Training Programs in Medical Transcription
Medical transcriptionists create medical documents by transcribing audio recordings made by physicians or other medical professionals. Transcriptionists use computers and transcribing equipment to create medical reports, patient histories, discharge summaries, medical letters and similar documents. A postsecondary education and certification are not always required to be a medical transcriptionist, but these qualifications can greatly improve career prospects.
Training Requirements and Recommendations
Medical transcriptionists should have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Most transcriptionists enroll in a certificate program to learn technical aspects of transcription and medical terminology. Because many employers prefer one or more years of experience, some medical transcriptionists also seek an apprenticeship. Voluntary certification is available and may be preferred by some employers.
Medical transcriptionists should be able to perform repetitive tasks and focus on creating consistently error-free medical documents. They should be organized and familiar with Word, Excel and other Microsoft Office applications. Medical transcriptionists who work in physicians' offices should be able to perform light secretarial duties, like scheduling and answering phones. Medical transcriptionists who are self-employed or work from home should be able to complete documents with little direct supervision.
A formal education is not always required by an employer. However, most transcriptionists obtain postsecondary training in order to strengthen their qualifications and knowledge of medical transcription.
A medical transcription certificate program adequately prepares students for careers as medical transcriptionists. Programs teach students how to understand, record and dictate medical terms and documents. Courses allow students to work with transcription equipment, including computers, audio computer programs and foot pedals. Programs usually require one or two semesters of study and include courses on:
- Medical terminology
- Health care confidentiality
- Health care communications
- Advanced transcription
- Computer use in medical transcription
- Medical administration
Employers generally prefer to hire medical transcriptionists with 1-3 years of experience. Entry-level opportunities are available for transcriptionists with little or no experience. These positions typically include on-the-job training programs. To gain experience, many medical transcriptionists pursue an apprenticeship through the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA). Transcriptionists in this program learn valuable industry skills and knowledge under the supervision of experienced transcriptionists.
Licenses and Certifications
Medical transcriptionists are not required to be licensed or certified. Voluntary certification is available from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) and displays proficiency to potential employers. The AHDI offers two credentials, including registered medical transcriptionist (RMT) and certified medical transcriptionist (CMT).
Transcriptionists with less than two years of professional experience can obtain RMT credentials; those with more than two years of experience in specialized medical transcription can obtain CMT certification. Both credentials require transcriptionists to pass a medical transcription exam that covers medical terminology, ethical issues and types of medical documents. To maintain certification, transcriptionists must participate in continuing education courses.
Workshops and Seminars
Technical and vocational colleges offering medical transcription programs typically sponsor workshops and seminars for medical transcriptionists. Workshops usually last several hours and allow students to learn practical transcription skills outside of the traditional classroom. Employers that offer on-the-job training programs may also hold workshops for newly hired medical transcriptionists learning a new system of recording or transcription.
The MTIA and AHDI both hold annual conferences for medical transcriptionists and other medical documentation specialists. These conferences typically last 3-5 days and allow transcriptionists to learn more about the industry through seminars, training sessions and networking opportunities. Guest speakers and transcription companies offer information on current transcription equipment, trends and advocacy topics in medical transcription.
Additional Professional Development
In addition to annual conferences, the MTIA and AHDI also offer unparalleled professional development opportunities for medical transcriptionists. The MTIA maintains a knowledge bank of best practices, ethical standards and research studies conducted by industry-leading examiners. The MTIA also offers a career center and list of links to other national transcription and documentation organizations.
The AHDI offers similar services, including an expansive job search tool and library of industry articles. The AHDI also has an online store with digital books, published books, CDs and other professional development products. Both organizations also offer continuing education resources for medical transcriptionists to keep their knowledge of transcription current and accurate.
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