ENT practices have some of the most demanding documentation requirements and it comes with no surprise that 33% of the ENT specialists spend more than 15 hours a week on administrative tasks. Having an ENT scribe to document patient encounters allows ENT physicians to have more time and attention to care for patients. Let us in this blog post see the personal experiences of Morgan Carter who after graduating from college and completing a post-baccalaureate Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) Fellow at the National Cancer Institute worked as a medical scribe in an ENT clinic while also volunteering as an emergency medical technician in her hometown. She discusses everything from what an ENT scribe does and how long it took to train to her suggestions for those considering a career as an ENT scribe.
What does an ENT scribe do?
Morgan Carter said that she has transcribed hundreds of physician-patient encounters, medical histories, physical exam findings and diagnostic test results while allowing pediatric ENT specialists to focus on providing excellent patient care. She further added that on a typical day a busy otolaryngologist sees 25 to 30 patients for a wide range of ear, nose and throat conditions along with pre-op and post-op consultations. She concluded by saying that an ENT scribe helps ENT physicians provide more effective and efficient care by allowing them to spend less time on documentation and more time on patient care.
How did Morgan know about ENT scribing?
Morgan said that she came to know about scribing from an alumni of her graduate program, George Squared, who was employed as an ENT scribe in the practice she is currently working in. When Morgan was looking for an opportunity to work alongside an ENT physician to gain some clinical experience and exposure this seemed to be a perfect fit for her.
How long did it take for Morgan to get trained as an ENT scribe?
Once Morgan was hired as a scribe in an ENT practice she received one month of intensive training and was then paired with another senior scribe to shadow her twice a week. It was the senior scribe who taught her the ins and outs of the electronic health records - to access it and update the patient charts. And when she started working independently, she discovered that the first few months were quite challenging – from getting used to the ENT clinic's pace and workflow to understanding each provider's distinctive style and approach to patient appointments. Currently she says that she works with a single ENT physician. However, during busier periods she also works with more than one ENT physician.
She further added that even though a single EHR system is used throughout the clinic each ENT physician typically follows a unique style of formatting their exam findings and assessments. With three different medical offices she quickly learned to chart as per physicians’ preferences and adapt to the layout of each exam room. Her fellow medical scribes were always there to help her with any questions or assistance.
How did her experience help her in applying for the medical school?
She said that being an ENT scribe gave her an insight into clinical decision making and got to use the medical terminology that she learned as a graduate student. She also witnessed how healthcare delivery changed during the pandemic and learned to scribe for telemedicine appointments. She also observed how medical staff and patients have gotten accustomed to the use of face masks. In one case, she witnessed a family giving a transparent face mask to facilitate lip reading for a deaf parent. She further added that face masks might make it difficult to communicate with others, but they’ve learned to adapt to each patient's particular needs while still putting health and safety first. These experiences she believes helped her in applying for medical school.
Morgan’s advice for those intending to become an ENT medical scribe
She says that her suggestion is to be open to learning and ask plenty of questions during training and to be proactive while working with ENT physicians. Do not hesitate to seek clarification from the physician you’ve been paired with when you come across new medical jargon, diagnoses, referrals, or clinical terms to ensure clear and accurate communication. Finally she concluded by saying that working in a busy otolaryngology clinic can be demanding both in terms of time and energy, but with a lot of patience and perseverance one is sure to succeed in becoming an indispensable member of the ENT care team.
If you are an aspiring ENT medical scribe the experiences shared by Morgan Carter will definitely be useful. The ENT scribing experience will also help future ENT physicians carve out their professional identity and advance in their career.
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Documentation is an important daily clinical responsibility. In order to optimize patient care, physicians are always on the lookout for new ways to effectively and efficiently document patient visits.
The use of virtual medical scribes has become increasingly popular in the recent years, as medical practices across the country are on the constant lookout for ways to reduce clinical documentation overload, thereby improving overall productivity.
The clerical burden associated with EHR usage is attributed as the number one cause of physician burnout. We also know that physicians spend twice as much time on EHRs and other clerical tasks compared to the time providing patient care.