What Is a Dental Transcriptionist?

Dental transcriptionists transcribe or type out patients' notes for dentists and are responsible for keeping individual patient records up-to-date. These professionals usually need formal training to learn the skills for the job. Read on to learn more about this career, including job duties, training requirements and employment outlook information. Schools offering Medical Transcription degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Dental transcriptionists take notes and dictations from dentists and type them into a neat, easily understandable and consistently formatted record. These professionals transcribe all types of medical documents, including consultation notes, discharge summaries, progress reports, research notes and chart reports. All dental transcriptionists follow the same format, so different dentists can easily read and follow their colleagues' work to track a patient's dental history. Some other job duties include checking reports for accuracy, doing quality audits, entering reports in computer systems and handling phone calls.

Important Facts About Dental Transcriptionists

Professional Certification The Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CDHS) certifications
Key Skills Critical thinking, time management, good judgment, decision making, reading comprehension, oral comprehension, written comprehension
Work Environment Dental offices, physicians offices, administrative and support services
Similar Occupations Receptionists, medical assistants, information clerks, medical records and health information technicians, secretaries, administrative assistants

Education and Essential Skills

To become a dental transcriptionist, one can enroll in a medical transcription or a dental transcription program at a community college or vocational institute. Students enrolled in a program will have to take courses specifically related to dental transcription or learn dental terminology through an internship or on-the-job training.

Some essential skills for this profession include:

  • Familiarity with throat and head anatomy
  • Ability to use a transcribing machine, which consists of a foot pedal and a headset
  • Good grammar, editing, spelling and proofreading skills
  • Ability to use a word processing program, e-mail, print and type at a decent speed
  • Strong listening skills to understand recorded material and transcribe it

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) didn't report the number of dental transcriptionists employed in the country, it did state that there were approximately 61,210 medical transcriptionists employed in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Over the 2012-2022 decade, the BLS expects medical transcriptionist employment to increase at a rate of eight percent, which is about as fast as average.

As more patients get insurance and can access health care more easily, there will be a need for more transcription services. However, the availability of speech recognition software might hinder growth, as fewer workers will be needed. However, those with formal education and electronic health records experience should have better job prospects.

Although the BLS did not report earnings for medical transcriptionists working for dentists' offices, it noted that medical transcriptionists in general earned a median wage of $34,750 in May 2014. Wages ranged from $22,220 or less for the bottom 10% of workers to $49,290 or more for the top 10% of workers.

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