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Certified Medical Transcriptionist Career and Certification

Learn more about what certified medical transcriptionists do and how to become one. Read on for more information about education, training, experience and certification requirements.

What I Need to Know

Medical transcriptionists listen to dictation made by a doctor or other medical professional and transcribe it into written records, among other duties. Employers typically prefer a potential employee to have certifications in the field. This requires specific training that will teach you how to perform your duties for a successful career in certified medical transcription.

Responsibilities Transcribe medical records, listen to dictation, review and edit, submit records, enter reports into main health database
Median Salary (2017)* $35,250 (all medical transcriptionists)
Certifications RHDS for those with less than 2 years of experience; CHDS for more experienced transcriptionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities Associated with a Career as a Certified Medical Transcriptionist?

As a medical transcriptionist, you'll transcribe medical documents as dictated by doctors and other medical professionals using special equipment. Your work will be included in patient records, billing paperwork and legal documents. You must be a quick and accurate typist and knowledgeable of anatomy, medical terminology and diagnostic procedures. In addition to dictation services, you might compose written correspondence, draft articles for medical journals, research patient documentation, produce reports or provide consulting to other professionals.

What Steps Do I Have to Take to Become Certified?

Prior to becoming a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS), you'll need to either earn the entry-level Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) designation or pass a Credential Qualifying Exam administered by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Most academic programs for medical transcription are designed to prepare you for this particular credential. Basic coursework teaches you how to:

  • Properly use dictation equipment
  • Organize office files
  • Maintain medical records
  • Understand medical terminology, pharmacology and biology topics
  • Utilize transcription methods

Two years of work experience in conjunction with your RHDS certification makes you eligible to take the CHDS exam. The CHDS exam covers topics in healthcare technology, terminology, pharmacology, medical equipment and surgical procedures. There is also a practical portion that requires you to transcribe audio recordings.

Why Should I Get Certified?

You aren't required by law to be certified in order to become a medical transcriptionist. However, certification shows prospective employers that you have a certain skill set and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a credential could increase both your job opportunities and earning potential (www.bls.gov). Some companies seek applicants with certification or reimburse employees who get certified while on the job.

What Must I Do to Maintain My Certification?

A CHDS certification is valid for three years. During that time, you'll need to earn at least 30 continuing education credits in such topics as clinical medicine, legal issues and transcriptionist technology and equipment to keep your certification active. Though membership in AHDI isn't required, the organization offers discounts on professional development, certification testing and equipment. It also offers resources for continuing education courses, seminars and presentations you can take online.