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Medical Scribing: What It Is, Why to Do It


Embarking on the journey to medical school is an exciting yet challenging endeavor for college students. Beyond stellar grades, gaining hands-on experience in the healthcare field can significantly enhance your medical school application.

In the past, we’ve discussed the benefits of shadowing doctors or volunteering with health care organizations. Another opportunity for clinical experience we haven’t discussed is medical scribing. In this article, we’ll look at what medical scribing is, why it’s a valuable experience, and how college students can find and excel in medical scribing roles.

What is Medical Scribing?

A medical scribe is essentially a trained documentation specialist who assists healthcare professionals, primarily physicians, in recording patient encounters. Scribes may sit in on appointments to capture essential information such as medical histories, physical examinations, and treatment plans. They may also transcribe dictated notes from doctors and do other clerical tasks, such as updating health records or requesting paperwork from other offices.

Essentially, the duty of a medical scribe is to free up the healthcare professional’s time so they can focus on working with their patients.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Medical Scribe?

Medical scribing can help you prepare for medical school—and a medical career—in a variety of ways. First, medical scribing provides invaluable exposure to the clinical environment. By working closely with healthcare professionals, you’ll be able to witness patient care and medical decision-making up close.

Next, medical scribing allows you to immerse yourself in the language of medicine. As you document patient cases, you’ll become more familiar with medical terminology, procedures, and diagnoses. Medical scribing also helps you build experience interacting with patients and practitioners. This hones your communication skills and prepares you for collaborative healthcare practice in the future.

Finally, observing physicians in action while supporting them as a medical scribe helps you develop your own clinical reasoning skills. You’ll observe the diagnostic process, treatment decisions, and the overall decision-making that occurs in a medical setting. This experience is invaluable when it comes to tackling complex medical scenarios in the future.

Effectively, medical scribing combines the benefits of shadowing a physician with active participation on healthcare teams. Plus, unlike volunteers, medical scribes are paid for their work.

What Training Do Medical Scribes Need?

There are no certification or regulatory requirements for medical scribes. Generally, all that’s needed to do the job well is a high school diploma, some knowledge of medical or scientific terminology, and fast, accurate typing skills. You can, however, pursue certification as an Apprentice Medical Scribe through the American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group.

Pursuing certification may help you stand out in what looks to be a competitive market—while real medical scribes are still needed, advances in technology such as speech-to-text software and AI are leading to reductions in workforces. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% decline in jobs for medical transcriptionists (a type of medical scribe) over the 2022–2023 period for this reason.

Where to Look for Medical Scribe Jobs

The three main sources for medical scribe jobs are:

  • Hospital and clinic websites (search for the “careers” or “job opportunities” pages)
  • Specialized healthcare staffing agencies, such as Scribe America or ProScribeMD
  • Online job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor

Searching these websites is a straightforward process. You can also ask your pre-health or post-bacc program advisor if they have other networking resources for you.

One note: don’t forget to choose a scribe position strategically. If you’re interested in orthopedic surgery, for example, see if you can find a scribing position with an orthopedic surgery department. Also take your class schedule into account. Taking the overnight scribing shift may be convenient, but if it compromises your ability to perform in your pre-med classes, it may be counterproductive.

Medical Scribing Is Great, But So Are Post-Baccs

We hope this article has helped you better understand the benefits (and potential drawbacks) of working as a medical scribe while you’re a pre-med. If you need to make up prerequisites or boost your GPA in the meantime, a pre-medical post-bacc program could be right for you. Find a post-bacc that fits your needs in our database!

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