The healthcare industry plays a crucial role in our everyday lives. Especially in the current times, where a new disease emerges every now and then, every professional associated with the medical field is essential for the smooth functioning of the entire system. And this includes not just doctors, nurses, pathologists, radiologists or surgeons but also medical scribes.
A medical scribe can often be seen alongside doctors, but there is little clarity about the work of these professionals. However, things have shifted largely with the advent of electronic health records. Now, documenting every detail regarding patients and their treatment is more essential than ever.
Let us dive into this blog to learn in-depth about the role of a medical scribe in healthcare, their responsibilities and everything related to it.
What Is a Medical Scribe’s Job?
The medical scribes are professional assistants to physicians who document every detail of a patient. Pieces of information like the patient’s medical history, lab results, treatment, familial context, and anything relevant to the patient’s visit are pivotal to record. And the crucial task of doing this is the job of a medical scribe.
The profession demands that they be well-versed in medical terminologies and have some clinical experience. Often, they fill in the doctor’s role of writing prescriptions; however, they are not responsible for prescribing any treatment to the patient.
The job of medical scribes not only takes away the burden of clerical duties from doctors but also lets them treat the patient with more concentration. They improve the interaction channel between doctor and patient while ensuring the accuracy of health records.
Workplaces of a Medical Scribe
A medical scribe’s primary role is to assist physicians during their visits to patients in a clinical setting, such as a hospital, clinic, or private practice.
The earlier section has comprehensively answered ‘What does a medical scribe do?’. They record all relevant information about patients in EHRs. This lets the doctor keep track of the patient’s treatment and helps decide the next course of care. Scribes also manage physicians’ appointments and lab reports in some settings so the doctor can later analyse and interpret them correctly.
Apart from being a doctor’s personal scribe, some hospitals hire medical scribes either through agencies or directly. Scribes can now also work remotely, connecting with doctors via video or audio calls. Lately, this practice has been widely implemented across the globe, especially in the post-pandemic era.
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Who Are Virtual Physician Scribes?
Virtual physician scribes are those professionals who assist doctors in documenting patients’ details from a remote location. Unlike traditional scribes, who are physically present alongside the physicians, virtual scribes work off-site, making the best use of technology to facilitate real-time documentation.
This new-age profession of virtual scribes has recently gained much prominence. The reason behind it is the growth of telehealth and remote healthcare services.
Now, the question is, ‘How does a virtual physician scribe operate?’ To understand this, we should first know how virtual scribes communicate with physicians. To collaborate, they use secure telecommunication platforms where scribes diligently note each and every element of the telehealth appointment.
When the doctor conducts the examination and interacts with the patient, the virtual scribe notes the details in the electronic health record system. This data captures everything from the patient’s medical history to their recent examination findings. To perform their duties effectively, virtual scribes use specific software and tools that allow them to access patients’ EHRs properly.
Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Medical Scribe
Like any other profession, the job of a medical scribe requires relevant qualifications. However, there is a certain obscurity regarding this job profile. Hence, we have compiled a list of the steps to guide you on your career path as a medical scribe.
1. Completion of High School Education
To embark on a career as a medical scribe, the minimum requirement is to complete higher secondary school, i.e., class 12. Taking up subjects like biology, computer science, and English in your 10+2 will benefit your career. In addition, enrolling in high school courses that focus on teaching medical terminologies, communication, and typing will help build the necessary skills for the role.
An aspirant can also pursue a college degree in a relevant subject, enhancing their understanding of medical concepts.
2. Obtain Relevant Certification
Having a minimum education isn’t always enough. Lately, with increased competition in every sphere, employers prefer or require medical scribes to have specialised training or certification.
Many institutions provide such courses, which are generally four to six months long. These specialised trainings help build verbal and written communication skills while teaching medical terms. Some of these institutes also provide aspirants with internships for practical exposure.
Also, gaining certifications like Advances Clinical Medical Scribe Certification (ACMS) improves your chances of employability as it assures prospective employers of your competence for the role.
3. Gain Experience
Nothing can beat the power of the knowledge that comes from practical experience. Therefore, gaining experience using your theoretical skills is the best way to get the hiring manager’s attention.
One can simply start with an entry-level job or work as a volunteer/intern in a healthcare setting. This will help them become more familiar with the environment in which they want to pursue their careers.
Participation in training programmes to get hands-on experience and exposure to real-world scenarios is another way to stand out from the other candidates.
What Is the Average Salary of a Medical Scribe?
Medical scribes’ service requires shouldering quite a lot of responsibility. Medical scribes in India earn approximately an average base salary of ₹30,912 per month. There are various elements on which their salary package depends, such as their education, proficiency, and relevant experience.
However, in some places, scribes are paid hourly, that is, according to the number of hours they have worked.
Skills Required to Become a Medical Scribe
As a medical scribe, there’s a crucial responsibility on your shoulders, as the physician trusts you with accurate patient documentation.
In the course of a patient’s treatment, the information noted down by medical scribes is pivotal. Doctors note it before prescribing further care or medication to a patient. Therefore, it’s essential to work on each of the key skills given below.
1. Computer Skills
In this digital era, proficiency in using computer technology is a must. For medical scribes, it is one of the key skills, as they now need to use electronic health record systems and other healthcare software for accurate documentation of patients. A strong grasp of keyboard shortcuts and data entry techniques will help you sustain yourself in the rapidly developing healthcare environment.
2. Paying Attention to Detail
The most crucial element of a medical scribe’s job is accuracy, as accurate information is the cornerstone of effective patient care. Thus, your attention to detail will determine a patient’s smooth treatment without any mistakes that can lead to serious consequences.
Along with noting error-free information, medical scribes need to be able to identify errors and rectify them in time.
3. Listening Skills
As we know, the job of a medical scribe is to listen and transcribe the relevant information of a patient. Thus, their active listening and understanding skills can make a major difference when a doctor communicates with a patient.
Your attentive listening skills will help you transcribe details, contributing to a comprehensive medical record. Also, this skill will prevent any uncertainties or errors caused by miscommunication.
4. Dedication, Self-Motivation, and Flexibility
Medical transcription requires a committed individual who is self-motivated and highly dedicated to the work. This is because, often, the job may demand you to engage in long and tiring patient encounters with full focus.
Your flexibility to adapt to different medical specialities and provider preferences will also take you to new heights.
5. Time Management
Healthcare settings are often fast-paced and dynamic. When one deals with a patient, there’s no time to waste. As a medical scribe, you will be involved with multiple patient encounters, each requiring your full attention and accurate documentation. Thus, to manage these situations effectively, you must master the art of time management.
This skill will help you balance both the transcription part of your job and keeping up with various appointments. This will also ensure that the doctor immediately focuses on the patient’s treatment.
6. Knowledge of Medical Terminology
Another core element that the medical transcription job demands is sound knowledge of medical terminologies. One cannot afford any compromise in this particular skill, as it is one of the fundamental requirements for the job. When you are familiar with the terms related to treatments, diagnosis, and medication, it not only eases your job but also adds more precision.
The job of medical scribes has a pivotal place in the modern healthcare landscape. Their role in patient care is often considered secondary, leaving the work of medical scribes unrecognised.
However, with the shift towards electronic health records, the job of medical transcriber has evolved, gaining more prominence. Now, they can more effectively assist physicians, lessening their administrative burden. This also gives the doctors a more focused mind to treat patients.
In addition, virtual physician scribes is a profession that has the potential to boom in the future. If you wish to enter this field, consider enrolling in relevant courses and gaining practical exposure to establish a fulfilling career in this off-beat sector.