5 Lifelong Skills You Can Learn From Being a Medical Scribe

Being a scribe can be a tough job. It is demanding work that requires extensive training and knowledge of hundreds if not thousands of medical terms. However, there is much more to learn from scribing than just medical terminology. Here are five lifelong skills you can learn from being a scribe:

  1. Learning a large amount of information in a short amount of time

During scribe training, you must learn a vast amount of medical terminology, abbreviations, anatomy, and pharmacology to keep up with a medical provider who has likely been practicing for more than a decade. Comprehending this information and applying it properly is a skill that must be mastered to succeed as a scribe. The training you receive as a scribe will undoubtedly benefit those heading to medical school, but it can also help those entering the workforce who will need to learn on the job. Your future employer will find tremendous value in your ability to learn rather than rely solely on the limited knowledge you have when you arrive on your first day.

  1. Being adaptable to new situations

As a scribe, you must accurately describe the difficult situations that land patients in the ED. You also have to keep in mind each provider’s charting preference and be constantly adjusting every situation to his or her specific charting style. A successful scribe is always anticipating the provider’s next move.

In other industries, co-workers would never spend a 12-hour shift less than three feet from one another, but as a scribe, keeping this distance is integral to achieve effective scribe-provider communication. You must also be in tune to their current stress level and mood throughout the shift and adjust your behavior accordingly. If you have the flexibility to go with the ED flow and can make it as a scribe without annoying a provider during a busy graveyard shift, you are likely a great person to share a cubicle with.

  1. Building professional relationships

It is easy to make friends at work, especially if you are a lifeguard or are scooping ice cream. However, as a scribe, your focus is on providing excellent documentation and improving the workflow of a provider who is your superior, your mentor, and is someone you respect. This allows you to practice building professional relationships with people who are much older and more experienced than you are.

Scribing is also a great way to network and find connections to new opportunities within and outside of healthcare. Serving your team well will often lead to physicians or medical directors writing letters of recommendation for you for medical school or whatever your future plans may hold.

  1. Learning about the healthcare industry as a whole

One of the many advantages of being a scribe is experiencing medicine past the pages of your Organic Chemistry textbook. The business of healthcare is not something frequently discussed in undergraduate courses, but as a scribe you will witness first-hand the importance of EMRs, facility metrics, coding, billing, payment systems and more.

Seeing the business side of healthcare might prompt you to consider a career in something outside of the direct care of patients like hospital administration. Even hospitals need accountants, IT specialists, interior designers, and maintenance technicians. The experience that scribing can bring could benefit you if you decide to change careers. If nothing else, the front row seat you will have to the healthcare industry will make you a more informed voter!

  1. Thinking like a doctor

Outsiders might view the ED as a revolving door of excitement, but as an experienced scribe you learn the many protocols in place that make it “organized chaos.” As a scribe you will witness the medical decision-making that doctors think through as they treat something as complicated as a gunshot victims and as routine as strep throat. A scribe has the unique fly-on-the-wall opportunity to witness the human art of medicine. This will lead you to be a more informed patient and to be a better advocate for your family’s health.

I am confident that the scribe experience will benefit you both professionally and personally. Even though I haven’t pursued a career in clinical care I still use these skills daily and am thankful I learned them so early in my life while working as a scribe.

Being a quick learner who can adapt to a new work environment and get along with others is something every employer looks for, so you will be well ahead of your competition using these skills. Additionally, you will learn more about your personal health and the healthcare industry as a whole. After all, we will all eventually be on the other side of the laptop.

What are some other skills you have learned as a scribe? How have they benefited you and your career? Tell us in the comments section below.


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