How to Become a Medical Scribe

April 25, 2024


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Have you ever considered a career as a medical scribe? Follow along to learn everything you need to know about how to become a medical scribe. 

If you’re passionate about healthcare, you should know that there are various paths you can take to work in the field aside from becoming a doctor or nurse. There are many moving parts to our healthcare system, and each position is an important cog in the grand machine that keeps our population alive and well. For instance: medical scribes.

If you enjoy writing and are looking for experience in the healthcare field, becoming a medical scribe may be the right call for you. Here we discuss what a medical scribe does, the steps to become a medical scribe, salary, FAQs, and more. 

Let’s get started!

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What is a Medical Scribe?

A medical scribe is a health paraprofessional who transcribes medical appointments in real-time. Essentially, the role of a medical scribe is to capture everything said by both a patient and a physician during an encounter. In doing so, the scribe allows the physician to focus solely on patient care without having to worry about writing everything down simultaneously. 

Medical scribes also perform administrative tasks such as locating information, completing forms, and finding patients for doctors. By taking care of clerical work, doctors are free to do what they do best - assessing the health of the patient free from distraction. 

The addition of a medical scribe to a healthcare setting decreases wait times, improves the overall patient experience, and dramatically improves the efficiency and accuracy of physicians. The position has been newly popularized across the US, making the need for new medical scribes increase over the last few years.

How to Become a Medical Scribe

Good news! Becoming a medical scribe is actually quite easy and requires little time or training. In fact, all you technically need to apply for a position as a medical scribe is a high school diploma. Because of this, many premed students choose to become medical scribes to gain experience in a healthcare environment.

That said, each hospital has its own requirements for hiring a medical scribe - so a high school diploma may not always cut it. Here are a few things you can do to increase your eligibility for medical scribe positions:

Take a Medical Scribe Course

There are many medical scribe courses hosted both online and in-person throughout the US and Canada, such as the one offered by the Medical Scribes Training Institute. There are also several colleges that provide medical scribe courses, such as the following:

  • William Paterson University offers an online medical scribe course (6 months) ending in medical scribe certification. The program teaches critical skills such as medical terminology, medical coding, and more. 
  • The Allegany College of Maryland offers an in-person Medical Scribe Specialist certificate in which students learn important skills such as medical terminology, gathering test results, and more. The program consists of nine courses and an 80-hour practicum experience. 
  • Centralia College provides a medical scribe training program (9 months) which ends in certification to students who have successfully completed all 12 courses within the program. 

While these courses are all excellent options, they are not the only ones out there! There are many different courses you can take to become a medical scribe. If you can not find one that suits your needs, taking courses on human anatomy, typing, or biology would help you to learn important skills that will look good on your CV. 

Take a Medical Scribe Certification Exam

If you decide to take a medical scribe course, you may have already obtained certification at the end of the program. However, if you choose to “skip to the end” or feel you do not need to take a course, you can simply take a medical scribe certification exam. 

The Medical Scribe Certification Exam (MSCE) is offered by the American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group. The exam consists of 100 questions and costs $165 to take.. To pass the MSCE you must score at least an 80%. The MSCE is not required by most hospitals in order to be a medical scribe, but it can help improve your applicant profile.

Why Should You Become a Medical Scribe as a Premed?

Becoming a medical scribe is an excellent opportunity for premeds to gain valuable in-person experience in the medical field. Additionally, you’ll be paid while doing so! In fact, becoming a medical scribe may be one of the best premed job options out there.

Medical scribes have only increased in popularity over the past few years, so there are plenty of available positions out there. Not only will you be helping improve the efficiency and accuracy of the healthcare environment, you’ll be one step closer to gaining acceptance to a medical school. 

Ultimately, having experience as a medical scribe looks excellent on a medical school CV. There’s also no training requirement, so obtaining a position will not take away too much time from your busy premed schedule. Our question is, why wouldn’t you become a medical scribe?

Medical Scribe Salary

The average medical scribe salary in the US is $37,012 per year or $15.89 per hour, according to Indeed job reports. The highest paying cities for medical scribes are as follows:

City State Pay Per Hour
New York New York $19.63
Bronx New York $18.49
Tucson Arizona $15.81
Orlando Florida $13.89
Houston Texas $13.45

Indeed also reports that the highest paying state for medical scribes overall is West Virginia, and the top companies are the Phoenix Children's Hospital and Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.

FAQs: Becoming a Medical Scribe

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to become a medical scribe. 

1. Is It Hard To Be A Medical Scribe?

Becoming a medical scribe is relatively easy as it requires little to no training. However, the job itself can be draining, depending on your work environment. Former medical scribe Morgan Carter explained the position as transformative and insightful. She goes on to say:

“Working in a busy clinic or health care setting can be demanding, both in time and energy, but if you stay persistent, humble, reliable, and show kindness to everyone, you will succeed in becoming an invaluable member of the medical team.”

2. Is Being A Medical Scribe Worth It?

Becoming a medical scribe does not take very long and provides valuable experience in a medical setting. For premed students, becoming a medical scribe is absolutely worth the effort. That is, as long as you enjoy typing and clerical work. 

3. What Makes You Qualified to be a Medical Scribe?

There are few regulations across the US in terms of Medical scribe qualifications. In most states, you can become a medical scribe with just a high school diploma. However, there are many different training programs and certifications you can acquire to show employers you are well-prepared for the job. 

4. How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Scribe?

The level of training to become a medical scribe varies between programs and jobs. If you choose to take a medical scribe training program, it may take up to nine months to complete your courses and obtain certification. However, certification is not always required, so you may apply to medical scribe jobs with just a high school diploma and train on the job.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a medical scribe is an excellent job opportunity for premed students who want to gain experience in the healthcare field before medical school. The job not only provides valuable insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of physicians, but it also pays you while doing so! Additionally, little training is required to apply for a position.

If you’re considering applying to become a medical scribe, consider taking a course and/or obtaining a certificate to improve your chances of getting the job. Taking a course will also help you understand what to expect as a medical scribe and allow you the opportunity to decide if it’s right for you before signing up for a job.

Happy scribing!

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