A medical scribe is someone who works alongside and assists a health care provider in documenting important information needed to complete an accurate medical chart. Scribes are responsible for recording a patient’s clinical history, current complaints, diagnoses, and procedures performed. They may also at times need to record medical orders given, such as prescriptions and tests, and consults with other healthcare providers.
Furthermore, scribes may also document and input the results of X-rays, MRIs and other lab work done so that the physician has all the necessary data and information to make treatment decisions. By reducing the electronic health record (EHR) documentation workload for providers, scribes can enhance provider-patient interaction, improve workflow and improve job satisfaction.
Healthcare providers are tasked with caring for their patients and with documenting lengthy and often time-consuming charts. Because scribes are responsible for the majority of the documentation, providers who use scribes are left with more time for patient interactions. A 4-month study conducted in Ontario analyzed over 1000 physician hours, with and without the use of scribes. Across all 22 physicians, 81.8 % of physicians were found to have a daily 12.0% increase in their PPH (patient per hour) when using scribes.
Furthermore, more time was allotted to each patient, meaning that the provider was able to have lengthier interactions with their patients. This study concluded that not only were medical scribes able to help providers examine patients in a faster manner, but providers were also able to spend more time with their patients, increasing patient satisfaction with their provider and course of treatment.3
In addition to the increased number of patients a provider is able to see by using scribes, a publication by the American College of Emergency Physicians showed that implementing a scribe program resulted in an overall monthly patient volume increase of 20%, significant improvements in critical care billing, a dramatic decrease of average door to provider times, significant improvements in door to disposition time for all patients and a trend towards a decreased number of patients eloping. Despite providers still being required to read and sometimes make minor corrections to the charts, they reported this task as taking less time than doing the bulk of the documentation, especially for providers who were less adept at typing in an EMR.1
In addition to better provider-patient interactions and improved workflow, research shows adding a medical scribe to the healthcare team can lead to big improvements in job satisfaction. A study published in The Advances in Emergency Medicine surveyed providers working in an academic Emergency Department with a scribe program over an 11-month period. 100% of providers indicated that scribes were a valuable resource to the department and that they enjoyed working with scribes. 90% of all providers indicated that scribes increased their workplace satisfaction and increased their quality of life. 80% of all providers indicated that scribes increased their levels of focus and decreased their levels of stress at work.
Furthermore, 70% of all providers also indicated that scribes decreased levels of stress at home. Lastly, providers reported satisfaction from training and mentoring scribes. This study concluded that providers using scribes in their Emergency Department showed overall increased job satisfaction, which they found beneficial in terms of minimizing “provider turnover and attrition” (important when taking into consideration the high costs resulting from hiring and training new providers to replace those lost due to job dissatisfaction).2
Alex Natividad is a scribe working for ScribeConnect at Adventist White Memorial Hospital Emergency Department who recently graduated from USC in 2019 with a Biology B.S. and minor in Cinema and Television for Health Professions. Scribing is a relatively unknown position that provides many benefits to scribes, but also to health care providers, resulting in immense job satisfaction. This article hopes to clarify some of the responsibilities and impacts that medical scribes have in the healthcare setting, as well as inspire pre-health students to consider a position as a medical scribe.
“The Use of Scribes in the Emergency Department – Page 5 of 7.” ACEP Now, 1 Mar. 2012,
Allen, Brandon, et al. “An Assessment of Emergency Department Throughput and Provider Satisfaction after the Implementation of a Scribe Program.” Advances in Emergency Medicine, vol. 2014, 2014, pp. 1–7., doi:10.1155/2014/517319.
 Graves, P., Graves, S., Minhas, T., Lewinson, R., Vallerand, I., & Lewinson, R. (2017). LO55: A pilot evaluation of medical scribes in a Canadian emergency department. CJEM, 19(S1), S46-S47. doi:10.1017/cem.2017.117