The profession of the scribe is among the oldest in recorded history, with scribes being documented in Ancient Egypt and other societies in the very early days of recorded human history. Scribes were important as literacy was often low, so workers who were able to receive dictation and inscribe this information on documents or to copy documents performed an important function in helping to establish a civil society. Although literacy is generally much higher in the modern day, the work that medical scribes perform is still very important and this is reflected in the medical scribe salary.
It should not be surprising that the work of today’s medical scribes is a little different from those of scribes living in the distant past, but considering how specialized the medical industry is and how important it is to accurately reflect medical information, the significance of the role has not diminished. Medical scribes have carved a niche for themselves in the booming healthcare industry. As the industry changes with Electronic Medical Records becoming more common, these professionals have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge base and strengthen their position in their industry.
Naturally, a medical scribe is not going to be exactly the same as a scribe that served the pharaohs of the Nile 4000 years ago, although there are some important similarities. Medical scribes perform secretarial functions for physicians, which includes medical data entry into paper charts, electronic records, forms, or other records and documents. The medical scribe may also be called upon monitor patient tests or radiologic reports, which is why this role is often described as a physician collaborator.
As the healthcare industry becomes more complex and physicians and nurses are required to take on new duties, acquire new knowledge, or collaborate with other advanced professionals, it is not surprising that roles in physician support have become more significant. In this regard, the work of the medical scribe bears some similarity to other skilled positions that involve providing assistance to healthcare providers like physician assistants, radiological technicians, and the like.
It may surprise some just how much the medical scribe performs in his or her service to the physician and other healthcare providers. Indeed, the work of the scribe seems to exceed merely the record-keeping role that some may associate with the job title. Holistically, the medical scribe’s role is to help facilitate the workflow of the provider, and transcribing documents is only one part of that role. Naturally, medical scribes are not involved in direct patient care as this task remains the preserve of physicians and nurses.
Education requirements for this position will be thoroughly detailed in the following section, but there are certain important qualifications for men and women considering a career in this field. Many of these are personality traits that will help the future worker succeed in their role and provide as much assistance to healthcare providers as they can. What follows are skills and abilities that will lead to a successful career as a medical scribe.
Other skills or abilities can be beneficial to the job, like experience with medical coding, though skills like these can be acquired later or on the job. In reality, though the profession of the scribe may be ancient, the work of the medical scribe has a modern aspect. In hospital emergency rooms and other healthcare settings, the scribe can often be found entering data into the computer or other records. This data is read by physicians, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare providers.
The work of the medical scribe is important workers in this field report a high level of job satisfaction. Though some medical scribes would like to earn more considering the important role they play in assisting physicians, as this role only requires a high school diploma the medical scribe salary can be described as reasonable. The skill set required for this position does give an idea of the sorts of duties these workers perform. In reality, the work of the medical scribe is varied and may expand in the future.
In their role as aides to physicians in the hospital setting, the medical scribe can expect to be involved in the following tasks:
In terms of the day-to-day work of the scribe, they perform the duties detailed above often under the supervision of other professionals than the physician, such as a nurse manager. Not surprisingly, the medical scribe is frequently found in the hospital setting though they can realistically work anywhere that physicians can be found. Medical scribes are frequently employed in doctors' offices, especially in the primary care setting where a high volume of patients is not uncommonly found.
Scribes may be required to wear a uniform and may be expected to work non-standard hours. This should not come as a surprise considering the hectic nature of work in the healthcare industry. Scribes employed by agencies generally work at one hospital or work site though this may vary. Scribes are employed across the United States and some agencies have openings in multiple states.
There are opportunities for advancement within this profession with some medical scribes becoming project managers, regional managers, and the like, and the medical scribe salary typically increases with increasing responsibility, with some scribes making as much as $75,000. Scribes may be salaried or paid by the hour, and they frequently receive medical and dental benefits.
Although holding a college degree is preferred, medical scribes are not required to have a four-year degree in order to work in this profession. The basic requirement is a high school education. Many students work as a medical scribe while they are attending college attaining degrees in related fields. The requirements for the role have less to do with education and more to do with job experience and skill set.
Although a higher education degree is not required for this role, medical scribes frequently possess associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. This allows professionals in this area to take on additional duties or transition into other areas of work, in related fields, if they are interested. Experience is a major part of this role. Some medical scribes review and analyze lab records. They may be called upon to complete physician documentation based on the data that the scribe has reviewed.
A doctor’s office or medical practice may hire directly scribes. Alternatively, they may work for an agency that employs scribes, of which there are several in the United States. For this reason, the qualifications expected of the scribe may vary depending on the employer. In general, advanced degrees are not required, though experience in certain areas like medical terminology or electronic medical records may be expected, and can be correlated with higher medical scribe salaries.
Agencies that hire scribes will frequently provide training to the new hire before they send you to the work site. This will allow you to be prepared for the specific role that you will be expected to fill at your location. In general, training provided to the scribe will be compensated.
Medical Scribe Salary
Image via Freepik
For many people, the salary of an occupation is an important deciding factor when choosing one career over another. Prospective entrants into a career have to weigh several factors, like the duration of education or training period, the cost of education, any other costs, and of course the salary. The medical scribe salary matches well with the education requirement as a career in this area generally only requires a high school education.
The average medical scribe salary in the United States is $33,033, as of this year, although this figure falls within a range and some medical scribes earn much more. Scribes paid by the hour make about $12 per hour and many receive benefits, such as medical and dental. Although the medical scribe salary often remains pretty constant through years of service, scribes with advanced knowledge and training can potentially earn much more, with some scribes making close to the six-figure range. This is not typical, however. As with other jobs in healthcare, geographic location does play a role in the medical scribe salary.
It is important to weigh many factors when deciding on a career, and work as a medical scribe is no different. There are several draws to this interesting profession, one of which is that it does not require stringent education qualifications, with most medical scribes able to make do with a high school diploma.