If you are interested in becoming a medical scribe to support healthcare staff or gain clinical experience, there are a few options available to you. One option is to apply for a position with a large scribe company. Scribe companies typically provide paid classroom and clinical training, and the scribe team is internally managed. These jobs are usually highly competitive. Another option is to take a medical scribe course, either online or at a community or technical college. Some of these courses, like the one offered by Medical Scribes Training Institute, award students a certificate of completion. Medical scribe certification is a good way to show proficiency in the knowledge needed to become a scribe. Certification demonstrates your enthusiasm for becoming a medical scribe and can put you ahead of other applicants when applying for a job at a large scribing company or a local hospital or clinic. This article will focus on scribe certification options and why certification is advantageous.
Medical Scribe Certification Courses
Many community and technical colleges across the country offer programs to provide students with the training necessary to meet the increasing demand for medical scribes. A medical scribe certification course may be offered fully in-person, fully online, or in a hybrid format. They offer classes in topics such as medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical office workflow, insurance and billing, etc. These are valuable skills for medical scribing and they would be beneficial to have when applying for a scribe position in any setting. Many of these schools offer certificates upon successful completion of the program. Listed below are just a few examples of the many medical scribe programs offered through community and technical colleges:
- Allegany College of Maryland: An in-person Medical Scribe Specialist certificate program consisting of 9 different courses plus an 80-hour practicum for clinical experience.
- William Paterson University: Located in New Jersey, this is a 6-month online scribe certificate program that provides instruction in medical terminology, medical records, and medical coding. Successful completers are awarded a certificate of completion, qualifying them to work as a telescribe.
- Centralia College: This is a 3-quarter scribe training program in Washington state which also awards a certificate of completion to students who successfully complete the 12 classes offered within the program.
Many people choose to attend these types of programs while taking a gap year between undergrad and higher education in healthcare. They are also great for adults who are already working but would like to change their career path or gain additional skills. Again, these are just a few examples of the several dozen scribe certificate programs offered through colleges across the United States. If you are interested in finding a program near you, here is a list of many more programs arranged by state.
Medical Scribe Certification & Aptitude Test – MSCAT
Some of the medical scribe training programs offered through community and technical colleges do not award certificates of completion, but rather make successful students eligible to sit for the Medical Scribe Certification & Aptitude Test (MSCAT) for certification. These programs are very similar to the programs described above, teaching classes in the topics required to gain medical scribing skills. Listed below are a few of the many programs that provide MSCAT eligibility:
- Clarion University: This Pennsylvania program offers courses in medical terminology, electronic health records, health unit coordination, and medical billing. Upon satisfying program requirements, students will be awarded a certificate of completion as well as MSCAT eligibility.
- Great Falls College MSU: This is a program based in Montana State University that provides students with classroom instruction in medical scribing. Students who successfully complete this program may sit for the MSCAT to earn their certification.
More information about the ACMSS and MSCAT certification is given below.
Online ER Scribe Course Certificates
These online courses are not affiliated with a college, but are rather independent companies offering scribe certification for completion of a short online course or online exam. As they are fully online, there are often fewer opportunities for clinical experience, but many of them still provide certificates of completion. Below are a few of these online courses:
- Pacific Medical Training has an accredited online Scribe Academy which provides both medical scribe courses as well as a clinical EHR course for $359. Students of all experience levels are welcome to sign up for the course and classes are flexible to fit your schedule. Successful students receive a certificate of completion.
- Healthcare Scribes is an online medical scribe training program offering courses in medical terminology, medical coding, pharmacology, HIPAA, and health records. There are 11 modules broken down into 125 lessons which you can work through on your own time. Graded quizzes and tests help you keep track of your progress and instructors are always available when you need help. Students are awarded a certificate of completion after passing all the modules.
- Medical Scribe Training Systems offers 2 online scribe training courses – one for primary care scribes and one for emergency department scribes. Each course is $299 and there is a third option to take both simultaneously for $399. A certificate of achievement is awarded upon successful completion of any course.
medical scribe certification online
A main advantage of taking online courses for scribe certification is that most of them let you complete the course at your own pace, making it a flexible option for people with busy or unpredictable schedules. This might be ideal if you are already working but hoping to change your career path, or you are in school with a hectic schedule.
American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS) Test and Certification
The American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS) is a non-profit organization sponsored by the largest scribe company in the United States, ScribeAmerica. They offer the Medical Scribe Certification & Aptitude Test (MSCAT) and people who pass the exam are awarded the title of Certified Medical Scribe Specialist (CMSS).
The MSCAT examination package is a 5-8 hour program including training videos and the 2-hour exam. The package can be purchased for $900 and the license can be renewed yearly. A score of 80% or higher is required to pass the exam and only one attempt is allowed per enrollment. Once you purchase the package, you have one year to work through the training program and take the exam. Students who attended a community or technical college medical scribe program that fulfilled the requirements for taking the MSCAT would not have to take the ACMSS training program, but rather can just sit for the MSCAT exam to receive their certification.
To learn more about the ACMSS and the MSCAT exam, or to start working towards earning your certification, you can visit their site, call 1(800)-987-3692, or email email@example.com.
AHDPG Medical Scribe Certification Exam
The American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group (AHDPG) is another private company that offers medical scribe training and a Medical Scribe Certification Exam (MSCE). Individuals who successfully complete the training and pass the exam with an 80% or higher are awarded the credential of Apprentice Medical Scribe Professional (AMSP). After AMSPs have gained 200 hours of clinical experience, they immediately achieve the status of Certified Medical Scribe Professional (CMSP).
The exam consists of 100 questions, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank. It tests students’ knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical workflow, and other skills needed to be an exceptional medical scribe. In addition to definitions and other information to have memorized, it also presents test-takers with on-the-job scenarios and asks how they would handle them. You can take a practice exam for $24.95 and the certification exam for $165.
Anyone can sit for the exam, but it is highly recommended for graduates of the AHDPG’s medical scribe training program, graduates of other scribe training programs that did not provide certification, active scribes who would like to earn credentials, and premedical students hoping to start working as a medical scribe.
The Joint Commission and Hospital Scribes
The Joint Commission is an independent non-profit organization that continuously evaluates and aims to constantly improve the quality of healthcare in the United States. The organization accredits and certifies several thousand healthcare programs, and has been setting standards for healthcare since 1951. As medical scribing has started to become an integral part of the healthcare process, The Joint Commission has reviewed the literature regarding documentation assistance and conducted visits to facilities to evaluate the advantages and potential issues of using scribes.
The Joint Commission recognizes the benefit of using scribes to lighten the burden of EHRs, decreasing documentation time, and increasing physician efficiency. They have also identified a few potential quality and safety issues. These areas of concern include unqualified staff performing documentation assistance, unclear roles and responsibilities of scribes, scribes using their provider’s log-in information rather than their own, and failure of providers to verify orders or documentation. If these issues are not taken into consideration by organizations employing scribes, they could cause serious consequences for the providers and clinics.
To address these potential problems, The Joint Commission recommends that, at minimum, scribes possess education and training in medical terminology, HIPAA, principles of billing, coding, and reimbursement, and EHR navigation including computerized order entry and proper methods for pending orders. The Joint Commission also reminds providers using scribes to thoroughly review and verify any information entered by their documentation assistants.
Is Medical Scribe Certification Required?
According to the guidance of The Joint Commission, a documentation assistant or medical scribe may be an unlicensed, certified, or licensed person who provides documentation assistance to a physician or other licensed independent practitioner. This means that medical scribes do not necessarily have to be licensed or certified in any capacity, as long as the minimum training requirements are met. And as long as the above recommendations are followed, the Joint Commission neither supports nor prohibits the use of documentation assistants in healthcare.
While certification is not currently necessary to work as a medical scribe in the United States, scribing is a competitive field, and having a certificate can help you stand out among other qualified applicants, as it is an added testament to your dedication. It may also give you more opportunities for growth, giving you the potential to become a Chief Scribe or Scribe Supervisor. And with so many flexible opportunities for certification, it could be an easy way to augment your resume.