Medical Transcription Training & Certification

With an aging demographic and more people accessing the healthcare system, choosing virtually any career in the healthcare sector is a smart idea. Whether you choose a clerical position, or a support, caregiver, or executive level position, healthcare jobs offer long-term stability, competitive pay, and a lifetime of gratification in helping other people in need.

Becoming an expert in medical transcription is of interest to many people, since medical transcription training does not entail nearly the amount of instruction required for other medical industry jobs (some people do not choose this as a long term career, instead seeing it more as a stepping stone to a more advanced position down the road).

And there’s a future here, too; the U.S Department of Labor reports that job opportunities for medical transcriptionists should be good (especially for those who take the extra steps to become certified), as employment is projected to grow 11% in the period between 2008-2018. This translates roughly into 11,700 new jobs.

Before we get into the details pertaining to medical transcription training, let’s talk about the job responsibilities associated with this healthcare position. To some, working in medical transcription seems mundane and not particularly important. In reality, the work performed by this person is critical; not just to the patient but the current physician and any medical professionals providing future care.

Medical Transcription: Job Duties & Responsibilities

Give the title of this career, it’s not going to surprise you to learn that the medical transcriptionist’s primary task is to transcribe the dictated material of doctors and other healthcare professionals.

This means the transcriptionist listens to the dictated details about a patient’s medical history, health complaints, tests performed and results, diagnosis, medication, treatments, surgeries recommended, and other pertinent information. Then he or she transfers that information into the appropriate format; medical reports, administrative documentation, autopsy records, operative reports, discharge summaries, referrals, correspondence to the patient or perhaps to other medical professionals, and so on.

However, this professional is much more than a “glorified” typist.

She (or he) is also an editor, and makes whatever changes to necessary to both grammar and sentence structure in order to enhance the clarity of the document. Additionally, she or he is a critical safeguard to ensure any mistakes or inaccuracies are quickly identified. Can you image the emotional damage if patient data is mixed up, for example? For this reason, it is critical that the medical transcriptionist is intimately familiar with all sorts of medical terminology – including everything from diagnostic procedures to anatomy to treatment assessments.

Here’s how easy it is to make a mistake; many medical terms sound very similar yet have completely different meanings. Here is a perfect example (although there are literally hundreds)…

  • Humeral – Pertains to the humerus bone, which runs from the shouder to the elbow.
  • Humoral – Refers to body fluids.

In addition to medical terminology, the medical transcriptionist would also need to be comfortable with…

  • Anatomy
  • Diagnostic Procedures
  • Doctor / Patient Confidentiality Agreements
  • Legal Medical Report Styles
  • Medical Abbreviations
  • Medical Jargon
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Research Materials (how to properly use to get answers pertaining to questions on audio)

Today, transcriptionists can look forward to an easier job, largely due in fact to the advancements in speech recognition software. Additionally, several different audio devices are used although they are all designed so the transcriptionist can listen to the information via headset and stop, start, pause, and control the speed of the person talking, usually with a footpedal.

One of the benefits of working as a medical transcriptionist is the varied work opportunities. For example, this professional might work for one doctor with a private practice, for several doctors in a community clinic, or in a hospital or other environments. However, there is even the possibility for the medical transcriptionist to run a home-based business, which offers even more flexibility.

The obvious skills of this professional include excellent listening ability and fast, accurate typing but there is much more involved that makes medical transcription training so essential. In fact, there are times when this job is stressful because of the degree of accuracy and detail involved. For instance, if a medical transcriptionist were to incorrectly transpose a medical term, it could produce emotional, physical, and financial devastation to the patient and possibly the doctor!

Keep in mind that with the right medical transcription training, this person would have the skills and confidence to avoid potentially damning errors and thanks to modern technology, audio devices used are designed with built-in systems to catch the majority of mistakes. Even so, to be successful in this healthcare field, a person would require a great deal of focus and dedication.

Specialized Medical Transcription Training

To increase the likelihood of gaining employment in this rapidly growing sector of healthcare, applicants are encouraged to pursue formal schooling, as most employers are looking for appropriately trained individuals; either a 1 year certificate program, or a 2 year associate’s degree.

As can be expected, obtaining a 2-year degree boosts your earning power, offers you a competitive advantage over other job applicants, and opens the door to a more diverse range of potential earning opportunities. It is very rare that taking the most advanced courses and degrees do not pay off in the long run.

Medical transcription taining is available in local colleges and vocational schools, as well as online and distance learning programs. These programs do not need to be accredited, although voluntary accreditation programs do exist – via the American Health Information Management Association and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (via the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs).

Many programs offer on the job training as a portion of the curiculum.

What about designations and certification?

There are two in this field…

  • Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT): This is awarded to recent graduates, those who have passed the AHDI level-1 registered medical transcription exam but havd less than 2 years experience in acute care.
  • Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT): RMTs with over 2 years of acute care experience – with various different types of dictation experience in specialty surgery areas – can apply for this certification.

Both certifications are provided by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.