Working as a medical transcriptionist from home is one of the best jobs for graduates and students alike to look into. All you need are excellent typing skills and a solid foundation of medical knowledge to get started.
Transcriptionists in the healthcare industry have an important job and are highly integral to the medical workforce. They listen to voice recordings from doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and compile notes and other documents for patient files. They have also been known to work with insurance companies in order to ensure that medical reports are adequately arranged.
Overall, though the job may seem simple, medical transcription services require a lot of work and dedication to produce the best results. With that being said, let us break down what – exactly – is required of medical transcriptionists, how they can apply for positions, and what companies may be looking to hire.
Required Skills, Training, and Equipment
Despite the overall simplicity of the job, being a medical transcriptionist requires a specific skill set and a certificate of completion of a medical course. You will also need some equipment to get you going. In this section, we will take a look at the specific skills you will need and what degrees are recognized when applying for a medical transcription job.
First and foremost on the list of required skills for medical transcriptionists is typing. Specifically, medical transcriptionists need to be able to type quickly and accurately. Every day, more and more recordings from doctors or nurses will come through, and to keep afloat, you will need to be able to speed through them as quickly as possible while still maintaining good grammar and syntax. A quick turnaround time is essential.
You will also need to have good listening skills to be successful. Listening is more than just hearing what is being said – it is also understanding. Good comprehension is crucial, primarily because of the rate at which new recordings occur or how quickly doctors can speak.
Beyond these two fundamental skills, a keen mind and good discipline are also essential. Transcribing medical reports may be as simple as typing out exactly what you hear, but you will need to be willing to put in a considerable amount of time and effort into your job if you hope to stay onboard.
Degrees and Certificates
Transcribing medical reports is not a job that everybody can do, despite its relative accessibility compared to other occupations within the world of medicine. Besides the necessary skills we mentioned previously, employers will also check your credentials to ensure that you have the right amount of medical knowledge in order to perform your job adequately.
Medical transcriptionists will need postsecondary training, which typically means either a one-year certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree. Both of these programs will include courses on anatomy, medical terminology, and medical-legal issues. Other medical specialties may also be necessary. You will also be required to complete grammar and punctuation courses.
All in all, these programs will extensively prepare you for all of the tasks a medical transcriptionist will need to perform. Naturally, the more experience you have (or, the more courses you complete), the higher your chances of finding employment.
Equipment and Tools
Transcriptionists sometimes require highly-specialized equipment in addition to essential tools and hardware. It goes without saying that you will need a laptop or desktop computer along with high-speed internet access. You will most likely also need a headset to listen to the recordings you are provided with.
Foot pedals are also standard tools of the trade, though they are not always necessary. Sometimes, specialized transcription software will be necessary. While that may seem like a long shopping list indeed, most companies are more than willing to provide you with these valuable pieces of equipment for as long as you remain under their employ.
Still, suppose you have access to any of these tools. In that case, it is helpful to get properly acquainted with their use even before you apply for a job as a transcriptionist, as this will ease the transition process and allow you to work more efficiently much sooner.
Nowadays, most medical transcriptionists work from home. However, some companies will require transcriptionists to work on-site. For example, if you work in a hospital, you can expect to follow plenty of doctors around, while working in a physician’s office will require you to stay put. Working for an insurance company also permits you to work in an office setting.
Duties of Medical Transcriptionists
Medical transcriptionists play an essential role in the general operation of medical services. Their duties may not number quite as high as that of a nurse or physician, but they still need to be carried out efficiently in order to remain viable. These duties include:
- Listening to recordings and voice files made by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals
- Correctly interpreting the information provided by such recordings and compiling them into patient records, exam notes, operative reports, and other critical medical documents
- Reviewing and editing drafts compiled by transcription software in order to make sure that the tone, grammar, syntax, and overall style is consistent
- Translating medical short-form and jargon into their proper long-forms
- Identifying inconsistencies, errors, and omissions in patient reports which may jeopardize the patient’s health
- Ensuring that every report is accurate by following up with the appropriate healthcare professionals
- Submitting various records and documents for approval from physicians
- Ensuring that proper (legal) protocol is being followed with regards to records and documents
- Entering medical documents into electronic health records
- Performing audits to improve quality
Additionally, transcriptionists who work in the offices of physicians may have other duties, such as answering phone calls and greeting patients.
As you can see, this list of duties is quite extensive, which is why medical transcriptionists are so valued. However, to be recognized, you need to ensure that you can perform all of the jobs mentioned above well.
Companies Hiring Medical Transcriptionists
Finding work as a medical transcriptionist can be challenging if you do not know where to look. Fortunately, there are a few companies and healthcare organizations that are always looking for transcriptionists. These are some of the most popular.
Ascend Healthcare Systems
Ascend Healthcare Systems is always looking for professional medical transcriptionists with a minimum of three years worth of experience. Extensive knowledge of medical terminology is essential if you want to contact them.
Eight Crossing mostly hires from the Sacramento area where they are based, though they sometimes offer home-based positions. At least two years’ worth of experience is recommended before contacting them, though they do sometimes recruit people who have completed approved medical transcription programs.
FastChart hires independent contractors. All applicants must fill out an online registration form with their resumes attached. Should they be accepted, they will have to pass several medical terminology and grammar tests, though no prior experience is technically necessary.
As you can see, a job as a medical transcriptionist is relatively demanding. However, the experience you receive is often invaluable, and many companies are willing to recruit new people. Be sure to put your name out there if this is something you think you may be good at.