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Medical Transcriptionist Job Description, Career as a Medical Transcriptionist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Postsecondary training in medical transcription preferred

Salary Median—$14.40 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Medical transcriptionists are formally trained to receive dictation from physicians and other healthcare professionals and transcribe them into different medical documents. To create the documents, medical transcriptionists listen to recordings using a headset and key the information into a computer or a word processor. A special foot pedal is used when they need to pause the recording. Before completion, the medical transcriptionists edit the documents for grammar and clarity.

Documents produced by medical transcriptionists include medical history and physical examination reports, referral letters, discharge summaries, diagnostic imaging studies, progress notes, consultation information, and autopsy reports. After physician approval, these documents become part of the patients’ permanent file.

It is vital for medical transcriptionists to be able to understand medical terminology, medical jargon and abbreviations when transcribing dictated reports. They must also comply with medical standards and keep all patient information confidential.

Healthcare providers transmit dictation to medical transcriptionists using digital or analog dictating equipment. The Internet is another common avenue used for transmitting dictation for a quicker turnaround. Another popular mode of transmitting dictation is the creation of speech recognition technology. This system electronically translates sound into text and generates a first draft. Medical transcriptionists then format the report, edit it, and look for inconsistencies.

Education and Training Requirements

Medical transcriptionists have postsecondary training which is offered through community colleges, vocational schools, and distance learning programs. They have the option of a 2-year associate degree program, or a 1-year certificate program. Each program includes extensive educational courses, as well as supervised on-the-job training.

Although accreditation is not required, medical transcriptionists can acquire accreditation through the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (ACCP). However, for medical transcriptionists seeking certification, an ACCP approved program may be required. In addition, graduates of ACCP programs can participate in the Registered Apprenticeship Program which provides qualified medical transcriptionists on-the-job training as well as technical instruction.

Additional tests are usually needed to become registered or certified. To become registered, medical transcriptionists must complete an educational program or have less than two years experience and pass an examination. Those seeking certification need two years of experience working in areas of surgery as well as pass the certification exam. Registered and certified medical transcriptionists are required to earn continuing education credits every three years to renew certification.

Getting the Job

Interested candidates can apply directly to the employer, check local newspapers for job postings, or seek job opportunities from one of several Internet resources which provide job postings for medical transcriptionists nationwide.

Prospective candidates should have postsecondary training from a 2-year associate degree program or a 1-year certificate program, as well as excellent writing and computer skills.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

It is expected medical transcriptionist job opportunities will grow substantially through the year 2016, especially for those certified in the field. Medical transcriptionists will be in demand due to the aging and growing population, the need for transcription services to edit the documents from the speech recognition systems, and from oversees contractors.

In addition, newer technology such as speech recognition technology is expected to grow in popularity for dictation transmittals and become more common among other specialties in the near future. This will in turn assist medical transcriptionists, enabling them to complete reports more efficiently.

There are several advancement opportunities for medical transcriptionists. Those with experience can move into supervisory roles, start home-based businesses, or start a medical transcriptionist business. Other options include consulting, editing, and teaching. In addition, medical transcriptionists who receive additional training can become medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators/technicians.

Working Conditions

Medical transcriptionists typically work 40 hours per week in clean, well-ventilated, comfortable environments. They usually are employed by hospitals, physician offices, clinics, laboratories, transcription service offices, government medical facilities, medical libraries, or are self-employed and work from home. Self-employed medical transcriptionists often work irregular hours which include evenings, weekends, or part-time.

There is some stress involved with the job—the pressure of completing documents accurately and in a timely fashion. Other drawbacks include sitting for long periods at a time, potential eye problems from strain, and possible motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity
4230 Kiernan Ave., Ste. 130
Modesto, CA 95356

State employment services may have additional information on medical transcriptionist job opportunities.

Earnings and Benefits

The median hourly salary for medical transcriptionists was $14.40 in 2006. However, the salary for medical transcriptionists varies based on the compensation method. Some employers pay medical transcriptionists based on the number of hours worked or the number of lines transcribed, while other employers pay by the hour with incentives to encourage increased production.

Independent contracted medical transcriptionists are generally paid higher than others because they do not require benefits or other additional costs to the employer. However, these medical transcriptionists face higher chances of being terminated if the need arises.

Benefits vary depending on the employer and may include one or more of the following:

  • Medical insurance plus prescription plan
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Retirement plan
  • Long/short term disability
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Employee Referral (one-time payment bonus)

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine