What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Medical Transcriptionist?

The minimum educational requirement for a medical transcriptionist is graduation from a certificate program in medical transcription. Graduates from certificate programs typically qualify for most entry-level medical transcription work. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates that have graduated with an associate degree in medical transcription. Having an associate degree is particularly beneficial for those working in areas that require specialized knowledge.

Medical Transcriptionist Requirements

In addition to formal training, there are a few important medical transcriptionist requirements. As explained by DataMatrix Medical, These include an understanding of medical terminology, English grammar and software programs used for the actual transcription work.

Medical transcriptionists must have strong attention to detail and be able to sit in front of a computer screen for long periods of time. They must have excellent typing skills, including both speed and accuracy, as well as excellent listening skills.

Certificate Programs

Medical transcriptionist certificate programs are offered at many vocational schools, and through distance learning programs either online or through the mail. Certificate programs can take anywhere from 90 days to a year to complete. One potential downside is that many of these programs don't include an on-the-job internship.

Check to see if the program you're interested in is accredited. Not all programs are. This accreditation may prove important if you choose to pursue optional professional certification in the future. Only those who hold a professional certification can use the title of a certified medical transcriptionist, and one of the criteria to become a certified medical transcriptionist is graduation from an accredited program. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity can help you find an accredited program.

Degree Programs

Associate degree programs in medical transcription are offered at community colleges and vocational schools across the country. These programs typically take two years to complete with full-time study. Coursework includes medical terminology, anatomy and legal issues as they relate to healthcare documentation. Courses in English grammar and punctuation may also be included in the program.

Many of these degree programs also offer an internship where students gain real-world experience. Students who plan on becoming certified medical transcriptionists should be careful to apply to only accredited programs. You can use the website Medical Transcriptionist to find diploma, certificate and degree programs.

Professional Certification

Although medical transcriptionists aren't required by law to become certified, many choose to do so because many employers look more favorably on those with professional credentials. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, or AHDI, offers two professional certifications for medical transcriptionists. The Registered Medical Transcriptionist, or RMT, certification is geared to new graduates working in clinics or doctors' offices who have less than two years of working experience. Those who are already certified RMTs and have at least two years of experience can apply for the Certified Medical Transcriptionist, or CMT, certification.

RMT vs. CMT Certification

While the RMT certification is used to distinguish those who meet the basic core competencies of medical transcription, the CMT certification is used to distinguish those with advanced knowledge and abilities. In other words, CMT candidates must be able to handle transcription duties with varying levels of difficulty, document types and dictation requirements for facilities that engage in multiple specialties.

According to AHDI, candidates are discouraged from taking the CMT examination until they gain the necessary acute-care experience, and demonstrate advanced competency in the areas covered in the CMT examination.