Online Degrees in Medical Transcription
Medical transcription is a dream job for many--offering flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home. Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) report that many transcriptionists either telecommute or work from home as independent contractors.
Medical transcriptionists take dictated information and organize it into written reports. Physicians and other health care professionals rely on transcriptionists to create medical reports, correspondence and other office documents. Information may be transmitted via analog or digital recording equipment, although the use of the Internet and voice recognition software is increasingly popular. Transcriptionists must be properly trained to understand medical terminology and industry jargon.
As the leading industry group for transcriptionists, the AHDI recommends the field for individuals who have a strong grasp of English grammar, excellent keyboarding skills and keen listening skills. In addition, those with good concentration as well as hand-eye coordination are more likely to excel as medical transcriptionists.
Degree programs in medical transcription can commonly be found at community colleges, vocational schools and online universities. Some two-year programs may result in an associate degree, but graduates of shorter programs receive a certificate of completion.
Potential students should look for programs that meet minimum industry standards. The AHDI recommends that online degrees in medical transcription include coursework covering anatomy, pharmacology and laboratory medicine, medical language and transcription technology, among other subjects.
In addition, the AHDI created a model curriculum for medical transcription programs that recommends a minimum of 30 dictated hours of actual physician dictation plus an additional 10 dictated hours completed through an externship or other on-the-job experience. The association estimates that online degrees in medical transcription that follow its model curriculum should take 9 to 18 months to complete and cost an average of $3,000.
The BLS estimates that 36 percent of medical transcriptionists worked in hospitals in 2008. Another 23 percent worked in physician offices. Other transcriptionists may work directly in different health care settings or they may work independently at home.
Upon graduation, students receiving on-campus and online degrees in medical transcription can choose to become certified. The AHDI offers two credentialing programs to individuals who complete a transcription course--Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).
While certification is voluntary, it may improve employment opportunities. For example, individuals credentialed as RMTs are eligible to participate in the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA) Registered Apprenticeship program. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, this program arranges for apprentices to work with transcription companies for a two-year commitment.
Alaska is the highest paying state for medical transcriptionists, according to the BLS. Individuals there earned a mean annual wage of $44,130 in 2010. Nationwide, medical transcriptionists earned $33,530 that same year.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says employment for medical transcriptionists should grow 11 percent from 2008-2018.
- More than 25 educational institutions offer medical transcription degree programs approved by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.
- The Medical Transcription Industry Association reports that the current workforce is rapidly aging, and there is a shortage of qualified transcriptionists.