Scribing is a great experience for pre-meds, but the learning curve can be pretty steep at first. In addition to learning how to type fast, you need to get used to “medical lingo.” Getting used to this “medical lingo” doesn’t only entail learning abbreviations and scientific terminology, but also learning how to construct an HPI (history of present illness) as a doctor would. Here are 5 medical scribing tips that will greatly improve your scribing abilities.
Scribing Tip #1 Practice Typing
Okay, this one is obvious, so I’ll put it up as number 1. You will become a faster typer overtime when working as a scribe.
But, if you want to learn how to scribe faster, there are also plenty of free online sources to practice your typing with.
Just google “free typing tests” and you will find a bunch of websites. I personally used this typing test over and over to improve my typing speed.
When I started scribing, it was very difficult to keep up with the physician. But as I developed the muscle memory to type faster and I learned how to take short cuts with my notes, the job became easier and easier.
Scribing Tip #2 Read Books About Medicine
If you really want to know how to improve your scribing skills, reading books about medicine is the way to go.
And I don’t mean cracking out large medical textbooks, I’m referring to reading stories about doctors.
There are plenty of great books about the lives of doctors out there. Although they may be written for entertainment purposes, they still have plenty of medically related themes that only a doctor would write about. These themes will help you get into the doctor mindset.
If you want to take this a step further, you could read some books that are written for the purpose of teaching medicine. A great example is the case files series. These books are based on a bunch of different patient scenarios, that require you to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
It may be interesting to try and solve some of these cases after you have been scribing for a couple of months, and really see how much you are learning.
Here are some books about medicine that I enjoyed. They are full of medical lingo (and they are motivational!)
- Hot lights, Cold Steel
- Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes On An Imperfect Science
- The House of God
- Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs
- Cutting For Stone
Scribing Tip #3 Look Up Stuff You Don’t Know About
Every day you work, your doctor will bring up some kind of diagnosis or procedure that you are clueless about. You could just copy down what he or she says and call it a day. But if you’re smart, you’ll ask them about it. And if it’s too busy to ask you can simply google it.
When you understand what the doctor is talking about, you’ll find that writing reports is much easier because you will be quicker to connect the dots between symptoms, physical exam, and diagnosis.
Not only this, but the point of scribing is to learn something and therefore become a more competitive applicant for medical school. Learning is a two-way street, you will have to do some research on your end.
Further Reading: 4 Ways Scribing Can Make Medical School Easier
Scribing Tip #4 Read Other Doctor’s/PA’s Notes.
Working in a hospital gives you the liberty of being able to go into anyone’s chart. You can’t reveal any information in these charts due to HIPAA, but you can review the charts for your own learning experience.
If you go through your hospital’s patient tracker, you’ll find that there are a lot of charts filled out by PA’s and other scribes. Reviewing these charts will give you a better idea of how medical professionals think, and what needs to be filled out in order to produce a more valuable chart.
A chart is more valuable when you fill out all the appropriate fields. When all the appropriate fields are filled, the insurance companies will give a higher reimbursement to the hospital.
Scribing Tip #5 Listen To Advice… And Criticism
Chances are, you will be working along side with other scribes. If you come across something that you don’t know, just ask. Both scribes and providers are always happy to offer assistance.
You will also receive criticism at some point. It is not your fault, of course, you’re new and still learning, but nonetheless, you will make mistakes and receive criticism for those mistakes.
It can be discouraging. But if you use that criticism to improve your scribing abilities instead of pouting, you’ll find that you will improve in areas you thought you couldn’t improve in. Even areas outside of scribing, such as the ability to multitask or an improvement in efficiency.
Is Medical Scribing Hard?
After reading this, you might come to the assumption that being a medical scribe is hard. Maybe even unmanageable for some.
But truth is, scribing is not very difficult.
Yes, there is a learning curve. But anything worthwhile has a learning curve. The reality is, scribing is a very particular skill. Once you have enough scribing experience, it will become second nature.
Get through the initial learning curve and scribing is a piece of cake!
All of these tips are great for new scribes. But even more important, these tips are important for the pursuit of medicine in general. Medical school is competitive, so any skills that you can develop before applying is a huge benefit.
Follow these scribing tips religiously and you will be impressing physicians left and right!