Scribes with PGY-1 Residents on Inpatient Medicine Teams: Effect on Time Spent in Meaningful Work

J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2023 Jan 10;13(1):25-29. doi: 10.55729/2000-9666.1137. eCollection 2023.


Background: The high documentation demands and limited time in direct patient care in the first year of internal medicine residency represent concerns for burnout and low job satisfaction in this important year of training.

Objective: To assess the effect of scribes on the time PGY-1 residents spent on various work tasks.

Methods: Participants were 24 PGY-1 internal medicine residents on two inpatient medicine teams at one site for 6 months (September 2019-February 2020). Residents were assigned a scribe during the first or second 2 weeks of a 4-week rotation and had no scribe for the other 2 weeks. Time study observers documented resident work activities. Residents ranked the meaningfulness of work activities via survey at the end of each 2-week period.

Results: Of 24 residents, 18 (75%) completed the survey at both time points. Residents ranked patient care as the most meaningful and EHR work as the least meaningful work activity. EHR work claimed the largest percentage of time, with or without a scribe (mean, 33.2% and 39%, respectively). With a scribe, residents spent significantly less time (-5.8%, P < 0.0001) in EHR work and significantly more time (1.3%, P = 0.0267) in direct patient care and coordinating patient care (3.0%, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: The presence of a scribe with PGY-1 internal medicine residents on inpatient teams resulted in a significantly greater percentage of total work time spent in work they considered most meaningful and a significantly lower percentage of total work time in work they considered least meaningful.

Keywords: Electronic health record; Meaningful work; Medical scribes; Residents; Wellbeing.