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Job opportunities will be good.
Employers prefer medical transcriptionists who have completed a postsecondary
training program at a vocational school or community college.
Many medical transcriptionists telecommute from home-based offices as employees
or subcontractors for hospitals and transcription services or as self-employed,
About 4 out of 10 worked in hospitals and another 3 out of 10 worked in offices
Medical transcriptionists listen to dictated recordings made by physicians
and other health care professionals and transcribe them into medical reports,
correspondence, and other administrative material. They generally listen to
recordings on a headset, using a foot pedal to pause the recording when
necessary, and key the text into a personal computer or word processor, editing
as necessary for grammar and clarity. The documents they produce include
discharge summaries, history and physical examination reports, operative
reports, consultation reports, autopsy reports, diagnostic imaging studies,
progress notes, and referral letters. Medical transcriptionists return
transcribed documents to the physicians or other health care professionals who
dictated them for review and signature, or correction. These documents
eventually become part of patients’ permanent files.
To understand and accurately transcribe dictated reports into a format that is
clear and comprehensible for the reader, medical transcriptionists must
understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures,
pharmacology, and treatment assessments. They also must be able to translate
medical jargon and abbreviations into their expanded forms. To help identify
terms appropriately, transcriptionists refer to standard medical reference
materials—both printed and electronic; some of these are available over the
Internet. Medical transcriptionists 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 information confidential.
Experienced transcriptionists spot mistakes or inconsistencies in a medical
report and check to correct the information. Their ability to understand and
correctly transcribe patient assessments and treatments reduces the chance of
patients receiving ineffective or even harmful treatments and ensures
high-quality patient care.
Currently, most health care providers transmit dictation to medical
transcriptionists using either digital or analog dictating equipment. The
Internet has grown to be a popular mode for transmitting documentation. Many
transcriptionists receive dictation over the Internet and are able to quickly
return transcribed documents to clients for approval. Another increasingly
popular method utilizes speech recognition technology, which electronically
translates sound into text and creates drafts of reports. Reports are then
formatted; edited for mistakes in translation, punctuation, or grammar; and
checked for consistency and any possible medical errors. Transcriptionists
working in areas with standardized terminology, such as radiology or pathology,
are more likely to encounter speech recognition technology. However, use of
speech recognition technology will become more widespread as the technology
becomes more sophisticated.
Medical transcriptionists who work in physicians’ offices may have other
office duties, such as receiving patients, scheduling appointments, answering
the telephone, and handling incoming and outgoing mail. Medical secretaries,
discussed in the statement on secretaries and administrative assistants
elsewhere in the Handbook, also may transcribe as part of their jobs. Court
reporters, also discussed elsewhere in the Handbook, have similar duties, but
with a different focus. They take verbatim reports of speeches, conversations,
legal proceedings, meetings, and other events when written accounts of spoken
words are necessary for correspondence, records, or legal proof.
The majority of these workers are employed in comfortable settings, such as
hospitals, physicians’ offices, transcription service offices, clinics,
laboratories, medical libraries, government medical facilities, or their own
homes. Many medical transcriptionists telecommute from home-based offices as
employees or subcontractors for hospitals and transcription services or as
self-employed, independent contractors.
Work in this occupation presents hazards from sitting in the same position
for long periods. Workers can suffer wrist, back, neck, or eye problems due to
strain and risk repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The
constant pressure to be accurate and productive also can be stressful.
Many medical transcriptionists work a standard 40-hour week. Self-employed
medical transcriptionists are more likely to work irregular hours—including part
time, evenings, weekends, or on call at any time.
Medical transcriptionists held about 105,000 jobs in 2004. About 4 out of 10
worked in hospitals and another 3 out of 10 worked in offices of physicians.
Others worked for business support services; medical and diagnostic
laboratories; outpatient care centers; and offices of physical, occupational and
speech therapists, and audiologists.
Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary
training in medical transcription, offered by many vocational schools, community
colleges, and distance-learning programs. Completion of a 2-year associate
degree or 1-year certificate program—including coursework in anatomy, medical
terminology, legal issues relating to health care documentation, and English
grammar and punctuation—is highly recommended, but not always required. 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.
The American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) awards the voluntary
designation Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), to those who earn a
passing score on a certification examination. As in many other fields,
certification is recognized as a sign of competence. Because medicine is
constantly evolving, medical transcriptionists are encouraged to update their
skills regularly. Every 3 years, CMTs must earn continuing education credits to
In addition to understanding medical terminology, transcriptionists must have
good English grammar and punctuation skills, as well as proficiency with
personal computers and word processing software. Normal hearing acuity and good
listening skills also are necessary. Employers require applicants to take
pre-employment tests and usually prefer individuals with experience.
With experience, medical transcriptionists can advance to supervisory positions,
home-based work, editing, consulting, or teaching. With additional education or
training, some become medical records and health information technicians,
medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.
Job opportunities will be good. Employment of medical transcriptionists is
projected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014. Demand
for medical transcription services will be spurred by a growing and aging
population. Older age groups receive proportionately greater numbers of medical
tests, treatments, and procedures that require documentation. A high level of
demand for transcription services also will be sustained by the continued need
for electronic documentation that can easily be shared among providers,
third-party payers, regulators, consumers, and health information systems.
Growing numbers of medical transcriptionists will be needed to amend patients’
records, edit documents from speech recognition systems, and identify
discrepancies in medical reports.
Contracting out transcription work overseas and advancements in speech
recognition technology are not expected to significantly reduce the need for
well-trained medical transcriptionists. Outsourcing transcription work abroad—to
countries such as India, Pakistan, Philippines, and the Caribbean—has grown more
popular as transmitting confidential health information over the Internet has
become more secure; however, the demand for overseas transcription services is
expected only to supplement the demand for well-trained domestic medical
transcriptionists. In addition, reports transcribed by overseas medical
transcription services usually require editing for accuracy by domestic medical
transcriptionists before they meet domestic quality standards.
Speech-recognition technology allows physicians and other health professionals
to dictate medical reports to a computer that immediately creates an electronic
document. In spite of the advances in this technology, the software has been
slow to grasp and analyze the human voice and the English language, and the
medical vernacular with all its diversity. As a result, there will continue to
be a need for skilled medical transcriptionists to identify and appropriately
edit the inevitable errors created by speech recognition systems, and to create
a final document.
Hospitals will continue to employ a large percentage of medical
transcriptionists, but job growth there will not be as fast as in other
industries. An increasing demand for standardized records should result in rapid
employment growth in physicians’ offices, especially in large group practices.
Medical transcriptionists had median hourly earnings of $13.64 in May 2004.
The middle 50 percent earned between $11.50 and $16.32. The lowest 10 percent
earned less than $9.67, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.11.
Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of
medical transcriptionists in May 2004 were:
medical and surgical hospitals
Compensation methods for medical transcriptionists vary. Some are paid based on
the number of hours they work or on the number of lines they transcribe. Others
receive a base pay per hour with incentives for extra production. Employees of
transcription services and independent contractors almost always receive
production-based pay. Independent contractors earn more than do
transcriptionists who work for others, but independent contractors have higher
expenses than their corporate counterparts, receive no benefits, and may face
higher risk of termination than do employed transcriptionists.
There are 22 total resources presented in the paperback version of
Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for medical
transcriptionists, billing, claims, health information and medical office
positions. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement
services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local
library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy
for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service
at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).
American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) - 100 Sycamore Avenue,
Suite M, Modesto, CA 95354; 800/982-2182. Their Web site at
http://www.aamt.org has career information,
employment opportunities, networking, local associations and approved education
programs. You can post your résumé online and receive e-mail job alerts.
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) - 233 N. Michigan
Ave., Suite 2150, Chicago, IL 60611-5800; 312/233-1100. (http://www.ahima.org
, email@example.com) AHIMA provides brochures
for those considering entering the health information management (HIM)
profession. Web site has information on careers (including a career counselor),
a job bank, financial aid, certification, schools, independent study and state
Health Professions Institute (HPI) - PO Box 801, Modesto, CA 95355-0801;
209/551-2112. (http://www.hpisum.com/ ,
firstname.lastname@example.org) Publishes many books,
periodicals and conducts seminars for the medical transcription community. HPI
has a free Student Network and information on medical transcription courses.
Perspectives magazine (an e-zine) is free to medical transcription
Resume Writing Service - Professionally package your health care
resume for entry level, standard, and executive positions.
The following health technician occupations are featured in the all new 4th
Health Care Job Explosion!. Your local library may have this book in
their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus $4.95
shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at
1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). This book is also available at all major