How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
Most of us don’t think too much about what happens to the notes that are taken when we visit the doctor’s surgery. We’re probably more interested in trying to preserve our modesty, fending off those nagging worries that we’ve got something serious and then getting out of the door as quickly as possible. But there is a whole industry behind the scenes that deals with the information collected by the doctor during their examining and questioning. That industry is the medical transcription industry.
The medical transcriptionist is the person who types up or ‘transcribes’ the notes taken by the doctor during their consultations. Typically, as soon as the patient leaves the office or surgery the doctor will dictate the salient information which then needs to be transcribed so it can be stored for later reference or passed on to other healthcare professionals. At one time, this would have had to be carried out by staff working on the premises but advancing technology and particularly the MP3 audio file format and widespread broadband internet connections mean that the doctor’s dictation can be sent to a transcriptionist working from home anywhere in the world.
Consequently, a thriving industry of outsourced transcription services has developed and if you have, or can acquire, a knowledge of medical terminology, then home-based medical transcription may be an interesting, profitable and flexible occupation choice for you to do on a home-working basis.
So what will you need to get into this profession? Firstly, you’ll need a familiarity with medical terminology in order that you can understand the content of the dictations. At first glance, medical terms can seem baffling but there is actually a fairly straight-forward structure and system to most terms which, once understood, can be used to breakdown and understand even the most complex sounding words. There are various courses available so, even if you are new to medical terminology, don’t be put off by this aspect of the role.
Next, it would probably be useful to get some experience of working in a medical context, again to help make sense of the content of the dictations and also to demonstrate your knowledge to prospective employers. A working knowledge of IT and digital transcription systems will be necessary, as will having a good general command of the English Language. Finally, high-level typing skills will be important; most transcription agencies charge by the dictated minute so being fast and accurate is essential. To join an agency, or to get work as a freelancer, you will usually need to do a skill assessment and as part of this will your speed and key-stroke accuracy will be tested so it’s important that you work on these aspects. You’ll also need to present a CV and a covering letter during your application and clearly, for a typing-based occupation, it will be essential that these are perfectly presented.
With all this in place, the only thing to do now is apply to agencies and directly to potential medical clients.