Transcription Courses and Classes Overview
Transcriptionists convert audio recordings or live dictations into written reports. There are full certificate and degree programs available that include transcription courses.
The most common type of transcriptionist is the medical transcriptionist, who types spoken medical reports onto a patient's permanent medical record. The occupation requires strong typing and computer skills and a solid understanding of medical vocabulary. Schools offer both 2-year associate degree programs and 2-semester or 3-semester certificate programs in medical transcription to equip students with this skill set. In addition, such programs often educate students on pharmacology, healthcare records management, business communication and medical assisting procedures.
Those starting a medical transcription program are introduced to healthcare documentation, medical terminology and human anatomy and physiology. They often take courses to improve their keyboarding skills and learn to use the computer systems commonly found in medical facilities. Both introductory and advanced courses in medical transcription are taken and cover the formatting and preparation of reports students dictate from live or recorded audio. Other common areas of study include medical law and ethics, microbiology and pathophysiology. Some programs have a medical transcription internship.
Graduates may pursue the optional Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) certification from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. After working two years in an acute care environment, they may pursue the same organization's Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certification.
Overview of Sample Transcription Courses
Medical transcription programs include some of the courses described in the list that follows.
Introductory Medical Transcription
Most medical transcription degree or certificate programs require students to pass several medical transcription courses. Some programs have up to four levels on the subject. Introductory medical transcription courses provide fundamental instruction in transforming dictated material into typed reports. Students learn how to format and prepare health history, radiology, pathology, autopsy and death summary reports. The introductory course will be taken near the beginning of the program.
Advanced Medical Transcription
Advanced transcription courses build on the foundational skills students gained at the introductory level. Students learn how to accurately transcribe complex reports and practice working with reports dictated by people with indistinct accents. Recorded material is used at the introductory level, allowing new students to rewind the tape if something was unclear. However, advanced students mainly practice with live dictation.
Medical transcribers encounter complex medical vocabulary daily. It is therefore crucial that they understand how to spell, pronounce and define medical terms related to diseases, diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests and medications. Introductory medical terminology courses expose medical transcription students to prefixes, suffixes and word roots commonly found in medical language and are usually offered at the beginning of a degree program. Many schools also require students to pass an advanced medical terminology course later in the program.
Proficient medical transcribers must be able to type quickly and accurately. Many degree programs require students to reach typing speeds of between 30 and 40 words per minute. Diagnostic tests administered in typing proficiency courses allow students to identify their speed and accuracy deficiencies. Instructors then run corrective drills.
Health Information Technology
Nearly every healthcare organization now maintains and updates patient information and other healthcare data on computer systems. It is imperative that medical transcriptionists understand how to navigate different computer systems and programs that store and organize important medical information. Courses on health information technology introduce students to primary and secondary record systems and expose them to the ways modern information technology supports the delivery of healthcare.
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