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Medical Transcriptionist

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QUICK FACTS
Medical Transcriptionist
2010 Median Pay $32,900 per year
$15.82 per hour
Entry-Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 95,100
Job Outlook, 2010-20 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 5,600

What Medical Transcriptionist Do

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other health professionals make and convert them into written reports. They interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients' medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.

Work Environment

Medical transcriptionists work for hospitals, physicians' offices, or third-party transcription service providers, or they are self-employed. Many transcriptionists work from home offices, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary training. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding both of grammar and of word-processing software.

Pay

The median annual wage of medical transcriptionists was $32,900 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.


What Medical Transcriptionists Do

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other health professionals make and convert them into written reports. They interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients' medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents. The documents they produce become part of a patient's permanent file.

Duties

Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:

Medical transcriptionists use audio playback equipment, often including a headset and foot pedal – to control the recording playback speed – that are connected to their computer. They use word-processing and other specialized software, as well as medical reference materials as needed.

To do their work, medical transcriptionists must become familiar with medical words, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand and correctly transcribe what the health professional has said is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments. They are part of the team that ensures high-quality patient care.

Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors' offices may have other duties, such as answering phones or greeting patients.


Work Environment

Medical transcriptionist held about 95,100 jobs in 2010. Most medical transcriptionists work for hospitals or in physicians' offices. Some work for companies that provide transcription services to healthcare establishments, and others are self-employed.

Many transcriptionists work from home offices, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.

Work Schedules

Most medical transcriptionists work full time. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours or have some flexibility in determining their schedules.


How to Become a Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary training. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding both of grammar and of word-processing software.

Education

Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary training in medical transcription, which is offered by many vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs.

A 1-year certificate program or 2-year associate's degree normally includes coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nurse or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Medical transcription programs do not have to be accredited, but transcriptionists who want to get certification may first need to complete an accredited program.

Certification

Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers two certifications: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).

The RMT certification is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor's office.

The CMT credential is for transcriptionists who handle dictation in several medical specialties.

Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software, because those tools are an essential part of their jobs.

Detail oriented. Transcriptionists must focus on details to write reports correctly and spot any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts.

Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists must be comfortable working under short deadlines.

Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.


Pay

The median annual wage of medical transcriptionists was $32,900 in May 2010. The median annual wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,960, and the top 10 percent earned more than $46,220.

Some medical transcriptionists may be paid based on the volume of transcription they produce. Others are paid an hourly rate or an annual salary.


Job Outlook

Employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. The volume of healthcare services is expected to continue to increase, resulting in a growing number of medical tests and procedures, all of which will require transcription.

At the same time, technological advances in recent years have changed the way medical transcription is done. In the past, medical transcriptionists would listen to an entire dictation to produce a transcribed report. Today, many medical documents are prepared with the use of back-end speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then reviews the draft for accuracy, listening to the original recording as needed. Such technological advances are expected to continue, making the individual transcriptionist far more productive and limiting employment growth overall.

As healthcare providers seek to cut costs, some have hired transcription services in other countries. However, concerns about patient confidentiality and data security suggest a continued need for transcriptionists within the United States.

Projected Employment by 2020

100,700 (6% growth from 2010)

 Search jobs for "Medical Transcriptionist"


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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