What is medical transcription?
Medical transcription involves transferring health related verbal information into written or electronic form, printing it out, including it in patient records, and storing it in various hospital and healthcare provider systems for future reference. Medical transcriptionists also take down conversations that may take place between a patient and doctor or hospital administrator or insurance companies. In most cases however, transcription professionals listen to recordings of various conversations and convert them into written or electronic form. Medical transcriptionists are employed in various capacities by hospitals, laboratories, clinics and nursing homes to document interactions between physicians and patients. Transcribed material once typed into a computer is then run through specialized software which then stores all information and sorts relevant materials in order to make medical histories, diagnoses and test results.

What programs can I pursue?
A number of colleges are offering online and on-campus diplomas, certifications as well as medical transcription degrees. In most cases, medical transcription is combined with medical coding and billing courses. The degree offered in this field is the associate of arts degree in medical transcription and billing. Medical transcription degree programs are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to transcribe medical dictation, take down relevant notes, and prepare patient files and other documents with a high level of accuracy. These courses include basic training in subjects such as pharmacology, anatomy, oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, lab procedures and medicine and drug usage as well as instruction on medical terminology.

What skills do I acquire?
Additionally students learn how to use transcription software and learn valuable computer and IT skills as well as transcribing and coding techniques and insurance and healthcare law. Most importantly students are taught how to do their work with full concentration and acuity to minimize the chance of errors and to prepare grammatically correct reports and transcripts. Some employers may require medical transcription professionals to take a certification program. The certification test is conducted by the American Association of Medical Transcription (AAMT) and includes question on various areas of health, medicine, law, grammar and computer techniques. Upon the successful completion of the exam, students become Certified Medical Transcriptionists (CMT).

What are the career prospects?
Medical transcription is a growing field and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected to hold a growth rate of about 16% over the next decade, giving it the second highest growth rate of any part of the healthcare industry. This growth is fuelled by the laws which require all patient records to be digitalized. Countless opportunities for the holders of a medical transcription degree exist in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, research centers, insurance agencies, pharmacies and other medical facilities. A medical transcription degree can also be used to start your own transcription business from home, and all you need for that is a computer and an internet connection. The key to being a medical transcription professional lies in acquiring and using IT skills effectively, recognizing and identifying medical terms and working within the limits prescribed by relevant laws. For people who enjoy working with computers and aspire to be part of the healthcare industry or stay-at-home parents looking to supplement an income – earning a medical transcription degree is your guarantee to a better job and ultimately, a better lifestyle.