Medical Transcription Career Video: Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical Transcription Career Video: Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist Transcript

If you're an outstanding typist but are looking for something more than a position in data entry, consider becoming a medical transcriptionist. These professionals convert handwritten or dictated notes provided by a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professionals into a spreadsheet, database or computer file. An associate's degree or diploma program can provide students with the medical writing, medical terminology and general healthcare knowledge they need to begin their careers in medical transcription.


Physicians, lab technicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals often dictate or handwrite information for medical transcriptionists to type it into a shareable, searchable and archiveable digital format. Medical transcriptionists usually work for hospitals or private firms, although many are self employed and work from home, using the Internet to exchange information with health care professionals. An associate's degree or a comparable educational credential as well as a professional certification is encouraged by most employers.

Job Duties and Skills

Medical transcriptionists work almost entirely at a computer terminal, reviewing recorded or handwritten medical records, surgical notes, patient charts, test results and other healthcare information. Their main duty is to convert this information into a digital format that can be shared between healthcare professionals as well as be indexed, searched and archived for future use. This is done by typing the handwritten or dictated information into a spreadsheet, database, word processing document or data entry program. Some medical transcriptionists work in shorthand or use industry standard abbreviations, while others must edit content for clarity and grammar as they work.

Obviously, excellent computer skills are needed to work as a medical transcriptionist. However, accuracy, above all, is paramount. Treatment can be delayed and lives can even be lost through a simple typographical error. Medical transcriptionists need to have an understanding of medical jargon and terminology and decode even the hastiest of scribbles.

While most medical transcription work is solitary and repetitive in nature, some professionals do have other duties. Smaller doctors' offices or private clinics may employ a medical transcriptionist who also works as an office manager or administrative assistant. In these cases, communication skills are needed to take appointments and welcome patients into the office. Organizational skills are also required to keep the office or clinic running smoothly.

Telecommuting is common in the industry and medical transcriptionists who work remotely must be able to remain professional and on-task despite the distractions of working from home. In addition, all medical transcriptionists must be able to meet deadlines and work nights and weekends in order to keep up with the needs of their employer. On-call positions are also not uncommon, requiring a transcriptionist to be available whenever their services are needed.

Training Required

The skills needed to become a medical transcriptionist can be learned through programs offered by community colleges, vocational schools and even distance learning programs. Coursework in these programs includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, healthcare issues and ethics. Some programs also offer students the opportunity to learn the software programs and technologies they will use professionally.

No professional license is required, although voluntary certifications as a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) are common. The RMT certification is intended for recent graduates and requires completion of a written exam. The CMT certification requires two years of professional experience plus completion of an examination. Each certificate must be renewed every three years.

Career Options

Medical transcriptionists are commonly employed by insurance companies and various departments in hospitals and medical laboratories. Some transcriptionists work for transcription companies who provide services to a variety of healthcare providers. Others may work directly for a physician or researcher.

Telecommuting is quite common for medical transcriptionists. Some employers provide a computer and software, while others require transcriptionists to provide their own equipment. Medical transcriptionists who telecommute are often able to set their own schedules, although looming deadlines often require working nights and weekends. Other telecommuting transcriptions work on an on-call basis, transcribing whenever their employers need assistance.

Opportunities for advancement in the field of medical transcription are few. However those who are employed in a traditional office setting may become managers or supervisors with experience. Outside of the field, medical transcriptions may pursue many general business office and administrative positions, especially those that require a high level of computer proficiency.



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