What does a Medical Transcriptionist do?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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A medical transcriptionist is a skilled typist, excellent at interpreting what they read or hear, and a good grammarian. They also have to have strong familiarity with medical language and terms. Further, medical transcriptionists must be able to take what they hear and edit it, transform it, or make it logical without changing relevant details or medical information.

Medical transcriptionists may work for doctors' offices, insurance companies, individual doctors, or for hospitals. Their primary job is to transcribe dictated material into clear and understandable text, generally for the purpose of charting information on patients. In order to do this, the medical transcriptionist must be able to interpret what he or she hears or reads, since not all doctors or medical workers create clear transcriptions. It’s not uncommon for medical workers to have conversations in the midst of a transcription, give directions to ignore parts of a transcription, or to leave out some relevant details that will make charting on a patient complete. When this occurs, a medical transcriptionist may have to chat with doctors regarding what they meant, but more often, they have to figure out what medical workers meant with minimal contact with the person who dictated the original material


Much of the recording that the medical transcriptionist interprets is based on either recorded tape or Dictaphone machines. This means that the medical transcriptionist must be able to understand basic dictation and short hand. More recently, the trend in dictation has been to use voice-operated software, but this doesn’t leave the medical transcriptionist without a job. Instead, material dictated to a computer has to be read, edited, interpreted, correctly punctuated, and carefully rewritten so that material is clear for anyone else reading it. Voice recognition software does not currently have the ability to correctly interpret information, and will naturally transcribe everything that is said. Medical transcriptionists may be saved a little typing when interpreting such programs, but they still must find a way to most clearly state the doctor’s intent while removing all irrelevant material.

The key to being an effective medical transcriptionist lies in the worker’s ability to decide what is relevant. This means that not only terms must be recognizable, but they must also be understood. A transcriptionist may not be able to decide what’s important without a basic knowledge of what medical terms mean. There are many training courses for the transcriptionist that focus on understanding medical terms and phrases, as well as learning common slang for these phrases, which help the transcriptionist do his/her work correctly and effectively.


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Post 12

I use a tool named Typing Assistant. It can save keyboard strokes and speed typing, which is very useful for a transcriptionist.

Post 11

It's very interesting. I started off doing a medical secretary course home in Sweden, and we combine secretary work and transcribing work in that role, and I have so far one year of practice, but since moving over to the UK, I'd like to do the course over here to work as a medical transcriber.

I am originally an enrolled nurse so my work and profession is still within health care but with a variation of duties and hopefully a home based job.

Post 10

Is it still possible for me to apply as Med. Transcriptionist? I am 50 years old, a B.S. Pharmacy Graduate and have had worked in the biggest drug chain store in the past for almost 13 years.

Post 9

I'm really interested in being a medical transcriptionist. I'm a registered Pharmacist and Nurse. I want to try it. I think it's challenging. It's different and exciting.

Post 8

can i apply for a medical trancriptionist? i am a graduate of nursing. (2008) and still looking for a job, and found this one interesting because it is related to my course. Can anyone help me to look for free medical transcriptionist training?

Post 7

To get a job transcribing 911 calls, probably go down to the RCMP station and ask.

I do believe a Pharm Tech could do this job. It is a profession that will take official schooling for though. I did a two-year course (Career Step) right out of high school and got a job two weeks after graduation.

Post 6

can someone who has been a pharmacy tech do this job?

I have had med term and drugs and legal and worked in the pharmacy for 1 1\2 years then moving into the home health care field.

Post 4

"What do they do throughout the day"? A lot of typing! I work for a hospital and spend my day typing various reports: consultations, discharge summaries, surgical procedures, gastroenterology reports, cardiac reports, ear, nose and throat clinic reports, laboratory specimens (gross and micro), autopsies -- and that is only a small amount of what we do. The work day goes by fast.

Post 3

What do they do throughout the day?

Post 2

This site has some good information on this topic.

Post 1

Does anyone have any great ideas as to how to try to get a job transcribing 911 calls? I've heard about people doing it, but I'm wondering how they got the job. Any ideas?

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