What is Medical Transcription?

Medical Transcription, also known in other terms as Medical Transcriptionist, Medical Billing and Coding, and MT, is a health occupation which encompasses the process of transcribing or converting voice-recorded reports that are dictated by a physician or other healthcare professional into text format. 

These reports usually consist of patient information that is converted to either a written text document so it may be printed (and placed in a patient's record) or to an electronic medical record for easy retrieval

Hospital facilities often prefer electronic storage of medical records due to the large volume of  patients and their accompanying paperwork.  Storage in an electronic database gives the doctors and hospital staff immediate access to the patient's records.

The term "transcript" (or "report" as it is more commonly called) is the name of the document (electronic or physical hard copy) which results from the medical transcription process.

Why Be a Medical Transcriber?

A Medical Transcription career has fantastic opportunities to make good money and to be self employed.  It is a career that is in high demand and most people are not even aware that the profession exists.

You can do medical transcription work at home for a client 1000 miles away.  When working from home you don't have to leave your house in bad weather to fight traffic in order to get to work. You won't have to spend any more money on expensive clothes for work and you can set your own hours of work.  All you need to get started is a computer, a word processing program and some training.

Is Medical Transcription For Real
 or Is It Just a Bunch of Hype?

Possibly you have seen some of the many ads that are put out by medical transcription schools.  They claim that you can make a lot of money by typing medical transcription records in your own home.  And for sure, you are wondering if this is just another scam or can you really make a good living from it?

Well, it is a fact that there are many people who are earning over $50,000 a year doing medical transcription work at home.  In fact, some are even making over $80,000 a year.  Their hours are flexible, and they work as little or as much as they want.  In fact, there is great demand for people in this occupation.  The amount of work needed to be done greatly exceeds the number of transcribers who are available to do the work.

But, you can't simply decide that you want to be a transcriber today and start working at it tomorrow.  If you are willing to spend the time and the effort to prepare, you can make BIG money as a medical transcriber.  But you can't just read a book and then get started.  You need to plan on studying and practicing for 6 months to a year in order to prepare yourself for this occupation.

What's Required for Medical Transcription Work?

  1. First of all, you must have good typing skills.  Being able to type fast will help you get more done and enable you to make more money.
  2. You need to have a good understanding of the English language and its grammar.  If you are not proficient in both of these, then consider taking classes to improve your language and grammar skills before starting your MT courses.
  3. You'll need to learn to use a Word Processing program such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect.
  4. You'll need to learn how to format documents and how to use macros. Macros will allow you to easily repeat repetitive tasks and will save you time.  If you don't learn to use them, it will just take you longer to transcribe a document.
  5. If you want to make good money, then you will have to spend long hours working at your computer, doing the typing or transcribing.  This means you will have to be away from noise and distractions.  If you can handle the long hours, then this is your gateway to making real good money, upwards to $100,000 a year.
  6. You will have to have a good understanding of medical terms.  This is required because you will not only have to know how to spell the terms that you type, but you have to have some familiarity will medical conditions and procedures, drugs, medical tests, and treatments.  Much of this will come from experience, rather than book reading.
  7. You won't have to be familiar with all medical terms because you can specialize in a particular area, such as gastroenterology or ophthalmology. But there is an advantage of being versed in more than one area.  Not only will this allow you more employment opportunities, but you will be able to assist other medical transcribers, such as when they have too much work to handle and need someone to help them catch up or when they would like to take some time off and need someone to fill in for them while they are gone. 

 Things that Make Medical Transcription a Challenge

Much of what doctors dictate is done on the fly.  They are very busy people who usually work long hours and don't try to talk in simple English.  Thus what comes out of their mouths is not always easy to understand and transcribe.  You can either transcribe exactly what the doctor said, word for word, even though it might not make any sense or you can clean up their sentences so that they do make sense.  But before making this decision as to what to do, you'll want to consult with the doctor to see which way he would prefer because there are also legal considerations.  Medical documents are often presented as evidence in legal matters and you could be liable if you make changes to his words.

Many medical transcribers will work with a specific group of doctors so that they become familiar with the way they speak and how they phrase their sentences. 

Another challenge is that the recording a transcriber has to listen to might of poor quality.  This could be because the doctor mumbled, didn't have good pronunciation, had a strong foreign accent, there was a lot of background noise or the recorder had a mechanical problem and just didn't make a good recording.  In all of these instances, the only way you will be able to decipher the recording is if you  are familiar with the medical terms, procedures, treatments, tests and drugs that are related to that condition.

Medical Transcription is a career where you have to have self discipline. You will be your own boss and there will not be someone looking over your shoulder, so if you can't produce on your own, you will fail on your own.

Get Some Training

Plan on enrolling in a medical transcription course and make sure the course provides plenty of authentic dictations.  This is how you will really learn the trade.  Reading books and listening to medical terms being pronounced is a start, but they will not give you the practical skills that you need to become a good transcriber.  The best training will come from hearing the medical terms used in actual spoken language.

Also it will be very helpful to take a course in basic anatomy, physiology and terminology.

On-the-job training is the best kind of training you can get.  Check with a friend who is a doctor who does medical dictations and ask them if you can transcribe some non-critical dictation for practice.  If you work at a clinic or hospital, do some investigating to see if you can be involved in any part of the dictation/transcribing process.  Any training in this area will help whether it's filing documents, being a coordinator between the doctor and other transcribers, or just doing some volunteer work in this area will help.  The more you can learn, the better off you will be in getting your new occupation off the ground  .

Medical transcription is not for everyone.  The ones who are prepared and willing to meet the challenge are the ones who will succeed.

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