|Quick Facts: Medical Transcriptionists|
|2017 Median Pay||$35,250 per year
$16.95 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2016||57,400|
|Job Outlook, 2016-26||-3% (Decline)|
|Employment Change, 2016-26||-1,900|
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Medical Transcriptionists Career, Salary and Education Information
What Medical Transcriptionists Do
Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.
Duties of Medical Transcriptionists
Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:
Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other healthcare worker
Interpret and transcribe the dictation into patient history, exam notes, operative reports, referral letters, discharge summaries, and other documents
Review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is correct, complete, and consistent in style
Translate medical abbreviations and jargon into the appropriate long form
Identify inconsistencies, errors, and missing information within a report that could compromise patient care
Follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure that reports are accurate
Submit health records for physicians to approve
Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
Enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems
Perform quality improvement audits
Traditionally, medical transcriptionists used audio playback equipment to listen to an entire dictation in order to produce a transcribed report, and some transcription is still done this way. It has become more common for medical documents to be prepared using speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then listens to the voice file and reviews the draft for accuracy, identifying any errors and editing the report, when necessary. Transcriptionists use word-processing and other specialized software to prepare the transcripts, as well as medical reference materials when needed.
Medical transcriptionists must be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand what the healthcare worker has recorded, correctly transcribe that information, and identify any inaccuracies in the transcript is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments. Medical transcriptionists also may need to be familiar with EHR systems.
Work Environment for Medical Transcriptionists
Medical transcriptionists held about 57,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of medical transcriptionists were as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private: 28%
Administrative and support services: 28%
Offices of physicians: 24%
Self-employed workers: 5%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 3%
Administrative and support services includes companies that provide transcription services. Medical transcriptionists may work from home, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.
Most medical transcriptionists work full time, although about one-third worked part time in 2016. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or may have some flexibility in determining their schedules. Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.
How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education. Some choose to become certified.
Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary education in medical transcription, which is offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs. Medical transcription programs are typically 1-year certificate programs, although there are also associate’s degree programs.
Programs normally include coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, risk management, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nursing assistant or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certifications. Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.
The RHDS certification, formerly known as the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT), is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor’s office.
The CHDS certification, formerly known as the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), is for transcriptionists who hold the RHDS designation. In addition, CHDS candidates must have at least 2 years of acute care experience, including experience handling dictation in various medical specialties.
To maintain certification, medical transcriptionists must complete continuing education requirements every 3 years.
Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software, because those tools are an essential part of their jobs. They also may need to know how to operate electronic health records (EHR) systems.
Critical-thinking skills. Medical transcriptionists must assess medical reports and spot any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts. They must also think critically when doing research to find the information that they need and to ensure that sources are both accurate and reliable.
Listening skills. Medical transcriptionists must listen carefully to dictation from physicians. They need to hear and interpret the intended meaning of the medical report.
Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists should be comfortable working under short deadlines.
Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.
salaries for Medical Transcriptionists
The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $35,250 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,670, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,410.
In May 2017, the median annual wages for medical transcriptionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $41,540
Hospitals; state, local, and private: $38,910
Offices of physicians: $35,540
Administrative and support services: $28,300
Some medical transcriptionists are paid based on the volume of transcription they produce. Others are paid an hourly rate or an annual salary.
Most medical transcriptionists work full time, although about one-third worked part time in 2016. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or have some flexibility in determining their schedules. Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.
Job Outlook for medical transcriptionists
Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 3 percent from 2016 to 2026. Technological advances have changed the way medical transcription is done. Speech recognition and electronic health records (EHR) software advances often allow physicians to create some of this documentation in the moment, reducing the need for transcriptionists.
The aging population and growing rates of chronic conditions will continue to increase demand for healthcare services. This will result in a growing number of medical tests and procedures, all of which will require transcription. However, technological advances, such as speech recognition software, allow transcriptions to be prepared by fewer medical transcriptionists. As healthcare providers seek to cut costs, some will contract out transcription services and not do transcription in-house. Some of this work may be outsourced to other countries, which would reduce domestic employment.
Employment projections data for Medical Transcriptionists, 2016-26
Employment, 2016: 57,400
Projected Employment, 2026: 55,500
Change, 2016-2026: -3%, -1,900
Careers Related to medical transcriptionists
Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Some court reporters provide captioning for television and real-time translation for deaf or hard-of-hearing people at public events, in business meetings, or in classrooms.
Information clerks perform routine clerical duties such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers.
Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language. Interpreters work in spoken or sign language; translators work in written language.
Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.
Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.
Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Transcriptionists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm