Medical Transcription: Most Important Job Skills & Traits

Medical transcription can be an exciting and rewarding career. Most medical transcriptionists have great freedom in their working hours and environment, and make a good salary. In fact, you can earn almost as much money as you want by doing medical transcription if you gather freelance clients and work extra hours outside of your normal workday.

There are several traits or qualities that you should have to be a good medical transcriptionist. If these terms describe you, it is possible you could have a bright future ahead as a medical transcriptionist.

1) Speedy typing. You must be able to type quickly and accurately to keep up with the pace of medical transcription. Luckily, typing speed grows as you type more and more. If you are not already a great typist, it is relatively easy to acquire these skills with practice.

On the other hand, if “hunt and peck” is your preferred method of keyboard entry, you might need to take some touch-typing courses at your local community college or vocational school before considering a career as a medical transcriptionist.

2) Good grammar skills. While some people can type very quickly, they may also be poor spellers or have less-than-perfect grammar skills. An occasional grammar lapse does not ruin your chances to become a medical transcriptionist, but consistent errors in grammar and spelling will give your employers the idea that you are sloppy with your work. This is a sure way to alienate the very people you want to impress.

3) Grasp of medical terminology. It is not necessary for you to know every medical term in the world. In fact, this is impossible, even for a doctor. However, having a good grasp of how medical terms are created will certainly aid you in understanding medical dictation and predicting how sentences should be formed or how words are spelled without constant referrals to a medical terminology dictionary.

For example, knowing that “osteo-“ is a prefix for “bone” will help you understand what a doctor is talking about when the term “osteoporosis” is used. There are many lists of basic medical terminology available for study, and you will certain learn these terms during your studies in medical transcription. Pay attention and try to use word-association or other tricks to help you remember the meaning of common medical terms.

4) Understanding of human anatomy and physiology. Anatomy is the structure of the body, and physiology is how the body’s processes work. Knowing the basics of these subjects will greatly help you in your medical transcription career. Medical transcription is not only the act of typing up exactly what a doctor says.

It also involves making judgment calls when something is unclear, or knowing that you must ask a doctor to clarify something that does not make sense. You do not need a biology degree, but it does help if you have at least a working knowledge of some of the basic body parts and processes.

5) Organizational skills. As a medical transcriptionist, you may be keeping up with large amounts of information from several different doctors or offices. It is vital that you keep your records straight and be able to access information quickly and easily.

Sending the wrong information to a doctor could do more than lose you a medical transcription job; it could result in serious consequences for a patient if the doctor is reading the wrong records when prescribing medication or treatment. You have an ethical obligation to be sure your work is accurate and that doctors get the right records in a timely manner.

6) Discretion. You will be handling quite a bit of sensitive information as a medical transcriptionist. It is very important that you do not talk about anything you transcribe with anyone other than the doctor who sent you the records. Doing so could be a violation of the patient’s right to privacy and could cause you serious legal problems.

Further, you should not discuss any information you find out through medical records with anyone else because you may misinterpret something in a record and give someone inaccurate information. It is better to treat each patient’s record as an anonymous record rather than tying any information to a real person.

7) Dependability. Doctors will be relying on you to process their records in a timely manner. They depend on the information in those records to make treatment decisions. You must be able to gauge the amount of work you can handle so that you can deliver records as quickly as possible to your employers.

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