the afternoon. So, if you’re in classes all day, look for a night position.
You’ll have a harder time getting a flexible schedule at a private practice. Many private practices are only open during regular business hours. But if you take night classes, a private practice might be your best bet. A private practice is also good if you need consistent hours. If they’re only open for eight hours, then you’ll know what your schedule is without waiting for it to be made!
Scribing in Your Specialty Field
Ideally, you want to spend as much time as you can in your specialty field. Want to be a pediatrician? Try finding a pediatrician who needs a scribe. However, depending on your location, you might not be able to find a scribe position in your field. In that case, try to find a scribing position in an area where you can learn and grow. You might not find a pediatrician to scribe for, but you might find a doctor who treats children and adults.
Either way, becoming a medical scribe will expose you to healthcare at a level you haven’t yet experienced. This will help solidify your desire to become a doctor or deter you from continuing forward. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you discovered you didn’t want to practice medicine after all. In the long run, it would save you lots of time and money.
Finding Jobs as a Medical Scribe
We’ve already touched on this in other parts of this blog, but we’ll dive in deeper here. You’ll find a job as a medical scribe the same way you’d find any other job. Finding connections in your network is a great place to start. Job sites like Monster and Indeed are also good places to find work as a medical scribe.
But before you find jobs to apply to, make sure you have a solid resume. You’ll want to create a resume specifically for scribing positions. Include any work you’ve done that relates to any of the work you would do as a scribe. For example, if you transcribed courses for a deaf student, include that. That will show your ability to type information as it’s spoken.
We recommend adding a “Skills” section to your resume. You can list skills like writing, data entry, typing or organization. This can help fill in white space if you don’t have a lot of experience to list. On the other hand, if your experience demonstrates those skills, you can leave out the skills list.
Once you have a strong resume, you’ll be ready to apply. So, use those search engines and find scribing work!
Getting Hired Through a Scribing Company
If you work at a doctor’s office, they’ll likely hire you directly. But if you work in a hospital, then you’re likely contracted through a scribing company. Scribe America, iScribeMD and ProScribeMD are respected scribing companies that hire and place scribes in their positions.
Keep in mind that working for these companies pretty much vetoes any say you have in where you work. But it does guarantee you some work, which is better than nothing at all. After all, you’re trying to pay bills and gain experience for your medical school applications.
Becoming a medical scribe can be a rewarding experience that boosts your medical school applications. It will help you pay your bills and work your way through life as a pre-med. But it’s not just about the money. Being a medical scribe will give you experience in a healthcare setting, which can help you determine if you want to practice medicine for your career. Patient exposure and interaction with healthcare professionals are added benefits.
So, if you’re a pre-med student in need of some cash, consider becoming a medical scribe. The process is fairly simple and will benefit you long term. If you have questions about becoming a medical scribe, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer medical school admissions consulting to help guide you along the path to becoming a doctor. If becoming a medical scribe isn’t right for you, there are other options.
Medical school admissions consulting can help you fill in any gaps in your medical school applications. It can also help you submit an overall stronger application. This is because our consulting team is set up the same way as admissions committees are. You’ll have a mock experience of what the medical school process is like. Contact us today to get started. International Medical Aid is here for you.