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How to Become a Medical Scribe: 5 Easy Steps Toward a Rewarding Career (2024)

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If you’re interested in a career in healthcare but don’t have the time or resources for extensive education, becoming a medical scribe is an excellent option!

Medical scribes work alongside healthcare providers, documenting patient encounters and assisting with all kinds of tasks.

There’s a huge demand for medical scribes, so it can be a lucrative side gig or a full-time job.

That’s why we’ll take you through everything you need to know on how to become a medical scribe. Follow the five simple steps in this article, and you can start your healthcare career in no time!

An Overview of a Medical Scribe

Medical scribes are healthcare professionals that work alongside physicians and other medical professionals.

They document doctor-patient encounters and assist healthcare providers in a medical setting.

A medical scribe often acts as a physician assistant, taking notes, keeping medical records, and handling some administrative tasks.

As a medical scribe, your job is to free up doctors’ time so they can spend more time and energy focusing on patient care.

Most medical scribes are college students attending medical schools who want to gain experience in a medical setting.

However, anyone can become a medical scribe without going to medical school or having an extensive medical background.

How Much Do Medical Scribes Make?

Working as a medical scribe can be a lucrative side hustle or a full-time job depending on how much time you want to give it.

The pay is usually hourly, so the more time you invest, the more money you can make.

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), medical scribes made an average salary of $37,090/year in 2022, or about $17.83 per hour. The top 90% of medical scribes even made up to $51,280, which was about $24.65 per hour.

Where you fall on the pay spectrum depends on which state you work in and your level of experience.

What You’ll Need to Become a Medical Scribe [& Associated Costs]

In most cases, all you need is a high school diploma to become a medical scribe. However, there are a few other things that might improve your chances of landing a job.

Here’s a breakdown of what you might need:

  • A High School Diploma: The minimum requirement for medical scribes
  • Certification [Optional]: You can take the Medical Scribe Certification Exam, which costs $165.
  • Typing Skills: Some medical scribe jobs require you to have 60+ words per minute (WPM) typing speed.
  • Basic Medical Terminology Knowledge: Most medical terminology courses cost around $100.
  • Medical Scribe Courses [Optional]: These courses can cost from $300 to over $1,000 and usually cover medical terminology, so you won’t need a separate course for it. Online medical scribe courses are typically cheaper than on-campus ones.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Medical Scribe?

If you want to maximize your chances of becoming a medical scribe, you’ll need to take a few courses and receive a medical scribe certification. This will likely cost you about $700 in total.

Some colleges allow you to pay the cost of medical scribe courses in installments, so you might only need to pay a couple hundred bucks at first.

Is It Hard to Become a Medical Scribe?

Becoming a medical scribe is easy. You don’t need much training or experience, although it does help if you have them.

However, the problem with being a medical scribe is although it’s a rewarding job both financially and emotionally, it can be quite draining.

You’ll be making a difference, perhaps even saving people’s lives, but it might be hard to find a work-life balance. This is one of the things people struggle with as medical scribes, so be prepared.

Medical scribes work long hours and often experience workload paralysis, but only when they jump in without knowing the nature of the job.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Medical Scribe?

You can apply for a medical scribe position at any time, but to increase your chances, you’ll want to take a few courses.

Most medical scribe programs take from 6 to 9 months. After that, your employer might assign you a couple of weeks of on-the-job training before you begin.

How to Become a Medical Scribe in Five Simple Steps

If you’re thinking of becoming a medical scribe, all you have to do is follow these five simple steps:

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma

Getting a high school diploma is the minimum requirement to qualify for a medical scribe job, formal training programs, and the Medical Scribe Certification Exam.

If you’re currently getting your high school diploma, aim for a high GPA and focus on biology, computer skills, and writing. Those are the most important things you’ll need for most medical scribe positions.

If you haven’t obtained a high school diploma, you can apply for a GED or complete a high school equivalency program.

Step 2: Consider a Medical Scribe Course

Having a college degree or attending medical school improves your chances of landing a job and standing out among other medical scribes.

However, don’t be discouraged if all you have is a high school diploma. You can always take an advanced degree or course to give you an edge.

There are a lot of medical scribe courses online that cover human anatomy and health sciences. There are also several medical terminology courses to prepare aspiring medical scribes for what they might hear at healthcare facilities.

Some community colleges offer 6- to 9-month medical scribe programs covering everything you need to become a successful medical scribe in the healthcare industry.

Most programs give you a certificate of completion at the end. If you’re interested, you can learn more about remote medical training here.

Step 3: Take the Medical Scribe Certification Exam

If you want to skip the courses, you can take the Medical Scribe Certification Exam immediately. The exam costs $165 and typically contains 100 questions. You need at least 80% to pass the exam, so study well.

The American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group awards you the title of Apprentice Medical Scribe Professional (AMSP), which greatly improves your chances of landing a good job position.

Step 4: Sharpen Your Skills

Medical scribe courses and certificates will help you gain medical knowledge, but you’ll need to work on a few skills to be a successful medical scribe.

For example, part of being a medical scribe entails transferring the notes you’ve taken during patient visits to a digital form. This means you’ll need to sharpen your computer and typing skills.

For computer skills, a basic understanding of Microsoft Office, especially Microsoft Word, should suffice. You might need some electronic medical record (EMR) software skills, but it’ll probably be part of your formal training program when you start the job.

As for your typing skills, try to aim for a speed of 45 to 60+ WPM. Medical settings are fast-paced and highly dynamic, so you’ll have a hard time keeping up if your typing speed is below 45 WPM.

The final skill you should work on is multi-tasking during patient exams. You’ll need to listen, digest information, summarize some parts, and write it down all at the same time.

Learn to pay attention to detail without fixating on the small stuff.

Step 5: Get Clinical Experience in the Medical Field

While formal education and certification are a huge plus, having hands-on medical scribe training is a significant asset. You’ll want to pursue additional training and get clinical experience in the medical field.

Try observing healthcare professionals at hospitals, private practices, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare settings. It’ll help you gain valuable clinical experience and give you an edge when applying for medical scribe jobs.

If you complete 200 hours of official medical scribe work and have your AMSP certificate, you can apply for a Certified Medical Scribe Professional (CMSP) certification.

A CMSP’s salary is typically much higher than that of a non-certified medical scribe.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Medical Scribe

Whether you’re looking for gig jobs or a full-time job, becoming a medical scribe can help you achieve your goals.

Here are reasons why you should consider it:

  • Easier than Medical School: Being a medical scribe allows you to work in healthcare settings without having to attend medical school for years.
  • Low Initial Expenses: It doesn’t cost much to become a medical scribe, even if you decide to enroll in courses or training programs.
  • Highly Rewarding: Being a medical scribe is rewarding both financially and emotionally. You’ll be positively impacting people’s lives while making money.
  • Exposure: Medical scribes get tons of exposure in the medical field which gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and build professional relationships

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Medical Scribes and Medical Transcriptionists?

Medical scribes observe patient interactions during physical exams and take notes, while medical transcriptionists are told what to write down through dictation.

Medial scribes must be present on the job, while medical transcriptionists can work remotely, turning dictations into medical reports.

Here’s an article on how to become a transcriptionist.

Where Does a Medical Scribe Work?

Medical scribes can work in several medical care settings, such as private practices, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.

They can be in specialized departments such as cardiology, oncology, or pediatrics, depending on the needs of the healthcare facility.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If you feel a medical scribe role isn’t for you, here are a few high-income side gigs to check out:

Wrapping Up

Becoming a medical scribe is as easy as following the five simple steps in this article. You don’t need much formal training or an extensive medical background to land a job, but a few courses can help.

With this guide, you’re one step closer to a rewarding healthcare career.

Let us know what you think in the comments, and if you liked the article, share it so others can benefit as well!

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