How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
...education and training requirements
Employers prefer to hire medical transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary training in medical transcription (medical transcription certificate). Medical transcription involves a highly interpretive skill set. One would think that medical transcription would be an easy job- typing what you hear. However medical transcriptionists and editors need to know how to spell medical terms and recognize them when you heard. Reports need to be created in certain formats. Doctors may be dictating while eating in a noisy cafeteria, kids screaming in the background, etc. Plus there are ESL physicians and various accents to work with. For these reasons, postsecondary certificates are preferred.
Medical transcription training should be AHDI-approved and include subjects on:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Typing skills
- Medical record types and formats
- Healthcare documentation
- Hours of practice transcribing reports
Learn more about medical transcription training on our training page.
Although certification is not required to work as a medical transcriptionist, having a certification credential may help set you apart from other applicants when applying for jobs or promotions and some employers may require certification. The Association of Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) offers 2 types of optional certifications- Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS).
- Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS): This credential is ideal for recent graduates of a medical transcription program, medical transcriptionists with less than 2 years of experience in acute care, or medical transcriptionists working in a single-specialty environment (ie, private practice, clinic, radiology, pathology, etc).
- Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS): This credential is ideal for Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialists (RHDSs) with a minimum of 2 years of experience in acute-care transcription or multi-specialty equivalent. Medical transcriptionists who do not have the RHDS credential and qualify for the CHDS exam can take the Credential Qualifying Exam (CQE) which allows the candidate to demonstrate both levels of competency at one time.
To obtain either certification, you will need to take the certification exam through AHDI. Again, certification is not required to enter this career field however it can make you more marketable. When employers see that you have earned a certification, they automatically know that you possess the skills required to accurately perform the job as a medical transcriptionist.