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Medical Asst. or Scribe?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Veritas86, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. Veritas86

    Veritas86

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    In your opinion, which would be better experience?
  2. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Depends what you want to get out of it. In my experience, MA is similar in many ways to ED Tech (although the MA position varies by where you work, as does ED Tech). I personally enjoyed my experiences as an MA and ED Tech more than Scribing, but Scribing probably taught me more. I would also say that Scribing made me a much better MA and ED Tech.
  3. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    Scribe. You get lots of contact with both patients and physicians. Boom. As an MA the physician might not even know your name.
  4. BeanDip4All

    BeanDip4All emt-abcdefgh

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    what pays better ;)

    + vote for scribe here
  5. Cambino

    Cambino

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    I work as an ER Scribe and I absolutely love how much patient contact/willingness of the doctors to go out of his/her way to teach you (at least at my hospital).
    Scribe +! :thumbup:
  6. physcigirl27

    physcigirl27

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    I think I've learned more as a scribe than in school for the past 4 years. If your location is lucky enough to have some awesome doctors, than def do that. The physicians I've had the privilege of working with are probably the most helpful people I've met and my biggest cheerleaders when throughout this entire crazy process.
  7. Sabio23

    Sabio23 Bend Don't Break.

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    I agree with the posts above, Scribing is amazing and it really allows you to get a snapshot of how medicine works (at least in the ER). Not to mention the relationships you build with the doctors in the ER.
  8. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    It's obvious which one more premeds have done. ;)

    Scribing is a good option. They are both variable and it largely depends upon the facility.

    MA will almost always pay more, though, because it's a position generally employed by the hospital system itself (assuming you're in a hospital-based position); whereas Scribes are generally through a physician's group or a physician management company, which means that a large cut of your pay (from the group's perspective) is actually taken by the management company. When I worked as a Scribe, we all made $10/hr without benefits (no pay raise for experience). The MA position I currently hold pays about $14/hr with benefits (and, of course, pay adjustment for experience).

    I would say that working as an MA and Scribe teach one different things. They are both quite helpful in understanding classes like Physio better and make connections....
  9. CodeBlu

    CodeBlu Van Wilder Lifetime Donor

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    This. :D
  10. confidence1985

    confidence1985

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    Medical Assistant IMO. I work in a Doctor's office and he has helped me tremendously with getting ready to apply. He always go out the way to answer any questions I have about medicine. I have tons of interactions with patients and I actually feel like I make a difference. I loved it and like people say the pay is better. But I think both pretty awesome.
  11. shbecs

    shbecs

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    I have been working as a scribe for several months alongside a physician, and right across from my desk is our MA. From the differences in my job from the MA's, I would choose being a scribe, hands down. The MA's job focuses more on administrative work such as ordering tests/scans, coding, scheduling, bringing patients in/out, etc. If you're interested in that work, that's fine. However, my work focus a LOT more on scientific and clinical knowledge/application and having the problem-solving mindset of a physician, and my work actually directly assists with the diagnoses. I also seem to spend more time with the patient than the MA does. In general, MAs make more because they are an established position in health care with an actual degree (which will take you more time to obtain if you're willing to do that), but scribes will have a whole lot more directly-related experience that they can talk about during medical school interviews. Thus, I think a scribe position will have a better change of getting you into medical school. If you want a ton more details, shoot me a PM.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  12. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    It all depends on your job description. I am an MA and have done a lot clinic work: EKG, assisting surgeons in minor procedures, lumbar punctures, phlebotomy, chieft complaint and vitals signs... Etc. I don't do administrative work, I only deal with patient care.... To the OP, I would say whatever gives you the most exposure to treating a patient.
  13. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    How being a scribe assist in the diagnosis? Do you have relevant medical knowledge to do that? I am just wondering
  14. shbecs

    shbecs

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    As I work with the doctor in interviewing the patient and record the histories and physical examination findings, but he makes me pay particular attention to the symptoms and signs that are key to the differential diagnosis.

    Many scribe companies will teach you relevant medical terminology and knowledge. My job is somewhat unique because I didn't go through a scribe company. I went straight to the doctor and learned everything I needed to know from him on the job. I also had some previous medical knowledge from my master of science in medical sciences.

    But you do bring up a valid point that it depends on your job description. So for anyone considering either a scribe or MA, I would look intently into the job description and make sure that he or she will be working very closely with the physician and having to do a good amount of clinical work. However, I think the scribe position is more geared towards pre-meds, is a quicker way to getting clinical experience, and establishes that mentor-apprentice relationship as that of an attending and the resident. MA will take longer to obtain (1-2 years?) and I'm not sure if people are willing to wait that long. MA also is a more permanent career path.
  15. estradiol9

    estradiol9

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    This isn't true. I make more as a scribe and I've only been working for a few months. I also have awesome benefits and will get a raise after each yearly evaluation. Another scribe at my hospital has been working for 4 years and makes $20+ an hour.
  16. estradiol9

    estradiol9

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    Oh and you have to invest quite a bit of money just to become an MA. The MA programs here are about 18 months long as a full time student and expensive. I was paid for my training as a scribe which took about 6 weeks full time. Plus I was paid travel time back and forth from the training location.

    I work very closely with the doctors. They go out of their way to show me things or explain. They do not do this for the ER techs who work in our ED.
  17. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    I see. It must be a good learning experience I bet. I agree that traditional pre-meds wouldn't do an extra 18 months of training to become an MA.
  18. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    That might be true, but again it all depends where do you work, for who, etc. People that work at a Doctors's office probably don't make as much as one working for the county hospital. At least this is my experience...
  19. sunflower18

    sunflower18 Master of Naps

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    Question for all you scribers --

    I am interested in becoming a scribe as well, but the local company requires you to work three 8-hour shifts a week. Honestly, that seems like a lot to me. Do you guys work that much? If so, is it worth it? Can you do other ECs and keep your grades up? My ECs are currently about 20 hours a week, and I cannot imagine more than doubling that amount to take on scribing.

    Any insight would be lovely :)
  20. Stumpyman

    Stumpyman

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    You're right, that is a lot. Generally, part time means 2 shifts, at anywhere from 15-20 hours/week. I wouldn't do 25+ hours unless it's my gap year, I really need the money, or I'm taking very few classes and I'm not that busy with other stuff.
  21. sunflower18

    sunflower18 Master of Naps

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    That's much more reasonable. If this company allowed 16 hours a week instead of 24, I'd totally do it. But trying to do, when all is said and done, 45 hours of ECs along with 21 hours of class a week (not to mention studying, which ends up taking at least 15 hours a week).. No thanks :D I'll get enough of that in med school / residency, thankyouverymuch.
    It's just sad, because being a scribe seems like such an amazing experience.
  22. Stumpyman

    Stumpyman

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    Yeah, I'd just advise you to do however much you can handle. Scribing is great, and I loved my experience as a scribe, but I would still hold academics to a higher degree of importance.
  23. shbecs

    shbecs

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    You really have to choose which battles to fight. I agree with everyone else: academics first, because that and your MCAT will get your foot in the door. Then choose either to go for only ECs or only scribing as the icing on top. It sounds like they each take up equal time for you, and you won't be able to do just half of each.
  24. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    How does working for a national scribe company work? I've read websites and they tell almost nothing. How long is training and is it online or in-class? Does one typically work at one hospital, or multiple hospitals in a general region? Do they pay for relocation?
  25. Stumpyman

    Stumpyman

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    Don't know about all companies but this is how mine does it:

    Scribe company is a private company that has contracts with hospitals all over the US. Hospitals pay scribes, scribe company is the middle man and takes a cut out of that rate, and the normal rate ends up being about $10/hr. It's in class training, with 1-3 tests that you must pass (I wish they'd make it online, going in class is virtually pointless as they just read off the slides). You only work at one hospital, and I don't think they'd ever pay for relocation, as they don't give benefits or anything of the like.

    :)
  26. Dranger

    Dranger

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    MA. You actually get some hands-on patient care with vitals, H/P,small procedures etc...
  27. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    This is, by far, the exception and not the rule. I am actually looking at creating an extension program of an existing ED Scribe program that would place Scribes in Drs' offices in the local area in a dual MA-Scribe role to help ease the burden of gov't regulations requiring physicians' offices to adopt EMR/EHR systems (which are known to GREATLY reduce efficiency -- to the point where they suggest taking no more than 3 pts/doc/day for the first few months and then slowly easing back toward 60-80% of the pre-EMR/EHR pt load/doc). Looking at the market, using Scribes in an intern-role, we could easily fill positions by paying $8-10/hr (which is a selling pt for us in getting docs on board with using Scribes instead of registered MAs). On the other hand, the MA market would require us to pay upwards of $13/hr starting.

    Sure, to become an RMA takes ~18 mos, but no one said you had to become an RMA to work as an MA. Other credentials can often take the place of an RMA with far less training time (e.g., EMT-B + IV training). It all depends upon the needs in your area. I got a job floating as an MA with my EMT, some ED Tech experience, and other relevant experience. I get paid well and never had to spend money or time on an MA course....
  28. ManBroDude

    ManBroDude Half man, half bearpig

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    Think of scribing as a medical apprenticeship, and then it'll make sense that it's the better choice.

    I honestly don't think I would have gotten in this cycle if I didn't have 1000+ hours in the ED so far as a scribe. Working as an MA or a tech looks better on PA school apps which require hands-on patient care.
  29. Gaborik10

    Gaborik10

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    Should I just apply with the national websites that are the first results of my google search or are there usually better local options? And if there are, what's the best way to find those? Calling the hospitals? Thanks.
  30. BuSyDaZe

    BuSyDaZe *On the Move*

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    Definitely disgaree with this statement. The job description of an MA all depends on whether you're hired as a Administrative Medical Assistant or a Clinical Medical Assistant. As a clinical MA, I have constant patient care/interaction on a daily basis. The job description of the MA you work with seems to fit the title of a Administrative Medical Assistant.

    And, a position as a scribe definitely has no more leverage in the application process than an MA. As long as the OP can gain clinical exposure through his/her work experience and can learn from that process, the OP should be fine either way.

    Definitely agree:thumbup:
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  31. BuSyDaZe

    BuSyDaZe *On the Move*

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    I don't feel it's the number of hours you accrue, but the learning experience you take from it.

    Hands-on patient care is good for any medically related application.:p;)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  32. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    The Bottom line is to get clinical experience.
  33. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    Agree with the hands-on patient care
  34. Planets

    Planets

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    Scribe. You're going to be essentially shadowing but getting familiar with all of the conditions, tests, treatments, discharge instructions. It's much more than being an MA taking vitals and giving shots (and everything in between)
  35. IV Zulu VI

    IV Zulu VI

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    I have been a scribe for a little over 3 months, and it has by far been the most meaningful Pre-Med experience. I get great patient interaction, and working aside physicians allows me to really understand what it means to become an ER doc atleast.

    +Scribe
  36. kasho11

    kasho11

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    Just applied to 3 diff scribe companies. Hopefully I'll hear something back from one. Seeing as most of these scribe organizations seem to be separate from the hospitals themselves, would there be any benefit in trying to contact the hospitals directly regarding scribing? Or is my only hope to find and apply to all the scribe companies I can?
  37. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Connections are your best way in. Contacting the hospital would do you no good (at least here) as scribes are not hospital employees. (Not to mention the simple fact that no hospital HR dept cares who calls in asking for a job.... They'll simply tell you to apply and see what happens.) If you know someone who knows the scribe manager/director/lead, they may be able to get you in. I know that a number of the applicants to our hospital's program who have name-dropped my name have done quite well in getting a job. They've also turned out to be excellent scribes ;)
  38. IV Zulu VI

    IV Zulu VI

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    I was hired after contacting the company, I do not think contacting the hospital will do much for you.
  39. estradiol9

    estradiol9

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    And to become an EMT you still have to sit through a 6 month course here. Then if you want to work as an MA you need to be trained with phlebotomy, starting IVs, and doing EKGs. It's still much more training time than for a scribe. The other two scribe jobs I applied for were around the same ballpark in regards to pay but I think a little less than the one I was hired for.

    As an EMT and a scribe, I value both of my experiences tremendously but if I had to pick one I would pick scribe because of the relationships I developed with attending physicians. I would not have been able to develop such a close relationship as an EMT or an ER tech/MA. Scribes follow their attendings everywhere - into the rooms with patients, etc. They get an inside look at the physician's thinking process while creating a differential diagnosis, ordering certain tests, and creating a treatment plan. The ER techs at the ED I work at don't get this. Sure, the docs know their names but their communication is pretty much limited to, "Hey can you do an EKG on 3, thanks!".
  40. Dranger

    Dranger

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    Well according to SDN being a scribe is better clinical experience than RN, RT, paramedic or any other health care profession that requires other schooling/training. Not sure if the college pre meds are jealous of people with past experience or need to justify their clinical experience that requires no training with promoting scribe above all else.

    I worked in the ER in high school as a transporter and scribes are literally just notepads. The notion that scribes are even familiar (besides a basic idea) with what the doc is doing treatment/diagnosis is simply misguided
    Scribes have the advantage of being in a fast paced HC environment running around with a doc, that is all.

    I still say MA because their duties vary a lot depending on the employment..
  41. Heavens Cloud

    Heavens Cloud

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    HAHAHA:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

    I can write a decent differential diagnosis and predict almost every patients course of care after just 1 year. Sure, when I started I didn't know ANYTHING (what's a CVA?), but this job truly teaches you medicine from the doctor's view. An attending told me that we're more ready to actually take care of people than most interns fresh out of medical school.
  42. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    Jajaja, a scribe, who has not finish undergrad, more ready to take care of patients than an intern MD who has taken step 1 and 2 of the medical licensing process????
  43. music2doc

    music2doc Student of Mad Doctoring

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    Honestly, even a veteran RN saying this would be laughable. As a scribe, your knowledge is extremely limited. Your background is nonexistent. Yes, you've followed a doc around and made notes and learned things here and there. That's great. It's great background to have when you enter medical school, but to say you can "write a decent differential diagnosis and predict almost every patient's course of care" is a pretty big statement to make. Sure, as an EMT to the ED, I often have a good idea of what a patient is there for when they present to us from Triage, but to say you are able to differentially diagnose....

    I've worked as a Scribe, MA, ED Tech, and (ED & IP) Behavioral Health Tech, and of those BH Tech (all ED Tech responsibilities + did psych assessments and treatments) > ED Tech ~ MA > Scribe. ED Techs can certainly go through their careers w/o learning from the docs, but if you want to learn, they'll teach you. Scribing is an awesome experience but it really doesn't hold a candle to a good ED Tech or MA experience since both can envelope the responsibilities of a Scribe and greatly surpass them. (MAs in many settings are actually used as in-room transcriptionists in addition to their check-in duties and can actually assist the doc in ways a Scribe cannot due to insurance issues.)

    Agreed. Said doc was either kidding or didn't think through his statement very well.
  44. Dranger

    Dranger

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    Trollolololol? Yup.
  45. MichiganPremed

    MichiganPremed

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    Being a scribe is an incredible opportunity to see what an ED attending really does, and to truly learn about the practice of medicine. Scribing puts you lightyears ahead of your peers in any number of situations regarding patient interaction, SOAP notes, assigning a DDx and on and on. I've been scribing for 2 years and 2 months, and I am now Chief of my team. I cannot comment on the job of a MA, except to say that I know some truly idiotic people who have managed to become one. Scribing is incredible. You get out what you put in, and you can learn so SO much from the 8+ hour direct interaction with an attending. They will go out of their way to show, teach, demonstrate and educate you, and it is a wealth of opportunity for letters of recommendation and for networking. To say that a scribe knows nothing is to not understand what we do. An attending trusts us with their medical-legal record. This is not something to be taken lightly. Physicians have told us that they now hate to work without us. There is no greater satisfaction than that!
  46. billy2908

    billy2908

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    I just got hired as a scribe and afar from being a "notepad", I still do have to learn medical terminology, different type of labs, and examination procedures. I'm very aware my current job is limited to typing down what the doctor does, but I also know that in order to do this job effectively I at least need to know what he's doing. But onto more specific shift hours / pay questions:

    My current workload is 11 hrs/week in a cardiology clinic. I get paid minimum, I'm not looking at scribing as a career but more of a stepping stone to where I want to get to. Overall, I would say scribing is at least a great way to see if you want to be in the health field without having to invest time or money compared to other entry level positions. As a career though, I think med schools would like to see me having experience in a wider variety of positions.
  47. BeanDip4All

    BeanDip4All emt-abcdefgh

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    teehee.

    every sector of medicine seems to have it's unique yet ridiculous spiel of

    " ____ is better than _____ at x because (dumb reason here)."

    a big one in emt-b programs is "emt-bs are better at big traumas than paramedics because they just get the patients the f to the hospital and don't screw around on scene." if you look in some other threads on here there's a podiatrist vs ankle ortho going on right now.

    what's the dumbest one we can come up with?
  48. mlm414

    mlm414

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    This is true! I took a night course in my city that was 6 hrs a week, and lasted 4 months! All to become a MA. Then took the national exam a week later and became a CMA! The course was $2,400 & included everything. As well as EKG and phlebotomy training! FAFSA covered the course for me! There was also a company that helped you with job placement in your desired specialty (pediatrics, Family medicine, emergency med, derm, cardiology). I'm planning to look into a medical scribe position though. But I don't for a second regret becoming a CMA! Super quick and easy hands on course. I wouldn't fall for the online MA courses though.
  49. Geebeejay

    Geebeejay

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    MA. Way more contact with patients, much more meaningful and hands-on, and the physician will know your name if you put yourself out there, introduce yourself and work hard.
  50. Geebeejay

    Geebeejay

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    and already taken care of patients as a third/fourth year :rolleyes:

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