Detailed Guide forMedical Transcriptionists in California
May also be called: Medical Stenographers; Medical Transcribers
What Would I Do?
Medical Transcriptionists are medical language specialists who interpret and transcribe recorded dictation by physicians and other health care professionals. They transcribe dictated information about patient assessment, workup, therapeutic procedures, clinical course, diagnosis, prognosis, and other medical processes to document patient care and facilitate delivery of health care services. Medical Transcriptionists return transcribed documents to the dictator for review and approval.
Transcriptionists key text into a personal computer or word processor, editing as necessary for grammar and clarity. They listen to recordings on a dictation machine which has a special headset and foot pedal to pause the recording when necessary. Adaptive equipment is available for individuals who are physically unable to use a foot pedal.
Experienced Transcriptionists are able to identify mistakes or inconsistencies in a medical report and check back with the dictator to correct the information. Their ability to correctly transcribe patient assessments and treatments reduces the chance of patients receiving ineffective treatments and ensures high quality patient care. The transcribed documents eventually become part of patients’ permanent files.
Medical Transcriptionists must understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, and treatment to accurately transcribe dictated reports into a format that is clear and understandable for the reader. They also must be able to translate medical jargon and abbreviations into their full, written-out forms. To help identify terms appropriately, Transcriptionists refer to standard medical reference materials—such as medical dictionaries, drug references, and sources on anatomy—to aid them with the preparation of patient records. Medical Transcriptionists must comply with specific standards that apply to the style of medical records, including the legal requirements involved with keeping patient records confidential.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Take dictation using either shorthand or a stenotype machine, or using headsets and transcribing machines; then convert dictated materials or rough notes to written form.||Oral Comprehension|
|Transcribe dictation for a variety of medical reports such as patient histories, physical examinations, emergency room visits, operations, chart reviews, consultation, and/or discharge summaries.||Active Listening|
|Perform data entry and data retrieval services, providing data for inclusion in medical records and for transmission to physicians.||Clerical|
|Distinguish between homonyms, and recognize inconsistencies and mistakes in medical terms, referring to dictionaries, drug references, and other sources on anatomy, physiology, and medicine.||Reading Comprehension|
|Translate medical jargon and abbreviations into their expanded forms to ensure the accuracy of patient and health care facility records.||Writing|
|Identify mistakes in reports, and check with doctors to obtain the correct information.||Written Comprehension|
|Review and edit transcribed reports or dictated material for spelling, grammar, clarity, consistency, and proper medical terminology.||English Language|
|Produce medical reports, correspondence, records, patient-care information, statistics, medical research, and administrative material.||Critical Thinking|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Oral Comprehension||The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Clerical||Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.|
|Reading Comprehension||Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Written Comprehension||The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.|
|English Language||Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
The majority of Transcriptionists work in comfortable office settings such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, laboratories, medical libraries, pharmaceutical companies, medical transcription service firms, or at home. They generally work alone at individual workstations. Transcription work requires long hours of sitting and an intense degree of concentration. An increasing number of Medical Transcriptionists telecommute from home as employees or subcontractors for hospitals and transcription services or as self-employed contractors. Many work a standard 40-hour workweek, but the self-employed are more likely to work irregular hours—including part time, evenings, and weekends.
Some employers set production standards and determine pay rates based on work production, which could be stressful. Without proper precautions and regular breaks, there are risks for eye problems due to strain and repetitive motion injures.
Presently, there has been little or no unionization of Medical Transcriptionists.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Medical Transcriptionist may appeal to those who are interested in organized, clearly defined activities requiring accuracy and attention to detail. Medical Transcriptionists follow set procedures and routines where there is usually a clear line of authority. They work more with data and details than with ideas.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Medical Transcriptionists in California was $46,255 annually, or $22.24 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Transcriptionists may expect to receive medical insurance, vacation, sick leave benefits, and retirement plans. Self-employed Transcriptionists must provide their own insurance and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
Employment of Medical Transcriptionists is expected to remain stable. The majority of job openings will occur due to the need to replace workers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force. Job opportunities will be better for those who are certified.
Recent technological advances have changed the process of medical transcription. Now, many medical documents are produced using a back-end speech recognition technology. This specialized software automatically prepares a draft of the report and then the Medical Transcriptionist reviews the report for accuracy. This will make it possible for the Transcriptionist to produce more reports and will limit overall employment growth.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Medical Transcriptionists is expected to decline between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 90 job openings due to net replacement needs is expected per year for Medical Transcriptionists.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Medical Transcriptionists need a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, they need to complete a postsecondary medical transcriptionist training program, two-year associate degree program, or one-year certificate program. Courses should include advanced English, grammar and punctuation, anatomy, physiology, disease processes, pharmacology, laboratory medicine, beginning and advanced medical language, health care records, medical legal issues, and computer software technology.
Early Career Planning
To prepare for medical transcribing, high school students should take English, business, and computer classes as grammar, good punctuation skills, and computer literacy are basic requirements.
Work Study Programs
Regional Occupation Programs (ROP) offer training for Medical Transcriptionists in some areas. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
It is important for Medical Transcriptionists to refresh their grammar and punctuation skills and keep abreast of technological and various computer software changes. To maintain voluntary certification, Certified Medical Transcriptionists (CMTs) must complete at least 30 continuing education credits during a three-year cycle. The Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) must take an independent study course and pass an exam to recertify.
Graduates of a medical transcriptionist training program are eligible to take the voluntary RMT exam. After two years of acute care experience, they may take the CMT exam through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. To renew either of the three-year certifications, applicants must pay the appropriate fee and earn the required continuing education credits or pass an exam.
Those Transcriptionists who successfully pass either the CMT or RMT exam may use the CMT or RMT title. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Medical Transcriptionists are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ||35.5%|
|Offices of Physicians ||15.2%|
|Employment Services ||9.4%|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||6.1%|
|Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories ||5.0%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Community college job placement offices, medical transcriptionist training providers, and vocational schools provide placement assistance for their students. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings advertise local job opportunities. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Medical Transcriptionists.
- Laboratories, Medical
- Physicians and Surgeons
- Secretarial Services
- Transcribing Services
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Experienced Medical Transcriptionists may promote to supervisory, management, or teaching positions. With additional education and training, Transcriptionists may also advance to medical records and health information technicians, medical coders, or medical records and health information administrators.
Transcriptionists may also elect to become self-employed as independent contractors, consultants, or owners of medical transcription services. Entry into self-employment usually requires initial set up expenditures for transcription and computer equipment including high-speed computer lines with Internet access.
Below is a list of occupations related to Medical Transcriptionists with links to more information.
|Medical Records and Health Information Technicians||Guide|
|Receptionists and Information Clerks||Guide|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.