Medical Transcriptionist Career Profile

Medical records Close-up

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Medical record-keeping is a major component of the healthcare industry. The quality of medical records can make or break a practice. After each patient visit, a physician dictates his or her notes into a digital tape recorder or Dictaphone. These notes then must be transcribed into the patient’s medical record.

Medical transcriptionists listen to the recordings and type them up to be added to the patient’s medical file, as a permanent record of the details of every patient visit. The process of medical transcription saves time for physicians and aims to prevent errors caused by illegible handwriting.

Work Environment

Medical transcriptionists typically work in an office or work-from-home setting. Transcriptionists may be employed directly by health care facilities, or they may be employed by corporations that provide transcription services to health care facilities for a fee. Additionally, some medical transcriptionists may be self-employed, independent contractors who contract their work out at will.

Typical Work Week

Most transcriptionists work a standard 40-hour workweek. Many transcriptionists choose this field of employment due to the flexibility the job allows in one’s schedule. Therefore, as a transcriptionist, one can work as much or as little as desired. Most transcriptionists are paid by the line, or by the hour, so the more you work, the more you earn. Deadlines are important, so if you do agree to take on a certain amount of work, you must be prepared to turn it around in 2-3 days.

Skill Set 

Typing is probably the most necessary skill for transcriptionists. The more words per minute you are able to type, the more money you’ll be able to earn. However, in addition to typing fast, one must also be highly accurate. There is no room for error when it comes to medical record-keeping. Medical transcriptionists must also be familiar with medical terminology which is covered in the training course.

Training and Education

Most medical transcriptionists complete either a one-year diploma program after high school or a two-year associate’s degree. One-year medical transcription programs are offered by vocational schools and online as well. There are tests one can take to become a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) or Certified Medical Transcriptionist, but they are not absolutely required to work as a medical transcriptionist.

Job Outlook 

Job growth is expected to be above average, but is not as high as some other medical fields, due to outsourcing to overseas companies and development of speech-recognition software. Currently, speech recognition software has not had the quality needed to replace live medical transcriptionists, so unless and until the technology improves, the job outlook will continue to be very strong. The BLS projects the field to grow by 14% in the ten-year period ending in 2016.

Average Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for medical transcription is about $28,000 - $30,000 per year.

What's to Like

The training for medical transcription is relatively easy to acquire in terms of cost and time investment when compared to some other medical careers particularly. Again, the flexibility of schedule is another major plus for this profession. Additionally, if you are seeking a job where you can telecommute from home, medical transcription could be an excellent choice.

What's Not to Like

The pay is not spectacular. Also, according to the BLS, transcriptionists must sit still for long periods of time on a repeated basis. Therefore, they can suffer from related health issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and other physical maladies. If you really thrive on working with people, you may find the work a bit monotonous.

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