Medical transcriptionists in the United States are trained to listen to recorded voice dictation from doctors and other health care professionals and convert that dictation into written reports. A transcriptionist may also be qualified to review and even edit medical documentation created using speech recognition software. It is the duty of the transcriptionist to interpret medical abbreviations as well as terminology in preparing patient discharge orders, medical history and other documents related to the patient’s medical files. Most transcriptionists work in doctor’s offices and hospitals, as well as for third party contractors that provide transcription services on a contractual basis. As technology and the reach of the Internet progresses, more and more people are learning how to transcribe from home and thus are considered self-employed.
Traditionally, how to become a medical transcriptionist required post-secondary education after high school. Although not a requirement, Associates Degrees in medical transcription are available at vocational colleges and community colleges all across the United States. There are also online training and certification courses that can prepare and educate a student to recognize and understand medical terminology, physiology and anatomy. Excellent language and grammatical skills are a must, especially if the doctor you are working for speaks a foreign language, thus using English as a second language and may not be familiar with the nuances of the English language as a native speaker would be. Additionally, familiarity with a variety of word processing applications is also necessary for a career in transcribing. Furthermore, it helps to be able to type at least eighty words per minute with minimal mistakes. The faster and more accurately you can type increases your efficiency as a transcriptionist.
While not a requirement, there are a number of certifications that a medical transcriptionist can pursue to add to their credibility, such as earning the credentials as a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT). In addition to the RMT, there are also credentials for a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT). To qualify for the RMT credential, one must have graduated from previous transcriptionist training programs and have less than 24 months experience in an acute care capacity. The next level is the CMT, which is applicable to transcriptionists with at least 24 months of experience at the acute care level, using a variety of format, report and dictation types across various areas of medical specialties. To earn one or both of these credentials, one must achieve a score above passing on a written exam.