Medical transcriptionists are paid in the $14-22 dollar range, with a median hourly wage of $15.41 as of mid-2008. The highest 10% of individuals in the medical transcription field in 2008 were paid an hourly rate of $21.81, while the lowest 10-percent earned a little over $10 per hour.*
Also, the specific area of the field influences the pay rate as well. Transcriptionists in the business support services area make an average of $14.52 per hour while employees in medical and diagnostic laboratories earn an hourly rate of $17.26.*
Interestingly enough, while South Dakota has the highest concentration of medical transcriptionists of the 50 states with 780 employees, the best paid in this field are those in Massachusetts, who earn an hourly mean wage of $20.62.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Work in the medical transcription field includes the transfer of recordings made by physicians into print form. This may include medical reports or correspondence, as well as any other materials they may require transcribed. The transcription also includes basic edits for clarity and correct grammar.
An experienced transcriptionist is able to find inconsistencies in reports and double check those for the correct information, thereby ensuring quality care for the patient and helping avoid ineffective or harmful treatments. This does create an element of stress to the position, as in extreme cases, the lives of the patients could depend on the observational powers of the transcriptionist. However, there are some methods in place to check the work after it is completed by a transcriptionist.
In order to successfully perform the duties expected of a medical transcriptionist, an accurate grasp of medical terminology, the ability to expand medical abbreviations into full form and comply with ethical, legal and style requirements specific to the medical field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of medical transcription continues to grow. The number of medical transcriptionists in the field is projected to grow 18% from 2008 to 2018, adding a total of 11,700 positions in that decade.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The job when working in-office can be a typical 40-hour work week. If telecommuting however, some medical transcriptionists can be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can work irregular hours.
Those who telecommute receive digital or analog recordings via the Internet, which greatly increases the rate of return to each client. Also, an increasingly popular technology that will be utilized more commonly in the future is voice recognition technology. When this is in use, the medical transcriptionist also has to be on the lookout for any incorrect translations that occur because of a misinterpretation by the software.
There is also potential for medical difficulties after an extended period working in the field, as transcriptionists sit still for long periods and type enough that injuries to the wrists and hands. Also, it should be noted independence and little human interaction are part and parcel of the medical transcription field. Therefore those requiring extensive social interaction should not pursue this career.
Training and Education Requirements
The average medical transcriptionist has completed a postsecondary program through a community college, vocational school or online college. A one-year certification or a two-year associate’s degree are available. Course matter for both programs include anatomy, medical terminology, grammar and punctuation and the legal aspects of working with medical documentation. Also, when working in the medical transcription field, it is necessary to keep up-to-date on all new terminology, a very fluid aspect of the job. A certification is awarded to those who successfully pass both a written and practical examination. That certification needs to be renewed every three years. A certain amount of on-the-job training is also usually required by a prospective employer.
One certification awarded to a transcriptionist recently graduated from a program or with less than two years of experience is the Registered Medical Transcriptionist, or RMT. Another certification awarded to a medical transcriptionist is called the Certified Medical Transcriptionist or CMT and is awarded by the American Association for Medical Transcription. The certification is given to those who pass both written and practical examinations and have two or more years of experience covering a variety of surgical specialities and working with different types of dictation and reports. The certification is good for three years, at which time a renewal is required.
The American Health Information Management Association is one that is ideal for a medical transcription to become involved with and gain a lot of benefit from. The association issues voluntary accreditation to institutions who seek it. Also, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity is important to medical transcriptionists. This association created the Approval Committee for Certification Programs, which grants accreditation to medical transcription programs that meet the pre-set criteria to receive the recognition. These associations are primary sources of networking for professionals in the medical transcription field, and also a guaranteed way to meet colleagues and be able to find a sounding board for career-related ideas if necessary.
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