It can be difficult to afford an education without a job to cover some of the cost, but it can be difficult to hold a job while getting an education without letting your schoolwork suffer. One of the best ways to marry the two is to find an occupation that lets you work at home, and medical transcription can be just such an option. If you would like to work as a medical transcriptionist, here’s what you need to know.
Required Education and Training
At the most basic level, medical transcriptionists are responsible for listening to recordings of medical professionals and transcribing what they hear. A wide range of reports may be up for transcription, including lab reports, autopsy reports, discharge summaries, operating reports, and others. Much of the time the information transcribed will go straight into a patient’s medical records, making accuracy and clarity of the utmost importance.
There are several important skills someone interested in medical transcription should possess before embarking on that career. Some background in medical terminology is very important. Often recordings may be unclear or difficult to make out; combined with the often difficult and confusing medical jargon used, a proper background into what is actually being said is vital for properly writing it. Complementing knowledge of the jargon itself should be a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology: knowing the basic operation of the human body can help you recognize what is being discussed and thus narrow down what a questionable word might be.
For that reason, most medical transcriptionists will need to complete a specialized educational course before locating a job in the field. Often vocational schools and community colleges have convenient options that can be completed in as little as four months, expanding out to a year if time to dedicate to the course is limited. Some medical institutions will accept medical students without a completed course, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the time to complete the course. Of course, on top of the medical background, any transcriptionist needs to have exceptional typing skills and a strong grasp of English language and grammar rules.
Securing a Position
Once the proper education and training are obtained, there are multiple avenues for actually securing a position. Some medical offices and facilities employ their own transcriptionists; others contract out their transcription requirements to larger companies specifically built to offer that service to their clients. In both cases, some employers will require the transcriptionist to work in an office in-house (whether at the medical facility or the building of the centralized transcription services provider), while others will permit the transcription work to be done remotely.
The work-from-home option is becoming increasingly popular as medical facilities seek ways to cut costs, and keeping their transcription services on an independent contractor basis allows them to avoid providing benefits such as health insurance as well as the additional overhead that comes with managing an official employee. In addition, allowing the transcriptionist to work remotely means office space need not be provided.
The best way to find a medical transcriptionist position is to call doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare providers or administration centers and simply ask if they require the services of a trained transcriptionist. Such positions are also frequently advertised in newspapers or on healthcare provider websites.
Medical transcription benefits from the overall growing medical field as people live longer and the overall popular ages. Two main challenges for the medical transcriptionist come in the form of automatic transcription software and overseas competition driving down wages. Transcription software is theoretically a way to automate the job for a significantly lower cost, but such options currently tend to be too inaccurate to rely upon, especially with the complicated medical terminology. Nevertheless, it should be assumed that the technology will eventually improve.
Second, some larger companies have taken to exporting their medical transcription requirements to India and other far away nations in order to save costs. While this does apply some downward pressure to wages, similar to automatic transcription, it is more difficult to achieve an accurate and error-free final product when using a non-native speaker.
Regardless of the challenges, medical transcription can be an excellent profession to earn some additional income on your own time with little investment. This is why medical transcription can be a great work-at-home job and an additional source of income for medical students.
Dunya Carter is an HR and marketing specialist who is currently working as a consultant for Ochre Recruitment, a recruitment agency specialising in medical jobs. She also writes for several websites on topics related to career development, business and travel.