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On the Job

Medical scribes free doctors to focus on patients

Anthony Ramirez, a scribe who works in an emergency room, said his pre-med education has helped him take better notes.Michele McDonald For the Boston Globe

If you end up in the emergency room, don’t be surprised if the doctor walks in with a medical scribe. These scribes, as the name suggests, are clerks or transcribers who take the burden of paperwork off doctors and allow them to focus on the patient. “Instead of typing and staring at the screen, the doctor can have more face-to-face time,” said Anthony Ramirez, a scribe with ScribeAmerica who works in the emergency room department at Marlborough Hospital. Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene spoke with Ramirez about his role.

“I first heard about medical scribes when I accompanied a close friend to the emergency room. We were waiting when the physician came in, trailed by a person who took all his notes. I was surprised at how efficient it made the visit — the doctor wasn’t distracted by having to enter notes, codes, or prescriptions. It hit me that this was something I should do, especially since I was a pre-med student.


“It’s helpful for scribes to have some medical knowledge or background. It definitely takes a certain kind of ability to be able to listen and chart in detail as the conversation is happening. The physician authenticates the chart afterwards to make sure everything is accurate. I believe that medical scribes are going to be standard in health care. It’s soon going to be not, ‘The doctor will see you now,’ but, ‘The doctor and the scribe will see you now.’ ”

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.