How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist

To become a medical transcriptionist involves work which is highly demanding of accuracy and has very high professional standards for quality of work. This work is critically important to medical practitioners, particularly at specialist level. Transcripts of medical information given verbally are sometimes vital parts of therapy, and may form part of medical records. These transcript may also be used as evidence in legal actions, so the requirements for 100% accuracy is very practical.

Education and training

Formal training in medical transcription is a post secondary study, provided by community and vocational colleges. Although this training isn't compulsory by law, the nature of the work means that employer far prefer people with formal training. People who've worked in other forms of transcription work like court transcription or professional transcription services may also obtain employment in this field, but the requirement for medical knowledge and understanding of terminology is extremely important.

The natural demand for qualifications may also require attaining industry standard certifications. For medical transcribers, certification is available in several forms:

Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (AACP) certification requires completion of an AACP approved program.

Designations of Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) relate to levels of experience as medical transcriptionists:

The RMT requires completion of an Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) exam. This is a lower level designation, for graduates of formal training and have less than 2 years experience in acute care environments.

The CMT involves:

Minimum 2 years of acute care experience in multi specialist surgery areas involving a range of  formatting methods, reporting methodologies, and dictation forms. (Technology is a major issue in medical transcription. Recording systems may be electronic, dictation may be through different media, etc.)

Candidates also must pass an AHDI approved certification exam.

Both RMTs and CMTs must obtain re-certification every 3 years.  

Ongoing studies are a necessity in medical transcription, due to the constant changes in medical science, terminology, and practices.

The work environment

Medical transcriptionists are required to deal with the content, as well as the transcription, of materials provided. The medical transcriptionist's skills, which include checking the content of transcriptions and verifying with practitioners that the content is appropriate. In some cases their work may disclose errors or omissions in content relating to treatment, or unclear passages in the materials.

In specialist and acute care, the medical transcriptionist's cross-checking "editorial" role can be very important.  Documents may also be transmitted to local doctors for their guidance in patient management regimes. Any problems with the transcription content affect patients and their therapy. Experienced transcriptionists are aware of the standard procedures in many cases, and can help rectify defects in these materials.

Types of work

Medical transcription is common in specialist work. This means that some transcriptionists also naturally specialize in those fields and develop their careers in them. In large clinics, where advanced treatment and support therapies are involved, a medical transcriptionist may become conversant with a very large range of medical procedures. This experience significantly broadens their career options, and also increases the value of their services to employers.