Medical Transcription Basics

Medical transcription training and schooling tips

Category: Medical Transcriptionist Career

What Kind of Continuing Education Do Medical Transcriptionists Need?

Keeping up with the industry is one of the challenges medical transcriptionists face. New drugs are always coming onto the market, and doctors perform new procedures. Electronic medical records and voice recognition software are also in the process of changing how the work of a medical transcriptionist is done. If you don’t keep up, your career may be in trouble.

While most medical transcription jobs don’t formally require you to take any sort of continuing education classes, it’s a good idea if you do, especially if you’re concerned about losing your work due to electronic medical records and voice recognition. These are having a real impact on the industry, along with the kinds of changes transcriptionists have had to deal with since the early days of the industry.

If you’ve taken the test through AHDI for your CMT, you’re required to get 30 credits of continuing education over 3 years in order to maintain your certification.

Read Medical Transcription Forums

A good medical transcription forum can help you keep up on the kinds of changes you should be aware of in the industry. Other transcriptionists share what’s happening in their area, which can alert you to things you should be aware of. You can also get tips on forums for how to improve your productivity, a vital skill for any transcriptionist paid on production.

This is not, repeat, not, formal continuing education. This is just how you keep up with some of the basic changes and become aware of issues in the industry. It’s important in its own way.

Take an Approved Continuing Education Course

If you want to show your employer that you’re continuing to improve your skills or you need to take some courses to keep up your CMT, you need to sign up for a formal course. AHDI is a great resource for finding appropriate courses.

For general continuing education, the AHDI offers a variety of courses that will help you improve your skills. You can find courses that will help you improve your weak points and that will help you keep your career moving.

Taking a course that will help you to make the transition from transcriptionist to medical transcription editor could be a good move for your career as well. It’s a way to take advantage of the changes that are happening, rather than sitting still and letting them run over you. It’s better to take some extra training for one of the paths your career could take than it is to rely on changes coming slowly.

A medical transcription editor takes the skills of a medical transcriptionist and applies them to editing documents produced through voice recognition software. This is one of the big areas of change in the industry, but as it’s fairly new not all transcriptionists are ready for it.

Whether you need the formal training of a course or just the informal information you can gain by reading professional forums, make sure you keep up on the things you need to know in this career. It’s all too easy to fall behind in this fast paced career.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training and continuing education options for medical transcription editing.

Are Medical Transcription Careers as Portable as They Say?

One of the big reasons you may be considering a career in medical transcription is that you’ve heard it’s an extremely portable job. You’ve probably heard that many medical transcriptionists work at home, and so they can move and keep their job. Is that true? Is a career in medical transcription a good choice if you expect to move?

That depends on the job you get. There are many medical transcriptionists who do indeed work from home. There are also many who work in an office.

Most of the work at home medical transcription jobs are indeed quite flexible as to where you live. You’ll probably never have to go in to the office, and when the work comes to you over a secure internet connection, where you are physically doesn’t much matter.

If you do have to move while working at home as a medical transcriptionist, make sure you keep in good contact with your employer. Discuss the time off you will need while moving. Sometimes it will take a few weeks to get an internet connection installed, for example, and your employer will need to know how long you’re going to be gone. It’s a good idea to plan the installation of such things as soon as you possibly can to minimize the loss of work time and income.

Even if you work in an office doing medical transcription, however, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to move your career. It does mean you’ll need to look for new work if you move, unless your employer has a work at home option available.

However, the demand for medical transcriptionists is still pretty good, and if you’re good at the work you should be able to find office based work if that’s what you prefer, even after a move. Remember that it’s not just doctor offices and hospitals that use medical transcriptionists. Veterinarians, chiropractors, any company doing medical studies also have work that will need to be transcribed. If you must move, you should be able to find a new job in the industry, depending on what’s in the area you’re moving to.

Perhaps the most challenging is if you move while running your own medical transcription business, especially if you need more direct contact with your clients. If you aren’t set up to receive dictation online and return reports online, a move can mean the loss of all your clients, as well as the time it takes to register your business properly at your new address.

Realistically, it’s much like other careers. If you have to be there in person, a move is probably going to mean that you have to look for a new job. If you’re doing all of your work from home you can probably keep your job and just take a little time off.

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

4 Ways You Can Mess Up Your Medical Transcription Career

Working as a medical transcriptionist can be a pretty good career. The pay is decent and you have a fair chance of being able to work from home. It’s not the easiest of careers in some ways, however, and you can mess things up pretty well. Some things you can fix easily, others are more of a problem.

1. Fail to get a good medical transcriptionist education.

If you want to get a good start to your medical transcription career, you need a good education. That means choosing a good quality school for your training.

There are a number of schools out there, but not all of them will do a good job. I have a preference for some of the good online medical transcription training programs out there, as you can do them at home and at your own pace. Just make sure they’re offering a good value for the money. You want them to have a good reputation with a number of employers. They should also require significant transcription practice with real doctor dictation.

2. Fail to use appropriate reference materials in your work.

Especially as a new transcriptionist, you won’t know everything the doctor expects you to transcribe. You will need to look up medical terminology, research drug names and generally learn what the doctor is talking about so that you can accurately transcribe the report.

Accuracy is demanded of medical transcriptionists. 98% or better is required by most employers. You can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes just because you didn’t quite understand something. It’s better to look things up or leave a blank to be filled in by someone who can get it right.

3. Fail to use productivity tools.

There are some great productivity tools available to medical transcriptionists. One of my favorites is the word expander. Some employers will provide one, and you can usually add in your own expansions to make it even more useful. It’s a huge help to your productivity to be able to get a full sentence for typing just a few characters. It’s especially beneficial if you’re paid by the line.

4. Fail to keep patient confidentiality.

Medical information is extremely private. There are a number of laws requiring you to keep patient confidentiality in your work. You are not to discuss reports you’ve typed with other people, and if by some chance you type a report for someone you know, you are not to share that information with that person, even if they really want to know and haven’t heard from their doctor. All you can do is tell them to call their doctor for it.

This also means you have to take appropriate steps to protect patient information when it is in your possession. If you work at home, this means keeping your computer secure from viruses and spyware, and not allowing others in your household to look at your work. Any printed records you keep must be shredded when it comes time to dispose of them.

This is the one that can get you fired most quickly if you don’t obey it. Patient confidentiality is a huge deal, and if you aren’t careful enough about it, your employer will not want to take the chance of keeping you on payroll.

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

Do You Really Have to Attend a School to Become a Medical Transcriptionist?

You’ve heard about working as a medical transcriptionist, perhaps even at home, and you’re eager to get your career moving. You’re pretty confident about your typing skills and your ability to use them as a medical transcriptionist. Are you really going to have to spend a bunch of time in school to become a medical transcriptionist?

Probably, yes. Especially if you think a medical transcriptionist just types up what the doctor says. The job is just not as simple as that.

First and foremost, it’s hard to get into medical transcription without experience, never mind without training. It’s a career that demands near perfect accuracy. Going to school to become a medical transcriptionist will help you to build the skills and knowledge you will need to do the work.

Even nurses who want to go into this field are usually better off going to school first. It’s very different dealing with patients than it is transcribing doctor’s dictation. You can’t get by with almost knowing how to spell all the terminology. You must get it right.

Nurses and others with a medical background do have some advantages, as medical terminology, physiology, anatomy and pharmacology will be much more familiar. But a refresher won’t hurt, and if you choose a self paced online school you can work through the familiar parts more quickly. But nurses and other medical personnel will still need to learn how to transcribe, and that’s a skill that comes only with hours of practice.

Transcription itself can be extremely challenging. Doctors usually speak differently when they dictate. Many speak as fast as they can, to get the work out of their way. Others will eat or do other activities as they dictate. Then there are strong accents to deal with. The only thing that will help you to cope is a lot of practice. The best place to get this is through a medical transcriptionist school.

Learning to transcribe will be a huge help when you first become a medical transcriptionist. You’ll be faster at it than you would be if you’ve never transcribed before. If your job pays on production, you want every advantage you can get when it comes to speed and accuracy.

Unless you know someone who wants to hire you with no training and no experience, attending school will be a big help in getting that first job. Provided you attend a good one, of course. There are many schools that are not worth the time or expense to attend. There are others that are very much worth both time and expense for the quality of their training.

Going through a good medical transcription school and getting good grades on your work is one way you can show potential employers that you can do the work. Without some sort of proof that you’re a competent medical transcriptionist, most companies won’t give you or your resume a second look.

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

Which Career Is Better to Go Into, Pharmacy Technician or Medical Transcriptionist?

Many people know that the medical field is a great place to go for career opportunities. Most areas are growing, and there’s good demand for people who can do the work. The challenge is in deciding which type of work to do.

Consider the differences between becoming a pharmacy technician or a medical transcriptionist. They’re both in demand medical careers, but they’re very different. Which one is right for you depends on what you want from your career.

A pharmacy technician works in the pharmacy and spends most of the day on his or her feet. It can be a very physically demanding job, as you have to lift boxes and may have to climb stepladders. There’s often a lot of customer service involved. You may work in a retail setting or in a hospital. You may have to be available to work nights, weekends and holidays.

Some states require certification for pharmacy technicians, but not all do. Certification usually has to be updated every two years, with continuing education required as well.

The great part about becoming a pharmacy technician is that it is a field with good growth expected. The current Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate for growth in this industry is that it will grow by 32% between 2010 and 2020. That’s faster than average. Pay is fair, with a median rate of $13.65 per hour.

Medical transcriptionists may have more flexibility. Some work at home, but others work in hospitals, doctors offices and many other places. You usually spend most of your work day sitting at your computer desk, listening to the doctor’s dictation and transcribing it as accurately as possible. Some positions will require night, weekend and holiday availability, as reports may be urgent enough to require immediate transcription, but other positions are highly flexible and may work around the schedule you set.

Certification is not required for medical transcriptionists, but may have some advantage, as some positions will pay a certified medical transcriptionist more. Note that certification is a separate thing from a certificate of completion from a medical transcriptionist training program. The test to become a certified medical transcriptionist (CMT) is given only by AHDI, and you must have two years of acute care transcription experience or equivalent just to sign up to take the test.

Medical transcription is a growing but changing field. It’s expected to grow by about 6% from 2010-2020, the most recent times that have an estimate available as of this writing. That’s not as fast as the growth expected for pharmacy technicians. It’s a bit slower than average.

However, the industry is changing significantly with the switch to electronic medical records. That’s not likely to completely do away with medical transcriptionists, but it may change the work to more of an editorial role, ensuring that the electronic records are created accurately.

The median pay rate for medical transcriptionists is better than that of pharmacy technicians, at about $15.82 per hour.

Of course, which career is better for you depends on a lot of factors. Medical transcription has the advantage of being possible to do from home, so you aren’t completely reliant on your local job market. However, you have to be more prepared for change, and new jobs aren’t opening up as fast as they are for pharmacy technicians. You have to consider what’s important to you in your career and where you want it to take you in the long run before you decide to get training for any new career.

Get free information from Career Step about their online medical transcriptionist training. Career Step also offers pharmacy technician training.

Are Schools for Medical Transcription Honest About Your Chances of Working in Medical Transcription?

You know that when you look at schools for medical transcription that they’re trying to sell you a service, that is, an education that will allow you to break into a new career. But are they honest about your chances of working in medical transcription and what the salary is like?

Some are, some aren’t.

If they’re being honest, the schools for medical transcription are probably using the data from the U.S. Department of Labor, which quotes job growth of 11% by 2018 for medical transcription. Ideally, they’ll link to that information as well on the Department of Labor’s website, so you can see it from the source yourself. That’s being honest.

Some schools will talk about how medical transcriptionists can earn up to $50,000 a year or so. It’s true enough that some medical transcriptionists earn that or even more, but most don’t. From that same Department of Labor report, the middle 50% of medical transcriptionists earn between $13.02 and $18.55 an hour. That comes out to under $40,000 a year even on that high side. Only the highest 10% earn more than 21.81 an hour.

In other words, don’t plan on a high income, especially right after graduation. You can hit the midrange if you really work at it and get a good job, but don’t be surprised to start on the lower side.

A part of this is due to how medical transcription salaries work. They aren’t usually based on hourly work, particularly for home based transcriptionists. Pay is often based on production.

That’s great once you get going. You can improve your pay rate by learning to work faster.

But most important right at the start are your chances of getting hired with training but no actual work experience. That’s the tough part, and no easily accessible outside statistics will tell you how good a chance you have of that. You have to look at the school itself and what it says.

Job placement rate is one factor to consider. If they’re placing a high percentage of graduates, you have a better chance of working in medical transcription after graduation. However, schools may count finding any work, whether it’s as a medical transcriptionist or not, as an employed graduate.

Better is to look at the trust medical transcription employers put in graduates of that program. What do they think? Will they hire new graduates who haven’t worked in the industry yet if they have done well at that school for medical transcription?

That’s what tells you a school may be worth attending when you want to become a medical transcriptionist. It’s a good hint that the program teaches you well enough to get a job if employers trust that school.

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

How Do You Get Your First Medical Transcription Job?

One of the biggest challenges for a newly trained medical transcriptionist is finding that first job. It’s the classic dilemma of needing experience to land a job when no one will hire you to give you experience.

This is one of the areas where quality training comes in handy. If you make the right choice in medical transcription schools, the reputation of the school will help you to land a good job. Schools such as CareerStep have good reputations with many employers. This makes getting hired much easier.

If multiple levels of training are offered, you may be better off taking more than just the minimum level. My own employer, for example, preferred students who took at least the Gold level classes through CareerStep. They weren’t particularly interested in students who only took the basic, Silver level classes. I won’t say it was impossible to get hired as a Silver level student, merely that it was more difficult.

Many schools will offer job placement assistance. If it’s offered, take advantage of it!

Another great way to find your first job is to start asking around at medical transcription forums to see if anyone knows of a company that hires newly trained and inexperienced medical transcriptionists. There are companies out there that will do this. Otherwise I never would have landed my own first medical transcription job. MT Desk has a good forum.

You can also do your own searches online or in the newspaper. There are plenty of job sites such as where you can post your resume and easily apply for any medical transcription jobs that are posted. You can even have the site email you job search results daily.

There are also sites that have lists of medical transcription companies that you can contact and ask if they will test you. Many require 2 or more years’ experience, but if the site doesn’t make their preferences clear, ask!

If you don’t mind working outside the home for a time, check with local hospitals and clinics for on-site positions. It can be much easier to land a job on-site than off when you lack experience. It can also be extremely helpful to be surrounded by people who already know the job quite well.

Talk to your doctor. Your doctor may or may not need a medical transcriptionist, but he or she may know someone who does. You can also try your veterinarian if you’ve studied that terminology, your chiropractor, your dentist… any medical professional you know. If you have to pick up some new terminology to work for them, just consider it a good career habit.

Whatever you do, keep practicing your transcription. If you have the tapes from your studies, keep on transcribing them. It’s good to keep your mind on it, and you’ll keep improving your skills. Once you land the job, your ability to type fast and accurately becomes even more vital. You don’t want to lose your touch.

How to Get Your Medical Transcription Career Started

Medical transcription is a good career with growth potential, and great for people who want to work at home. It’s flexible, challenging, and even fun for the right kind of person.

It’s also a bit difficult to get started. How do you get past that two years of experience requirement so many employers have?

Get Medical Transcription Training

Going through a quality medical transcription training program will help you get past one of the biggest obstacles in this career – landing your first medical transcription job. There are schools that have partnerships with certain employers. These partnerships mean the employers agree to test applicants who graduate from that school with certain achievement levels. If you pass, the experience requirement goes away.

Make sure you select an AHDI Approved program. These are the programs that have proven their worth, and many of them have excellent reputations with potential employers.

Seek Out Jobs

Even with a good training under your belt, jobs aren’t going to come hunting for you. You have to hunt for them.

Have your resume ready. It should emphasize how well you did in your coursework.

Take advantage of any resources your school offers you. This includes any employers they partner with and any job boards they offer. Check on these daily while you’re hunting for a job.

Be Ready to Search for a While

No matter how well you do in your studies, sometimes the jobs just aren’t there right away. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re trying to get into.

Be persistent in your job hunt, and pay particular attention to jobs from any company you believe you would prefer to work for. Remember that there is competition for every job opening. Just because you don’t make it through on the first try doesn’t mean you won’t get hired later on.

Keep Up Your Skills

If your job hunt is taking a while, make sure you keep up with your skills so that you don’t forget what you learned during your training. Participate in medical transcription forums. Review your coursework. Keep up with happenings in the industry.

For most people who graduate with good scores, a job will happen eventually. How long it takes depends a bit on luck and a lot on how hard you search for that first job.

Ready to train as a medical transcriptionist? Check out Career Step’s online training program.

Is Medical Transcription a Good Career Choice for the Disabled?

Working at home is a popular choice for many people with disabilities. It can be much simpler to work something flexible at home than to deal with whatever limitations your disabilities cause at an office or other place of work.

Medical transcription is a very popular work at home job. It has its challenges, such as getting trained properly for the work, and finding that first job, but overall it’s not a bad option.

How well suited you are to medical transcription depends on a few factors. There are the basic ones that apply to anyone wanting to transcribe, such as your language skills, ability to pick up new information, and your drive to work without supervision.

When you’re disabled you may have other factors to consider. How will your disability impact your ability to work? Will you need special software or equipment?

You’ll be able to handle many of the accommodations you need for this job on your own, and if you use your computer regularly already, you may have them already. Voice recognition software can be a big help for those who have difficulty typing due to disabilities, for example. You may need to get a specialized update for it to help the software with medical terminology and really pay attention to what it types on the screen for you, but this sort of technology is becoming more common anyhow.

You will need to go through a training program to work as a medical transcriptionist. That’s a simple reality for this job. There’s a lot to learn, such as medical terminology, formatting and the skill of transcription itself. There are some very good online training programs you can try that allow you to proceed at pretty much your own pace.

You will most likely be an independent contractor, although some companies will hire you as an employee and even offer benefits such as health coverage if you work a full time schedule.

The challenge in getting the first job after training always comes down to experience. This is where you make sure to choose a great training program. If you choose a high quality program and excel in it you have a much better chance at quickly landing a job after graduation. But as with any kind of job hunt it make take only a few days or it may take several months or more. There are never any guarantees of work.

There’s no one job that’s right for anyone, no matter their skills or challenges. You’re the only one who can determine if you want to try to become a medical transcriptionist. Take a look at what the career involves, and if it seems right, go for it!

Check out the Career Step training program and decide if this is the right work at home opportunity for you.

Medical Transcription Jobs

The demand for good medical transcriptionists is out there. Depending on your training and experience, you may work at home or in an office for all kinds of medical professionals, including:

  • Doctor’s offices
  • Hospitals
  • Veterinarians
  • Medical transcription services
  • Medical specialists, such as radiologists
  • Chiropractors
  • and more.

Essentially, if they work with patients, they need transcriptionists to record their work. And with the ease of telecommuting these days, you don’t have to limit yourself to clients in your area. You can run your own transcription business or work for a medical transcription service.

The job outlook for medical transcriptionists is still good, despite outsourcing and other concerns. Read up on what the U.S. Department of Labor says. Note especially this quote:

Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to grow about as fast as the average; job opportunities should be good, especially for those who are certified.

Yes, the field is still quite healthy and should be for a number of years to come.

Ready to train as a medical transcriptionist? Check out Career Step’s online training program.