Transcription Courses and Classes Overview

Transcriptionists convert audio recordings or live dictations into written reports. There are full certificate and degree programs available that include transcription courses. Keep reading to take a closer look at the concepts taught in transcription classes.

Essential Information

The most common type of transcriptionist is the medical transcriptionist, who types spoken medical reports onto a patient's permanent medical record. Students interested in this field can pursue a 2-year associate degree or a 2-semester or 3-semester certificate in medical transcription. In addition, such programs often educate students on pharmacology, healthcare records management, business communication and medical assisting procedures.

Those starting a medical transcription program are introduced to healthcare documentation, medical terminology and human anatomy and physiology. Other common areas of study include keyboarding skills, report formatting and medical transcription software. Some programs have a medical transcription internship. Graduates may pursue the optional Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) certification from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in in a transcription course:

  • Reference materials
  • Report formats
  • Accuracy
  • Medical office procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Information systems
  • Health insurance

List of Courses

Introductory Medical Transcription

Most medical transcription degree or certificate programs require students to pass several medical transcription courses. Introductory medical transcription courses provide fundamental instruction in transforming dictated material into typed reports. Students learn how to format and prepare reports on medical history, charts, consultations and discharges. The introductory course will be taken near the beginning of the program.

Advanced Medical Transcription

Advanced transcription courses build on the foundational skills students gained at the introductory level. Students learn how to accurately transcribe complex reports and practice working with reports dictated by people with indistinct accents. Recorded material is used at the introductory level, allowing new students to rewind if something was unclear. However, advanced students may practice primarily with live dictation.

Medical Terminology

Medical transcribers encounter complex medical vocabulary daily. It is therefore crucial that they understand how to spell, pronounce and define medical terms related to diseases, diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests and medications. Introductory medical terminology courses expose medical transcription students to prefixes, suffixes and word roots commonly found in medical language and are usually offered at the beginning of a degree program.


Proficient medical transcribers must be able to type quickly and accurately. Many degree programs require students to reach typing speeds of between 30 and 40 words per minute. Diagnostic tests administered in typing proficiency courses allow students to identify their speed and accuracy deficiencies. Instructors then run corrective drills.

Health Information Technology

Nearly every healthcare organization now maintains and updates patient information and other healthcare data on computer systems. It is imperative that medical transcriptionists understand how to navigate different computer systems and programs that store and organize important medical information. Courses on health information technology introduce students to primary and secondary record systems and expose them to the ways modern information technology supports the delivery of healthcare.

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