Medical scribing is a great way to not only get clinical experience for your medical school application but also make some money while you pursue a career in medicine. As you can imagine, throughout 2020 and 2021, it has been very difficult for scribes to get into hospitals and do their job the same way they typically have. We caught up with Binh Le from ProScribe to get some insight into what it’s been like for scribes during COVID-19.
Before we begin, it’s important to understand:
What is a medical scribe? During medical examinations or other periods of time when physicians and patients are in direct contact, a medical scribe records physician-patient encounters in real-time finds patients and information for physicians, and completes forms needed for patient care.
What type of facility are you working at?
“I work at a private clinic in Nebraska. I started in January of 2020, so just shortly before COVID started. It has five floors with different specialties, most of them being general practitioners. I work with a Geriatrician, who specializes in memory but, we also cover a host of other diagnoses and care plans. At this clinic, there are two types of scribing. There’s one where you are a team care scribe- which is someone who takes vitals and rooms patients. There’s also a care provider on the team that does all the rooming, taking vitals, and making sure certain health maintenance history is updated, but otherwise, a scribe just scribes for one physician. So, for me, I only scribe with the Geriatrician that I’m with.”
Has the type of healthcare career you are interested in pursuing evolved since you started scribing during COVID?
“Currently, I am applying to Medical School and waiting for interviews.
[COVID] hasn’t changed my desire to pursue medicine, but it has given me perspective about the way patients think about diseases, especially as widespread as the pandemic has been. Nebraska is a rural state, and in the smaller towns, we experience patients who are less exposed to COVID, so their thought process is different. I.e. “Why should we get vaccinated or try to be careful when we don’t encounter that many people with COVID?” That’s something my Physician discusses quite a bit. COVID has really added to how I view a patient and how they might view what’s going on in the world. The patients in the city are much more aware of the virus and its dangers.”
Are there any procedures or regulations that were surprising to you?
“I wouldn’t say so. With an airborne disease, masks and hand washing is pretty commonplace.”
What was the biggest challenge you have been faced with that is different from life Pre-COVID?
“Personally, not too many challenges. Telehealth was difficult to get up and running. Getting the iPad and zoom to work and teaching our patients how to get it working was pretty easy for me, but it might be difficult for other scribes.”
How has your day-to-day routine changed with the protocols in place?
“Pre-COVID I didn’t come in and wash my hands right away every day. But now, I change my mask and wash my hands, and also clean my laptop at the beginning and end of the day. Pre-COVID I didn’t do that. I don’t know if this is common in a lot of clinics, but in ours, we didn’t clean after every patient, like the table and chairs. We would if they had upper respiratory symptoms, but otherwise, like a bruised finger, we wouldn’t. Now, we clean after every patient, and it does take a lot of time away from us.”
What has been the most rewarding experience as a scribe during COVID?
“The ability to learn about perspectives. Being raised in the city of Omaha, I don’t encounter many people in rural Nebraska. I come in contact with groups that view healthcare and science differently, or what you might think is commonplace.”
What has been the most eye-opening or difficult experience as a scribe during COVID?
“Hearing my Physician talk to patients about why the vaccine is important and why we want to keep the practices and regulations in place. It gets repetitive and tiring because you know you aren’t going to get through to some of these patients. It becomes a challenge because it takes up a lot of time, and in turn, that takes away time for other patients.”
Has COVID changed your perspective on Healthcare Professions or the Medical Field at all? How?
“Maybe for Healthcare Professionals. I know that they are educators. I just didn’t realize how much educating you would have to do with things you might have thought were common sense. The education piece is really important whether you are trying to become any kind of healthcare provider, whether it be a nurse or physician.”
Is there anything you would like to add? Any advice or encouragement for those wanting to get into the medical field but have reservations due to the pandemic?
“With any job in the medical field, there will always be changes with scientific or clinical discoveries. But with the pandemic, it’s shown how quickly the landscape can change. If that scares you, then maybe the medical field isn’t for you. If it excites you, that it’s always changing- there’s something always being discovered, even if it’s negative, this is an exciting career for you.”
Interested in becoming a scribe? ProScribe is currently hiring in-person and virtual medical scribes across the country! If you are interested in gaining healthcare experience and learning more about the medical field firsthand, please visit our website to see what positions are available in your area! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Sourcing and Outreach Manager, Brittney Petrovics at [email protected].