Medical Scribing: Is It Really Worth Your Time?
Prospective scribes often wonder: Will this really help my career?
Scribe candidates are interested in healthcare, but some are unsure which discipline they want to pursue. After undergrad, is it best to dive right into medical or PA school? Or get that advanced degree in social work straightaway? Or, should you spend some time scribing to see what it’s really like in the field?
In today’s post, you’ll hear from Hayley Wardrop, MSN, RN. Hayley is a former CEP America scribe and currently works as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego. She earned her nursing degree through an entry-level master’s program after completing a bachelor’s in psychology. Hayley shares her story of scribing before and during nursing school and how scribing shaped her career path.
Perspectives: How did you first become interested in healthcare?
Hayley: My mom actually worked at Palomar Medical Center when I was a kid. Often, if she couldn’t find a babysitter, she’d bring me to the hospital with her. From a very young age, I had a positive association with hospitals. For me, a hospital was a comforting place, a place I’d go to with my mom where amazing things happened and people’s lives were saved.
Then I saw my first surgery when I was 12 years old: a C-section. It was a really unique and powerful experience that had a big impact on me. After that, I knew I needed to be involved in healthcare. But I wasn’t sure in what capacity or how to get there.
Perspectives: Whoa, exciting stuff! Were there any other experiences that shaped your movement toward healthcare?
Hayley: In college, I knew I wanted to get more experience in health professions. While I was studying psychology, I volunteered as a rape crisis counselor. In my role, I worked alongside a team of forensic nurses who made up a Sexual Assault Response Team. Their compassion toward their patients was really inspiring.
I also volunteered at a cancer center, where I had less direct patient and provider interaction but more focus on the administrative side of healthcare.
Perspectives: How did you get into scribing?
Hayley: During college, I also volunteered at a local emergency department, where I really had my first taste of critical care. I saw the profound things nurses do for seriously ill patients. I learned quickly that working in critical care really energized me, and I wanted to be involved more.
At the same ED, I was exposed for the first time to scribes. I saw firsthand the importance of the scribe role, their tight-knit relationship with physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and hospital staff. I thought scribing could be a great next step.
Perspectives: What are some of the benefits or lessons learned from scribing?
Hayley: By far the best thing about being a scribe is the exposure you get.
In my role in the ED, I was able to witness a multitude of procedures, codes, and traumas. I got a glimpse into effectively triaging patients and the progression of care. I definitely got a crash course in medical terminology. And of course, I got very familiar with the ins and outs of electronic health records.
But maybe most importantly, I got to watch nurses and providers with amazing bedside manners. They showed me that each provider has a different style when working with patients. The exposure to all those different approaches was really invaluable. It’s not something you can learn without literally being in the hospital and experiencing it.
Perspectives: How did scribing influence you to pursue nursing?
Hayley: When scribing, I worked in a bunch of different capacities. But I realized the part of my day I looked forward to the most was being at the bedside. I really fell in love with talking to the patients' family members, transcribing histories for the providers, and understanding every patient's story.
I saw everything that nurses do at the bedside, from starting IVs, completing EKGs, performing chest compressions, to titrating vasoactive drips.
I knew then, I had to be involved. The nurses I worked with definitely appreciated my desire to learn. Their mentorship and encouragement, coupled with my drive, definitely pushed me in the nursing direction.
Perspectives: Who had the biggest influence on your career choice?
Hayley: There were so many people. First off, I definitely connected well with the nursing staff. But I also worked with MDs, DOs, PAs, respiratory therapists, social workers, and security officers. All of them were integral to the successful functioning of the ED, so I learned from each of them. Working with people in every role helped put into perspective how integral every discipline is to the healthcare team.
At Palomar, where I scribed and am now an RN, there was a dedication to creating a culture of caring. People of varying roles respected and worked effectively and efficiently with each other. As a scribe, I had a lot of connections with providers, and they really valued me and appreciated my curiosity.
It was amazing how many providers would ask, "What’s next for you after scribing? How can I help you get there?" Interacting daily with supportive providers who were experts in the field was a dream.
Perspectives: What’s the best advice you received while scribing?
Hayley: Jaime Rivas, MD, once told me, “If you approach every day with the reminder that working in healthcare is a privilege, you’re going to succeed.” Remembering his advice and holding on to that humility and passion has helped me get this far. I’m really grateful for his thoughtful perspective.
In addition, Amanda Holden, MD, had a big influence on me as a scribe. She’s encouraging, supportive, and would always take the time to work with me on my career goals. She showed that she really cared about me and my fellow scribes and was clearly invested in helping me pursue my dreams.
Perspectives: What advice would you give to someone early in their healthcare career and considering scribing?
Hayley: Be a scribe! It's a rewarding, educational experience. It was definitely a positive influence on my life and career.
When you're first starting out as a scribe, all the new information’s overwhelming. It can feel a bit like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant. But keep trying, and will yourself to soak in as much information as you can.
In order to keep track of all the new information, I carried a little notebook with me everywhere. If I had questions, I’d write them down and then research them when I got home. Or, I'd ask a nurse or provider. Pushing myself to learn what they were doing and why was one of the most rewarding aspects of scribing.
Perspectives: Anything else you’d like to share?
Hayley: Most of all, have an open mind on where you could see yourself in healthcare. Take time to appreciate every single person who’s part of the healthcare team. It’ll help you in your search for the ideal career and professional life.