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How to become a certified medical transcriptionist


Medical transcriptionists are professional transcriptionists who are specialized in the medical field and who handle the task of conveying audible medical content into written content. They are called to listen to recorded audio by physicians, doctors, and healthcare specialists and to write what they hear in an accurate way. They usually have specific qualifications. 

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What is medical transcriptionist meaning?

Medical transcriptionists (MT) are specialists who handle the task of listening to recorded audio by doctors, physicians, nurses, dietitians, and all other healthcare specialists and transform the spoken content into written content. They can make written content for medical reports, prescriptions, consultations, diagnoses, and more. They work in almost all the fields that fall under the medical field such as dermatology, dentistry, cosmetics, plastic surgeries, diets and nutrition, oncology, labs, neurology, podiatry, psychiatry, urology, gynecology, nephrology, general medicine, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and more. Medical transcribers can typically work in hospitals, clinics, companies, health agencies, etc. Or they can simply work from home. 

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What is medical transcription eligibility?

To become a professional medical transcriptionist, candidates are now able to enroll in a medical transcription course. In these kinds of courses, candidates develop practical skills and theoretical knowledge that make them qualified and eligible to work on medical materials. A medical transcriptionist is also preferred/called to have a specific linguistic background that makes him/her eligible to write everything in the right way. Often, medical transcriptionists can be individuals with a linguistic background and a love for medicine and medical materials. In this case, medical transcriptionists can take related courses and register for specific programs that make them eligible to work in this field. 

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What are medical transcription requirements?

The requirements for individuals to become medical transcriptionists are a minimum of a high school diploma or an equivalent to it. After meeting this criterion, individuals become able to be enrolled in higher education or certification in medical transcriptionist (CMT), which makes them eligible to legally work in it. It is advised that a medical transcriptionist have some experience and start as a volunteer or as a trainee before starting to work and getting paid. Also, this ensures higher hiring chances since the more a person is experienced, the more the chances and opportunities increase. 

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What academic qualifications do I need to be a medical transcriptionist?

When it comes to medical transcription qualifications, you need to have the following:

  • High school diploma or an equivalent to it: This is the bare minimum, and if you don’t have it, you can’t proceed and have a higher certification related to medical transcriptionist certification.

  • Medical transcriptionist certificate or an associate degree: Then, you have to enroll in a medical transcriptionist program. Most of these programs can be completed online. Or, you can enroll in a program for an associate degree. After that, you can graduate and start your journey.

  • Additional certifications: For some, they feel that they need to have additional certifications or education. This will help them by opening new doors and being eligible for new opportunities in their career.

  • Gain experience: After graduating, you will need to gain some experience to put yourself in the picture, and know what it is like to start working in this field. 

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What non-academic qualifications do I need to be a medical transcriptionist?

In addition to academic certifications and qualifications, there are some non-academic qualifications that can help a medical transcriptionist, such as:

  • Fast: Being fast is an added value when it comes to transcription since faster means more jobs, more opportunities, and more money.

  • Linguistic background: It’s important to have a linguistic background, or that the candidates put extra effort into learning the right grammar and spelling. This will make them more professional.

  • Strong attention to detail: Being able to pay extra attention to more information will help medical transcriptionists because this is the only way a professional transcriptionist won’t miss out on any information while completing the task.

  • Responsive: This makes you the perfect candidate since it’s an advantage that makes the transcriptionist easy-going and has what it takes when it comes to dealing with clients. And the more responsive you are, the higher your chances of being chosen. 

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What is the course material of a medical transcription course?

The material that a candidate takes in a medical transcription course covers all needed knowledge and information. Including:

  • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation

  • Medical words

  • Etymology

  • Body dynamics

  • Words dynamics

  • Diagnostic medicine

  • Medical specialties & specialists

  • Medical instruments & equipment

  • Anatomy & physiology

  • Pharmacology

  • Medical abbreviations 

  • OutPatients reports

  • Inpatient reports

  • Report types

  • Drug terminology

  • Pharmacological compendium 

  • Terms and symbols

  • Dosages & schedules

  • Packaging and spelling

  • Classification 

  • Suture and dressings

  • Surgical instruments

  • Surgery compendium

  • Dictation for pronunciation specifics

  • Terms related to all surgery types 

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How long does it take to learn medical transcription?

A certificate or diploma can be earned in one year. However, an associate degree needs more time; it takes two years to be completed. 

What are the duties of a medical transcriptionist? 

What does a medical transcriptionist do?

Medical transcriptionists typically write down medical-related audio contents whether it be a medical report, prescription, referral letters, exam notes, discharge summaries, operative reports, consultations, etc. They are called to listen to recorded dictations of healthcare professionals, doctors, physicians, dietitians, etc., and then convert them into written content. 

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Do medical transcriptionists make good money?

Median medical transcriptionists make around $15 per hour. However, it’s more for advanced transcriptionists, since they can earn $25-$30 per hour. This means that consistent medical transcriptionists can make good money each month. For the ones who make $15 per hour, they can earn up to $32,850 per year if they worked for 6 hours every day. 

Medical transcription makes good money if it is considered a main job or even a side job. 

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At what age can you be a medical transcriptionist?

Anyone who has a diploma can become a medical transcriptionist if he/she has gained experience in the field (it’s a plus). On average, medical transcriptionists are around 35 years old. 

Can you be a medical transcriptionist without training?

You can become a medical transcriptionist without training. However, your chances of getting jobs are lower than the ones who already have certification, have gained some experience, and are well-trained. For that reason, it is highly advised that a medical transcriptionist be enrolled in the related courses, has a certification, and receives training to gain some more experience.

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Is it hard to become a medical transcriptionist?

Usually, most people answer with YES. The courses are hard and the field itself is challenging and has a lot of terminologies to learn, and even more, information to know. Also, a medical transcriptionist must have special skills and pay so much attention to details, because they are responsible for all the medical content, and they shouldn’t miss out on any detail to become certified medical transcriptionists.

What additional skills does a medical transcriptionist need?

There are some specific skills that help certified transcriptionists be very good at what they do. These skills include:

  • Excellent command of the language they transcribe in.

  • Very good listening abilities

  • Typing speed 

  • Good knowledge of IT, Microsoft office word, and other software

  • Skills in editing, proofreading, and grammar and spelling checking

  • Ability to multitask

  • Time management skills

  • Patience

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What is the difference between medical transcription and editing?

Medical transcription editors are also medical transcriptionists who take care of editing the work after it’s done. Editors usually focus on minor mistakes related to spelling, grammar, and other related errors and additions that aren’t present in the audio. Their job is to make sure that everything is correct, and they usually aim at enhancing the quality of the written content. 

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How to become an online medical transcriptionist?

First, transcriptionists need to have the required academic qualifications. Then, they will need software to work on. In general, if they want to become online medical transcriptionists, they will need: 

  • Quiet work environment. 

  • Word processing software (Microsoft office word for example).

  • Software to stay in charge of the audio such as playback, rewind, fast forward, and pause.

  • Foot pedal.

  • Quality earphones or headset.

  • Medical dictionary to help you identify the spelling of terms.

  • Grammar dictionary or a reliable source to make sure you avoid all possible mistakes related to grammar. 

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That way, you can successfully become an online medical transcriptionist while sitting at home. However, you can’t easily find a job in medical transcription if you don’t have a degree that makes you eligible for being a medical transcriptionist.

Does a medical transcriptionist have to be certified?

 The law doesn't require medical transcriptionists to become certified. However, people tend to choose medical transcriptionists with a certification. So, having a certification increases the chances to be chosen, even though it is voluntary and not required. But individuals generally prefer the ones who have a certification, because they are considered professional and eligible for this task. Experience is also needed and it plays a major part in choosing a medical transcriptionist.

Can you work from home as a medical transcriptionist?

Just like any other online and work-from-home job, medical transcriptionists can indeed work from home. Whether they choose to have a certification or not, they can start and pursue their career as medical transcriptionists from home. All they need is a quiet work environment, quality headset or earphones, the right software, foot pedals, medical knowledge, patience, and time. Some medical transcriptionists reported feeling a lot more comfortable when they work from home than when they work in other crowded environments. Because they are able to focus more and their productivity increases. 

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How can I increase my knowledge of medical terminology?

You are not obliged to memorize all medical terms and vocabulary, you can simply understand a few things about the terminology, and with practice, you will find it easier to remember definitions. However, increasing one’s knowledge of medical terminology requires some effort. You can find below a list of tips that can help you increase your knowledge of medical terminology:

  • Start by reading about different topics in the medical field. This will help you train your memory and can make you familiar with the terminology.

  • Even if you don’t know any Greek or Latin, you can identify new medical terms to some Greek or Latin words you already know, since nearly all languages use some Greek and Latin words. And most medical terms are from Greek and Latin languages. Which makes it easier for you to learn new ones.

  • Notice the patterns in medical terms and words, since some of them can be broken down into parts. These parts typically include prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

  • Try using acronyms, because this can help you memorize terms faster. 

  • Listen to podcasts and watch series and movies related to the medical field.

  • Use sticky notes in places where you can see them. This will help you memorize them faster as you will see them everywhere.

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What is the difference between a medical scribe and a medical transcriptionist?

While they both make it easier for physicians, they still don’t mean the same thing at all. A medical scribe and a medical transcriptionist each have his/her own tasks and functions.

A medical scribe works as the partner of the physician and what he/she provides is documentation in the electronic health record of the practice. This task makes the writers well-informed about how things go on and makes them acquire all terminology related to the medical field, anatomy, and physiology. During the visit, medical scribes work in exam rooms to document everything that happens. However, medical transcriptionists convey the physician’s dictations to written records. They are never present in real-time with physicians, they can work from home or from another room, and they don’t need to see patients and assist physicians at the same time.

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Is medical transcription still in demand?

In our hastily changing world and with new discoveries every day, medical transcription is still in demand, and it's increasing as the days go by. All healthcare facilities are in increasing need of medical transcription, and they all find them useful and rely on medical transcriptionists to complete this task.

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Where is medical transcription used the most?

With the increase in chronic conditions, many sectors are demanding medical transcription services. These sectors include hospitals, governments, private clinics, healthcare departments, and even private companies. 

Concerning job opportunities a medical transcriptionist can pursue, they are:

  • Medical transcriptionist

  • Medical assistants

  • Medical summarize

  • Medical records and health information technicians

  • Court reporters

  • Interpreters and translators

  • Information clerks

  • Receptionists

And more.

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