What Medical Transcriptionists Do
Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports.
Most medical transcriptionists work for hospitals, physicians’ offices, and third-party transcription service companies that provide transcription services to healthcare establishments. Others are self-employed.
How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, grammar, and word-processing software.
The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $33,380 in May 2019.
Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029. The growing volume of healthcare services is expected to continue to increase demand for transcription services. However, employment is projected to decline because of increased productivity stemming from technological advances and outsourcing.
Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.
Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:
- Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other healthcare worker
- Interpret and transcribe the dictation into patient history, exam notes, operative reports, referral letters, discharge summaries, and other documents
- Review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is correct, complete, and consistent in style
- Translate medical abbreviations and jargon into the appropriate long form
- Identify inconsistencies, errors, and missing information within a report that could compromise patient care
- Follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure that reports are accurate
- Submit health records for physicians to approve
- Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
- Enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems
- Perform quality improvement audits
Traditionally, medical transcriptionists used audio playback equipment to listen to an entire dictation in order to produce a transcribed report, and some transcription is still done this way. It has become more common for medical documents to be prepared using speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then listens to the voice file and reviews the draft for accuracy, identifying any errors and editing the report, when necessary. Transcriptionists use word-processing and other specialized software to prepare the transcripts, as well as medical reference materials when needed.
Medical transcriptionists must be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand what the healthcare worker has recorded, correctly transcribe that information, and identify any inaccuracies in the transcript is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments. Medical transcriptionists also may need to be familiar with EHR systems.
Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors’ offices may have other duties, such as answering phones and greeting patients.
Medical transcriptionists held about 58,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of medical transcriptionists were as follows:
|Administrative and support services||37%|
|Offices of physicians||26|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||18|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||2|
Administrative and support services includes companies that provide transcription services.
Medical transcriptionists may work from home, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.
Most medical transcriptionists work full time. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or may have some flexibility in determining their schedules. Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical transcriptionists.
For more information about medical transcriptionists and for a list of accredited medical transcription programs, visit
Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Transcriptionists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm (visited ).