The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants, or CASPA, recently updated guidelines for applicants’ clinical experience, pushing scribing into a sort of “grey area”. Many schools will count scribing towards your direct patient healthcare experience, though the CASPA website downgraded its classification into the “health care experience” category rather than the “direct patient care experience” category.
In short, you will have to reach out to individual schools to find out their policy on scribing.
What Is Scribing?
The common misconception about all scribing positions is that it is merely sitting at a desk, updating paperwork. While this might be true for some agencies, the vast majority of medical applicants describe their scribing experience as deeply beneficial to understanding the medical industry.
In reality, a scribe is a physician’s shadow. Their job is foremost to support physicians’ productivity and efficiency with patients.
As a scribe, you might follow a doctor throughout their shift, writing down the notes while observing each patient, including things like the physical exam, medical history, history of present illness, and so on. You might also follow up on orders like x-rays or PET scans, and check in on lab work or prescription statuses.
Most P.A. applicants would argue that scribing experience educated them on patient-doctor interactions as well as the process of medical evaluations that include an interpretation of the patient’s symptoms and history.
PA School Healthcare Experience: HCE Vs PCE
CASPA is very clear, however, in its definition of scribing versus other clinical experience for applications.
On their website, they define patient care experience (PCA) as experiences in which you are directly responsible for a patient’s care. This responsibility might include prescribing medicine, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, or designing a treatment regime as a nurse, paramedic, EMT, phlebotomist, physical therapist, dental hygienist, etc.
ALternatively, health care experience (HCE) is work in the health or health-related field where you are not directly responsible for a patient’s care but may still have patient interaction. This time of experience is helpful but lower quality on an application.
HCE work examples include filling prescriptions, performing clerical work, delivering patient food, cleaning patients, taking vitals, or record keeping information. CASPA specifically references scribing, CNA, and medical assistants as examples of HCE.
List of PA schools that count scribing as PCE
While there is no “master list” of PA schools that will count scribing toward clinical experience hours, from our own research (up to date as of early 2021), we have been able to confirm these PA schools do accept scribing as PCE hours. Note, in some cases schools may not weigh PA hours as heavily as other PCE experiences:
- Alderson-Broaddus University
- Arcadia University
- Arizona School of Health Science
- Barry University
- Clarkson University
- Creighton University
- Eastern Virginia Medical School
- Emory University
- Faulkner University
- Franklin College
- Marshall B. Ketchum University
- Medical University of South Carolina
- Northern AZ University
- Northwestern University
- Nova Southeastern – Fort Lauderdale
- Radford University
- Rocky Vista University
- Rosalind Franklin University
- Rush University
- Samuel Merritt University
- Southern CA University of Health Science
- Sullivan University
- Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
- University of Florida
- University of Bridgeport
- University of La Verne
- University of Tampa
- Wake Forest University
- Westfield State
- Yale Online
Does Scribing Count As Shadowing For PA School?
Scribing does not fulfill any shadowing requirement on your application. Physician shadowing is voluntary and typically unpaid. When writing your application, you would want to include scribing as clinical experience as it has more impact than shadowing on your application’s quality.
How To Become a Medical Scribe
If you are interested in becoming a medical scribe, you will need a high school diploma at minimum (which, if you are pursuing medical school, should come as no surprise and should already be part of your education plan!). You will also be expected to show proficiency in typing, computer fluency, and multitasking.
There are many nation-wide scribing agencies that will place you in hospitals local to you! Some examples of these companies are ScribeAmerica, Elite Medical, PhysAssist, and DocAssist.
Some companies and hospitals have their own scribing infrastructure, though you will have to take some time to call places to inquire about their staffing process and might be required to have more experience or training already in your pocket.