By Catherine Palmigiano, Scribe

Scribes’ duties are many and require a sense of commitment and dedication. One task is assisting with correspondence with other practices and PCP’s. Offsetting typical administrative duties allows the doctor more time to see and spend with patients discussing treatment and building relationships, and that is what a great doctor is all about.

Another common task is receiving and processing test result reports from other doctors, surgery consults and past medical records. The scribe must receive correspondence and input pertinent information into an E.M.R. It is a specific task that requires more detailed training with the doctor from the outset. An ability to determine vital information for charting, and defining assorted medical terms the doctor uses are other examples of E.M.R. input. Additional examples include scheduling for surgeries, blood work results, confirmation of diagnosis from specialists, and future orders and care plans for treatment. These are all vital information. A scribe must also review several different types of reports and it is common for many doctor offices to have different physicians’ letter formats.


Knowing where to find information and understanding what information is important are essential to accurate and detailed input. This skill usually takes a few weeks to a few months to practice and master. It can and will be overwhelming at first, but keeping in mind that doctors have had years to master these techniques compared to the relatively short span of time a scribe is trained in these areas will help in overcoming the complexities.

After the initial training, and before a scribe is allowed to perform these functions independently, the doctor will review the scribe’s charts and reports, sign off on those that are correct and request revisions and corrections to those that are not. Once the scribe and doctor are satisfied with the results, the scribe can now take over inputting the data and needs to include the doctor only when it is a new diagnosis from the specialist, or surgery is being recommended. At this stage, it becomes obvious that a scribe’s duties help offset administrative minutia and are an asset to the office.

It is common for a scribe to juggle a multitude of tasks related to the doctor’s underlying administrative duties, such as creating detailed reports, listening to the doctor and understanding various medical terminology, and having the ability to balance communication with outside offices and third parties. By doing so, the office is able to commit to personal patient care more efficiently.