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Medical Transcriptionists

What Medical Transcriptionists Do

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO3cnRsMDuI

Work Environment

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists was $33,380 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

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.

Duties

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
Self-employed workers 4
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.

Work Schedules

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.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Court Reporters

Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings.

Postsecondary nondegree award $60,130

Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $35,390

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $34,800

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information data.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,630

Receptionists

Receptionists do tasks such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing information about their organization to the public.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,050

Secretaries and administrative assistants

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,850

Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language.

Bachelor’s degree $51,830

For more information about medical transcriptionists and for a list of accredited medical transcription programs, visit

Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity

O*NET

Medical Transcriptionists


Suggested citation:

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 ).


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Kate Williams

Kate Williams is a business communications expert and is the editor of Job Affirmations. She is a professional resume writer and has studied Myers-Briggs personality types and how they influence career choice. Job Affirmations has hundreds of job descriptions categorized by the 16 Myers-Briggs types, by career interests and work values. Kate also shares her best writing tips including the proper formatting of emails and cover letters You'll find positive affirmations for work, inspirational quotes, career vision boards for your best year ever.

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