What to expect from medical transcription schools
According to the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, medical transcription requires a foundation in diagnostic process, clinical medicine, and health care and treatment (AHDI). As a result, medical transcription schools, regardless of the degree or certificate type, may require classes involving anatomy, medical terminology, and legal practices of patient rights. In addition, as the work of a medical transcriptionist involves writing, classes in grammar, word processing, and English may also be required (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
While some medical transcription certifications may require attending an accredited medical transcription school, many clinics and hospitals do not require medical transcriptionists to have completed an accredited program (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Certificate and associate degree programs in medical transcription are available from technical schools as well as at community colleges ,and some medical transcription schools may provide on-the-job experience as part of their program.
Medical transcription training programs typically come in two forms, either as a one-year certificate program or as an associate degree program, which can take two years to complete. Refresher courses are usually available for prior nurses and medical secretaries who already have familiarity with medical terminology or diagnostic procedures (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
Tools and skills of the medical transcriptionist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical transcriptionists should possess the following traits: strong attention to detail, excellent time-management skills, a solid understanding of grammar, and good writing skills (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). These skills may be necessary, as the medical notes may be complex , rambling or disjointed. In addition, the doctor may dictate unclearly or speak English as a second language (AHDI).
Medical transcriptionists are likely to encounter some of the following speech recognition software products, which automatically transcribe a doctor's notes into a readable format, among other things, which can make a medical transcriptionist's job easier:
- WebChartMD - This back-end transcription software allows doctors to provide their notes via traditional recording devices but also through phone recording software.
- Sylvan Software - These medical transcription software packages provide keyboard shortcuts for commonly used medical terms, speech recognition software, and medical terminology spell checkers for common word processing software.
- InfraWare - This medical transcription software provider offers packages that integrate audio playback with text for greater accuracy during the editing process, as well as document delivery systems and management tracking tools.
- SpeedType - This typing shortcut program for Windows operating systems allows medical transcriptionists to trim up to 70 percent of their typing time while transcribing medical notes.
Where the jobs are for medical transcriptionists
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for medical transcriptionists are expected to grow up to 6 percent, nationally, from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations. Voice-to-text technology is a likely reason for the limited employment growth - by removing the need for direct transcription, medical transcriptionists are able to edit and process more medical notes , resulting in fewer new hires (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). According to the BLS, medical transcriptionists were paid a national median annual wage of $34,020 as of May 2012 (BLS.gov/oes, 2012).
California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York were listed by the BLS as the five states with the highest employment levels of medical transcriptionists. The top-paying states were Massachusetts, Alaska, California, and Connecticut.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012, Medical Transcriptionists, March 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319094.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, March 2012, Medical Transcriptionists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm
Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, Credentialing Candidate Guide, 2012, http://www.ahdionline.org/portals/0/downloads/CredentialingCandidateGuide.pdf