Medical Transcription Basics

Medical transcription training and schooling tips

Category: Medical Transcriptionist Training (page 3 of 6)

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.

What Classes Are Mandatory to Get a Job as a Medical Transcriptionist?

Getting your first job as a medical transcriptionist is rarely easy. Most companies want experience, two years or more of it. The rest will consider people who have taken good enough classes to learn medical transcription, but they must have been good classes that really teach you the skills you need to work at your job as a medical transcriptionist.

So, what classes are mandatory?

If you sign up for a good online medical transcriptionist training program, all of them!

Let’s make that a little clearer. There are certain things the classes must offer in order for you to be well trained and ready to work after graduation.

1. Medical terminology

This is an obvious one. You must be able to understand what the doctor is talking about. If you can’t understand it, you can’t always type it accurately, and you’re more likely to cause mistakes to enter into the medical record.

2. Grammar and style

There are a number of rules for grammar and style in medical transcription, and they aren’t always the same as they would be for any other kind of report. You must be able to produce a transcribed medical report or other file that is done in the style expected.

3. Anatomy and physiology

These classes will help you to understand what the doctor is talking about. This is a huge help in keeping your reports accurate, as doctors do make mistakes and misspeak. If they’re talking about one body part, then report a symptom or procedure that is only done to another part, you know there’s a problem in the dictation that needs to be noted.

4. Pharmacology

Pharmacology is one of those areas that is constantly changing, but you need to learn as much as you can during your training. New medications come out all the time, but you’ll still regularly deal with reports on patients using more familiar medications, and you should have some familiarity with them. You’ll also need to develop your ear for the difference between similar sounding medications, and the differences between brand name and generic medications.

5. Disease processes

You will need to have a general idea as to how diseases tend to go in patients. Once again, this helps with accuracy.

6. Transcription technology and practice

The technology used by medical transcriptionists has been going through some changes in recent years. It used to be normal for medical transcriptionists to pick up tapes at the doctor’s office or hospital, transcribe them at home using a Dictaphone, print out the reports and drive them back to where they came from.

Now it’s more common to send and receive all work over a secure internet connection. It’s much simpler for all involved. Some transcriptionists as well as some doctors even take advantage of voice recognition software to simplify their transcription work.

It takes a lot of practice to become a good medical transcriptionist. You should be required to do many hours of dictation practice in a good class.

7. Privacy and legal issues

Patient privacy is a huge issue for anyone dealing with patient information of any sort. You are required by law to protect the patient information you deal with in your work. A good class will help prepare you for this, and any employer should have policies in place that you will need to follow.

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

What Is a Short Course for Training as a Medical Transcriptionist?

Who wants to spend months training as a medical transcriptionist when it can be done more quickly? Isn’t it better to get your career moving than it is to spend month after month in a medical transcription course? Surely there’s a short course for training as a medical transcriptionist.

That depends. What do you mean by short and how much do you value the skills you need to learn? Do you really care about getting the skills to be a productive transcriptionist after you graduate?

There are courses that claim you can learn the skills you need in a fairly short time, eight weeks or so. I don’t trust them. I know how difficult medical transcription is, and that it’s much more than just typing up what the doctor says. With everything you need to learn and the transcription skills you need to build, eight weeks isn’t going to be enough.

If you want a short medical transcription course, go for a self paced program. If you can really learn it all quickly, a self paced course will give you that chance. When you find out how challenging some of the work it, you can take the time you need to learn those skills.

In a good quality self paced medical transcriptionist course, four months is pretty fast. That usually requires the ability to treat your training as a full time job. Great practice for your eventual job after graduation, of course. Just don’t be surprised if it takes longer. Nine months of training is very common.

There’s a lot to learn in any medical transcription course. You have to learn anatomy, physiology, disease processes, drug names and uses, medical report formatting and more. You have to learn how to transcribe, which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You have to learn to deal with the different styles of dictation doctors may throw at you, plus a wide variety of accents. It’s not always the strong accents that are the most difficult either. My least favorite doctor to transcribe for did not have a strong accent. She merely spoke so quickly that she was unusually difficult to understand, running her words together so much that slowing the recording was of very limited benefit. That’s something you have to learn to deal with.

A good course will include many hours of practice dictation from real doctors for you to transcribe. That’s the only way you can build up your skills, and it takes a lot of time. There are no shortcuts for this. The heavy practice will teach you to take what you’re hearing and type it up accurately and quickly.

Without all this practice, you probably won’t do so well in your career. Those employers willing to consider new graduates still test their skills before hiring them, and if you can’t pass the test you can’t get a job. If you go for too short a course, you may not have the skills necessary to pass that test, and your job hunt will take more time than it would have taken you to finish a more challenging training course. If you land a job and it pays on production you may also find that you aren’t earning enough because you didn’t get the transcription speed you need because you didn’t do enough during your training. It can make your pay rate too low to be worth the trouble.

As with many other things in life, what sounds like a shortcut may make things more challenging, not less. Take a course because it will train you properly for the job, not because they say you’ll be done fast. It will pay off later.

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

How to Find Good at Home Medical Transcriptionist Courses

Taking an at home medical transcriptionist course is one of the best ways to learn medical transcription. At home courses are highly flexible, so you can take them around your current schedule, and adapt if your schedule changes. All you need to do is find one that’s good enough to train you for the job you hope to land after graduation. And that’s the challenge.

Not all at home courses are worth taking. Many are flat out worth avoiding. They just don’t give you enough of the skills you need if you’re going to work as a medical transcriptionist. You don’t want to take time for the classes, paying the money the course costs and then find out you didn’t learn enough to get a job after graduation. That’s just a waste. You want a course you can do at home that will teach you everything you need to know to find work as a medical transcriptionist after graduation.

To find an at home course that’s worth taking, you need to know a bit about the school offering the course. Medical transcription can be taken from a variety of schools, even your local community college may offer one that you have to attend in person, but some of the best focus exclusively on training for various careers in the medical field.

Don’t assume that accreditation means something. There are many accrediting agencies out there, and some mean more than others. For medical transcription, AHDI Approval is more important than any other kind of accreditation, as it is specific to the medical transcription training being offered.

Another factor to consider is how employers feel about the course. If the at home medical transcriptionist course you’re considering is not well regarded by potential employers, how do you expect to find work after you graduate? You’re better off if the course is so well trusted by major employers that you can skip past the requirement that you have two years of experience. This requirement challenges many newly trained transcriptionists, and any advantage you can gain in getting past it should be considered.

Cost is naturally a factor, especially in an area like medical transcriptionist training, where few schools have grants or student loans directly available. You should balance cost with attending a good at home course. You don’t have to sign up for the most expensive courses to get good training, but you should usually avoid the cheapest, as they may not offer really good training.

Fortunately, while many don’t directly offer loans, they may offer a payment plan so you can spread the cost out a little. Alternatively, they may offer a discount for payment in full at the start. Sometimes one or the other will be just enough to allow you to pay for the course. Offers may change from month to month, but if you don’t see what you need, contact the school to see if you’ve missed information that may help you to pay for training.

There’s even a program for military spouses to get medical transcriptionist training through MyCAA. This may cover the entire cost for military spouses.

Don’t sign up for just any course without doing a bit of research on it, no matter how good it looks at first. You want to be sure you’re getting the benefits you need for the cost of the training. There are some really great home based programs available to you, and that’s probably what you want to sign up for.

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

How to Look Into Online Courses for Medical Transcriptionist Education

Medical transcription is a great career once you have the training. This means you need to take some time to do some research. What are the best ways to look into online courses for medical transcriptionist education?

It’s not as simple as looking through the sites on your favorite search engine. Some of the schools are really great at teaching medical transcription, others are not, but they will all tell you that they offer great training. They’d like you as a student, after all.

The key is figuring out which ones really are good.

Odds are you’d like to finish your training quickly, so that you can begin working as soon as possible. Too fast is a bad idea, however. If the school says you can finish in as little as eight weeks, odds are it’s not that great a program. There’s too much to learn in that short a time. It’s better that you take a bit more time and really learn the skills a medical transcriptionist needs than it is to be told you’re graduating when you really don’t know as much as the school has let you think you know.

Most online courses for medical transcriptionists tell you to expect to take at least four months, and nine months is not at all uncommon. They’re often self paced, which is great for fitting your training into your current schedule. You can study while keeping your current job and dealing with the rest of your daily life. You won’t have to worry about a change in schedule or particularly busy day keeping you away from an important class. You can do it in your own time and learn at your own pace.

This doesn’t mean you can dawdle your way through. There’s usually a more than generous time limit for completing the entire course. Work hard on your studies, and it should not be too hard to complete them within the time frame allowed by the school.

You want your medical transcriptionist education to be well regarded by potential employers. While it’s no guarantee of future employment, any school that has a good relationship with several employers gives you a good chance at getting a job after graduation, skipping the usual requirement of two years of experience that plagues graduates of programs that aren’t so well regarded.

Cost is a major deciding factor for many potential students. Cheap is not the best way to go, however. Your education has a high value in terms of your future career, and you should value it as such. Go too cheap with too little research, and it may be difficult to impossible to get a job, as the quality of your training may suffer.

This doesn’t mean you need to go to the most expensive schools either. There are some very good schools that are on the high range of prices for medical transcriptionist education. Some are excellent, but others merely have a high price and nothing else going for them. Do your research to be sure your school is worth it.

Some midrange schools are quite acceptable in terms of price and quality. Check into their reputations and you may find one that’s not too hard on your education budget, and has the quality you need to give you a good shot at the job you’re after.

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

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist via Online Courses

You know you have to study in order to become a medical transcriptionist, and you’ve decided that online courses are the way to go. That’s probably a good decision, as some of the best medical transcriptionist courses are the online programs, and that’s a benefit to your overall career.

You have to find the right online course. They aren’t all created equal, and they certainly aren’t all worth paying for. You’re better off being certain that you aren’t signing up for a program that’s more interested in your money than in training you for your new career.

Even before you choose a course, however, you need to make sure you’re ready to take it. Your basic skills should be up to par in a few areas before you start studying medical transcription. Otherwise you’ll spend too much time building skills you should already have. Worse, some programs won’t accept you if you don’t have these basic skills.

Typing speed is one of those skills. If you aren’t a good typist, you aren’t going to be a good medical transcriptionist. If the position you get pays on production and you don’t type well, you aren’t going to earn much. You should be able to type at least 45 wpm before you even start your medical transcription course.

Your basic grammar and spelling skills should also be excellent. If you struggle with spelling and grammar, or just can’t be bothered to correct the mistakes you make in those areas, medical transcription may not be for you. These are mistakes that are not acceptable in people’s medical records, especially as some mistakes can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Saying a panda eats shoots and leaves is entirely different from saying a panda eats, shoots and leaves.

With your basic skills in good shape, you can consider which online course to sign up for. There are quite a number of them available, but you want to sign up for one that will give you high quality training so you can get a job after graduation. Who cares about being trained as a medical transcriptionist if you never become one?

There are a few good signs to look for in an online course. The first is AHDI Approval, which means their course has been reviewed by the AHDI for quality. The next is how employers feel about the program. If there are a number of employers willing to hire graduates without requiring that they get two years of experience first, that’s a good sign that the training is good. It’s also a sign that if you do well, you will have a chance at a job after graduation.

No matter how good the program is however, if you aren’t a good student, it’s not going to do you a lot of good. You must work hard and really build your skills. Not only does this improve your chances of employment after graduation, it means you’ll be a more productive employee. As many positions are paid on production in medical transcription, this can effect how much you earn for the work you do. This should be excellent motivation to master the skills a medical transcriptionist needs.

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

How Long Do You Have to Go to College to Become a Medical Transcriptionist?

You often hear that you have to go to college for two years to become a medical transcriptionist. Other schools claim they can train you in as little as eight weeks. How long do you really need to go to college to become a medical transcriptionist?

That depends.

It depends on a few factors. The first is which medical transcription program you sign up for. There are a lot of options out there. You don’t want to sign up for a program that promises you can graduate in less than four months – that’s too fast. Most people simply cannot acquire the skills needed to be a successful medical transcriptionist in less than four months. As a matter of fact, nine months is a reasonable estimate for many people in self paced training courses.

Community colleges and some other schools may have programs that take two years to finish. You don’t have to take that long. These programs may be offering an Associate’s degree in medical transcription, which is not necessary to find work. They may require you to take unrelated courses as well. That’s not a problem if that’s the way you want to go about training for this career, but it’s not as fast as more focused, self paced programs.

I like the self paced schools that give honest estimates of how long it takes most students to complete their programs. No false promises that you’ll know enough to find a job in just two months or that the average pay rate is higher than it is. You need honest information when you’re trying to start a new career, not hype and vague promises.

With a self paced program, a big part of what determines how long you have to go to college is you. If you work hard on your studies, you may be able to finish faster. But when you come to parts that are more challenging for you, you’re still able to take the time you need to really get the information down, no worries about holding the rest of the class up or needing to catch up with classmates who got it sooner. You can even take extra time if events in your life cause you to need to slow down for a bit.

As you look into various colleges that may train you to become a medical transcriptionist, consider what it is you want from the training. Quality is obviously a major factor, as is cost, but how long it takes to complete the course should be a factor too. Don’t go for promises of a lightning fast education, but also remember that you probably won’t need to study for two years to acquire the skills you need for this career. There’s a good balance that will help you to finish your training in a reasonable amount of time and be ready to work when you find a job.

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

Is Schooling Necessary to Get a Job as a Medical Transcriptionist?

Going through medical transcriptionist schooling may seem like an extra, expensive step to getting a job as a medical transcriptionist. Why do you need to spend thousands of dollars and several months learning the skills for this job? Isn’t it just typing up what the doctor says? How can that take special schooling?

It does indeed take special schooling for most people. The skills needed to become a successful medical transcriptionist aren’t as simple as they sound.

You aren’t just typing up what the doctor says, for example. Many doctors don’t dictate all that clearly, which means even just typing up what they say isn’t a particularly easy thing. You also have to understand what they’re saying and make sure it makes sense. Doctors are human, and they misspeak at times. They can name the wrong body part, wrong medication, wrong disorder… or just so mangle the pronunciation that you don’t know right away what they really said. Your schooling helps you to learn how to deal with these situations.

There are a lot of formatting rules for medical transcriptionists to follow as well. That’s not something you can always tell from what the doctor dictates. You have to know what the correct format is for the type of report being dictated.

Taking the time to get your schooling can even impact how much you earn as you work. It’s not just a matter of starting pay rate, it’s that many medical transcriptionists are paid on production. The better you know your work, the faster you can transcribe, and the more you can earn.

There are very few openings for untrained people wanting to get into medical transcription. It’s even challenging to get started when you do have training if you don’t pick a trusted school. Most openings state that you need at least two years of experience. If you want to get past that requirement, you need a solid education to show that you can do the work.

It’s also impractical for employers to train most people to do the work. It takes at least four months to learn this job, and 6-9 months is not at all uncommon. That’s a long time for an employer to let an employee sit in a training room.

There’s also too much risk to letting someone with insufficient medical knowledge do this work. Medical records are very sensitive. They must be transcribed accurately. If you can’t trust an employee to get the work done right, you’re not going to want to hire that employee. Why should an employer consider you if you don’t have some way to show them that you can do the work?

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

Do You Need Schooling to Become an At Home Medical Transcriptionist?

You want to become an at home medical transcriptionist. You’re confident you can pick up the needed skills on your own if they’d just give you the chance. Do you really need to pay for medical transcriptionist schooling and take all that time to learn it at school in order to work at home in medical transcription?

Yes, probably you do.

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, it’s not as simple as just typing what the doctor says. People who don’t know better may describe it that way, but few things in life are as basic as their simplest description.

You have to learn formatting. You have to know medical terminology. You have to know anatomy and physiology. You have to know the names of many medications and their generic variations. You have to develop your ear for transcription, and that’s not an easy thing to do. It only comes with practice.

Most of all, you must be fast and accurate. Medical transcription companies don’t want to spend significant amounts of time training you to do the work. They want you ready to go with just a little help getting used to the particular system they use. They don’t want you overloading their QA staff with poor quality work because you don’t really understand what you’re doing and can’t quite hear the difference between very similar terms used by the doctors.

Even though medical transcription schooling costs money, in the long run you may earn more if you go through it. Most at home medical transcriptionists are paid per line, not per hour. This means that the faster you can transcribe accurately, the more you earn. Taking the time to go through schooling means that you’ll be a faster transcriptionist at the start, and capable of earning more money.

If you feel you have most of the skills needed already, consider that many online medical transcriptionist schools are self paced. If you already know the information, you can go through that part of the course more quickly, and spend more time on the parts you still need to learn. You may be surprised during your training to find out what you don’t know already that you need to know to work in this industry.

I’ll admit that it’s not completely impossible to become a medical transcriptionist without training, but the odds of doing so successfully are pretty low. That’s not the usual way to get started, and particularly in low supervision areas such as at home medical transcription employers need to know their employees can do the work with minimal help and supervision. Having an education gives them reassurance that you know what you’re doing, which increases the chance that they will consider you at all for a job.

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

Interested in Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist, But Not Sure Which School Is Best?

Choosing the best medical transcription school is pretty challenging. They all try to look appealing. They’d like you as a student, after all. How can you choose the best school when you’re interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist, and be sure you’ve made the right choice?

Research is the key. It’s not terribly difficult, but it is vital. Otherwise you could find out you’ve paid for medical transcriptionist training through a school that really wasn’t worth the time or money. Most of us don’t have either to waste.

The school must provide you with an education good enough that you can work as a competent medical transcriptionist after graduation, assuming you study hard enough. You’re part of the equation too! It may sound difficult to figure out which schools offer good enough training that you’ll get the skills you need, but it’s not as hard as it may sound.

AHDI Approval is one factor to check. If the school is on their list, they’re probably a pretty good school. They’ve had their curriculum reviewed for quality by an association of medical transcriptionists.

Another factor to consider is how employers feel about graduates of that program. One of the biggest complaints newly trained medical transcriptionists have is that all employers seem to want at least two years of medical transcription experience before they’ll even consider hiring. A good school can train you well enough for certain employers to waive that requirement. Not all employers will, but some do. That’s your foot in the door for this career.

Cost matters too. This is why different people will come up with different answers for which is the best school. What’s best for you is not best for everyone.

Cost can be a big part of the decision. No one wants to spend more than they have to on their education, but it does cost some to get good enough training to get the job. That doesn’t mean the most expensive school is the best. You can go to a more midrange priced school and do well so long as they offer high quality training.

You can never forget that even the best program is only good if you make the most of it. You have to gain the skills they’re teaching you. If you aren’t a focused, determined student, you aren’t going to do so well in this career. Even when you find an employer willing to consider you without two years of experience because you attended a good school, you’ll have to prove your skills through a test. If you didn’t really learn the skills during your training, you won’t make it.

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