Employers generally choose to hire transcriptionists who have done their post-secondary training in the field, which is offered by community colleges, vocational schools and distance-learning programs. Though not always obligatory, the completion of a 1-year certificate program or a 2-year associate degree is recommended. These courses may include anatomy, medical terms and legal issues involving health care documentation, and grammar and punctuation of the English language. Most of these programs offer supervised on-the-job training. Transcriptionists, who are already attuned with medical jargon from prior experience as a medical secretary or a nurse, become adept through training and refresher courses.
The American Association for Medical Transcription, or AAMT, grants the voluntary designation of Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) to students who pass a certified examination. The constant evolving of medicine requires the medical transcriptionist to frequently update his or her skills. Every three years, CMTs must produce continuing education credits for recertification.
Apart from understanding medical lingo, it is imperative for transcriptionists to have competent English grammar and punctuation skills. Also, familiarity with computers and word processing software will come in handy. Normal sharpness in hearing and attentive listening skills are crucial, too. Applicants are sometimes required to take pre-employment exams, with employers generally preferring those with experience.
With certain experience, medical transcriptionists can elevate to administrative positions, editing, home-based work or teaching. With supplementary training or education, transcriptionists can become health information technicians, health information administrators or medical coders.
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