If you're like most people, your encounters with health care professionals are likely to be with doctors, nurses and medical secretaries. But in the health care system there are many people working crucial jobs behind the scenes. Medical transcriptionists, also called MTs, are among these people, as they play a pivotal role in patient care by creating a written record of doctor/patient interactions.
What Does a Medical Transcriptionist Do?
After seeing a patient, a doctor dictates a description of the interaction and sends the recording to an MT, who then listens and transcribes what the doctor has said. This document is returned to the doctor, or the health care provider who dictated it, and after approval becomes part of the patient's official medical record.
But the job of a medical transcriptionist demands more than just writing down what you hear on a recording. MTs must:
- Have knowledge of medical terminology and health care practices
- Interpret abbreviations or specialized vocabulary
- Catch errors in a doctor's audio report
- Have excellent grammar and editing skills
- Be comfortable working with computers
Because future treatments and diagnoses might be informed by a patient's medical history, it's imperative for patient records to be accurate. So MTs must be scrupulous, detail-oriented and exercise good judgment.
What Are the Steps to Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist?
While there are no strict educational requirements for medical transcriptionists, most MTs can take the following steps:
- Earn a high school diploma. Be sure to take classes in biology and writing.
- Attain academic credentials in addition to a high school diploma. This credential might be an associate's degree or a certificate from one of the many schools offering courses to prepare you for the job of MT.
When picking a school, it's important to make sure the school been accredited by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Once you've trained to become a medical transcriptionist, you can look for jobs in a variety of locations, such as:
- Private doctors' offices
- Outpatient clinics
- Residential care centers
If you are a freelance transcriptionist or a contractor for a medical transcription company, you could even enjoy the benefits of working from home.
How to Become a GREAT Medical Transcriptionist
Commit to Continuing Education. Great MTs keep up with the latest medical research and trends. One excellent way to inform yourself is by joining a professional organization like AHDI, which maintains a web site and offers valuable resources, including current articles on important topics, to members. Or you might take classes to brush up your skills or deepen your knowledge of a subject pertinent to medical transcription. Also, be sure the reference books you use when transcribing, such as medical dictionaries or transcription style guides, are the most recent editions.
Test yourself. AHDI administers two tests for medical transcriptionists. Upon passing the first test, you are credentialed as a Registered Medical Transcriptionist. The second test, designed for more experienced transcriptionists, covers a greater variety of subjects. If you pass this test, you're designated a Certified Medical Transcriptionist. So you can advance your career and become a great MT by preparing for and passing these tests, which allows you to take on more complex assignments and train other MTs.