Are All Medical Scribe Programs the Same?

Posted by EPPA Scribe on Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Keywords: medical scribe program differences between scribe programs

When choosing a Medical Scribe Program, there are many factors that you want to consider before submitting an application. Most importantly, what you as the Scribe will gain from the experience. With the growing number of Medical Scribe Programs across Minnesota, we asked one of our Scribes, Anna Bergren, to share her experience working for two different companies. 

What was your background before applying for the scribe program?

A: I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Communications Studies and a minor in Asian Language and Literature in 2013. Since undergrad, I have completed my prerequisite science courses and worked full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Patient Care Assistant, and Medical Scribe over the last few years. Additionally, I have continued to enjoy and pursue my own hobbies that reside outside of healthcare. I am an avid gym-goer, food enthusiast, lover of dogs, and enjoy photography as a hobby. I am also excited to share that I have been accepted into the Physician Assistant Program at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN this year!

With your range of experiences, how did you originally choose your first Medical Scribe Program?

A: I had been referred to the first scribe program by the first PA I had shadowed in an Emergency Department wherein scribes of that program were contracted. Scribing was my first healthcare-related job as I began preparing for PA school. I was enthralled by the prospect of witnessing patient encounters first hand and working alongside providers in a field that was initially unfamiliar to me. Additionally, it became evident that scribing would behoove me as a prospective PA student given the constant exposure to, usage, and application of medical terminology. Getting a glimpse of the medical decision making processes behind treating patients has continued to be extremely invaluable.

What was your first Medical Scribe Program experience?

A: While the providers themselves and experiences remain unforgettable, the training and lack of consistency of this scribe program left something to be desired. One of the most frustrating aspects pertained mostly to the gray areas of training and the level of engagement with the patient charts. Even as I became a senior scribe, training new scribes posed somewhat of a challenge, given how inconsistent charting would oftentimes be. There were portions of a patient’s chart in which scribes would either be instructed to leave alone entirely, or complete—provider permitting. What was left untouched by scribes—most often the MDMs and physical exams—would then be managed by the provider. There were phases wherein the company would suggest that all scribes refrain from completing a certain part of a patient’s chart, but more often than not, this remained a gray area of inconsistency. I felt these inconsistencies likely and justifiably frustrated providers, as several providers later preferred to not utilize scribes at all.

When did you decide to apply with the EPPA Medical Scribe Program?

A: After going on a short hiatus from scribe work (as there is a 1-year non-compete between scribe programs), I was uncertain at the time whether or not I would be accepted to PA school. I knew I wanted to return to scribing, but was looking for a scribe program that would potentially provide opportunities to scribe within a new setting while still maintaining a productive learning environment. I had known about EPPA for only a couple years prior to applying.

So you applied and were hired at EPPA, what differences did you initially notice?

A: The level of engagement with patient charts has enabled me to learn so much more in terms of what goes into MDMs, the medical decision making processes behind dispositions, etc. As a result, I am becoming more familiar with not only physical exams and lab results, but with the diagnostic process as well. Additionally, most EPPA providers are engaging and willing to teach in addition to seeing patients even with patient population and frequency being much higher than the previous program. The environment of working alongside fellow scribes, each with their own unique stories, backgrounds, and aspiring goals, has only added an incredibly invaluable layer of learning. I have personally enjoyed connecting with others of similar or differing aspirations.

How has your employment with EPPA benefited your path to PA School?

A: I have enjoyed the way EPPA provides in-person orientations and supportive/educational opportunities ranging from educational seminars to personal statement writing workshops. This not only allows for scribes to be engaged in EPPA as a scribe company, but as prospective healthcare professionals working alongside providers geared towards teaching. My experience with EPPA has enabled me to maintain familiarity with medical terminology, as well as see into the medical decision making processes incorporated in each patient encounter. Learning about physical exams, pertinent findings, and being sufficient with and applying medical terminology at such a high frequency will undoubtedly prove helpful as I begin PA school in May 2018.  

Any words of advice for future scribes that are deciding between different companies?

A: My advice is to seek out a scribe program that will not only provide an open and conducive learning environment that complements your future healthcare-related goals, but will also give back to you; EPPA does exactly that in the way of educational seminars, guest speakers, and workshops geared towards supporting your goals. Look for a company that whole-heartedly understands that the job of a scribe is most often times a stepping-stone position. And while your time as a scribe may or may not be short as you decide on your healthcare profession, make every patient encounter and experience a learning opportunity!

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