Medical Transcription

This is a process whereby dictation from physicians and other healthcare providers is transcribed and formatted into a medical document. The dictation occurs after a patient has seen a physician and then he dictates the results of that visit. A medical transcriptionist (MT) listens to the dictation and transcribes into a word processor (such as WordPerfect or Word), or in some cases using a typewriter (very few, if any, still use typewriters now). Types of reports include history and physicals, consultations, clinic notes, psychiatric evaluations, discharge summaries, x-ray reports, laboratory/pathology reports, and emergency department records. This document then becomes part of a patient's medical record.

A medical transcriptionist can receive dictation several difference ways. Sometimes tapes are used (micro, mini or regular sized) and can be played back on a transcriber machine with a foot pedal (which rewinds or forwards the dictation). Some physicians use a call-in digital system to do their dictation and then a transcriptionist uses a special phone (C-phone or similar) to call in and retrieve the dictation. Another method of receiving dictation is with use of voice files using a digital recorder and then the transcriptionist receives the voice files to transcribe.

A medical transcriptionist has to have excellent medical terminology skills, computer and word processing skills, excellent listening skills, and must have a good grasp of the English language as well as excellent grammar skills. Training includes medical terminology, diseases processes, systems review, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, legal issues/confidentiality guidelines, etc.

Medical transcriptionists can work in hospitals, medical clinics, physician offices, transcription services or at home. Most transcriptionists require anywhere from 2 to 5 years of MT experience working in a hospital setting/clinical setting before they can work at home. Starting off working from home can be done but it is very difficult and most hospitals/services prefer 2 to 5 years of MT experience.

What equipment is needed?:

Medical transcriptionists need a computer to transcribe, to include a word processing program (usually WordPerfect or Word, although some companies have designed their own word processing program), headphones, wav player program, transcriber or special phone for call-in dictation, and resource books including medical dictionary, drug index, lab word book and other specialty books (i.e. pathology, cardiology, medical/surgical equipment, etc.). Also with use of a word processing program, a medical spell checker is a necessity. Some transcriptionist use short cut programs (to create abbreviations for longer words), which may include Instant Text, Speedtype, Shortcut or others.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist:

A transcriptionist can be trained on the job but it requires a lot of training, including medical terminology, computer skills, word processing skills, etc. Most transcriptionists are trained through smaller local colleges or on-line MT courses. Learning to become a medical transcriptionist takes a lot of time and is not something that can be learned over time. In fact, it is an ongoing learning experience as new drugs are always coming out, equipment changes, etc.

Recommended On-Line Training Courses:

Over the past 10 years, I have communicated and socialized with many MTs. Below I have listed some reputable on-line courses available for transcription training:


Career Step -

Andrews School -

There are many more training courses available and a lot of small colleges even offer MT training. Again, these are courses that have a good reputation by many MTs whom I have interacted with over the years.

Transcription Pay:

Transcriptionists can be paid different ways, by the line, by the page, by the hour, or salary. Most independent transcriptionists working at home are paid by the line or page. Most MTs working in the hospital are paid by the hour. Salaries can fluctuate depending on many variables. Independent transcriptionists sometimes make more because they are paid by the line and thus with increased speed, they produce more lines, thus earning more. However, independent transcriptionists have to pay all of their taxes. Transcriptionists can also be a statutory employee, which is basically an independent contractor except that the company pays a portion of the taxes.

Visit this link to get a general idea of the pay scale for MTs:

Transcriptions do not start out making a lot of money as some advertisements suggest, especially if you are paid by the line. It takes time to learn terminology, get used to different dictators, and lots of time is spent researching. Transcriptionists have to be very disciplined due to the amount of time spent at the computer and because of deadlines for the work to be returned.

Basic Recommended Books for Medical Transcriptionists:

Medical Dictionary

Drug index (i.e. Quick Look Drug Book)

Abbreviation book

Pathology and Lab Word Book

Med/Surg Equipment Word Book

Where to Find Medical Transcription Jobs:


Medical Clinics

Physician Offices

Where to get books and equipment: - Books, transcribers, etc. - Books, spellcheckers, etc. - Wav players, foot pedals, etc.

For more information, please visit


Tips to Become a Successful Freelance Medical Writer

You can be a health care professional who has never thought about writing or you could be an excellent writer who never thought of being a health care professional. Either ways you can take up medical writing, the only condition being your willingness to learn.

If you have ever felt frustrated with working for someone else, the stress at switching between home, children and office, the insecurity of job, then freelance medical writing is the best option for you. It gives you the freedom of working at your own pace and setting up work schedules in accordance with family and children; the security of a paycheck and the confidence of being your own boss.

Here are the 5 tried and tested tips to become a successful medical writer.

1. Portfolio

The first question you will be asked by your employer is, what experience do you have in writing? Don't panic. Most of us can generate a portfolio. A letter to the editor written to a news daily, a manuscript you authored for a peer reviewed journal, a handout you created for the workshop or college fest,and a poster you presented at the conference.

once you foray in the field of medical writing try getting published samples of your work in the form of articles published on websites, blogs and reviews or news feeds.

2. Marketing to the correct audience

Know your prospective clients. Google. Search. Create a list of potential medical communication companies, Medical education companies, and market to them. Getting work directly from hospitals or pharmaceutical companies is not easy. Market yourself continuously.

3. Honor your deadlines

Remember, a work done on time, is actually the work done. A professional who doesn't respect time and deadlines loses his credibility.

'Deliver on time, on target, and on budget; first time and every time.' - Brian G. Bass

No matter how skilled you are, how professional or pleasant to work with, if you cannot turn in your work on time, you are no good.

4. The right resources

To be able to think independently, work efficiently and deliver within a preset timeframe you need to have good desktop resources and software tools at your fingertips some of which include; I. Reference and text books II. A good medical dictionary such as Dorland's medical dictionary III. Access to electronic libraries IV. Basic software programs, Microsoft office word, word processing software, Microsoft PowerPoint presentation software, Microsoft excel spreadsheet software,Adobe Acrobat. V. Update your software regularly. Lastly remember, while writing medical articles you need to use hard science as you may be asked to cite the source or annotate the reference.

5. Spend money to make money

You have to put in extra working hours, acquire good resources and may be work for a little less remuneration with your initial project only to ensure hefty pay checks and good reputation later. You can choose your own means and ways or follow those of someone else's, your success lies within you. So, are you ready to take the next step?

Stress Symptoms in Women

Stress symptoms in women can sometimes be solidly frustrating especially for men. "I am stressed" has been a daily expression of every woman and even the kids nowadays. Checking the medical definition of "stress" will help us determine whether there is truth in it or it is just an abused word-of-mouth. Stress is a physical or psychological stimulus that can produce mental tension or physiological reactions that may lead to illness. Also, Mosby's Medical Dictionary (2009) illustrates the application of stress with the crying of a young child due to his separation from his parents and with the dehydration caused by an increase in body temperature.

From the above-mentioned definition and application of stress, it can be inferred that stress really exists and can cause illnesses. Thus, it should be avoided. For someone who truly cares to his or her sister and mother, or his girlfriend, it is important to be sensitive in discerning if she is already stressed so as not to aggravate her tensions and anxieties. Also, you can be an instrument to help facilitate her in a process to combat stress called stress management.

The following are stress symptoms in women and typical scenarios of a poor stress management:

• Developing of Bad Habits
Stress triggers women to have a disorderly behavior and makes them vulnerable to engage in vices such as smoking, excessive alcohol and coffee intake, and use of drugs. And such leads to domino effects like excessive eating, poor appetite and nutrition, lack of exercise, and an over-all unhealthy lifestyles.

• Disorderly Behavior
Given the unlimited problems, a woman who has a poor stress management is likely to react and to act solely based on impulses. And such impulses are more often than not negative. It is characterized by uncontrolled fear, violence, loss of social life, and unreasonable anger causing relationship conflicts.

• Poor cognition
Cognition refers to the perception and the mental faculties of a human being. Because of the mental tension caused by stress, one can observe a woman's difficulty in problem solving and self-expression, forgetfulness, worrying, poor concentration to details, and helplessness.

• Low Emotional Quotient
You can easily determine if a woman is stressed when she perceives things negatively and changes mood unpredictably resulting to severe depression that you will just be surprised to see them alone crying or weeping. And because stress hinders a woman to be able to solve problems accordingly, their self-esteem and motivation becomes degraded.

• Physical Illness
There are women who are actually good at wearing a mask that you cannot even recognize they are stressed. However, it does not mean that they have a good stress management. For these women who are very secretive and good at hiding problems, a reliable indication of their stress is their health conditions. They suffer from recurrent headaches, backaches, fatigue, sleeping disorders, loss of sexual interest, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, and paleness. With these symptoms, they cannot deny anymore that they have to admit that they are stressed so something can be done about it.

Stress is brought about by so many complex factors of daily living. We may not prevent it but it surely can be managed. Therefore, knowing stress symptoms in women is very important so immediate action can be carried out before physical, mental, and emotional problems get worse.

Investing in Your Future with Medical Terminology

Ask anyone that has taken medical terminology and they'll tell you it is like learning a second language. The method for constructing words is similar and some of the terminology can be confusing. The good news is that there is some logic to how medical terms are constructed and many of the terms will be familiar. If you know the meaning of arthritis or pneumonia, then you already know two medical terms. The use of everyday terms makes medical terminology much easier to learn than a second language.

What Medical Terminology Students Learn

Medical terminology courses teach the basic building blocks of medical terms: prefixes, suffixes and word roots. Regardless of the length or complexity of the term, once you can identify the parts of a term, you can decipher it.

In our classes we teach medical terminology using a unique combination of anatomy and physiology, word building principles, and phonetic "sounds like" pronunciations. Since each term describes a different part of the body, a disease process or condition, you need to understand basic anatomy and learn the terms used to describe the major body parts.

However, it's not practical to memorize every term. That is why courses teach you how to break down complex words into parts you know. This process saves time and will save you many trips to the medical dictionary. Once you master the word building principles you will be able to decipher any medical term.

Careers Using Medical Terminology

Medical terminology courses are required for many careers in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industries. Depending on your career path, you may need the course as a prerequisite for college admission or it may be a part of your curriculum.

Students who complete a medical terminology course find that it gives them a competitive advantage in the workplace. If you're considering pharmaceutical sales, medical billing, medical transcription, court reporting or healthcare-related customer service then a course in medical terminology is a great place to start.

Medical terminology can also open up new possibilities. Whether you are looking for a career change and want to improve your current job performance, learning medical terminology is a great place to start. New careers many students pursue include:

    Medical technologist
    Medical transcription
    Medical billing and coding
    Medical engineering
    Surgical assistant
    Court reporter
    Medical sciences
    Physician's assistant
    Clinical research professional
    Pharmaceutical sales
    Healthcare related customer service
    Selecting a Medical Terminology Course

Searching for the right medical terminology course can be a daunting task. The good news is you have options.

    1. The type of course to take Choices include instructor-led courses, online courses or a mixture of the two which is considered a blended approach. Typically instructor-led courses are only offered to the public by community colleges or universities. Often location and times can be barriers for people who wish to enroll. Organizations teach courses for their employees but this option assumes you already have a job in a company that provides this kind of benefit. If neither of these options fit your lifestyle an online medical terminology course might be your best option.

    2. Credentials of the organization offering the course

    Typically these organizations are accredited and provide both instructor-led and online versions of the course. Accreditation is important because it demonstrates that the organization has taken the time to apply for accreditation and has typically been through a lengthy review process. Accredited organizations submit to frequent site visits from their accrediting bodies to review their educational design processes. These organizations are also required to keep records for a number of years. This is important in case you need a transcript or a duplicate certificate for proof of completion. Accreditation for these courses typically comes in two forms.

    3. Form of accreditation

    Students can earn professional CEUs for a course or they can earn college credit. Some companies offer both options but the fee for the college credit is typically over and above the normal course price. Courses are priced this way to keep costs down for students who only need professional CEUs and not college credit. Often the college credit is a straight pass through to the student and averages about $100-$150 per credit hour. College credit is also something to consider if you want to be reimbursed by your employer. Usually employers will only reimburse for courses that carry college credit. In these cases the additional cost is not a factor.

Learning medical terminology can be an extremely valuable experience. Mastering word building principles will make the process easier and help you to retain the knowledge for a long time to come. Keep in mind to use a reputable accredited company and pick a course delivery option that's right for you.

Don Bowlby is the Vice President, Operations at Corexcel -, a company specializing in online continuing education and workplace training.