Career and Job Search Guide

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists listen to dictated recordings made by doctors and transcribe these recordings into medical reports and correspondence. They usually listen to recordings on a headset, tap on a foot pedal to stop the recording, and then type the text into a computer or word processor. They transcribe referral letters, progress notes, diagnostic imaging studies, autopsy, consultation, and operative reports, discharge summaries, and medical history and physical examination reports. After they have completed a transcription, medical transcriptionists return their completed work to the doctor who dictated it for review, and either approve the work or suggest corrections. Transcribed documents eventually become part of patients' medical records.

Medical transcriptionists must understand medical terminology, anatomy, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments in order to accurately transcribe dictations. They must also understand medical jargon and abbreviations. Transcriptionists often refer to printed and electronic reference materials when they encounter confusing terms. Medical transcriptionists must abide by legal and ethical rules pertaining to patient confidentiality and follow the appropriate style mandated for medical records.

Experienced transcriptionists find mistakes or inconsistencies in medical reports and correct the mistakes. Accurate medical records are intended to prevent doctors from providing ineffective or harmful treatments.

The majority of doctors today dictate medical reports using digital or analog dictating equipment while many doctors use the internet to dictate medical reports. Many transcriptionists receive dictated reports through the internet, and after completing their reports, they are able to resubmit documents via the web for approval. Many medical transcriptionists use speech recognition technology, permitting them to speak into a microphone and instantly have what they have said translated into text. Transcriptionists format the reports and check for grammar mistakes and consistency. Transcriptionists, who specialize in fields that use standardized medical terminology such as radiology or pathology, are likely to use speech recognition technology. Speech recognition technology will be used more in all medical specialties as the technology becomes able to recognize more words.

Medical transcriptionists working in doctors' offices usually have administrative as well as transcription duties. Medical secretaries sometimes also transcribe medical reports.

Work environment. The majority of medial transcriptionists work in comfortable hospitals, doctors' offices, transcription service offices, clinics, laboratories, medical libraries, government medical facilities, or their personal residences. Many medical transcriptionists telecommute.

Workers usually sit upright for long hours. They can experience wrist, back, neck, eye problems or carpal tunnel syndrome. Medical transcriptionists can experience stress since they are expected to be accurate and productive every time they transcribe a medical report.

Medical transcriptionists usually work 40 hour weeks. Freelance medical transcriptionists usually work part time, nights, or weekends and are often on call.