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What Is Involved in Being a Medical Transcriptionist?

Aug 18, 2007
When I talk about having been a work at home medical transcriptionist, one of the most common questions I get is "how do I get into something like that?" This is often followed by "What does a medical transcriptionist do?"

In many ways the second question gives the more important information. You don't really need to know how to get into medical transcription if the job is not something you want to do, after all. And this job is not something everyone will be comfortable doing.

A medical transcriptionist types up dictation for a doctor. That's the short version. The reality is much more.

There are various types of dictation. A transcriptionist may type up clinic notes, letters, hospital reports, emergency room reports, physical exams, discharge reports and more. The accuracy required of a transcriptionist is exceptional, as all of these will be a part of the patient's permanent medical record. Mistakes can have serious impacts.

A medical transcriptionist has to listen to the doctor's dictation. This may not be as easy as some would expect. Many doctors have very poor dictation skills; some would say worse than their handwriting. It can be as though the doctor doesn't realize anyone has to type up what he's saying, and just wants to get it done and over with as soon as possible.

Despite that, you have to do your very best to get it exactly right without guesswork. No matter how incomprehensible the doctor is making his report, guessing is the wrong thing to do. There are rules for what you do when you cannot understand the doctor.

Fortunately, other doctors are a joy to transcribe for. It doesn't matter if they speak quickly or slowly; they speak so clearly that you have no trouble understanding them.

Being a work at home medical transcriptionist also means finding work hours that suit you. You will need quiet. It doesn't matter what else is going on in your life or in your home around you. When you commit to work you need to get it done, and there are turnaround times to be met.

The Internet has greatly simplified how a medical transcriptionist gets work onto his or her computer in many cases. While if you are on your own you may still pick up tapes from the doctor's office, most services simply have you use your Internet connection to get your work and send it back when complete. This also minimizes your equipment needs.

One of the most important aspects is the absolute requirement that you respect patient privacy. You will want to understand what HIPPA requires of a medical transcriptionist.

The job requirements for a medical transcriptionist can be quite strict in many ways, but when you work at home you can also enjoy tremendous flexibility. You can set your schedule and the conditions under which you are working. You choose how your office is set up. You choose your equipment.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.medicaltranscriptionbasics.com/ as a resource for those interested in getting into medical transcription. For more information on medical transcription training, visit her site.
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