Medical scribes could help doctors care for more patients 

Will Dunlop at Cabrini Emergency Department. Image: Cabrini Health Limited
31 January 2019

Before Will Dunlop came to study at the ANU Medical School, he had already been inducted into the hallways of the Emergency Department in Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne.

Associate Professor Katie Walker of Monash University undertook a novel study with Will about how to make doctors more productive in emergency departments. They implemented and tested the new health role of the medical scribe, an in-room doctor's clerical assistant.

Will was one of the scribes, eventually becoming head scribe and finally, research assistant to Katie. Katie says of the study published today in the BMJ "without Will's partnership, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver the study." The paper has also been selected by the BMJ as one of their handful of annual press release original research papers.

Will Dunlop and Associate Professor Katie Walker. Image: Cabrini Health Limited

Will describes working as a scribe as "an incredible opportunity that exposed me to clinical medicine before beginning medical school. It reinforced my motivation to become a doctor and gave me experience in the emergency department that is otherwise not possible in Australia."

He worked side-by-side with emergency doctors to document their patient interactions in real time and facilitate the administrative work required for ordering tests and planning admissions to the hospital.

Will admits that "the learning curve was very steep and the early days required a lot of hard work, but it was very rewarding and gave me insight into effective ways of communicating with patients and other healthcare workers. My job as a medical scribe was a fantastic introduction to my medical training and I look forward to seeing how the scribe program changes the way we approach medical training in Australia."

Find out more about this study

Cabrini Media Release, 31 January 2019:

Title: Impact of scribes on emergency medicine doctors’ productivity and patient throughput: multicentre randomised trial

Published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ):

Author Blog – Dr Katie Walker and Dr Michael Ben-Meir:

Cabrini Emergency Department - Research