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What Education Prepares You for a Career in Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription is the process of converting a physician's dictation to a written document for future use. Medical transcription degree and certificate programs provide the education and training needed to understand and accurately transcribe medical language. Read on to learn more about the education required to enter this field.

Medical Transcription Program Options

Medical transcription education options include certificate, diploma and 2-year degree programs. These programs can be found at community colleges, vocational schools and professional education departments at 4-year colleges. Online career programs are also available. Before entering a medical transcription program, some schools require a minimum typing speed and minimum reading comprehension level. Although there is no accrediting body for programs in this field, the Association of Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) publishes a list of medical transcription programs that meet the association's standards.

Important Facts About Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist

Programs Standalone medical transcription classes are available
Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent
Online Availability Fully available for diploma and certificate programs
Possible Careers Medical transcriptionist, medical secretary
Median Salary (2019) $33,380
Job Growth (2019-2029) 2% decline

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Transcription Program Curriculum

Medical documents, such as patient histories, pathology reports and physician correspondence, are created by medical transcriptionists from the dictation of medical personnel. Transcribing the dictation takes skills in listening, grammar and keyboarding. Medical terms used in dictation may be related to human anatomy, human diseases, medical procedures or prescription medicine. Although medical transcriptionists do not need to know every term, they do need to know how to use medical references to find terms and use them correctly. Degree and certificate programs are designed to train transcriptionists in subjects such as these:

  • Word processing
  • Composition, grammar and editing
  • Medical privacy laws
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical office procedures
  • Medical transcription equipment

Medical Transcription Certificate and Diploma Programs

Technical diploma and certificate programs in medical transcription cover the basics in medical terminology and medical reference use. Diploma and certificate program graduates in this field are prepared to take the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) exam given by AHDI. Note that it's not necessary to have completed a formal education program to sit for the RHDS exam. After two years of experience, you can take the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CDHS) exam.

Medical Transcription Degree Programs

A.A.S. in Medical Transcription degree programs may include specialized courses in subjects such as cardiology transcription or orthopedic transcription, along with general education and basic transcription courses. Graduates of 2-year degree programs should be prepared to take the RHDS exam.