Medical Transcriptionist: Nature and Risks of the Job

The healthcare sector is one of the industries where steady and gainful employment can be found. Aside from doctors, nurses, medical technologists and physical therapists, another profession allied with the healthcare industry where many opportunities for work can be found is medical transcription. Successful medical transcriptionists can stand to earn as much as $21 an hour and the more experienced ones even have the luxury of working from home.

However, this profession is not for everybody. If you want to become a medical transcriptionist, you should be able to handle the rigors and potential risks of the job.

The nature of the work of medical transcriptionists involves listening to recordings made by healthcare professionals and turn them into written medical reports, discharge summaries, medical history, correspondence, operative reports, autopsy reports, diagnostic imaging studies and other materials. In many instances, they use a headset to listen to the materials and use a foot pedal to pause the recordings. Of course, they transcribe the materials in a computer with a word processing program. Part of their duties include editing the reports for grammatical and punctuation errors. These documents are then handed back to the physicians or other healthcare professional who asked them to be transcribed for final review and signature before they become a permanent part of a patient's hospital record.

If a healthcare practitioner, especially those who specialize in radiology or pathology, uses speech recognition technology that has the capability of automatically translating electronic sound into text, the job of a medical transcriptionist is to format the generated text into standard reports and ensure that the these are translated correctly with correct grammar and punctuation. It is also part of their responsibility to check that the reports make sense and are medically consistent. For medical transcriptionists who are employed with physicians, other duties like receiving patients, scheduling appointments and answering phone and mails may also be given.

Transcribers who are affiliated with institutions like hospitals and other health organizations are expected to work standard 40-hour weeks. However, those who are based in their home offices usually have the advantage of setting their own hours or of being on-call (depending on the agreement) and can work in the evenings and even during weekends.

Because of the long periods of sitting and typing, the usual ailments that come with occupations like these are also experienced by medical transcriptionists. These include repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist and back problems. Headaches brought about by staring for long periods in front of the computer screen can also be a problem. However, the use of ergonomic work spaces and computer equipment can help alleviate these health issues. And because this is a sedentary occupation, the risk of getting too comfortable with minimal movement can make medical transcriptionists gain weight which can cause obesity and its related health conditions. Regular exercise and a proper diet are necessary to ensure continued health and wellness.

In a nutshell, these describe the nature and health risks of the job of a medical transcriptionist. If you feel you can handle these, then this is the career for you.

If you believe that you have what it takes to be a Medical Transcriptionist, then the first step is the Certified Medical Transcriptionist Exam Study Guide that walks you through the entire Medical Transcriptionist hiring process.

For more information, go to our page for the Certified Medical Transcriptionist Exam Study Guide.


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