We understand. It’s a common question. So common in fact that we have included it as the first question asked in our “Frequently Asked Questions” section. And you may not be completely satisfied with the answer “it depends.” So in this blog article, we will go in-depth to further explore the actual pay and salary of your average scribe job.
A quick google search will probably turn up a few results from job boards and academic articles alike, stating a wide range of actual medical scribe pay. For example, ZipRecruiter, a popular job posting board, has a wide range of salaries and hourly rates for medical scribes broken down state-by-state. Washington D.C., for example has a $15.20 per hour minimum wage requirement while nineteen (19) states have a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which is equal to the Federal Minimum Wage. The average hourly pay for scribes is typically just above the minimum wage for the state in which they are working.
The short and honest answer is: “Because it is an entry-level job”. Working as a medical scribe does not require an individual to possess an Associate or Bachelor degree, official certification, or professional coursework of any kind. Medical scribe training can be completed online, at a college, or through an employer. Most scribe candidates are in pre-med undergraduate degree programs or applying to post-graduate, medical school, Physician Assistant (PA), or Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs. Because of this, the overwhelming majority of medical scribes are transitionary in their scribe job and typically work as a medical scribe for 1-3 years to gain experience before moving onto a medical professional program.
The long answer is an oft-repeated “It’s complicated”. Here we will look at a few factors affecting scribe pay.
In general, there are two ways to be employed as a medical scribe. The first is to be directly hired by a healthcare organization and the second is to be hired by a third-party, full-service-type medical scribe service provider. (Full disclosure, ScribeConnect provides a full-service, third-party scribe solution.) In many cases – but not always – candidates will typically find slightly higher hourly rates when directly hired by a healthcare organization. On the other hand, candidates will find that scribe positions are very competitive (there are often many more candidates than positions available- much like when applying to medical school) and candidates tend to find more opportunities and openings through a scribe service provider (such as Scribe America, ProScribe, ScribeConnect, Scribe-X, Helix Scribe Solutions, etc) since the scribe company usually has many contracts in any given area. This leads us to the second reason.
Supply and Demand. Depending on where you live, there may be many more candidate than there are available scribe positions. This principle is universal and does not only apply to medical scribes. For example, doctors are typically paid higher in rural areas of America than their counterparts in cities because there are fewer candidates to fill the open positions hospitals and clinics are hiring for. The same is true for medical scribe openings. Medical scribe candidates in cities may find the competition to be much greater for any given scribe opening and therefore employers do not have to pay as much to attract applicants. Whereas in rural areas, employers will usually need to offer higher rates to attract quality candidates.
The majority of medical scribes are undergraduates seeking valuable experience working in the medical field. The experience individuals gain as a medical scribe has become the number one most preferred medical experience that admission committees at medical schools like to see their candidates possess. Medical scribes work directly with providers day-in and day-out over a period of time and gain invaluable insight into the bedside skills, critical medical decision making thought processes, and a much greater understanding of what being a medical provider is really like.
Overall, being a medical scribe is an entry-level position, may be highly competitive, and comes with some amazing non-monetary value that no other position in healthcare can provide.
Which isn’t to say that a medical scribe job is like flipping burgers or grabbing coffee for executives. Far from it! Watch some of our scribes and scribe alumni videos here to hear more about their actual experience as a scribe.
Medical scribing can be just the beginning of a rewarding pathway to a fulfilling career in medicine. With the right attitude and training in hand, you can fully take advantage of a medical scribe experience and career, regardless of whether or not you’re hired on as part of a third-party, full-service scribe provider, or was hired and trained in-house.
Just to reiterate and to get the 800 pound gorilla out of the way…. In our experience, a scribe directly hired by an in-house program at a healthcare organization tends to make slightly more than one working with a contracted third-party scribe service provider. There. We said it. Even though we provide a full-service scribe program to clinics, physician groups, and hospitals, we are not ashamed to admit that you’ll likely make a little bit more if you were to approach a doctor or clinic to be hired in-house as a scribe.
The reason why there are fewer in-house hired and trained scribes, is because the time, money, and resources to hire and train a scribe sometimes can be very daunting for a healthcare organization to tackle. That’s why companies like ScribeConnect exist, although we are working very hard to make it easier for organizations and providers to hire, train, and retain their own medical scribes. But here are some tips and tricks to earn more as a medical scribe.
Lead scribe, scribe trainer, and scribe manager positions often have a higher base salary than a starting medical scribe job. It does take some time and experience to become a lead scribe of a team, but if you have opportunities to become a lead scribe, scribe trainer, or a scribe site manager, take the initiative and apply for the position.
Especially for in-house scribes, and for smaller clinics and physician groups, there are always opportunities to take on additional shifts and responsibilities for additional pay.
To expand on the last point, if you have some interest and aptitude for other areas of the business outside of clinical support, there are always opportunities to earn more than the bare minimum scribe salary. For example, we at ScribeConnect encourage our scribes to be active in the community, or pursue passions and hobbies such as social media. And if you’re proficient in areas outside of medical scribing, offer help to your full-service provider or in-house staff in these other areas.
These additional skills not only help you grow as a scribe, but also help the organization you serve. Even if your plans are to move on to post-graduate school in a year or two, these skills and experiences will only help you down the road.
At ScribeConnect, many of our managers, leaders, and executives started their careers as medical scribes, just as many of the leading doctors, NPs, and PAs in the healthcare industry started as medical scribes too. Take the opportunity to become a medical scribe with ScribeConnect!