What is a Medical Transcriptionist?
A medical transcriptionist is trained to interpret and transcribe dictation by healthcare professionals regarding patient assessment, work up, therapeutic procedures, clinical course diagnosis, prognosis, etc. in order to document patient care and to facilitate delivery of health care services.
They generally listen to recordings on a headset, using a foot pedal to pause the recording when necessary, and key the text into a personal computer or word processor, editing as necessary for grammar and clarity. The documents they produce include discharge summaries, medical history and physical examination reports, operative reports, consultation reports, diagnostic imaging studies, progress or chart notes, and referral letters.
Medical transcriptionists return transcribed documents to the physicians and other healthcare professionals who dictated them for review and signature or correction. These documents eventually become part of patient’s permanent files. A medical transcriptionist is proofreader, also known as a Medical Language Specialist.
Is this career right for you?
To understand and accurately transcribe dictated reports, medical transcriptionists must understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, and pharmacology. They also must be able to translate medical jargon and abbreviations into their expanded forms.
Transcriptionists must have good English grammar and punctuation skills and proficiency with personal computers and word-processing software. Paying attention to detail, strong proofreading and editing skills are also important. Normal hearing acuity and good listening skills also are necessary.
The majority of medical transcriptionists are employed in comfortable settings, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, transcription service offices, clinics, laboratories, medical libraries, government medical facilities, or their own homes. Many medical transcriptionists telecommute from home-based offices.
Workers usually sit in the same position for long periods. Some may experience wrist, back, neck, or eye problems caused by strain and repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Many transcriptionists work a standard 40-hour week. Self-employed medical transcriptionists are more likely to work irregular hours—including part time, evenings, and weekends. Some may be on call at any time.
Medical Transcription is a profession that offers great flexibility and unique employment opportunities. It offers the opportunity to work from home in the growing medical industry. The field currently holds 2 important roles:
- Medical transcriptionists type the audio dictations of doctor-patient interactions, creating the reports that make up a patient’s medical record.
- Medical transcription editors are specialized medical transcriptionists who correct and edit reports generated by speech recognition software.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the middle 50% of professionals in the field earn between $27,090 and $38,590 annually.
Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to grow by 11% from 2008 – 2018, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for medical transcription services will continue to be spurred by a growing aging population.
A high level of demand for transcription services also will be sustained by the continued need for electronic documentation that can be shared easily among providers, third-party payers, regulators, consumers, and health information systems. Growing numbers of medical transcriptionists will be needed to amend patients’ records, edit documents from speech recognition systems, and identify discrepancies in medical reports.
Job opportunities will be good, especially for those who are certified. Hospitals will continue to employ a large percentage of medical transcriptionists, but job growth will also be in physicians’ offices, especially in large group practices.
Formal accreditation is not required for medical transcription programs.
However, the AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity) offers a voluntary certification exam to individuals who wish to become Certified Medical Transcriptionists (CMTs).
AHDI’s purpose in promoting this credential is to protect the public interest by promoting high professional and ethical standards, improving the practice of medical transcription, and recognizing those professionals who demonstrate their competency in medical transcription through fulfillment of stated requirements.
The CMT credential is awarded upon successfully passing the AHDI certification exam for medical transcriptionists. This credential is maintained through recertification upon the completion of current continuing education requirements and payment of a recertification fee. For additional information about certification visit AHDI’s website at www.ahdionline.org