Gaining worth while healthcare experiences is one of the most important parts to preparing for PA school. Many schools require hundreds, if not thousands of hours of healthcare experience hours in order to apply to their program. One of the many things that I did to gain healthcare experience is scribing.
Medical scribing is kind of the up and coming thing that many students are doing to get their foot in the door of the healthcare field. I have been scribing for about 9 months now in two different emergency departments and it has been hands down, the best exposure I have had to not only the medical field, but to what I will be doing in my career as a PA.
As a scribe, my main responsibility is composing the medical note for the providers. I go into the patient’s room with the doctor or PA and use the information obtained during the history and physical exam (H&P) to compose a medical note to be billed to the insurance company. It is such a great experience to be able to be in the room and witness how many different providers do their H&P. It also is great experience on how to create a medical chart and all of the components that need to be present. I have talked to many students currently in PA school and medical school and many have shared with me that they wish they had had prior medical scribing experience. The students who have scribed before starting PA school are far ahead of the curve and already know how to write a HPI (history of present illness) and the other important elements of a medical chart.
As a scribe, I am also able to obtain past medical history of a patient myself. It is so important to have experience talking to patients about their medical histories and to feel confident and comfortable questioning patients. I have always considered myself a fairly out going person who doesn’t struggle talking to people. However, the first time I had to take a patient history I had a mini panic attack! There is something about asking someone personal medical information that just makes you feel slightly uncomfortable. Scribing has helped me to feel more comfortable obtaining this information and more confident. Also, its 2017 so Electronic Medical Records are obsolete in the medical field now and this is an awesome way to learn how to navigate different EMR software such as Cerner and Meditech.
One of my favorite parts about being a medical scribe in an emergency department is the vast amount of things that I am exposed to. You get to see different ailments in the sub-specialties of cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, and so much more. One of the emergency departments I work in is a level 1 trauma center so I am also exposed to various traumas such as motor vehicle accidents and assaults. I have seen more in the past 9 months as a scribe than I have through my various other healthcare experiences over the past 4 years.
How do I become a scribe you may ask? There are a few different avenues you can pursue. First, would be to find a scribe contracting company, such as Scribe America. These companies train scribes and then place them with different hospitals and doctors offices. They are essentially a scribe management company that handles your training and placement. There are also private medical groups that employ and train their own scribes to work at their own practices or hospitals. This is the avenue that I pursued. I work for Premier Emergency Medical Specialists out of Arizona. They are a private emergency medicine group that staffs the MDs, DOs, PAs, NPs, and medical scribes for 2 Dignity Health Hospitals. I work with the same providers no matter which facility I am working at since all of the providers rotate locations as do the scribes.
I have attached a few links to local Arizona scribe companies for you to take a look at it if you’re interested in pursuing a job as a scribe to gain beneficial healthcare experience!
Lastly, scribing is an awesome way to make connections. Professional success relies heavily on your ability to network! Scribing puts you in contact with physicians and PAs to write you letters of recommendation when it comes time for applications, as well as potential job opportunities after you graduate. In my company, there is one doctor and one PA that were both scribes for the company and then hired on again as providers after graduation!