If you enjoy learning about medical terminology and like having flexible work hours, becoming a medical transcriptionist is a great career option. Official certification is not required to become a medical transcriptionist, but in today’s competitive market, certification increases your chances of getting noticed.
According to the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), anyone interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist should have excellent English language skills and a strong interest in learning medical language. Medical transcriptionists must be able to work long hours in high-stress environments, and the need for accuracy is crucial.
Medical transcriptionists use word-processing programs that automatically fill in certain words as they type, and the text can be edited after it has been entered into the document. You should be familiar with the latest versions of word processing programs such as Microsoft Word and WordPerfect.
Many medical transcriptionists enjoy the luxury of working from their own homes. While this is very possible for this profession, most companies require that employees do some work on-site to demonstrate their skills before entrusting them to accurately work at home.
A medical transcriptionist is sometimes also called a medical language specialist, which correctly identifies these individuals as highly trained professionals. Medical transcriptionists help physicians and surgeons by transcribing, formatting and proofreading their reports, which are usually dictated into a tape or some type of digital voice processing system. Typically, these dictations discuss the patient’s health, and they are recorded into word processing software such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. Once entered in word processing software, these reports eventually become a part of the patient’s permanent records, which is why their accuracy is so important.
Medical transcriptionists listen to the dictations on a headset, and they use a pedal to momentarily stop recordings as needed. The dictations are simultaneously edited and entered into a word processing program. The final documents produced include some of the following:
Once completed, these documents are then given back to the physicians for any corrections and a final signature. The document becomes a part of the patient’s permanent record.
Medical transcriptionists work in a wide variety of environments including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, transcription services, insurance companies and home health care agencies. Many medical transcriptionists also work out of their homes as independent contractors or subcontractors as home-based employees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, medical transcriptionists held about 98,000 jobs in 2006. Approximately 41% worked in hospitals and another 29% worked in offices of physicians. The remainder worked in medical and diagnostic labs, outpatient care centers and offices of various speech and occupational therapists.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to rise by 14% from 2006 to 2016. This growth is due to a growing aging population. Because older populations tend to receive more care, the need for larger amounts of medical tests, treatments and procedures that need documentation is also expected to rise.
While there have been some reports of outsourcing of medical transcription services to other countries such as India, this is not expected to greatly affect the industry due to the large amount of editing which is necessary for outsourced work.