Take up a freelancing career, work from home or opt for a regular 9-to5 job as a medical transcription specialist. Read along to know more about study options and career prospects in this booming field.

Medical transcriptionists play an important role in the healthcare industry and are responsible for transcribing doctors’ verbal notes into patients’ histories and records. A medical transcriptionist must be well-acquainted with medical terminology, codes, abbreviations, and clinical procedures in order to correctly transcribe a doctor’s spoken notes into a written report.

Is it for me?
As a medical transcriptionist, you’ll be responsible for the integrity and accuracy of patient records and histories. This is a desk job that requires skills and abilities such as attention to detail, good hearing, patience, knowledge of medical terminology, and good time management. A fast typing speed and comfort with computers will also help you in this career as your main work role will be to listen to recordings of doctors’ notes and write them down.

Taking a closer look, a medical transcriptionist’s main duties usually include:

  •  Listening to audio recordings made by doctors
  • Writing down (transcribing) the audio notes into prescriptions, case histories, discharge summaries, referral letters, and diagnostic reports
  • Co-ordination with doctors to ensure accuracy of transcription
  • Quality control – experienced medical transcriptionist might be asked to oversee and train less experienced staff
  • Verification and rectification of any inconsistencies and errors
  • Editing reports for style and language

Study Options
Many colleges and training institutes offer certificate and Associate’s courses in this field. A course in medical transcription will focus on subjects like:

  • Confidentiality issues in the health care system
  • Medical industry legal and ethical issues
  • Medical transcription applications and information systems
  • Medical transcription audio and other equipment
  • Basic medical procedures and terminology
  • Medical concentration transcription (focusing on terminology used in various specializations such as Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, etc)
  • Grammar, punctuation, language, and typing skills
  • Style guides for medical reports and histories
  • Documentation procedures and guidelines
  • Common mistakes and warning areas transcriptionists should be aware of

A medical transcription course will also include a strong practical component that ensures personnel have adequate training in a hands-on situation. Personnel can also seek industry-recognized certification. While certification is not strictly necessary for a career in medical transcription, getting certified by an industry body might help boost your career prospects as some employers might require this. Some popular certifications include Registered Medical Transcriptionist and Certified Medical Transcriptionist, both issued by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.

Career Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that job growth in medical transcription is expected to be around 6 percent (over 2010-20), with median annual pay in 2010 being $32,900. While most medical transcriptionists work full time, some also work part-time from home as the nature of this career lends itself to telecommuting.

Most medical transcriptionists work with hospitals; other major employers of transcription experts include physicians’ offices and clinics, outpatient clinics, medical laboratories, and business support services. As you earn experience in this career path, you can be assigned more responsibility such as overseeing the work of other transcriptionists. You can also choose to specialize in a particular field of medicine.