Medical Transcriptionist Jobs and Experience
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
Doctors and healthcare professionals often have to write documents such as diagnostic reports, letters to patients and supply requirements. The fastest way for them to create written materials is to dictate it into a recording that is then processed by medical transcriptionists into written communications. Although many transcriptionists work in hospitals and doctors’ offices, they can also work from home.
Medical transcriptionists do not need experience to obtain their positions, at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although as with any jobs, experience can bring higher compensation. Instead, most employers prefer those with postsecondary training in medical transcription, which is available in vocational and technical schools, and community colleges. Programs of study can take one or two years to complete and provide training in medical terminology, anatomy, ethics, law and transcription mechanics. Although not required, certification can enhance job prospects, especially for the inexperienced.
Typical equipment for medical transcriptionists includes a dictation playback device that is foot-controlled and headphones for listening to recordings. These tools may be connected to computers, though which workers enter the text that they hear. After transcriptionists finish the initial transcription, they edit the draft to correct any errors in spelling, grammar or miscommunication. If they discover problems that they cannot resolve independently, they contact the provider of the recording for clarification. One important difference between transcriptionists in healthcare and those in other industries is the need to safeguard confidential medical information, by following industry guidelines and legal documentation requirements.
To obtain jobs, inexperienced transcriptionists may need to rely more on personal characteristics than those with several jobs under their belts. Computer skills are vital since the job is primarily accomplished with digital hardware and software. Transcriptionists must pay attention to detail to distinguish words that may sound the same but have different meanings when spelled in different ways. A good command of the English language helps with understanding verbal communication and translating it to written forms. Workers must practice good time-management because they may be handling several jobs at once, each of which is due immediately.
Although an aging baby boom population will need the medical services that transcriptionists document, jobs for the position are predicted to increase by only 6 percent from 2010 to 2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is less than half the 14 percent projected for all occupations in all industries. The lower than average rate is because many potential employers outsource their documentation needs to other countries, and sophisticated speech-to-text technology allow doctors to create the initial drafts. As of May 2011, medical transcriptionists earned a mean $34,050 per year, or $16.37 per hour. Those without experience generally earned close to or under $22,010 yearly, or $10.58 hourly, while those with expertise made over an annual $46,680, or $22.44 per hour.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.