Medical Transcription Tips

Answers to medical transcription questions to help you get started in a transcription career!

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Medical Transcription Tips and Advice - Popular questions answered!

How do people learn all the medical terminology and is it difficult?

Understanding medical terminology:

All medical terminology is based on logic, for the most part, whether complex or not.  A medical word can be broken down into several parts.  For example, consider the following term:


HEMAT is the root of the word O is the combining vowel LOGY is the suffix.

The root is the foundation of the word.  All medical words have one or more roots.  The root HEMAT means blood.  The suffix is the word ending.  All medical terms have a suffix.  The suffix LOGY means “study of”.  The combining vowel, usually “o”, links the root to the suffix or the root to another root.  A combining vowel doesn’t have any meaning on its own.  It is helpful to read the word backwards, starting with the suffix, to understand it more fully.  Thus, the term hematology means the study of blood.  Once you learn this method, you will in no time be able to understand what you are hearing orseeing.  You must first learn how to dissect the words.

2. How do I back up my work?

Keep back up CDs of your medical transcription in a fireproof box.  Always ask the client how long they expect you to keep work for.  I have everything I ever typed for my clients.  My friend, Maryann only keeps her notes for one year.  Always best to check with the client.

3."How do I get hired as a newbie medical transcriptionist?"

This depends on who you want to work for. If you want to work for a National company, they usually want experience unless you can pass their tests. There are
some companies that will hire new transcriptionists however. They don't all require 2-3 years experience.  Working for the national companies is not what I recommend however, and that's just my personal opinion.  I'd rather have my own accounts and have more flexibility and earn twice as much.

If you want to work doing medical transcription for a doctor's office or hospital, you may get hired a lot more easily than trying to get on with the national companies. A lot of people do this and make the transition to working at home, for these very same people.  I personally got hired by a small local company which I found in my yellow pages, to begin with, and I only worked for them for a couple of months before I started my own business. While I worked for them, I also worked for Hospice at home. I started sending out letters, (not my resume, but a good sales type letter)  to physicians in my area and got accounts that way. That was eleven years ago. You have to remember that once you get accounts for medical transcription, you generally don't have to keep "pounding the pavement", because they stay with you.

4.  What should I include when faxing a client?

When faxing a client, be sure to include a disclaimer such as:

The information contained in this transmission accompanying this notice is confidential and protected by the physician-patient privilege.   It is intended only for the use of the individual or entity mentioned above.  If the reader of this facsimile is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination or distribution of the accompanying communication is prohibited.  If you have received this facsimile in error, please notify us immediately by telephone, collect, and return the original message to us at the above address.  We appreciate your assistance in this matter.

You can make up your own fax cover sheet, and include a disclaimer such as this one at the bottom.  Remember to put how many pages, including the cover sheet that are being sent at the time of transmission.  Also, stamp the word COPY on each sheet, so it is not mistaken as the original note.

5.  What books do I need to do medical transcription?

Over time you will collect a lot of "word books" for medical transcription.  I have lots of them.  I thought it might be good to give you a list of some of the ones you will need when you are just starting out.  Remember, Ebay is a good place to pick up these kind of medical transcription specialty books, as well as where I usually get my books.  You will definitely need a medical dictionary.  Get either a Stedman's or a Dorland's Medical Dictionary.  You will need a drug/pharmaceutical guide book, such as The American Drug Index, published by Facts and Comparisons.  1-800-223-0554 or  It is an expensive book, and you will probably be better served by getting the previous year's book on Ebay if you are just starting out.  A must have is The Medical Word Book by Sheila Sloane.  That's printed by W.B. Saunders Co.  If you can get it, you might also want to pick up The Surgical Word Book, by Tessier, printed by W.B. Saunders Co. as well.  Apart from that, you will just need to add "specialty books" to your collection as you go.  For instance, if you are typing for a neurologist, you would buy Stedman's Neurosurgery Words. As you type for more and more specialties, you will get more and more books!  You don't need many books to get started however.

6.  What is STAT work and how do you charge for it?

Everybody’s idea of stat work for medical transcription is different.  Some doctors consider “stat” getting the work back the same day.  Others say “eight hour turnaround”  equals stat work.  Some say ten or twelve hour turnaround time is stat.  This must be decided between you and the physician.  My accounts think of stat as the same day, or as soon as possible.

If you have to do stat work, you often will need to reprioritize your work schedule, so you must remember to charge a STAT rate, when this happens.  I usually charge 1 1/2 times my line rate.  For one account, I charge $2.50 per page PLUS the regular line count.  It depends on you and your agreement with the physician.  TAT – Turnaround time for regular medical transcription work, is also dependant on what the physician expects.  Some still like 24 TAT, and some 48 hour TAT.  I’m happy with 48 hour TAT whenever possible.  I have had accounts over the years that only wanted a pick-up and delivery once a week or every few days.

7.  A lot of people ask me if it's necessary to become certified. It's definitely a wonderful thing to be able to say you are a certified medical transcriptionist, but it's not necessary at all. In fact, of the many independent medical transcriptionists I know,
not one of us is certified. We all run our own businesses too. If you are interested in becoming certified however, you can call AAMT at 1-800-982-2182 and they will send you information regarding certification through the American Association for
Medical Transcription.

8.  "How do you arrange for vacations when you do medical transcription at home?"

This depends on the terms and agreements you maintain with your clients. They may expect you to arrange coverage for them, or they may be happy to make the
necessary arrangements. If it's a short vacation, they may hold the work until you return. For me, this has always worked well, and it allows for long weekends
etc. It will take some serious planning however if you are running a full-time business with many accounts.  If you already have subcontractors, they should be able
to take over while you are away, or, find someone you network with and make prior arrangements for coverage.  It is possible, it just takes some planning.

9.  Will Voice Recognition replace me?

I remember being worried about this eleven years or so ago. I'm not concerned about it now though. The major companies are making their money selling digital dictation products, - VR has fallen by the wayside. Sure, some people use it, especially if they have a very basic format, but I wouldn't worry about it taking work away from you.

10.   What's the best type of training for me and what company would you recommend?

It’s hard to decide which company is best to go with if you are looking for the Home Study route for medical transcription.  There are so many options it can be overwhelming and you want to make sure you use a legitimate company with up-to-date information and training.   I am now including this information in every newsletter as we have many new subscribers every week.  As I have said before, many people have written and told me how fantastic this company have been and how great the support is. I am personally in contact with this company on a regular basis and they have recently upgraded their medical transcription course, which is state of the art. So, I can safely say, if you are looking for a home study course, and one that has lots of options, try this company.  


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To your success!

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