How to Become a Radiology Transcriptionist

Jan 02, 2019

Find out how to become a radiology transcriptionist. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in radiology transcription.

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  • 0:00 Radiology…
  • 1:19 Complete Postsecondary…
  • 3:05 Earn Certification
  • 4:02 Maintain Credentials

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Radiology Transcriptionist Overview

Degree Level Certificate or associate degree
Degree Field Medical transcription
Certification Voluntary but desirable
Experience Previous experienced preferred
Key Skills Strong understanding of grammar and the English language; time-management skills and detail oriented; knowledge of medical and radiology terminology
Salary $35,720 (2015 median salary for medical transcriptionists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), Job postings by employers (September 2012)

A radiology transcriptionist focuses on the field of radiology and translates the dictations of doctors and medical professionals into reports, histories and other correspondence. They typically transcribe a variety of documents that are added to the patient's medical file, including those involving diagnostic studies, patient assessment, diagnosis, prognosis, clinical course and therapeutic procedures.

Many radiology transcriptionists find employment in physicians' offices and hospitals, although they can also work for outpatient care centers, or medical and diagnostic laboratories, pursue self-employment or work from a home office. Those working from home may have a great deal more control over their schedules than those working in other settings.

In general, radiology transcriptionists need a strong understanding of grammar and the English language, time-management skills, knowledge of medical and radiology terminology. They also must be detail-oriented. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical transcriptionists made an average annual salary of $35,720 as of May 2015. Let's explore the steps required to become a radiology transcriptionist.

Complete Postsecondary Training

In most cases, postsecondary training in medical transcription is highly regarded by employers. Students enrolled in a certificate or associate degree program receive training in a variety of areas, including medical terminology, medical law and ethics, physiology, anatomy and word processing. It's essential that students find programs that offer courses specific to the radiology discipline. Through these courses, students can learn more about radiology terminology and transcribing medical reports, particularly those related to CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, bones, and soft tissue.

Other courses might focus on transcribing radiology medical reports involving a variety of procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and echocardiograms. This type of in-depth training and instruction can teach a student to properly format a diagnostic report.

Many employers prefer radiology transcriptionists who possess the ability to type quickly and accurately. To build strong typing skills, students can take keyboarding and word processing courses. They also can practice their keyboarding independently to increase their overall words per minute (wpm) and improve their accuracy.

Employers also tend to see candidates who have previous experience in radiology transcription and good working knowledge of terminology related to radiology, pathology, and diagnostic tests. While still in school, students can find employment in the offices of physicians or in hospitals, particularly within the field of radiology. This gives the student the opportunity to gain the work experience valued by some employers.

Earn Certification

While certification is voluntary, most employers prefer to hire radiology transcriptionists who are certified. To improve employment prospects, one can pursue the certification opportunities through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. The Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) credential is intended for individuals who have been working in the field for less than two years and who are working in a single-specialty environment, including radiology.

The Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) credential is available for those who are working in a multiple-specialty environment. Although radiology transcriptionists primarily work in radiology, they are often required to be knowledgeable about other medical specialties. Many employers prefer candidates who hold the CMT credential. To become an RMT or CMT, one must graduate from an accredited program and successfully complete an exam.

Maintain Credentials

Both the RMT and CMT credentials are valid for three years. RMTs maintain their credential by taking an RMT Recredentialing Course and receiving a minimum of 75% on section quizzes and a final exam. This must take place before the date their credential expires. CMTs can keep their credential current by completing at least 30 continuing education credits over a period of three years. Of these 30 credits, 24 must be within specific areas, including medical transcription tools, medicolegal issues, clinical medicine and technology in the workplace.

In summary, radiology transcriptionists need to earn a certificate or associate degree in medical transcription, preferably with courses specific to radiology. Voluntary certification is preferred by many employers.

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