Medical transcription is the process by which voice recordings are transferred into electronic file form. When a doctor completes a visit with his or her patient, the doctor then speaks into a recording device and verbally notes details about the visit. Medical transcriptionists, or MTs, then listen to these recordings and type the words into a computer. The typed medical records then become part of the patient’s medical record. If this sounds like something that may interest you or fits your skill set, there are some things to consider before getting started.
Equipment you need depends on the type of dictation that the hospital or doctor’s office does, and whether you choose to work locally or work for clients nationally or even worldwide. No matter which market you choose to target, however, you will need a reliable computer with the appropriate software, a foot pedal, and a headset.
If you work for a doctor who uses mini tapes, you will need a mini cassette transcriber. However, more and more medical professionals are opting for digital dictation, which requires a reliable, fast internet connection and the capacity to download FTP files. You will also want a medical spell checker on your computer, and familiarize yourself with an online medical dictionary. A printer and possibly a fax machine (or access to one) are also start-up necessities.
Training courses can be found online, and you can work from home or attend an MT school. If you have experience working in the medical profession, you can enter the MT field without specific training. Nonetheless, hospitals tend to prefer employees who are specifically trained in medical transcription.
The MT job market is fairly lucrative, which offsets the modest cost of the equipment and training. According to roguecc.edu, the average MT can expect to make $10 an hour to start, and around $15 per hour as you become more advanced. If you work as an independent contractor and run your own small business, there is potential for greater income as you set your own prices and offer more services.
Your personality and abilities will need to include attention to detail and the ability to edit your work. Medical terminology can be quite complicated, and a mistake typed into a patient’s medical record could be disastrous or even life-threatening. Imagine the confusion that could result if an MT typed “contusion” instead of “concussion,” or entered the wrong medication. You will also need to be a fast typist as well as an accurate one.
Confidentiality is essential. Medical records are strictly confidential, and you will need a private space in which to do your transcription so that no one can read what’s on your computer screen or listen to the voice recording (whether or not you are present).
With the proper training and set-up, medical transcription has potential as a good source of income. Ask yourself if it’s for you.