Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other health professionals make and convert them into written reports. They interpret medical terminology when preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents. The documents they produce become part of a patient’s permanent file. Many transcriptionists are self-employed and work from home offices, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.
Medical transcriptionists typically have the following duties:
- Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other health professional
- Transcribe the dictation into diagnostic test results, operative reports, referral letters, and other documents
- Translate medical abbreviations or jargon into the appropriate long form
- Recognize and edit inconsistencies within a report and follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure accuracy
- Compose and submit written reports for physicians for approval
- Understand and follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors’ offices may have other duties, including: answering phones, greeting patients, and general office work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow around 6% between 2010 and 2020. The median annual wage of medical transcriptionists was $32,900 in May 2010.
To work in this field, medical transcriptionists must become familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. A transcriptionist’s ability to understand and correctly transcribe a health professional’s words is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or inappropriate treatments.
Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary training in medical transcription, which is offered by many vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs. A 1-year certificate program or 2-year associate’s degree normally includes coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation.
Need to Have
While a medical transcriptionist does not have to be accredited, medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary training. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding both of grammar and of word-processing software.
Two certifications available through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity include:
The RMT certification is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor’s office.
The CMT credential is for transcriptionists who handle dictation in several medical specialties.
A transcriptionist should have the following qualities:
Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software.
Detail oriented. Transcriptionists must focus on details to write reports correctly and spot any inaccuracies.
Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists must be comfortable working under deadlines.
Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.
A newer computer, high-speed – and reliable – Internet connection, printer, scanner, fax, and a separate business phone line. Medical transcriptionists often use audio playback equipment, including a headset and foot pedal—to control the recording playback speed—that are connected to their computer. They use word-processing and other specialized software, as well as medical reference materials.
Many certificate programs include on-the-job training as part of the curriculum. Some transcriptionists were previously employed in a medical setting, possibly as a nurse or medical secretary. Network with others in the field and with doctor’s offices and hospitals and ask about available positions. Order professional business cards and create a website or blog to show off your skill set and to provide contact information. Ask if previous clients can be listed as references.
Different levels of transcriptionists exist with some specializing in specific medical fields. With rapid changes in technology, many medical documents are prepared with the use of back-end speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then reviews the draft for accuracy, listening to the original recording as needed. Stay current on the latest technology, taking education as needed. Further, a thorough understanding of HIPAA laws is required and desired.
By Dion D. Shaw
Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.
Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed. Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions. Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.
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