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December 03, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Project Leader

Everyday more hospitals and doctor’s offices are beginning to see the value of having medical scribes on their teams. As the demand for scribes picks up so to does the demand for quality project leaders who can successfully manage the infancy of new scribe contracts and set them up for success.

A project leader is responsible for the smooth implementation of new scribe programs. Project leaders re-locate to the local city of each new scribe program, and spearhead the process of identifying, training, and managing a brand new medical scribe staff.

“We are in charge of implementing new contracts at hospitals, we handle pretty much everything from A to Z that you can think of to get a full scribe program running,” said Rebekah Lewis, Vice President of Senior Management at ScribeAmerica, and a former project leader.

Lewis started out scribing as a part-time job during college at the University of Orlando in 2009. Although she was studying business, and admittedly a bit squeamish about blood, the recommendation of a friend convinced her to apply.

Not having the medical knowledge of some of the others in her same training group, Lewis worked hard throughout her training and learned something new everyday. After graduating college in 2011 she stayed on scribing part-time while pursuing jobs related to her major.

But she missed the scribing life. “I was miserable,” she said. “I missed the ER and the fast pace, and the family atmosphere you get there.” So in the spring of 2012 she contacted ScribeAmerica about open positions and became a project leader.

What does a project leader do?

The process a project leader goes through to get a new contract up and running can be time consuming and more than a little bit stressful. Before even arriving on site the project leader conducts and coordinates medical scribe recruitment efforts. The strong candidates, says Lewis, are college students pursuing a medical career, but anyone can apply who is willing to learn. That’s what Lewis herself did.

After interviewing and picking the ideal candidates, the next step is training. A scribe’s training is broken up into three major sections: 40 hours of online training, 30 hours of classroom style instruction, and then an average of five onsite training shifts of between 8 and 12 hours long. During the classroom learning Lewis says they try to make it as interactive as possible for the new recruits. Before moving to onsite training they need to pass a final exam.

When the new scribes make it to the floor for the first time, each day they have a different goal to complete. One day for example they’ll only practice filling out the first part of a chart, and the next day will be learning how to complete it.

After day five, says Lewis, the scribes are on their own being shadowed by their project leader. Once new scribes successfully complete their training shifts they start a 90-day probationary period to make sure that it’s a good fit for them.

Setting scribes up for success

During this training period project leaders are the ones conducting all of the training, both in the classroom and onsite. After the end of official training, project leaders stay on for a few weeks as resources for the new scribes as they continue learning on the job.

“We’ll continue to coach them and guide them,” said Lewis. “Obviously it’s a massive learning curve being a scribe.”

Eventually the project leader picks a scribe who they feel has shown potential and promotes them to chief scribe for that contract. The new chief scribe then takes over much of the training and leadership role that the project leader played.

Typically, says Lewis, the entire timeframe for getting a contract set up can take anywhere from just a couple of weeks, to several months depending on the size of the contract and number of scribes it calls for.

But even after the contract is set up and the project leader has moved on, their job is not finished. Project leaders are still responsible for quality assurance and quality control of the program and checks in with their newly promoted chief scribe through regular conference calls every week to make sure the site is running well. They’re also on call for any issues arising that their chief scribe cannot handle. Not to mention keeping the client up to date. Being able to multitask is a requirement for any project leader, says Lewis.

Although the job was very hectic, Lewis, who just received a promotion and now manages 10 project leaders, says she would recommend it. For her the best part was getting to travel the country and set up contracts in many different states.

“It’s been amazing, being able to travel the country and still do what you love,” she said “I really encourage people to do it if they’re up for an adventure.”

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