What does a medical transcriptionist do? The Andrews School online medical transcription program is unique because it provides students with the level of medical transcription skills needed to work at home doing medical transcription right after graduation. Is medical transcription the right medical career choice for you? We'll give you information that will help you as you consider your career options, starting with a detailed job description for a medical transcriptionist.

It can be very confusing weighing all your career choice options. This is an important decision for you as you invest your time, money, and effort. If you're serious about a medical office career, particularly in medical transcription, this is the place to evaluate what you've heard and check to make sure it's all true.

We'll give you facts, not a high-pressure sales pitch, so you'll know if it's the right medical career choice for your particular situation. We'll talk about medical transcription pay, and how salaries for medical transcriptionists are dependent on production and availability of work from medical transcription services (MTSOs). If you call us and describe your own situation and what you're looking for, we'll even tell you if we think this is the wrong career choice for you.

Medical transcription schools often offer just an introduction to medical transcription, not enough for the best results, usually not even enough to test for or keep an entry level medical transcription job. They usually are very heavy on medical terminology, but have inferior training in the actual transcribing part. Regardless of what they tell you, there are very few jobs out there for 'medical terminologists', so just knowing a lot of medical terms doesn't make you a medical transcriptionist. People continue to want to believe that it does though, so they put in a lot of time and effort, only to end up with a lot of medical terms and no way to put them to work. We don't want you to make the same mistake.

Since instructors of many courses are not qualified medical transcriptionists themselves, they are hardly in a position to train others to transcribe. Many think that after learning the terminology, you just 'listen and type what you hear, right?' Wrong! Medical terminology is only about 20% of the total picture. Much more is involved. The medical report must be formatted properly for the patient's medical record, using accepted healthcare industry guidelines. Doctors often dictate so fast and slur their words, so that if you didn't know what to expect them to say, you wouldn't be able to understand it.

If you have questions about anything I've talked about here, call me. I will be happy to talk with you about what else is required. We want you to be informed, to know the pros and cons of a medical transcription career, how to choose the best medical transcription school, and what other medical career options are available to you, especially training for work from home jobs.

First we'll start with a detailed description of what medical transcription is all about.

Physicians examine patients in hospitals, clinics and medical offices, then dictate important information about the patient's history, physical examination, diseases, procedures, laboratory tests and diagnoses. They use medical terminology, often with heavy accents, and often speak so quickly that you must have extensive training to know what is typically included in a medical report in order to understand what they are saying. Since medical transcriptionists typically work from home, our course teaches medical transcription at home, the way it will be done on the job. A career in medical transcription is ideal for those who are able to work independently without someone standing over them telling them what to do.

New students often think that the "dictation" doctors do is like some executive dictating a letter to a secretary, in which he/she specifies every line break, every paragraph, every punctuation mark, and most of the spelling. That is not how doctors dictate. They expect the medical transcriptionist to do the formatting, the spelling, and to convert that dictated material from the doctor's shorthand medical slang to formal medical language. A previous job working as a medical administrative assistant, medical billing clerk, medical coder, medical receptionist, or medical secretary may be helpful, but is not a prerequisite.

Doctors often say things in their dictation that they never intend to be transcribed. They say, "Oh, no, start over," "Go back and change that," and make all sorts of chitchat. They tell the transcriptionist jokes, relate cute stories, and they sing! They have conversations with people around them and often do this WHILE doing the actual dictation.

Example of something a medical transcriptionist might hear:
"The patient is a 32-year-old put him in room 2 white male who presented with a yeah, start an IV chief complaint of rats I can't find it what was this guy's problem when he got here? Never mind belly pain (rattle of x-ray film) ...okay, she can go; this is clear."

They also often begin and end by saying hello, goodbye, thank you, and have a nice holiday. They don't intend for this to be transcribed. The job of the medical transcriptionist is to figure out what is supposed to be part of the report and what is not. We are not robots who simply repeat everything we hear. We use judgment in deciding what to include and what not to include. Even if you are asked to do "verbatim" transcription, they NEVER expect you to type every noise the dictator makes. We don't transcribe noises; we transcribe and interpret meaning. We do that without changing the style of the physician's dictation and without ever changing the medical meaning. The end result is that the report says exactly what the doctor wants it to say.

I had an experience years ago when we had only on-site medical transcription training, before we discovered the advantages of distance learning or learning medical transcription from home the way you will be doing it on the job later. Our medical transcription school was located in an office building where people occasionally dropped in to see what medical transcription is all about. I learned very quickly that it's not easy to explain. The first time someone came in asking to 'hear' real medical transcription so they could decide if they wanted to enroll, I showed her an example of the beginning dictation. I'll never forget. She said, "That's ridiculous! I don't need training for that. I can do that without training." Then she left before I had a chance to explain to her that the example I just showed her was for the first day. It gets harder.

The second time it happened, I thought I was being smarter, but it didn't turn out well either. This time I pulled out one of the advanced dictation examples as a demonstration of what MT is like on the job. The second woman threw up her hands and said, "That's ridiculous, nobody could ever do that! She caught me by surprise with her reaction, so I didn't explain to her that this was what she would be capable of transcribing after almost a year of training in medical transcription. Now I've finally learned my lesson. There is no way to 'demonstrate' what medical transcription is all about by allowing people to listen to it. There is so much more involved that they can't recognize because they 'don't know what they don't know.'

The Right Career
Medical Transcription may be the right career for you if you are able to work behind a computer for hours at a time, independently, with very little interaction with others. Excellent spelling and hearing skills are necessary as well as a good understanding of grammar and punctuation.

As part of our application process, we have provided a small screening test to help determine whether potential students have some of the skills necessary to succeed in this field. It isn't a definitive test, but it does help us guide students toward the right career choice. You will find the test and its instructions on our How To Apply page.

Books and materials for the medical transcription program are included in the cost of the course. When you write to us, let us know if you heard about us from a medical transcription employer, one of our successful graduates, or an online search. 405-721-3555 or linda@andrewsschool.com if you prefer to write.