Becoming a medical transcriptionist

Update: Nov 5th, 2013

By Laura Naumann

There is no definitive way to become a medical transcriptionist. A friend of mine went to a medical transcription course offered by our local community college. It was a 2-year course and she ended up with an associate’s degree. She had no trouble finding a medical transcriptionist job, as the company she signed up with recruited from her class. I chose an online medical transcription program and completed it in about 8 months. I had a medical transcription employment within a month of receiving my certificate and have stayed with the same company since.

Medical transcription requires more than typing skills and good hearing. To perform effectively as a medical transcriptionist one must have a basic understanding of medical terminology, body anatomy, medical procedures, lab tests and pharmacology.

There are a variety of educational tracks to become a medical transcriptionist. For those seeking federal financial aid a 2-year AA degree may be the best bet. These programs are available in either campus-based or online format, with some online programs offering an externship in a clinical setting. Your local community college may offer a medical transcription degree program. In addition, degree programs are offered by Rasmussen, Kaplan University and Phoenix University.

There are a multitude of certificate programs for medical transcription, which typically consist of self-paced learning modules. While certificate programs can be much less expensive than degree programs tuition is usually not covered by financial aid. Many programs offer an installment arrangement where tuition can be stretched out sometimes as long as 2 years.

Tuition cost should only be a basic consideration when selecting a certificate program. A comprehensive program will include the necessary medical aspects as well as use of keyboard, Internet, research, etc. A complete medical transcription course will include hands-on training with actual dictation from a variety of doctors with the printed transcription available for reference.

When selecting your medical transcription training it is important to consider your financial resources, your time demands and your course expectations. The method I used was visiting the websites of some of the larger transcription agencies to check out their educational requirements and learned that most required graduation from an accredited program.

I compared the costs and offerings of these accredited programs and chose the one offered by Career Step. This course offered learning modules mentioned above and also provided supplemental flash cards and study guides. The extensive library of dictation tapes included in the course provided many hours of actual dictation from numerous doctors with a combination of accents and specialties. The Career Step course is currently priced around $2000 and does offer a variety of installment plans. Career Step also makes it a point to keep up with the medical transcription profession and offer some helpful reference material to anyone considering entering the field.

Here’s a link to get information on the Career Step program.

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