How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist In 2024

Starting a career as a medical transcriptionist is a rewarding occupation in many ways. Working from home or remotely is one of the many advantages of transcribing medical reports. Plus, top full-time medical transcriptionists can make around $60,000 annually if they work efficiently using all the tools available to them.

How to Become a medical Transcriptionist in 2021

What does a medical transcriptionist do?

The medical transcriptionists job is to listen to audio files created by healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses. The main responsibility of medical transcriptionists is to convert those audio files into written medical transcriptions using a computer, foot pedal, keyboard, and good headphones.

In past years medical transcription was the best subspecialty. That’s not to say that medical transcription isn’t essential because having medical audio files correctly and professionally transcribed can help save lives. 

The U.S. medical transcription industry’s challenge often places a higher priority on transcription speed versus accurate transcriptions. For medical transcriptions especially, both are important. Hospitals and medical practices often attempt to save money by retaining inferior medical transcription services to save money. Some even require the practitioners to transcribe and edit their work. 

The importance of transcribing medical audio files correctly and quickly remains a high priority for medical transcriptionists. Hopefully, more health care administrators will recognize that using low-cost, overseas-based transcription companies or artificial intelligence programs may increase long-term costs. 

Interestingly, mandates on providers to quickly update electronic health records (EHR), also known as electronic medical records (EMR), are a major contributing cause of physician burnout.

Most people are familiar with many of today’s medical specialties. As there are differences between law enforcement and medical transcription, specialties such as pathology, radiology, and primary care are more “transcription heavy” than gastroenterology or dermatology. 

The reason is that a pathologist who is dictating a laboratory report will use different terminology and reference other drugs than an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT).  

If you find working as a medical transcriptionist interesting, you may want to identify a niche specialty so you can become an expert on transcribing these files. Doing so will allow you to understand the terminology associated with the specialty. Moreover, as a medical transcriptionist, it also helps you transcribe files faster and more accurately.  

What are the requirements for becoming a medical transcriptionist? 

Medical transcriptionists come from many backgrounds. Many are self-trained, while others complete certification programs through universities, community colleges, or online programs. However, many medical transcriptionists are self-taught and have improved their existing skill set on their own through repetition.

Typing, followed by listening skills, are the two most crucial medical transcription functions. Competent medical transcriptionists must type a minimum of 65 words per minute (wpm) with a 99 percent accuracy rate. It’s not uncommon for experienced medical transcriptionists to type more than 75 wpm with almost zero errors. There are several online typing programs to help improve your skills and measure your accuracy.

The ability to listen is equally important. Unlike other transcription projects where audio files can be challenging to hear, medical transcripts are generally recorded by medical transcriptionists in quiet areas where background noise is low. Therefore, undertaking a career as medical transcriptionists is not convenient; however, it is immensely rewarding.

The key to medical transcription is understanding and accurately recording medical jargon. Words and phrases used by healthcare providers involve a great deal of science, so if you are interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist, understanding the medical jargon is essential.

Medical transcriptionists also must follow all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) guidelines at all times.  

The reason this is important is that convicted felons are not allowed access to this information. Medical transcriptionists need a private, dedicated workspace, as well as a secure computer with password access. HIPAA guidelines mandate patient information be protected at all times. 

Most people who aspire to become medical transcriptionists usually have the essential equipment needed to get started. A late-model desktop or laptop computer with sufficient RAM and storage is vital. Now let’s talk about some tools that make transcribing easier and faster for you as a medical transcriptionist.

If you use a laptop as your primary computer, you will most likely use the computer’s built-in keyboard. Regardless of the type of computer you use, a high-quality and comfortable keyboard is essential. It’s also essential your hands are resting comfortably and are at the proper angle for extended periods of typing. 

how to become a medical transcriptionist

Most experienced medical transcriptionist uses a foot pedal and a high-quality pair of headphones. A foot pedal allows you to control the rewind/play/forward actions without ever having to use your mouse. Speed is vital for an experienced medical transcriptionist. Studies show that you lose at least seven typed characters for every second you remove your hand from the keyboard. We recommend the Infinity USB Digital Foot Pedal and the best headphones you can afford. Quality headphones dramatically enhance the experience of medical transcriptionists. In addition it can make a big difference when you have dictators that speak fast or mumble sometimes.  

The right software makes it easier to perform many computer tasks. Transcription is no exception. The kind of software medical transcriptionists typically utilize fluctuates depending on which company retains your services. Microsoft Word is commonly used and is available by subscription. Google Chrome is the most common browser used by a medical transcriptionist. We also recommend transcription software by NCH Software called Express Scribe.

Medical terminology is continually changing. Courses are an option and can help decrease the learning curve. Before medical transcriptionists begin transcribing medical files, purchasing or having access to an updated medical dictionary is highly recommended for learning the medical terminology. Drug names, especially their scientific names, are often complicated and sound similar. Developing an understanding of these words and phrases will increase your speed and hopefully maintain or increase your accuracy rate as a medical transcriptionist. Ultimately, enrolling in a medical transcriptionist program or taking medical transcription training can open the door to new opportunities.

Access to high-speed internet for medical transcriptionists is also essential. Download speeds of at least 10mpbs are preferred. I highly recommend download speeds of 100mpbs or more if available and affordable. 

You don’t need everything to begin your transcription career as a medical transcriptionist. However, adding some or all of these tools will allow you to become more efficient and earn more money per hour.

How do I find a job as a medical transcriptionist?

Medical transcriptionists can work for health care providers—however, many work as freelance transcribers for independent companies. Once you are confident that your medical transcription skills are adequate, you can apply to most companies via an online application or form. 

If you are looking for medical transcriptionist jobs, we do recommend you work exclusively for U.S. based medical transcription companies. The market has seen an increase in the number of foreign transcription companies who infer they have U.S. operations. Unfortunately, these companies are known for producing shoddy work and usually pay low rates, if they pay you at all. At Ditto Transcripts, we pay our transcriptionists twice monthly, either via direct deposit or PayPal.  

It’s also a good idea to research the medical transcription industry and learn medical terminology. An excellent place to begin is by visiting mtstars.com.  Created exclusively for medical transcriptionists, this website contains a wealth of information such as job postings, a resume bank, and discussion forums on relevant topics. Conducting your search about the medical transcription field is important. Finally, we highly recommend speaking with someone with at least two years of experience as a medical transcriptionist or certified healthcare documentation specialist. Their insight into the industry and which companies are best will prove invaluable. 

Looking for medical transcriptionist jobs? If you are an experienced medical transcriptionist or a certified healthcare documentation specialist, we invite you to complete our online employment form

How much money can I make as a medical transcriptionist?

Top medical transcriptionists who work full-time can make $60,000 annually or over $28 per hour. According to the latest earnings estimates from industry surveys, the average hourly rate for a medical transcriptionist is slightly over $15.25 per hour. 

How to Become a medical Transcriptionist

Ditto Transcripts pays twice monthly, either by direct deposit or via PayPal

Depending on your existing skills, there is a learning curve to earn top money. Beginning transcriptionists or registered healthcare documentation specialist who obtain their certifications from healthcare documentation integrity earns about $10 per hour. It’s also important to understand that most companies don’t compensate transcriptionists by the hour. However, they prefer to do it by the line or page. It takes around three hours to transcribe a 30-minute audio file as a beginning transcriptionist or registered healthcare documentation specialist. Someone with experience can transcribe the same file in half the time. 

Working part-time as a transcriptionist is a popular occupation for retirees and students who are looking to earn extra money freelancing. While you are getting started in your medical transcription career or looking for medical transcriptionist jobs, make sure you are planning to save some extra money in order to work your way into earning more as you gain experience.

Which qualities separate medical transcription companies?

Quality and professionalism are the two significant differences between most medical transcription companies. 

Transcription companies that are based and operate exclusively in the U.S. are known to provide the highest quality transcription services. Besides having the best source of employees, medical transcriptionists or freelance contractors, U.S. transcription companies value security compliance and follow medical health records guidelines established by the government and the industry. 

When overseas contractors handle sensitive data, privacy issues can quickly arise.

In recent years, some transcription companies began using artificial intelligence (AI) technology for medical transcriptionists jobs. While AI is used successfully in many industries, its use in transcription services hasn’t increased accuracy rates. When AI is used in medical transcription, the accuracy rates decrease.   

Reasons why AI isn’t as useful as using human medical transcriptionists include discounting background noise in a file and the inability to understand and differentiate between accents and dialects. Understanding the correct use of medical terminology is also vital. 

Professionalism and customer service are two fundamental reasons you must carefully evaluate any transcription company. For over ten years, we’ve taken the time to understand our customers and their needs. Our primary focus is making sure our customers have top-notch transcriptions at a fair rate. In the end, we find that the human touch of transcribing audio files and communicating with customers – is best.

Do you enjoy working with the best?

If quality, professionalism, and the desire to produce flawless transcriptions are your goal, we’re on the same page. Ditto Transcripts is an American company that uses 100 percent, U.S. based medical transcriptionists. You may contact us today at [email protected] or call us at (720) 287-3710. 

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