Medical Transcription & Degree Programs
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-1
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Medical Transcriptionists, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm#tab-1
- Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, Types of Credentials, http://www.ahdionline.org/Certification/TypesofCredentials/tabid/526/Default.aspx
- Meditec, the Jumpstart Program, 2014, http://www.meditec.com/meditec-jumpstart-program/
- American Association of Community Colleges, community college finder, http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Pages/CCFinder.aspx
- Long Term Data for Medical Transcriptionists, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
For job-seekers who want stability, a growing industry and opportunities around the country, health care is an excellent choice. Medical transcription is one of the steady career options within that field, and a wide range of postsecondary institutions offer medical transcription programs for students interested in health information management.
These programs teach students the computer and administrative skills necessary to properly and accurately transcribe voice-recorded patient records dictated by physicians and other health care professionals. Because many medical transcription and editing programs are offered online, they are also an excellent option for working professionals who need a flexible schedule to further their education.
What training is typically required to be a medical transcriptionist?
It's necessary to be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, as well as grammar and word-processing software. There are one-year certificates and two-year associate's degrees available that cover these topics, though aspiring transcriptionists who are already in the medical field can often learn what they know through refresher courses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Medical transcriptionists don't need to be certified, but many people who pursue this career choose to do so because it improves their job prospects. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers two credentials:
- Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist, Level 1
- Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist, Level 2
There is no specific educational background required to get certification; candidates need to pass an exam to demonstrate job readiness and level-specific competency, according to the AHDI.
Which postsecondary institutions offer medical transcription degree or certificate programs?
Medical transcription programs are offered at many vocational schools and community colleges around the country, as well as several online schools and university extensions. To find out about community colleges in specific states, check out the American Association of Community Colleges, which lists schools by state, and then contact specific institutions for details on their programs.
AHDI also has a list of approved health care documentation programs, both traditional and online, on its website. That list includes:
- The Andrews School
- Central Texas College
- Dakota College at Bottineau
- Everett Community College
- Med-Line School
- Mildred Elley Career College
- Richland Community College
- Roane State Community College
- Sheridan Technical Center
- Winter Park Tech
Are there financial aid resources available to help medical transcription students pay for their education?
Many medical transcription students apply for student aid through the federal government. Students can begin this process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which will help them find out if they qualify for financial aid, which might include:
- Pell Grants
- Stafford Loan
- PLUS Loans for Parents
- Federal Work Study
- Perkins Loans
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
The AHIMA Foundation, a charitable affiliate of the American Health Information Management Association, also offers merit scholarships that students pursuing a degree or certificate in the health information management industry can apply for.
Individual states might have grants and scholarships available to students as well, and prospective students should also contact the schools they're interested in to find out whether they offer any additional financial aid options.
Which medical transcription careers are projected to grow at the fastest rate?
Some careers within the field of health information management are expected to grow faster than others. For example, employment for health information and medical records technicians is expected to grow 22 percent nationally through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of advances in technology that have made medical transcription more efficient, the BLS projects 8 percent growth nationally for the profession through 2022.
However, several states are projected to have above-average career growth for medical transcriptionists, according to state-by-state data aggregated by Projections Central. The states with the best employment projections for medical transcriptions through 2020 are:
- Washington: 30.8%
- Wyoming: 24%
- Alaska: 20.2%
- Colorado: 18.1%
- Utah: 17.3%
- Arizona: 15.8%
- Mississippi: 15.7%
- Tennessee: 13.6%
- Minnesota: 12.9%
- South Dakota: 12%
- Idaho: 12%
- Kansas: 10.4%
- Florida: 10%
- Texas: 9.6%
- Montana: 9.4%
Do medical transcription students typically complete an internship?
Internship requirements vary depending on the program. However, medical transcription students are not typically required to complete any type of internship, though many educational programs include on-the-job training or supervision. Some career-training organizations, such as Meditec, do offer medical transcription internships to students who want to break into the industry. Other internships may be available as well, either through medical transcription schools or through potential employers.
Where can you find more information about medical transcription programs?
Contact the admissions office at any colleges or vocational schools you're interested in, or check out the AHDI website for more information on certification requirements.