Medical Transcription Basics

Medical transcription training and schooling tips

Category: Medical Transcriptionist Training (page 1 of 6)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Which Online Medical Transcription Schools Take Less Time to Complete?

You’re eager to start working as a medical transcriptionist, and you’ve seen that some online medical transcription schools promise that you can get a fast start. That only makes you more eager to get things going. Which ones take the least time to complete your training so you can start working as a medical transcriptionist?

You’re asking the wrong question. It doesn’t matter how fast the school lets you complete your training if you don’t learn enough to work as a medical transcriptionist. Consider the quality of training first, then look at how long it’s going to take you.

Want the fastest way to finish your training? Go with one of the high quality online medical transcription schools that allow you to train at your own pace. This way the training will only take as long as you need to absorb all of the information and to get enough actual transcription practice to do the work successfully.

Here are some tricks to speed up your training:

1. Set up a quiet home office.

The fewer distractions you deal with as you study, the faster and better you can learn the material. Ideally this would be a space where you can close the door and work. Second best is a room away from the television and other activities in the home.

Quiet is a huge help when you’re trying to transcribe a report. It’s not just about your focus. It’s that many doctors are very difficult to understand, something you will quickly learn when doing your practice dictation, and have emphasized when you start working as a medical transcriptionist. Quiet means you can figure it out with less background noise jumbling things still more.

2. Treat your studies as a full time job.

If you can study as though it’s a full time job, that’s how you’ll finish more quickly. The number of hours will help tremendously. If you can find a way to study at home full time, do so. It will be tiring, especially if you have another job, but it will get you through your classes more quickly.

If you can only study part time, make sure you take those hours seriously. Schedule them into your day and don’t drop them lightly.

In either case, make your studies a part of your routine. Treat it as you would treat a job. Don’t just take off and say you can do the work later.

3. Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help when you don’t quite understand something. That’s what they’re there for. Things aren’t always perfectly clear when you see them in your books or online study materials. If you need help, get it rather than waste time trying to puzzle things out on your own.

4. Don’t stress about how long your studies are taking.

Sure, you want to get your career started. That’s perfectly reasonable. Just remember that you need to learn the material well if you want to work in medical transcription. Going so fast that you don’t remember what you “learned” after the test on that section is not going to make you a good transcriptionist. It’s not going to help you find a job either.

Expect a minimum of four months of study, and don’t be surprised at nine months or longer. That’s normal. This is a complex career with a lot of information you need to learn. You need to learn the material thoroughly if you want a job later.

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

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Start Medical Transcriptionist Training Online

Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of taking medical transcriptionist training online. It’s more comfortable to think of going to school, having your professors right there, having regular assignment due dates, and working with the other students in your class. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a lot to be said for doing your training online.

1. Many programs are self paced.

If you’ve been delaying getting your training because you can’t fit the classes into your schedule, online training may be just what you’ve been waiting for. Many programs are self paced. You start as soon as you get the materials after signing up. You study when you have the time. You turn in assignments as you finish them.

You don’t have to drive to school, fight for a parking space or look for your classroom. Everything is done on your computer.

2. Help is available.

It’s kind of difficult to picture learning some things without a teacher right there to help you. Not everyone understands how you can ask questions when you aren’t in a classroom with your professor and other students, and there are no office hours to go to.

Any worthwhile online training program is going to have teachers available to you in a variety of ways. You can usually contact one by phone, email or chat session. If you’re stuck on something or need a bit of clarification, someone is available to help you.

3. Several reputable programs are only available online.

You may be concerned that online medical transcriptionist training programs are all scams. It’s a fairly reasonable fear, given how many scams are online, but with appropriate research it doesn’t need to be a concern for long. You can find great schools on the internet that will train you better than most local programs could.

Looks for ones that have a good reputation for their medical transcription program with employers. You don’t care what else they can train you for or their reputation in that program. You care that they’ll train you for the job you want, and do it well enough that you can get a job after graduation.

The online courses are some of the most challenging out there. The good ones require many hours of real doctor dictation transcribed by you in order to graduate. These will give you the kind of practice you need to work as a medical transcriptionist successfully.

4. Training at home is good practice for working at home.

Many people choose medical transcription as a career because they want to work at home. With that preference, why would you want to learn your skills any place other than at home?

Being at home to learn or work is very different from doing so outside the home. You have a lot of distractions. It’s harder to keep your focus. You have to get better at keeping yourself on schedule.

When better to learn than during your studies? Better you figure out how to deal with the pitfalls as a part of your education than lose your job because you couldn’t handle it.

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

Which Online Schools Offer an Accredited Certificate to Be a Medical Transcriptionist?

If you want to be a medical transcriptionist, an online school sounds like a promising way to get the training you need. Classes on your schedule, not when the school says you have to be there. No parking troubles. No waiting for a new session to start. No need to get childcare if you have kids.

The only problem is figuring out which online schools are worth considering. Do they offer something like an accredited certificate to show that you can be a medical transcriptionist?

No, they don’t. There’s no such thing.

An online school can offer a certificate of completion to show you finished their medical transcription course. That’s easy, it’s something they decide to do, but it doesn’t mean anything other than you finished their course. It doesn’t give you any special qualifications for the work. A Certified Medical Transcriptionist is not someone who has just graduated from their training and been given a certificate of completion. They’re a transcriptionist with at least two years of acute care medical transcription experience who has passed the CMT test given by AHDI. Don’t confuse your school’s certificate with a CMT designation.

An online school can also be accredited. This may or may not mean anything, depending on the accrediting agency. Some are pickier than others about the schools they accredit.

If you want to know that a school has been reviewed specifically in terms of medical transcription training quality, look for AHDI Approval. It is specifically about medical transcription, not the other courses the schools offer. It is not an accreditation as such, but its specific focus makes it a valuable consideration.

The other big thing you should be looking at is what employers want. You don’t need to care about things they aren’t asking for, and that includes a certificate. They want to know you’re well trained, and most have schools they are more likely to hire graduates from when they aren’t requiring two years of experience. Look at the employers to figure out what you should be concerning yourself with as you train for the job. That’s what will matter when you’re hunting for a job.

In choosing an online school to learn medical transcription, pay attention to the things that matter. It’s not the piece of paper they give you. It’s the quality of the education you can get there and the chance to start a new career. Without a good education that will help you get your first job in the industry, your time with that school won’t mean anything much.

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