Guide to Medical Transcription Programs
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Find out why it is best to complete your training in medical transcription through an online program.
Discover what courses you should take to stay on the cutting edge of medical transcription.
See why a certificate may be all you need to start your career as a medical transcriptionist.
Learn which professional exams you may take to further your career in medical transcription.
Learn How You Can Study Medical Transcription
Medical transcriptions programs are most common in vocational schools, technical institutes, and community colleges, typically as training, certificate, or associate’s degree programs ranging from six months to two years in duration. Nearly every program is accredited through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), so any of these training options is a viable educational path.
Brick-and-mortar medical transcription programs
Since medical transcription is primarily conducted through telecommuting, and nearly all of its responsibilities can be completed online, on-campus training programs are rare. However, you will receive the same education in medical terminology, pharmacology, and composition at a standard institution that you would from a distance-learning program. You will also have increased access to fellow students and faculty for advice or tutoring.
Online medical transcription programs
Online medical transcription programs are your best option when pursuing a degree or certification, primarily as they provide the best simulation of a medical transcriptionist’s standard work environment: home offices. Online programs improve your computer skills, teaching you to send and receive important files via cloud storage or standard e-mail systems.
There are also more AHDI-accredited online programs than brick-and-mortar counterparts, so you will have a wider school selection if you decide to study online. Online programs provide a comprehensive, relevant education that will adequately prepare you for the Regular and Certified Medical Transcriptionist certification exams.
Learn What Medical Transcriptionists Do
Medical transcriptionists help ensure the efficiency of healthcare recordkeeping by transcribing the recorded notes of physicians and doctors and submitting them electronically. While listening to recordings, transcriptionists will also look out for treatment discrepancies or vague information pertaining to a patient’s treatment or response.
The number of medical transcription jobs is shrinking as the process becomes more automated, so you will need to distinguish your résumé and academic record with a degree, a certification, or both to be a competitive applicant. The growing trend with medical transcription companies is to have initial medical drafts completed by automated word-processing programs and then reviewed by human staff. To meet this requirement, you will benefit from enrolling in a program that concentrates on composition and proofreading skills.
See if you fit the profile of a typical medical transcription student
Medical transcribers should be technically savvy individuals familiar with using new mobile technologies and work organization software. They should also be familiar with the basic set-up for medical transcription, which includes a headset and a pedal that controls recording playback speed.
Transcriptionists should also be meticulous and deadline-oriented, since timely and accurate recordkeeping is vital to efficiently assessing a patient’s health problems and creating proper treatments. It also cuts down on the time it takes multiple caregivers to understand a patient’s bill of health. Transcriptionists should also be careful listeners in order to spot minute discrepancies in medical reports.
However, this position is not a good option for those who want more hands-on medical training. Nursing, medical assistant, and pre-med degree programs are better suited for such students’ needs. If you want a career that is more sociable, with a traditional office and managerial staff, you should avoid medical transcription, because it is a solitary profession.
Prepare Yourself for a Medical Transcription Program
Both on-campus and online programs use computer-based learning in order to teach students common operating systems, programs, and interfaces used in the industry. You will also learn to be comfortable with word processing programs, since the majority of your transcription work, both in school and in the workplace, will use these tools.
Medical transcription programs also offer a number of medical courses that teach advanced terminology, pathology, and human anatomy. You will become familiar with the systems of the body and how they interact, in order to identify faulty treatments and discrepancies in practitioner’s records. You will also be expected to write and edit volumes of written text both in and out of school, so expect to take several courses in English, composition, grammar, and proofreading.
See what medical transcription courses you will take
The following courses are common in all medical transcription programs:
Consider attaining a specialization
Medical transcription specializations are available and encouraged, especially for those who plan on taking the AHDI Certified Medical Transcriptionist exam. This more advanced certification requires at least two years in an acute care setting or an equivalent specialty. Some certificate and degree programs divide their curricula into specific concentrations, but generally, you will decide your specialty when you search for different medical transcription jobs. Be sure to choose a position that matches your medical interests and writing talents.
Discover the Medical Transcription Degree Levels Schools Offer
- Certificate: Certificate programs are often shorter than associate’s degree programs, lasting only six months to a year. Since these programs adequately prepare you for AHDI certification exams, they are a faster alternative to enrolling in an associate’s program.
- Associate’s: Associate’s degrees take longer to earn, typically eighteen months to two years. You will, however, also receive a solid liberal arts education, emphasizing prerequisite requirements in English as well as capstone and practicum assignments that will better prepare you for future employment as a medical transcriptionist.
Find Out What You Need to Know About Accreditation
The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) is the primary accrediting agency for training and educational programs in this field. Most medical transcription certificate and degree programs are AHDI-accredited because they specifically prepare their students for the association’s certification tests – the Regular and Certified Medical Transcriptionist exams. Both are voluntary, but you may only sit the exams if you have two years of work experience in acute care-related transcription.
AHDI certification lasts for three years before members must recertify by taking an AHDI-sponsored recredentialing course. In order to pass, you will need a score of at least 75% on the mid-term quiz and final exam.
Discover the Job Landscape for Medical Transcription Professionals
Medical transcription is not a booming career field right now, thanks to improved recording and mobile technology. New technological advancements, such as back-end speech recognition technology, have created more efficient, cheaper alternatives to hiring transcribers. As such, the job market is only expected to grow by 6% in the coming decade, a number also influenced by transcription jobs that have been outsourced internationally.
California, Texas, and Pennsylvania employ the most medical transcriptionists (over 4,500 respectively), but states like Massachusetts and Alaska have higher-paying jobs on average, with an annual mean wage of approximately $45,000. Pay in this field ranges between $22,000 and $46,000.