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New Medical Assistant Positions Are Allowing Doctors to Spend More Time With Patients

Medical Assistant Positions

Medical assistants can drastically reduce the time it takes doctors to document patient exams so they can actually spend more time with patients.


How many times have you gone to see the doctor only to see him typing away at the computer through the majority of your appointment?

These requirements, sometimes even imposed by the insurance companies, force doctors to spend too much time typing into the computer instead of looking into a patient's face, which the dean of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Dr. David Stern, says is a barrier to doctor-patient interaction.

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Scribes are a soft specialty of the medical assistant position and have been used to relieve doctors' frustrations. They don't need as much training or certification as a medical assistant because most of their duties involve shadowing doctors and writing down everything that happens when the doctor goes to examine the patient. They may also answer phone calls, and check lab results. In fact, most medical scribes are science undergrads interested in the healthcare field and take on the position because they want experience in healthcare and view it as an internship.

But these medical assistant scribes are really quite valuable – cardiologists with scribes assisting them reported being able to see 9.6 percent more patients because of their support. And researchers believe that medical assistants, in general, can improve patient care and improve recovery rates by having them delegated to meet with patients before seeing the doctor and also after seeing the doctor. They can serve as a health coach to make sure the patient understands the doctor's orders, which improves patient compliance and boosts chances of recovery.

If you're not currently in a science undergrad program, you can still become a medical assistant scribe. Some medical assistant university programs include full medical scribe training with their two-year degrees. Getting certified medical training as a medical assistant rather than just a medical scribe actually gives you more versatility because you're able to give vaccines and provide direct patient care. Of course, you'll also be paid more.

Medical assistants and medical assistant scribes help your doctor spend more time with you and his other patients. If you're interested in becoming a medical scribe, you can ask your school if there are any open positions for science undergrads or enroll in a medical assistant degree program that includes medical scribe training.