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A medical transcriptionist (MT) is a specialist in medical healthcare terminology and documentation. MTs listen to dictated recordings made by physicians, and transcribe them into medical reports, correspondence, and other documents. Most healthcare providers transmit dictation to MTs using either digital or analogue dictating equipment, and some use speech recognition equipment.
MTs generally listen to recordings with a headset, and use a foot pedal to play and control the recording as necessary, keying the text into a word processor and editing for grammar and clarity. Completed documents, which eventually become part of patients' permanent medical record files, are sent to the dictator for review and signature.
Accuracy is essential in this role. MTs must understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatment. They must comply with specific standards that apply to the style of medical records, in addition to the legal and ethical requirements involved with keeping patient records confidential.
Medical transcription is a medical language and healthcare documentation specialty, not a keyboarding specialty, and intensive study is needed to acquire a high level of fluency in the medical language.
Internationally and nationwide, there is a shortage of skilled medical transcriptionists. In the US alone there is a shortfall of some 200,000 employees or contractors. Given the benefits of a digital dictation environment, outsourcing is a common option.
As with all newly qualified professionals, securing that first position can be challenging. Production demands may prevent hospitals and transcription services from hiring inexperienced people. We recommend that you investigate the job market BEFORE you choose the career and invest in the education. As with any career; first do the research, then get a good education, and then be creative and persistent.
We cannot guarantee work as we do not have any control over the health industry or the transcription companies. That said, we are in regular contact with transcription companies and when they inform us of work opportunities we pass this information on to our students. We will also give you information on how to go about seeking work upon completion of your course.
I have previously worked in the medical profession – can I get cross credits or recognition of prior learning for what I already know?
Possibly. Each case is assessed on an individual basis and you need to provide written evidence of your prior knowledge which is then compared to the course requirements. Alternatively, you can choose to sit the relevant assessment prior to completing course work to “prove” your knowledge. If you pass, you would not have to sit the assessment for that segment of the course.
Age is not a barrier if your skills meet the necessary requirements.
We recommend 45wpm with 90% accuracy to ensure the best chance of success with the course and with future employment opportunities, although we will sometimes accept lower speeds if all other aspects of the application are favourable. You will need to work towards achieving at least 70wpm by the time you graduate to ensure good job opportunities.
In exceptional circumstances, a student might be accepted with less than 45wpm, but that student would need to have a high level (proven) of medical knowledge. Students with less than 45wpm typing speed will find it difficult to achieve the required 70wpm by the end of the course and so will be disadvantaged when applying for jobs after graduation. We suggest you undertake a typing skills program to improve your speed prior to enrollment.
Send a copy of your Resume along with your application. List at least two work-related referees that we can contact to verify the information you’ve provided.
Yes. Simply complete the pre-enrollment form and send it in stating part-time and we will start you on the next available date.
What characteristics do I need in order to become a medical transcriptionist?
You need excellent English grammar skills, as well as a strong interest in and knowledge of the medical language. You need good visual and auditory ability and excellent listening skills. You need reasonable keyboarding skills and must be able to work for long hours, often in a high-pressure environment. A high level of concentration for extended periods of time is also important.
Learning how to listen with discrimination requires practice and guidance from an experienced medical transcription instructor. If you already have the requisite keyboard skills, the additional courses you need will include many hours of transcribing practice. You probably have a head start, but you will need to learn how to integrate your medical knowledge with keyboarding and listening skills.