Which truly is better for clinical experience: Medical assistant or Scribe?

Which truly is better for clinical experience: Medical assistant or Scribe?

i have currently been looking at both options of training given most clinical/hospitals have suspended volunteer and shadowing opportunities.

A Medical assistant seems like they get a lot more patient interaction and hands on clinical work.
A Scribe seems to get “more” time with a physician but def not as much hands on experience (but this may very from clinic/office working in)

Within the premed forums and podcasts I have read and listen to, being a scribe is a good experience to have. But rarely mentioned is medical assisting. To me, compared side by side, medical assisting would be a better experience as you are working with a patient directly (and this is what med schools want to see)

The only “downside” to medical assisting is the cost and length of training depending on program selected (most being 1yr or less). Training to be a scribe is paid and very quick (within months)

Is one better than the other in the eyes of a med school committee or are both equally the same?

Fellow pre-med on the journey with you. In my experience I would recommend medical assistant or CNA, the clinical experience at least for me was about getting as much patient interaction as I could to make sure this is what i want to be doing. Hands on, taking care of people, this also lends more to stories that can be used in secondaries and personal statement. Scribing is very good as well because you can acclimate to the charting process and the inner workings of a physicians diagnosis as you write for them. Really you cant go wrong as long as what you are doing is both What you want to do, and benefits your journey the most.


Did you end up making a decision? I had the same thought as you when it came to becoming a medical assistant, it is too long of a program plus cost. I am planning on taking a CNA course next semester to get certified. It is 1 semester so the length and cost is the better choice for me. I am doing it at a community college, you should check out your local CC if that is something that interests you. I have also seen a lot of job postings in my area for CNA’s so I am glad it is “in demand.”

I decided on doing CMA. There are “one year” online self study programs that mostly can be done in four months+ depending on how fast you want to accomplish it. CMA is also one of those in demand jobs too which i liked. Although, Im active duty military and limited on actual extra job time so this will give me something to works toward in the interim. From what I found CMA would allow me to work next to a physician and lots of patient interaction, were as a CNA can be in a healthcare setting without directly being near a physician ( ie nursing home, assisted living, etc) but I can be wrong. Either or is a good way to get exposure to healthcare and its many facets.