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It is no surprise that medical scribing is one of the best clinical experiences for pre-health professional students (premed, prePA, preNP). Out of all entry-level clinical positions, medical scribing is the only role that requires the worker to operate with a healthcare professional throughout their entire shift. This element alone provides countless advantages including learning from healthcare professionals, how they interact with each other and their patients, building a network of healthcare professionals that can aid in the progression of the student’s medical career, and gaining the confidence to easily interact with them through experience.
Although medical scribing seems to be the perfect job, there can be major drawbacks depending on the avenue one takes to become a scribe. The most highlighted drawbacks are long hours without breaks, low pay without benefits, and a competitive job market. These drawbacks affect scribes differently depending on how they acquire their position. Let’s explore those options and the drawbacks that accompany each of them. (Scroll Down For Quick Summary)
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Scribe Staffing Companies
Pre-health professional students readily seek scribing opportunities with scribe staffing companies. Although this is the case, applying with staffing companies may not be the most successful route. The application process is extremely competitive. Remember, individuals who apply for scribe positions are students interested in pursuing a professional degree in healthcare. For this reason, applying becomes almost as competitive as applying for graduate school.
Scribe staffing companies also epitomize minimum-wage. Most of their new hires begin their careers with a salary of approximately $9 per hour. This number can be slightly different depending your state’s minimum-wage salary. After three months, the salary is increased by one dollar. After working for an entire year, the scribe has an opportunity to increase their salary by another dollar, but only if they fulfill a new role as a scribe trainer. Pre-health professional students aim to participate in one to two gap years before graduate school, therefore $10 to $11 per hour may become their maximum salaries. If the scribe prolongs their employment and assumes additional roles within the company, there is potential to increase pay by a few more dollars. Furthermore, scribe staffing companies are not known to provide benefit packages.
In respect to work hours, medical scribes employed by staffing companies are expected to function 10 to 12 hours per day. This is true, especially if the scribe is staffed in the emergency department or hospital. Scribe staffing companies mainly place their scribes in these clinical settings. In addition to long shifts, staffed scribes rarely receive breaks. Hospitals and emergency departments have an endless number of patients, and in many cases, the scribe does not get lunch breaks.
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Instead of contracting with scribe staffing companies, some hospitals may prefer to develop their own scribe system. This method is more cost-effective and it allows the hospital to have more influence with their scribes’ role and capabilities. The drawbacks experienced when working for a hospital are similar to those of a scribe staffing company, but with only one exception. Hospitals are known to provide more compensation. Their new hires usually begin their careers with a salary of $2 to $3 more per hour in comparison with scribe staffing companies. Additionally, hospitals provide benefit packages to all employees, including their scribes.
A lesser known option is seeking scribe employment through independent practices. There is a deficient amount of medical scribes in the independent practice setting which puts medical practice scribes in high demand. Similar to hospitals, independent practices are concerned with the high-priced contracts that come with scribe staffing companies. Therefore, independent practices prefer to acquire their own scribes. In fact, the majority of medical practice scribes are hired and trained by the doctor. However, most doctors don’t have the time to train scribes. They also don’t have scribe systems like hospitals. For these reasons, medical practices do not hesitate to hire individuals who already have scribe knowledge. The combination of high demand and small number of applicants makes applying for independent practices significantly less competitive than the alternative options.
As for compensation, medical practice scribes are undoubtedly paid the most. Their beginning salaries are $5+ more per hour in comparison to their counterparts. Although medical practice scribes work fewer weekly hours, they still gain more monthly income. These scribes work 8 hours per day with a required hour break in between their morning and evening shifts. Their employment also comes with benefit packages. Medical practice scribing allows pre-health professional students to avoid the common drawbacks that come with the position. For this reason, it appears to be the more favorable option.
So, why do so many pre-health professional students miss this opportunity? The answer is simple. Pre-health professional students are not aware of this opportunity. Furthermore, they lack the medical scribe knowledge that medical practices are seeking. This dilemma has called for an increase in a number of medical scribe education companies. Pre-health professional students can now take advantage of medical practice opportunities even if they do not have scribe experience or knowledge.
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Great Scribes Nationwide (GSN) is the leading company for medical scribe education. In three years, GSN has trained over 400 medical scribes. They provide specialty-based training, medical scribe certificates, and certificates of specialization. These credentials are in alignment with The Joint Commission and The National Medical Scribe Association, and give students a competitive edge with scribe applications. GSN also provides their students with job search assistance. It is highly recommended that pre-health professional students register for their free mini-course to learn more and get a glimpse of their full education program.
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The following table represents a summary of the work schedule, compensation, and job attainability for different types of scribe employers. The greater number of stars for work schedule represents a more balance schedule with a more adequate number of breaks. The greater number of stars for compensation represents a higher salary. The greater number of stars for attainability represents a greater chance of employment.