Pursuing a Career in Medical Transcription
The Health Information Privacy and Portability Act. Presidential commitment to all-electronic medical records. Concerns about patient privacy and doctor accountability. These are the issues that should create the uncommon demand for medical transcriptionists in the face of an uncertain economy.
Translating Medicalese: Career Profile
Medical transcriptionists are charged with translating prerecorded notes by physicians and assistants into digital documentation. The career field is tech-savvy and rule-minded. Transcriptionists are vital to keeping accurate patient records for the accurate billing and timely correspondence of patient health. Students are drawn to the field for a number of reasons, such as the opportunity to telecommute and the potential to become self-employed.
With respect to potential salary, 2007 median annual earnings of medical transcriptionists hit $31,250. The top ten percent earned $44,070 and the bottom ten percent earned $22,160. A variety of factors influence salary, including geographic location, professional setting, industry experience, and more.
Beyond Data Entry: Educational Requirements
Candidates interested in a career in medical transcription are encouraged to complete a two-year associate's degree or one-year certificate program at an accredited vocational school, community college, or distance-learning entity. Common coursework includes classes in anatomy and physiology, legal issues, healthcare documentation, and more.
According to the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, there are two primary certifications that demonstrate medical transcription proficiency. The first, the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), requires successful passing of the exam and two years of acute care. The second, the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT), requires exam completion and less than two years experience.
Totally Tech-driven: Industry Future
Demand for these professional should continue to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of medical transcriptionists is expected to increase by 14 percent over the coming decade--faster than the national average for all occupations through 2016. Those candidates with national certification should have the best opportunities. Other valued skills include a working knowledge of speech recognition technologies and advanced medical vernacular.
Time Saving Tips
If you're goal is to become a self-employed medical transcriptionist, here are some suggestions from the AHDI on shaving some time off of the process:
- Put in the Time. Garner some work experience or complete at least a 240-hour supervised externship in a hospital or clinic setting
- Know the Market. Take advantage of seminars and conferences to understand the future of the market you serve
- Devise a Strategy. Create a business plan with the help of a business advisor or the Small Business Association--work your plan
- Do Your Homework. Study industry publications to determine the physical resources necessary to strike out on your own
Medical transcriptionists are in-demand--ride the wave of looming federal regulation and privacy concerns into a lucrative new career.