Are Online Medical Transcription Courses Worthwhile?

9/1/10 by Karen Harrison

Transcribing the Magna Carta!

For those who dream of having a flexible work-at-home career or who want to work in a healthcare setting without spending several years in the classroom, medical transcription is an excellent career choice.  The need for certified medical transcriptionists is increasing rapidly because of the growing and aging population, and there are little to no educational requirements for medical transcription jobs.

In 2008, medical transcriptionists held 105,200 jobs.  Although some worry that the need for certified medical transcriptionists will decrease because of overseas contracting, reports transcribed overseas typically require editing by domestic medical transcriptionists for accuracy.  So, the need for well-trained, domestic medical transcriptionists is predicted to increase over the next several years.

What Does Medical Transcription Entail?

Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings made by physicians and other healthcare professionals and transcribe them into medical reports and other administrative materials.  Medical transcriptionists use a word processor or PC to transcribe the text and edit the material for grammar and clarity.  They use a headset to listen to the recordings and operate a foot pedal to pause the recordings as needed.  The documents they transcribe generally become a part of patients’ permanent medical files.

Medical transcriptionists work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, transcription service offices, clinics, government medical facilities, or laboratories.  Some even work from home-based offices.  Home-based medical transcriptionists often work irregular hours since working at home gives them more flexibility.

Why Take Online Medical Transcription Courses?

Although there are no formal education requirements to become a medical transcriptionist, employers prefer applicants who have received post-secondary training in the field.  Post-secondary training in medical transcription is offered at many community colleges, vocational schools, and online educational institutions.

Taking online medical transcription courses allows you to receive post-secondary training from the comfort of your own home.  You can choose between a one-year certificate program and a two-year associate’s degree program.  Both programs include coursework in English grammar and punctuation, anatomy, and medical terminology.  As a student in online medical transcription courses, you’ll also learn to utilize playback controls on the transcriber, operate a foot pedal, and listen and type simultaneously, among other skills.

How to Become a Certified Medical Transcriptionist

The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) awards two voluntary certifications: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).  Those with less than two years of experience in acute care can become registered RMT’s if they pass the ADHI level-1 registered medical transcription exam.  To get the CMT designation, you must earn a passing score on a certification examination and have more than two years of experience in acute care.

Formal accreditation is not required for medical transcription programs, but if you are seeking certification, you may be required to take online medical transcription courses offered by a program that’s been approved by the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (ACCP).  The ACCP offers voluntary accreditation of medical transcription programs.

Upon successful completion of online medical transcription courses that are part of a certification program, you’ll have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to initiate your career as a medical transcriptionist.  Once you get some experience under your belt, you’ll have the opportunity to advance to a supervisory position or pursue home-based work.  And if you receive additional education, you’ll have the option to become a medical records and health information technician, medical coder, or health information administrator.  To put it simply, there are a myriad of opportunities for advancement in medical transcription, so what are you waiting for?

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