Medical Transcription Basics

Medical transcription training and schooling tips

Author: Stephanie (page 1 of 9)

Is It Worth the Cost to Become a Medical Transcriptionist?

There’s a lot of very reasonable concern about whether or not it’s worth the expense of medical transcriptionist training anymore. Many people are concerned that with electronic medical records and voice recognition software that medical transcriptionists will soon be out of work. And I’ll grant that a lot of changes are happening in the industry. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to work as a medical transcriptionist.

For one thing, there’s a new position called medical transcription editor which relates to the changes caused by these technologies, and you still need medical transcription training for it. At some schools you can sign up for both types of training so that you’ll be ready to move with the technology rather than be left behind.

For another thing, there’s still job growth in the medical transcription community. There’s a lot of demand in most medical careers due to the aging of our population. It’s not going to vanish overnight.

It’s certainly a smart move to gain the skills to do whichever sort of medical transcription work comes your way. You don’t want to be out of a career because you couldn’t keep up.

You don’t have to learn both jobs at once. It is possible to learn medical transcription and then pick up the medical transcription editor skills later when you’re more comfortable with your transcription skills. It’s not necessary to do that later, but if that’s how you’re most comfortable, it’s reasonable to go that way.

Don’t let the changes in the industry scare you away if you really want to become a medical transcriptionist. It’s entirely possible to make that happen, and you can build skills that will work with newer technologies.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist With a Toddler in the House

Toddlers are fun to have around and are usually full of energy. That’s great when you have a lot of time, but many at home parents eventually come to the conclusion that they’ll need to work at home in order to stay at home. That’s when some decide it’s time to become a medical transcriptionist. How do you manage that with an active toddler in the house?

The first thing you have to do is take medical transcriptionist course. I suggest an online course because there are some excellent ones available and they allow you the flexibility to work around the needs of your child. If you can get most of your studies done while your toddler is napping, in bed for the night or before he or she gets up in the morning, you may be able to get enough studying done without your toddler being underfoot or feeling ignored.

If you need more time than that, as many parents do, you will need help. Most times you can ask your spouse, another family member or a friend to help out, but if that’s not an option you will need to consider paying a babysitter, mother’s helper or signing your child up for some time in a daycare program. If you need the income, sometimes that’s what you have to do.

Toddlers are perhaps the most difficult age to have around when you want to work from home in any job. They aren’t quiet and don’t usually stay distracted long enough for you to get serious work done, which is a problem both when you’re studying to become a medical transcriptionist and after you find work. You need to figure out during your studies how to handle the situation so it doesn’t become a problem once you start working.

Even though you aren’t getting paid, and most online medical transcription courses don’t require you to keep to a particular schedule, I strongly suggest you keep to a schedule. This will help you get through your studies quickly and will build valuable habits for when you find a job. It’s all too easy to slack off when you work at home, so learn to fight that temptation before it’s your job on the line.

One of the best things you can do is set up a home office where you can close the door. This will help keep distractions out of the way, not just your toddler, but other family members and the noise of other people in the house. Toddlers won’t fully understand when they can and cannot open your office door, but you’ll only really be able to close it when someone else is caring for your child or they’re asleep anyhow.

For those times when you just have to work and there’s no one else there to help with your toddler, have supplies ready for the situation. Keep some toys that are only available when you need a bit of quiet time. It’s always smart to prepare yourself for when things aren’t going quite right.

Be prepared to take a few months on your studies, and don’t assume a job will be available right away. One might be, but just as with any other industry, sometimes it’s hard to land that first job. Make sure you keep your skills up even if it’s a bit difficult to get that first job, so that you test well when you get to that point with an employer. You want them to be confident that you’re a great fit for their company.

Finally, don’t give up when things get difficult. If this is really what you want, find a way to make it work. There’s no career that goes perfectly all the time. Choosing one that allows you to be home with your toddler changes the challenges, but they’re still present. Plan ahead and you’ll have a better idea for how to deal with them.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

How Can You Learn Medical Transcription While Homeschooling Your Child?

Homeschooling has become a very popular option for teaching your children. It’s a great option when families can afford to have one parent at home, as it gives you more say in what your children learn and the freedom to let them learn in their own ways. Sometimes, however, you still need two incomes, and that’s where learning a skill that may allow you to work at home, such as medical transcription, comes into play. The hard part may be in learning medical transcription while homeschooling your children.

Of course, most homeschooling families are already pretty good at handling scheduling. It comes with the territory. If you don’t know how to make enough time to do whatever educational things need doing, you’re probably having some trouble with the homeschool process. Some homeschool programs are more strict than others about how work is done, and some families go entirely independent, but even so the process of educating your kids at home tends to be a demanding one.

Just how easy it is to add in your own educational needs to the day depends on how much your kids need you. In the early school years you’re probably having to help out quite a bit, while older kids may be able to work for hours with minimal input from you, then need hours of help from you at another time.

I’ll assume here that you hope to become an at home medical transcriptionist so that you can continue to be home with your kids. Not all medical transcriptionists work at home, of course, but it’s not that uncommon to work from home.

A key factor to consider is that even if you work from home, your employer usually wants you to set a schedule and keep to it. They may or may not care what that schedule is, but they want to know that you’re committing to enough hours each week and that they can expect a certain amount of work done during those hours.

That’s something to consider during your education. Even though a good online medical transcription school may give you freedom to pace yourself through the course, you should be preparing yourself for how you will handle the work in the long run. Figuring out a workable schedule while you’re a student will help you when you turn it into a job.

If your kids only need you a little bit during their school days, you may be able to study at the same time they do, and just be prepared for interruptions. But if they need you a lot, you will need to choose other times to work and study. It may take a lot of late nights or early mornings.

If you plan on doing a lot of studying while your kids work on school stuff, you need to figure out how to handle those times when they need you, because it will happen when you work too. There’s a balance that will work for your family and you need to find it.

If you start out with a particular schedule and find that it’s just not working, don’t be afraid to change it. Better to make the change than to continue to work with a schedule that isn’t right for your family.

You probably already know that you can make most anything work for your family if you’re determined enough. Most families find homeschooling challenging at first, but many make it work. You can find a way to make learning medical transcription and going on to make a career of it at home work with that too.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

How Do New Moms Cope with an Infant While Studying Medical Transcription?

Having a baby is one of the big reasons people get interested in jobs like medical transcription, so that they can work at home and still be there for the baby. It’s a nice plan, but first you have to study medical transcription so that you’re ready to work when you find that first job. With a baby around, that’s pretty difficult.

You may think about how much babies sleep when you’re considering medical transcriptionist training, but sleeping isn’t all they do, and they get more demanding than some new parents expect. You have to prepare yourself to deal with the needs of an infant as you study.

As a new mom, you may be recovering from the baby’s birth as well, and that should factor into how you plan on dealing with your studies. You’re probably getting less sleep than usual and are still learning to deal with the routines of your infant. Add in the aches and pains of recovery from childbirth, perhaps the challenges of breastfeeding and so forth, and being serious about studies is not easy.

The first step is to figure out when you can study. Some studies may be possible with your child in your lap if you’re taking an online course. Most moms learn to do quite a bit on the computer with just one hand when their children are young.

Naptimes and after bedtime are other popular times for studying. These will probably also become your work hours in the long run, and you will need to figure out how many hours you should be dedicating to your studies to get through them in a reasonable time without wearing yourself completely out. There are reasons why people tell new moms to sleep when the baby sleeps. But if you need to earn a living from home, you have to make some sacrifices.

The baby’s father, other family members and willing friends are also good resources to help you make time for your studies. You don’t have to be the one who holds the baby all the time, even if you are breastfeeding. Let someone else do the jobs that don’t require your special touch when you need the time to study.

The more you can treat your studies the way you hope to treat your eventual job as a medical transcriptionist, the better. The time you spend on your medical transcription studies is when you are learning not only the skills you’ll need in order to do the job, but the skills you’ll need in order to work at home if that’s your goal. Treat your studies just as seriously as you would a job. You’ll get through them more quickly that way.

That said, it may have to be a very part time job at first. Do work up to the number of hours you expect to need to work, but the initial thing is to get a regular schedule going. If you need some time to work into the full schedule you expect to maintain, do that and don’t feel bad if you can’t do it all at first.

Take a look at Career Step’s online training program. It’s highly flexible and a great way to get prepared for your medical transcription career.

What Does It Cost to Work as a Medical Transcriptionist?

You’ve probably heard that you should never pay for a job. That’s true in the sense that you shouldn’t pay an employer to consider you, but it’s not that uncommon for there to be a cost associated with getting started in a job. What is a college degree but a cost you pay to have both a better education and a shot at better work than you’d have without it?

This is particularly true for people who want to work as a medical transcriptionist, and even more true if you want to do so from home. Getting started isn’t free. There are some things your employer will quite reasonably expect you to have.

Medical Transcription Education

Your education is your first expense as a medical transcriptionist. Expect it to cost $1800-2000 or more. You need to get a high quality education if you want to work in this industry. It takes too long to learn the skills a medical transcriber needs, so employers expect you to get this on your own.

Depending on the program you choose, your medical transcriptionist training program may provide you with some of the other things you need in order to work as a medical transcriptionist.

Reference Materials

This is one of the things your training program may have provided for you. You may have received printed books or access to specialized online materials that continues for a time after graduation. In that case, you’re in fair shape as far as reference materials when you start working.

If you don’t have reference materials, you will need access to a medical dictionary, drug reference, anatomy text and more. You may be able to find online resources that can handle this need for you, but be picky as many online resources aren’t all that reliable.

Computer and Equipment

You probably already have a good computer you’d like to use for your work as a medical transcriptionist. You’ll also need a high speed internet connection if you’re going to work from home. Depending on where you work, you may also need to invest in appropriate word processing software.

Your system must be secure, which means you should also look into high quality malware protection for your computer. There are some great free solutions for this, and I suggest you check Download.com for what’s working best currently. You don’t always have to pay to have your computer protected from viruses and spyware.

Your employer may provide a foot pedal for controlling the dictation. If not, they aren’t too expensive and can easily be purchased online through sites such as Amazon or eBay. Headphones for listening to the dictation are also a must and easily affordable.

A Place to Work

While you can work at home in some medical transcription positions, you really shouldn’t be doing it at your kitchen table. The ergonomics are terrible for starters, and you don’t want to get carpal tunnel early on. It’s also not the best place for respecting patient privacy if anyone else is in the house.

A room where you can close the door is best. Set up with a nice desk and an ergonomic desk chair. You’re going to be spending hours a day at this, and you need to be comfortable as you work.

Some of these things may seem like a lot of investment to get started on a job, but overall it’s pretty reasonable for a professional position. Work hard, learn to use medical transcription productivity tools and you’ll earn your investment back quickly and be on to making a good living.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

What Skills Should You Bring to Your Medical Transcriptionist Training?

If you’re thinking about getting into medical transcriptionist training, you probably know that you need great typing skills. 40 words per minute is pretty much a minimum. But the job requires more than just typing. These are some of the skills you will want to have even before you start your training.

Great Listening Skills

Do you really pay attention to what you’re hearing? A medical transcriber must. While you’ll be improving your listening skills as you do practice dictation, you should be a very good listener right from the start or your training.

These listening skills will develop still further so that you can catch the finer details of what the doctor is saying, no matter the distractions on the dictation. Many medical terms sound very similar, and you must listen well enough to catch the differences even if the doctor is speaking too quickly, has a heavy accent, is eating or doing something else as he or she dictates. A medical transcriptionist must cope with all that.

Self Discipline

Self discipline is especially important if you transcribe from home, but even in an office it’s important. The need for this starts during your medical transcription studies, which can often be done from home as well, and at your own pace. If you aren’t disciplined, you won’t make it through your training, never mind succeed once you start working.

Ability to Add to Your Vocabulary

It starts with your training, when you’ll be adding a lot of medical terminology to your vocabulary, but the need continues even while you work, as you will regularly encounter new procedures, medications and terminology as you work. If it takes you a long time to be comfortable with new terminology, you aren’t going to be happy in medical transcription.

Comfort With Technology

It’s not just that medical transcriptionists work on computers that means you need to be comfortable with technology. It’s that the industry is always changing, especially now with electronic medical records and transcriptions generated by speech recognition software. You may not last long if you can’t prepare for and adapt to the changes.

Detail Oriented

A good medical transcriptionist is great with details. You have to be. There are so many little mistakes that can be made that completely change the meaning of the report. If you don’t catch these mistakes, the reports you turn in may not be accurate, which can have an effect on patient care.

If you have these skills and an interest in working in medical transcription, it may be a good career choice for you. Take a look at your training options and find the right one before you get started.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

Make Sure You Understand the Obligations of Medical Transcription Before Beginning Your Training

A medical transcriptionist has a lot of obligations. These are to the patients whose reports you are transcribing, the doctors who send you the reports to transcribe, and to the company you’re doing the work for. If you aren’t ready to face these commitments, then medical transcription might not be the job for you. Be sure to consider these things before you start your medical transcriptionist education.

You Are Obligated to Get and Maintain a Good Medical Transcription Education

You need to have a high quality education as a medical transcriptionist right from the start. That means being a good student when you’re taking your classes, whether you do so in person or online.

This also means that even after graduation you keep up with the changes in the industry and add to the knowledge you bring to the job. This isn’t just to benefit your employer; it benefits you as well as you can take on more challenging and better paying accounts.

You Are Committed to Accuracy

A medical transcriptionist must produce an accurate medical record, both for the good of the patient and for the doctor’s reference. That means no guessing if you aren’t certain what the doctor said – put in a blank and let someone who knows what should be there fill it in accurately. It also means noting when you think the doctor said something that wasn’t accurate, such as naming what sounds like the wrong body part or procedure compared with other parts of the report.

It also means you must know the difference between words that sound similar or identical. You must build your skills up to where you can think about it and choose the right word for the report.

You Are Obligated to Maintain Patient Privacy

This is a big one, as it brings up legal issues as well if you don’t maintain patient privacy. HIPPA violations can be a serious matter for you. Don’t go blabbing something interesting or unusual in a report you just transcribed. Respect the patients as you would like to be respected as a patient.

You Are Responsible to Your Employer

If you’re lucky enough to become a work at home medical transcriptionist, make your schedule and stick to it. If something comes up, communicate with your employer so they know why you aren’t working. It’s really not so different from having a job where you have to be there in person.

You should also do your best to keep up the volume of work expected of you by your employer. This can be difficult if work volume is down for a time, but that’s when you see if there’s another account you can be added to that matches your skill level.

You Are Obligated to Know How to Use the Tools of the Job

You need to be very comfortable with your computer and the word processing program used to do your transcription. You should be an excellent and fast typist. You should be very comfortable with using your foot pedal to control the speed of the dictation as you transcribe.

You should know how to use all of your reference materials, both online and in book form. The faster you can look up unfamiliar terminology or new procedures and medications, the faster you can get back to transcribing and earning your pay.

You should also take the time to learn any software and other tools that will help you to do your job better. Know how to use text expanding software to speed up your transcription.

You should also know how to handle basic troubleshooting on your system. Know how to cope if your computer freezes or you drop your internet connection. A few basic tricks can save you a lot of time if you can handle things on your own.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

How to Ensure Your Medical Transcription Schooling Is a Waste of Time and Money

So you’re in a rush to get through your medical transcription schooling and start working. That’s great. Wonderful in fact. That’s one of the best ways to ensure you waste your time and money on training that won’t actually get you work as a medical transcriptionist after graduation. But there’s still more you can do to make yourself as unemployable as possible as a medical transcriptionist.

1. Fail to research school quality.

You might hit it lucky and pick a great medical transcriptionist school, or you might pick one of the worst. Don’t do your research and let Fate take you where it may for your education. This way you can later complain that there’s no way to get into medical transcription and that it’s all really a scam.

2. Skim through your studies.

All a medical transcriptionist really does is type up what the doctor says, right? You don’t need to pick up all that terminology or learn about procedures and stuff. You can make it work by just listening to the dictation. No problem.

3. Only work your self paced course occasionally.

It’s one of the great things about self paced medical transcription education. You can do it on your own time. So if there’s a party or something you’d rather go to, head off. Then find other reasons to skip out on your studies the next night, and the next. Hey, there’s that great TV show you’ve been meaning to watch. School will be there later.

At least until you find out you’ve run out of time on the program you signed up with. Why can’t they give you a reasonable amount of time to finish the course? It’s not your fault you didn’t get it done, is it?

4. Don’t review assignments after you finish them.

The grades don’t really matter, or what you missed on the test. All that matters is that you’re one section closer to done. You can pick it up as you work. Employers don’t care about how well you did in your training, do they?

5. Choose the school with the least time spent on practice transcription.

You want to get moving fast, don’t you? You can build up your transcription skills more when you’re getting paid for it. All you need in your training is enough of it to learn the basics. It won’t matter that you’re earning less than others and really not being productive later because at least you’re getting paid to do the work.

While none of these will guarantee that you’ll never find success as a medical transcriptionist, they can make the path to your career much more challenging, and may well keep you out. Medical transcription is a highly demanding career, and employers expect a lot from their employees. Make sure you make a good choice in your training so that you get off to a good start with your career.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

Are Medical Transcriptionists Being Phased Out? Is It Still Worth Studying?

One of the big things new and current medical transcriptionists are concerned about are the changes in the industry. They’re a big deal. Electronic medical records and voice recognition are changing the need for medical transcriptionists, and some have lost their jobs over the changes.

This doesn’t so much mean you shouldn’t study medical transcription as it means you should study for the changes so you can work with them. Giving up on a career that is still considered to have good growth potential isn’t a smart move. Knowing where that career is moving to and preparing for it is a much better move.

This is something you can do as a part of you medical transcription education. Some schools do offer additional courses to help you prepare to become a medical transcription editor. This does still require the full medical transcriptionist training, but you also learn how to edit reports created by voice recognition software. Given that the software doesn’t do everything perfectly, this is still a part that doctors need medical transcriptionists to handle for them.

You can expect an editor position to have a different pay scale from a transcriptionist position. Corrections should be possible to handle more quickly than transcribing a complete report, and so you should be able to get through more of them at a lower cost per report to the doctor.

It’s also helpful to remember that it’s not just doctor offices and hospitals that use medical transcriptionists. Dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors, pharmaceutical companies doing studies on new medications – any place that needs to keep track of medical information is going to use medical transcriptionists. They aren’t all going to make the switch to voice recognition right away.

Working as a transcriptionist is also a way to get into other medical work if that’s your interest. Most other positions won’t allow you to be home based as transcription may, but when you’re ready to take a new direction with your career, you’ll have options. You’ll know a lot about medical reports and medical information in general, and that’s a useful skill in other careers. You could do proofreading for medical journals, train other medical transcriptionists, and so forth.

Another important factor to remember is that while electronic medical records make it a matter of pointing and clicking to record the basics of patient care, they don’t cover everything a well dictated and transcribed report does. There’s valuable information that should still be dictated. You provide the skills to help with the electronic medical records and files generated by the speech recognition software, and you can keep yourself in demand.

The change in required skills is a big part of what’s driving the fear surrounding the future of medical transcription. Not everyone wants to learn the new skills when the old are so comfortable. Make yourself comfortable with a wide range of skills for this industry and you have a better shot at keeping yourself employed for the long term.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.

Which to Choose – An Online Medical Transcriptionist School or a Local Medical Transcription School?

Your choice of medical transcriptionist school makes a big difference at the start of your career. It makes it easier or harder to get that first job. Once you’ve shown your skill as a transcriptionist it makes less difference, but it’s very important up until then.

One of the things you’ll want to consider is whether to attend an online medical transcriptionist school or a local medical transcription school, such as at a community college. Your decision should be based both on your best learning style and the quality of schools available to you.

Online Medical Transcriptionist School Advantages

Learning through an online school has a lot of advantages. You usually have more flexibility in when you do your studies, for example. They’re often but not always self paced, so it all works with you. You don’t have to worry so much about classes interfering with your current routine. Scheduling may be one of the biggest barriers to taking a course otherwise, especially if you work an irregular schedule. That’s not a problem when you’re self paced.

Online education also helps you get practice for when you’re really working as a medical transcriptionist. Many transcriptionists work from home, and so the online course is more similar to that. You’ll get used to not having someone right in the same building available to answer your questions, and learn how to cope with that. You’ll learn to deal with the interruptions that are inherent to working from home.

Not having to deal with driving to school, fighting for parking and finding childcare for any kids you may have can be a wonderful advantage. These can be stressful, and childcare in particular may be expensive.

Online Medical Transcriptionist School Disadvantages

There are disadvantages, of course. They’re mostly related to the advantages, however. The distractions from studying at home, after all, are quite the disadvantage when they slow your studies down, but if you end up working from home later, you’ll be glad to have dealt with the issue before, so you hopefully have a plan to make it easier to deal with.

It’s similar for when you have questions about your coursework. Online courses mean you need to call, email, have an online chat with, or ask on the forum when you have a question. Any good course will have a qualified teacher available to you through one or all of these methods. The more immediate access to your teacher at whatever time of day you choose to study, the better.

Local Medical Transcription School Advantages

It’s not all perfect studying online. Going with a local vocational school or community college has its advantages too.

The routine of having set class times is of great benefit for some students. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to keep to a good routine on your own, you may want the required class schedule.

You may also be more comfortable in a classroom setting than on your own. That face to face time has a lot of value for many students. You may find that the lecture format is more suited to your learning style than an online course or reading through textbooks.

Local Medical Transcription School Disadvantages

Attending school in person may be the way most people go to school now, but it’s not perfect for every student, every subject or every situation. It has its disadvantages.

Scheduling can be a big one. You have to find a way to make your schedule fit around when the classes are offered. If you can’t, you don’t get to sign up for that class. If you have to work or have other obligations, it can make getting your medical transcription education next to impossible.

Worse is when you thought your schedule could take it, then something changes part way through the course and you have to drop it. It wouldn’t have been a problem, or at least not as much of a problem if you were in a self paced course online, but when the schedule’s firm you’re going to have to drop the class and try again some other time.

Parking is a bear at many schools. You may find it hard to get a good spot, well lit and close to the part of campus you need to go to.

And of course there’s child care if you have kids. If you don’t have someone who can watch the kids for you, getting to class is going to be awfully difficult. If you have to pay for someone to watch them, the cost of your education just went up.

Whichever You Choose…

Whichever kind of schooling you choose, make sure you know that the program is a high quality one. While a big part of your education depends on you, another big part depends on the quality of coursework and teachers who make it all happen. Add in the value of the school itself having a good reputation, and choosing the right program can very well determine how quickly you find that first job or if you give up in frustration.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training.
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