How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

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Every day physicians and other healthcare personnel perform medical procedures that must be properly documented. Medical transcriptionists are trained professionals that convert dictated voice recordings into medical records, reports, correspondence, or other documentation.


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What does a medical transcriptionist do?

Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings on a headset and use a foot pedal to pause the recordings if needed. They type the dictation into word processing or computer programs and perform the necessary edits. They create medical history reports, examination reports, consultation reports, operative reports, autopsy reports, progress notes, discharge summaries, referral letters, and diagnostic imaging studies. They distribute the transcriptions to the professionals that dictated the recordings for them to review and make notes for correction if needed. Once the documents are complete they become part of a patient’s medical record.

With today’s technology, most health care professionals transmit recordings to medical transcriptionists through analog or digital dictating equipment. Many transcriptionists also receive recordings over the Internet and can return the transcribed text quickly. Speech recognition technology is another increasing popular technique that electronically translates dictation into text. Medical transcriptionists can then structure reports and edit mistakes.

What kind of training does a medical transcriptionist need?

Medical transcriptionists typically need formal medical transcription training. Many community colleges, vocational schools, and distance education programs offer medical transcription training. Medical transcription coursework usually includes courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and legal issues of medical documentation. Many program include supervised on the job training. Medical transcriptionists complete continuing education courses to update their skills and stay up to date with technological advances.

Medical transcriptionists can earn voluntary certifications from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). These designations are the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) and the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT). The requirements are typically related work experience and passing a written exam. Medical transcriptionists with these certifications must become recertified every 3 years by completing continuing education courses.

What are the prospects for a career as a medical transcriptionist?

Employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). A growing and aging population and the increased need for documentation of medical procedures will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to good especially for medical transcriptionists with certification. The best opportunities will be in private physicians’ offices.

How much do medical transcriptionists make?

As of September 2009, medical transcriptionists with less than 1 year experience earned annual salaries between $20,347 and $30,692. Medical transcriptionists with 1 to 4 years experience earned annual salaries between $17,835 and $30,767 (2).

A career as a medical transcriptionist is a great choice for individuals interested in the health field and documenting dictations. Medical transcriptionists must understand medical terminology and have fast typing skills. Excellent grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills and good hearing and listening skills are required. Medical transcriptionists must also have proficiency with computers and word processing programs.

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