Medical transcriptionists are an unusual kind of professionals whose responsibilities require some truly unique capabilities: a working medical vocabulary on a par with that of medical professionals, good proofreading skills, sharp eye, excellent typing skills, ability to concentrate for long periods, and a good ear for dictation.
Possessing those, however, sometimes is not enough. To get ahead, transcriptionists must improve the skills that they already have and learn those that they might still require.
Here are some pointers on how medical transcriptionists can stay ahead:
Enhance proofreading skills. Medical transcription is unlike most jobs. It requires excellent proofreading skills. Medical transcriptionists must deal with specialized vocabulary embedded in descriptions of technical procedures and methods. To improve your proofreading skills, you as medical transcriptionist must:
- Be up-to-date on medical terminology
- Develop a critical eye for typographical, spelling, and punctuation errors
- Sharpen grammar competency to be able to recognize and correct basic grammatical errors and incorrectly used English words
- Enhance knowledge of medical procedures to be able to spot omitted crucial dictated words or incorrectly selected medical terms
Enhance your typing skills. The faster you can type up a dictation, the more work you can get done. Of course, speed is nothing if accuracy is poor. Fortunately, these two principal aspects of your typing skill are not mutually exclusive. You can actually have both. And the only way to have both at optimum levels is practice—and then some more practice.
Equip yourself properly. The modern medical transcriptionist’s tool box must go beyond the basic set of word processor and headphones. A word expander and foot pedal are just two of the new tools that increase the transcriptionist’s productivity manyfold.
The word (or text) expander is a software add-on that automatically completes a word being encoded after only the first letters (or key letters) have been typed. If, for instance, you have the word “hypoglycemic” stored in your word expander’s library, simply typing “hypog” will complete the word, saving you 50 percent of effort and time. A word expander saves you the trouble of typing over and over a word that appears repeatedly in the text (a common occurrence in medical reports). In fact, an entire phrase can be stored so it can be called up and inserted anywhere it’s needed in the text. Many word expanders are currently available online.
A foot pedal may not seem really high-tech, but it’s a high-productivity electronic device that integrates with your computer. You can think of it as a computer mouse for the foot that lets you use a foot pedal to perform such tasks as rewinding, fast forwarding, starting, or pausing a dictation. Using a foot pedal keeps your hand on the keyboard instead of it flying off to the mouse every three seconds to rewind a dictation, in the process increasing your typing speed and boosting your productivity. (See also Medical Transcription FAQs)