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Real Life as a Medical Transcriptionist

Candice Markham December 27, 2013 Comments Off on Real Life as a Medical Transcriptionist

medical transcription careerMany students wonder about life after graduation.  What will a real job entail?  Will I be able to do it without backup or advice from my instructor?  What happens if I can’t find a term or a medication?  How hard will it be to get hired after I graduate?

Keep in mind that all of these questions are the norm for all students.  Everyone wants to secure the best job possible after spending time and money getting an education.  The important point to remember here is a life truism – you usually get out of something what you’ve put into it.  Nothing could be more accurate than the field of medical transcription.

Medical transcription or healthcare documentation (as it is now called) is all about research.  That might sound odd but it is the key ingredient to an MT’s success.  Also an important fact – if you want to be the best at transcription, you have to do the work.  Knowing a “general” amount of medical terminology isn’t going to cut it.  That isn’t to say that you have to memorize every single word or term or recall it all.  The language of medicine is far too complex for any of us to know or retain all of it.  However, you do have to be able to know where to look when you have a question and you have to be of the mindset that if you cannot document it by a reliable source, you must ask for help.

In addition, you also must be a superior “note taker.”  This means that every time someone points something out to you – whether it is an error in transcription such as wrong word or medicine or it is an answer to a question you’ve raised – you need to make a note of it.  Whether you write down answers in a notebook by system or alphabetically or you type up detailed lists of new words and medications, the more you practice recording the correct verbiage, the better you become.

A major stumbling block to many HDS students can be a typing speed and understanding the requirements once employed.  In healthcare documentation, most institutions or services are production based.  This means that most are not paid by the hour but by characters typed.  The reason behind this is these facilities bill the same way.  Along with this method of compensation then comes the expectation that the HDS will produce X amount of reports or lines per day.

These quotas are reasonably set but a major factor affecting production can be a lack of typing speed.  How does one become a better or faster typist? The only way to improve your skills is much like learning to play a musical instrument – practice, then more practice.  Speed should never preclude accuracy, however, so the keywords here are accuracy with speed.

As a beginning medical transcriptionist in the first week of employment you would probably be expected to type at least 10 short reports each about 2-3 minutes in length per day.  Internship is thus a fantastic way to achieve such goals while affording you an opportunity to hone your skills as an HDS without the added pressures of employment.  It gives you the advantage of living the real deal.

Another key component to employment post schooling is dedicated to the career.  The most successful medical transcriptionists are those who actively pursue continuing education, get credentials and make lifetime learning their goal.

A course in medical transcription will never be the whole sum of what you will need in the workplace.  Researching skills and devotion to devouring everything regarding medicine will push a newly graduated student to the top of the heap.  Likewise, the ability to ask for clarification and the ability to apply feedback are also key essentials to success in a highly demanding yet incredibly satisfying and invaluable medical career.


– Audrey Kirchner

medical career

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