- A Brief Overview
If you've been
thinking about working at home as an MT, here is some basic info
you need to know.
by Cynthia Ann
What is involved in Medical
as you may know, is transcribing audio cassette or digital dictation
by physicians into hard copy or computer files for printing.
In other words, physicians recount the patient's medical history,
clinical findings and health care services on a tape recorder
or digital recording system, which in turn is interpreted by
the medical transcriptionist and generated into a written record
regarding the patient.
is a mix of Latin and Greek word parts (roots, prefixes and suffixes),
using English and a smattering of foreign terms. A working knowledge
of biology, human anatomy and physiology is necessary to understand
the dictation. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are necessary
to create a document that is correct, professional-looking, and
interpretable by others (lawyers, health care professionals,
Is there a market for
there is a market for skilled medical transcriptionists.
- The U.S. Department
of Labor has predicted the number of medical transcriptionists
needed will increase by 158,000 by the year 2005 -- a 68.3% increase
over the number of MTs currently in the field.
- Medical transcription
was also named "One of the Top Ten Businesses in 1995"
by Entrepreneur Magazine.
Just having a
computer at home and knowing how to type is definitely not enough
to become a working, successful medical transcriptionist.
is a necessity for the novice medical transcriptionist, usually
in the form of a vocational/technical college program, correspondence
course or an apprenticeship. Experience in the field of transcription
is invaluable to broaden your abilities and become familiar with
the different medical specialties. Working for a transcription
service, physician's office, clinic or hospital is a good way
to start building your career. Although this program will prepare
you to work from home, it is preferable to work alongside experienced
transcriptionists in the beginning. Medical transcription is
rarely something you can start and "earn $30,000" in
the first year from home. It does take time and practice.
When you research
learning opportunities, just be sure that your course will offer
all of the following:
- Medical Terminology
- Acronyms, eponyms,
- Laboratory tests
- Medical procedures
- Ethics of medical
- Research methods
- Brush-up typing
(if you need it)
- Brush-up English
- MT "business"
- Instructor availability,
either in person or by phone
- ... and LOTS
of actual transcription practice (including dictation by Foreign-accented
Each course that
you investigate will be structured somewhat differently and will
offer different values -- one will suit you better than the others.
One course may include a computer, another may include a transcriber,
another may offer an apprenticeship program at the conclusion
of the course, another may offer some sort of accreditation.
Some courses offer employment opportunities or job-placement
services. Some courses provide reference materials, others require
that you purchase them in addition to the course. Ask about the
details of each course and find the one that gives you
what you want -- and then investigate it thoroughly.
Be aware that,
although some courses offer a "certificate of completion"
and/or claim "accreditation" -- none offer certification
in the American Association For Medical Transcription, the "CMT"
that some medical transcriptionists are proud to add to their
names. This certification is offered ONLY through AAMT and requires
two tests. The general advice is that transcriptionists with
less than three years' actual experience should wait for certification.
(You are not required to obtain this certification in order to
work. Many institutions will pay a slightly higher wage to certified
MT's, but many other employers/clients are not aware of either
AAMT or the CMT status.)
Working On Site VS. Working
With your sharpened
skills, the next decision is, should you work on-site or become
an independent? This is best answered by a self-evaluation test.
Calculate your transcription productivity. How many lines can
you transcribe in an hour or day? Calculate that by the price
rate in your area. Would you make enough as a self-employed transcriptionist
to pay for overhead and have a profit? If you are an average
to low producer, employee status is probably best. The job offers
a steady income and benefits, but there are ceiling wages and
an uncontrollable work environment. If you are an above average
or high producer, consider self-employment. Becoming an independent
medical transcriptionist offers awesome benefits for some people.
It affords the opportunity to increase your income, control your
work environment, learn more and varied business skills, and
grow. It requires self-discipline, organization, continuing education
and reinvestment in your equipment and yourself. A successful
transition into independent transcription can also build self-esteem
and the skills and motivation to tackle larger projects.
There are many
different working environments available to a trained, experienced
MT, including hospitals, clinics, individual and group medical,
chiropractic, radiology, physical therapy practices, national
transcription services that hire or contract home-based MT's,
local transcription services who may also hire or contract MT's,
and owner-operator MT's (who may also subcontract work out).
While this appears
to be an excellent field for those transitioning from another
career to working at home, you need to be aware that there can
be a "catch-22" in this profession. Because of the
difficulty of the work, experience is so valued that it is sometimes
difficult for "newbies" to get a job or clients without
experience (and of course, how do you get experience without
a job or clients)?
For more info,
click on MT
- A Few Words of Caution to EPs.
owns a medical
transcription service in California, having made the transition
from a corporate management position to home business owner in
1994. She is also a freelance writer and daily contributor on
the Medical Transcription Forum on AOL, as well as the mom of
grown-up twin sons. She can be reached via email.