Medical Transcriber: Job Description and Education Requirements
Medical transcribers are responsible for creating errorless medical records for patient files from dictated audio. In general, training can be completed in two years or less. Potential students need to carefully examine medical transcription programs prior to enrollment since not all prepare students adequately for this field.
Medical Transcriber Job Description
Medical transcribers (MTs) are responsible for interpreting dictated audio from health care providers, such as doctors, nurses and physician assistants, into accurate patient medical records or correspondence. In order to provide the best medical care for patients, the health care team and insurance companies rely on these errorless medical records. Medical transcription is a skilled field requiring fluency of the medical language, since MTs will be transcribing reports in a wide variety of medical fields. These reports include, but are not limited to, the following specialty areas:
- Operation and procedure notes
- Clinic notes
- Plastic surgery
- Emergency room
- Ears, nose and throat (ENT)
In addition to creating impeccable health documents for patients' files, MTs may also find themselves creating correspondence for insurance companies or patients. MT job duties include downloading or uploading audio, researching, proofreading and typing.
MTs transcribe reports that end up in a patient's file, and it is an absolute requirement that they are precise. There are times when health care providers do not enunciate or speak clearly, or the quality of the audio is poor, and it is possible for the MT to transcribe incorrect wording. Therefore, a keen ear and a quiet work environment are necessary for this field.
The field of medical transcription is tightly wound around medical terminology, and it is crucial that students learn and retain their medical knowledge and have the ability to perform research when necessary. In addition, strong proofreading and typing skills are required.
There is a wide range of employment settings open to the MT. Some MTs have found positions within hospitals, doctor's offices, insurance agencies or transcription companies. There are also employers that will allow their employees to work from home. In fact, there are transcription companies that will specifically hire MTs to work from home.
Prospective students should evaluate the courses offered prior to applying to an MT program. Unfortunately, there are programs that concentrate more on the typing aspect versus hands-on transcribing experience. Therefore, it is advised by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) that potential MT students work toward a 2-year certificate or degree program that offers in-depth medical terminology and overall medical-related education, in addition to hands-on transcription training at or above 100 hours.
A potential MT student should look for programs that cover the following course subjects, at minimum, based on the AHDI's curriculum recommendations:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical transcription practicum
- Disease processes
- English grammar and punctuation
In addition to covering the above course topics, a strong program will equip students with communication and keyboarding skills, including training in common medical transcription software.
While it's not required, credentialing is beneficial and often highly looked upon by employers. MTs may either become a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) upon successful completion of their schooling or a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) after working two years as an MT. To achieve either one of these credentials, MTs must successfully pass an examination.
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