Getting into medical school is very difficult. There are hundreds of things you can do to make your application stand out. However, premed students are extremely busy with the difficult courses we must take so sometimes compromises must be made to get everything done.
For example, shadowing hours. Most medical schools want to see that you shadowed a physician before applying. But what if you scribed, could you use that in place of shadowing?
Does Scribing Count As Shadowing?
Technically speaking, scribing does not count as shadowing when you list this experience on your medical school application. However, practically speaking, scribing has become more and more evident to medical school admissions committees as more involved shadowing. Therefore, many medical schools will view scribing as shadowing hours if you lack traditional shadowing hours.
Scribing is a fairly new way for premed students to receive clinical experience. During the first few years that scribing was a thing, few medical schools actually understood it to be what it actually was. Because of this, medical schools were more skeptical of students claiming that scribing was the same as shadowing.
However, as scribing has become more and more popular, virtually all admission committee members understand that every scribe shadows their physicians to obtain an accurate report of the electronic record.
In my opinion, scribing includes everything you can get from simply shadowing a physician but forces you to really pay attention to everything that is happening. In other words, scribing is shadowing on steroids.
You may not put your scribing hours into the “shadowing” section of the medical school general application, but it can certainly be viewed as shadowing by the medical schools you are applying to.
What Counts As Shadowing Experience
By definition, shadowing is any experience that involves closely following a physician while she or he progresses through their workday. You are gaining first-hand experience of what it is like to be a doctor, how they treat their patients, and the everyday struggles they go through.
Traditionally, shadowing is unpaid and includes following any kind of medical specialty. Whether that specialty is working in a private clinic or a level one trauma center.
Knowing this general definition of shadowing, we can make the connection that scribing is much like shadowing. As a scribe, you literally follow the doctor around all day and record all the pertinent information they receive from the patients they treat.
Further Reading: Shadowing A Physician (Everything A Premed Needs To Know)
Scribing Vs Shadowing
As I’ve stated in this article, in practice scribing and shadowing are very similar if not the same thing. But of course, there are some key differences.
Can You Get Into Medical School With Scribing Experience But No Shadowing Experience?
Yes, you can. Medical schools look at your application holistically. If other aspects of your application such as clinical experience or your MCAT score are strong, these can make up for a lack of shadowing experience which is normally very important. Plus more and more medical schools understand that scribing is a lot like shadowing.
There are plenty of premed students who get into medical school without shadowing experience every year, don’t be discouraged if you haven’t had the opportunity.
Is Scribing Better Than Shadowing?
In some ways, scribing is better than shadowing. It’s paid, observing the physician is more active because you must record everything, and it can also count as clinical experience.
However, shadowing physicians does have its advantages. One advantage is that you have more control of who you shadow.
Most scribes end up scribing ER physicians because they are the kinds of physicians that need scribes the most. Although there are scribes for other specialties, you are often restricted to where the needs in the market are.
Shadowing, on the other hand, gives you more opportunities to shadow other specialties. You are only limited to the number of different physicians you are willing to reach out to!
Also, scribing can be pretty intense and stressful sometimes. Shadowing is generally laid back and chill. You aren’t paid so you aren’t expected to perform well. However, make sure you are always professional!
Does Scribing Count As Clinical Experience?
Yes, scribing is considered clinical experience. This is sometimes debated because you aren’t interacting with patients as a scribe.
However, scribes do work closely with physicians and other health care workers. Because of this, the medical school’s across the board view scribing as clinical experience.
Is Scribing Good For Medical School?
As a scribe, you are allowed to work closely with physicians. Not only are you following them around all day, but you are performing an important task for them, completing their electronic chart.
Because of this, scribing requires that you have a solid understanding of medical terminology and how to pinpoint the relevant information in a medical examination.
Medical schools understand how much you learn as a scribe and therefore value this experience. Not only does is the stuff you learn relevant for medical school but you also get the first-hand experience of what it’s like to be a physician.
How To Become A Medical Scribe
Becoming a medical scribe is much easier than you might think.
There are large scribing companies all over the united states which seek out premed students who have no experience scribing. They then train you to be a scribe and before you know it you are recording information in electronic medical charts.
After obtaining around a year of experience, you then have the opportunity to seek higher-paying scribe jobs with private clinics. Physicians running their own practices do not want to hire people without scribing experience because they usually do not have the time or resources to train them.
How Many Hours Of Shadowing Do You Need For Med School?
Although there is no magic number of shadowing hours you need for medical school, we recommend 100 hours.
Medical schools like seeing shadowing hours because it shows that you have a better understanding of what a career in medicine is like. Ideally, you want to shadow multiple different doctors as well in order to demonstrate an even better understanding of the industry as a whole.
Therefore, you can get by with fewer hours if you can demonstrate elsewhere in your application that you have a good idea of what you are getting yourself into. Scribing can definitely help demonstrate this because it is essentially the same as shadowing a physician.