Make $50,000 per year working in your jammies. Perfect for a stay-at-home mom with a few hours to spare! Buy a $20 course on eBay and learn medical transcription. Buy a "used" Career Step Medical Transcription course on eBay and become a medical transcriptionist!
These are some of the too-good-to-be-true ideas going around about medical transcription. Okay, so what is medical transcription training and the field of medical transcription all about?
Chances are you've seen some of the advertisements that entice you into enrolling in some school to learn medical transcription. Maybe you've even come across an eBay listing for a Career Step training course that the seller no longer wants.
Can you make $50,000 per year. Absolutely! Ah, but there is one little hitch--you'll need decades of work experience, and IF you are excellent at transcribing the most difficult reports ever dictated, you may be able to make that much money.
Will you ever make $50,000 per year with medical transcription? In reality, probably not. Can you make $20,000 per year? This is a better expectation for medical transcription. You might make $20,000 per year AFTER proper training.
STAY AWAY FROM MATCHBOOK SCHOOLS!
Remember the days of matchbooks and the advertisements they had on the inside covers? You could send away for information on learning locksmithing, sewing, etc., at those schools that advertised on the inside covers of matchbooks. Fortunately, the days of the matchbook advertisements have ended.
So what is proper training and where can I get it? It's easier to look at all the places where you will NOT get proper training. Open up another browser window and Google medical transcription training. Notice the first few pages of results. Notice the featured spots and the schools that do show up on the first few pages or so. These are the matchbook-type schools to avoid.
Try clicking on their links, and that link will open up to a lucious "opportunity" to learn medical transcription training. Then click on their home page or other appropriate links they have listed and check out the other courses they offer.
Look at the entire site of the school you are considering training at, and ask yourself this question: Do they also offer sewing, massage therapy, wedding consulting, accounting, bookkeeping, pharmacy technician, veterinary assistant, legal transcriptionist, criminal justice, high school diplomas, or any other courses?
If any school you are considering investing your hard-earned money in offers a hodge-podge of courses like that, get off of that website immediately. Run--don't walk away--from any deals they may offer. Don't waste your money.
It really doesn't matter which course they offer that you are considering, don't spend your money there. You will definitely pass their programs--everybody who enrolls does; however, the chances of you ever getting any job, including a work-at-home medical transcription job, is absolutely nil.
Save your money for a legitimate school with good training. Those matchbook schools prey on people who desperately want to further their education or who desperately need a job with "minimal" training, and "minimal" training is all you will ever get besides a worthless "diploma."
*Check out AAMT dot org.
AAMT stands for American Association for Medical Transcriptionists. Their new name is different, but you can reach them via AAMT. There is a lot of valuable information on their site regarding medical transcription (MT) training. However, just because a school is listed as recommended by their site does not make the training that school offers worth your money. Check out aamt dot org/scriptcontent/mtschool dot cfm. Replace those "dots" with a period. eBay frowns on direct outside links.
*Check out mtchat dot com.
Read what others say about the schools that offer MT training. Be sure to read all the heart-wrenching regrets of those people who spent what little money they had on bogus, inferior training and how they cannot find a job (and will probably never find an MT job). Do your homework on this aspect. Learn from other people's mistakes.
Bottom line: there are two schools worth investing your money in. M-TEC and Andrews School. Mind you, their training isn't cheap by any means. However, their programs are excellent, AND their grads are routinely hired WITHOUT the requisite work experience. It will take you anywhere from a year minimum (studying 40+ hours per week) to 2 years to complete the training. There is no way you can learn medical transcription in 3 months--even if you have an extensive medical background.
Don't get seduced by ads that say you can get "just as good training" at their school and that pooh-pooh the "more expensive schools." Remember, they want your MONEY, and they will say and write anything to get you to enroll and sign a payment contract. After you sign that contract, you're sunk--unless you are within the 3-day federal cooling off window period of time, and unless you can get 100% of your money back after you realize you've just made the biggest mistake of your life.
Most of the time, you'll just HAVE to continue with their program or forfeit all of your money. What's sad is that you will probably not be able to find anyone irresponsible enough to hire you. You will either have to pursue another line of employment or enroll in a quality MT school that is recognized for their excellence. Why not just do that to begin with and bypass those "cheaper" schools? Save yourself the wasted money, frustration, and aggravation. It's much cheaper in the long run to do it right to begin with.
Quality On-line Schools
In reality, there are only two quality on-line schools out there that will get you enough high-quality training that will qualify you for ENTRY-LEVEL medical transcription work. Theses are the only two schools you should consider. These two schools both utilize the System Unit Method, also known as the SUM program, for their transcription training. Personally, I recommend Andrews School over M-TEC.
Andrews is an exceptionally tough school with extraordinarily tough grading! A "C" grade (gasp!) at Andrews is equivalent to an A or an A+ at the other schools. An "A" grade at Andrews means that you are doing top-quality work that WILL get you gainfully employed at the end of the training.
M-TEC: www dot mtecinc dot com*
Andrews: www dot andrewsschool dot com*
*eBay frowns on outside links. Substitute periods for the "dots."
Local Vocational Colleges
You may be able to find local colleges that offer medical transcription training. I strongly advise you to consider the two on-line schools over any local college--unless that college uses the SUM training program and offers job assistance. The SUM program makes that much difference in the quality of your training.
Additionally, being able to put that you are a graduate of M-TEC--or even better yet--a graduate of Andrews School on your resume opens many doors that will ordinarily be closed to you because you don't have any prior work experience.
Those two schools are regularly contacted by employers (recruiters), and quite frankly, just about all of their grads have several job offers by the end of their training! Many, many employers waive the 2-8 years of actual experience just because they KNOW the quality of the school's grads! They often tout, especially of the Andrews graduates, that the recent grad does a much better job than most of their "experienced" MTs they employ. Read for yourself the heartbreaking true stories of all the "trained" MTs out there who cannot find jobs. Don't let yourself be one of these victims. Get the proper, high-quality training.
Beware of those transcription companies that steer you toward a career step-style school. That particular school, which is listed on dozens of transcription companies that employ transcriptionists, PAYS those companies to have the "preferred and recommended" listing link on the transcription website. Do your homework and research out those employers (mtchat is best) and any "associated" school. Please don't waste your money, your efforts, your time, or your dreams needlessly.
As a matter of fact, don't be afraid to call Linda Andrews (checkout the Andrews School website for the phone number) yourself and talk to her personally. She will tell you of all the heart-breaking true stories of people who have had their hopes and dreams vanish because of miserable training. Call the folks at M-TEC also. Do your research.
Systems Unit Method, or SUM, Training
Andrews and M-TEC both utilize the Systems Unit Method, or SUM, training program. SUM training uses actual dictation from physicians. Be aware that many courses out there advertise "authentic physician-dictated" transcriptions, which means that an "authentic" physician reads a script! The SUM program is actual on-the-job-type dictation regarding actual patients--authentic, not script read! There is a BIG difference between scripts read by an MD and an MD acutally dictating patient reports. Watch out for this sly, misleading trick a lot of school are starting to use to get you to enroll (and part with your money).
There are three levels of the SUM program: beginning, intermediate, and advanced.
Beginning Medical Transcription: BMT, 2nd Edition (Pink Disk)
Completion of this level may possibly enable you to transcribe reports in a clinic setting or for an individual doctor's office. By the time you finish BMT, you'll have a pretty good basic knowledge of medical language terminology and an introduction to medical transcription. You'll know at this level whether or not you can stomach medical transcription as a career. Medical transcription is very intense and demanding. Few people are cut out for this work. This level, however, will not quality you for acute care transcription, which is what hospitals dictate.
Can you learn the BMT and other levels on your own? Theoretically, yes. You'll have to follow a set curriculum and purchase quite a few text books and other reference books. There's no getting around the extra books. You'll need a book on anatomy and physiology, a medical language and terminology book, a good illustrated, comprehensive medical dictionary, a diagnostic and laboratory test reference book, a medical phrase index book, a pharmaceutical word book, a book on human diseases, a guidebook for medical history and physical examinations, a book on laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures in medicine, a medical abbreviations book, and the AAMT Book of Style (2nd Edition) for Medical Transcriptionists. There are other books you'll eventually need to get, but that is really the basic references for study. So, you see, you'll need to spend a few hundred dollars in text and reference books if you want any chance of succeeding in your studies. Figure on it taking at least 400 hours or more to complete the basic medical transcription training.
If your grammar skills, research skills, self-discipline and tenacity is of the highest possible level, you may be able to teach yourself the BMT. It helps, however, to have someone else review your work, mentor you, and give you honest, constructive feedback regarding your skills. It is exceptionally difficult to see one's own errors.
You can, however, purchase the BMT 2nd Edition disk (pink) or the BMT Classic cassette tapes on eBay for $100 and up. Do not buy any disks that do not have the passwords for the teacher's access area and the transcript key (transcribed dictations). If you think $100 is expensive for this program, check out www dot sumprogram dot com. You will pay $700 (plus tax) at that site. Good training is expensive, and you do get what you pay for.
There are tests on the BMT disks; however, you will not be able to get the passwords for these test dictations with the disks you purchase on eBay. These tests are used by the schools to "judge and assess" your progress and the quality of your work.
All three levels of the SUM CD programs come with a digital transcriber and built-in word processor. You do not need to purchase an expensive word processing program in order to learn or transcribe the dictations. You don't need to use the SUM word processor either. You can use Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, which are the two most commonly used programs for MT transcription.
You will, however, have to use the SUM transcriber because it interfaces a 3-pedal foot control with the SUM dictations. You control the speed of the dictations, the forward progress of the dictations, or the repeating of chunks of dictations via the foot pedal. The foot pedal can be used with a lot of other medical transcription platforms (word processing programs issued by companies to professional transcriptionists).
For the CD version of the program, you will have to purchase a foot pedal. Expect to pay $50+ for a good, used foot pedal on eBay. You can purchase a brand-new foot pedal for about $80+. You can get the foot pedal with a USB or game port plug, although most computers will utilize the USB connector.
If you buy the standard-size cassette tape program, you will need a standard-sized cassette transcriber system. You can get this on eBay for much less than you would pay at a professional transcription gear site. I've seen the machines go for as little as $25; however, most of the time, expect to pay somewhere around $125 to $175 for the machine. Go for the professional sellers--those who sell these machines regularly. You can get a good quality, refurbished transcription machine with a warranty. If you buy from a person retiring from the MT business, you may end up with a partially functioning machine, a very-used, very tired machine, or a great machine. It's a crap shoot. To get a known-good machine, find the eBay seller that specializes in those machines.
Intermediate MT: STU (Surgery Transcription Unit) (blue disk)
Just as the name implies, STU involves transcribing highly difficult surgical reports. Being able to transcribe surgical dictation is a money-making proposition for medical transcriptionists. Expect to pay $100+ for the STU disk on eBay, or go to the other website and pay more than $400.
Advanced Medical Transcription (AMT) (Multi-colored disk)
By the time you finish AMT, you are ready for an entry-level job (read: beginner) as a medical transcriptionist. Again expect to pay $100+ for this disk on eBay, or pay the other site $800+.
With M-TEC and Andrews, you will have to take AND pass an enrollment test. This is a very basic grammar skills test, and I have been told that 70% of the people who take these tests fail. These schools are not like the matchbook schools where all you have to do is plunk down your money and go for it. You will have to have some minimum basic skills and aptitude to pass the enrollment test. If you don't pass the test at these two schools, this is a very good indication that you don't have what it takes to be successful in the medical transcription field.
Just because you want to be a stay-at-home medical trancriptionist doesn't mean you have the aptitude for it. It's the same thing with other professions: not everybody can be a nuclear physicist, rocket scientist, teacher, medical doctor, OR a medical transcriptionist. You may not have what it takes. The enrollment test will give you a very realisitic view of your chances of passing any medical transcriptionist course. If you can't pass the enrollment test, you can't pass the course. The tests are very reliable indicators. Before you buy any eBay course, try those on-line enrollment tests. If you don't pass the tests, don't waste your money buying or enrolling in any courses without extensive remedial training. There is no obligation to enroll in any of the two schools. You can use the test to judge your skills. Remember, if you can't pass the test, that's a great indication that you don't have what it takes to be a medical transcriptionist.
Don't beat yourself up about this--it's not against you per se, but a lot of people get upset because they equate medical transcription with simply "typing what the doctor says."
*Aptitudes or Qualities of a Potential MT Student
Here are some questions and ideas for you to ponder that may help you decide if MT training is for you:
*How are your English grammar and punctuation skills?
You will need--at the very least--a COLLEGE-LEVEL UNDERSTANDING AND A COLLEGE-LEVEL WORKING KNOWLEDGE of English grammar and punctuation. Quick! Describe what cumulative adjectives or compound modifiers are and when they should be punctuated with commas and/or hyphens! If you can't answer these extremely basic questions, you may be in for a lot of aggravation. If English was your worst subject in school or you dreaded that subject, perhaps MT work is not for you.
If you have poor English grammar skills or detest ceaseless and never-ending analysis of English grammar sentence structure, MT work is not for you. That's what a medical transcriptionist does day after day, year after year.
*Do you have a large, college-level vocabulary?
Do you regularly read a lot of books? Do you ALWAYS look up every single word you read that you don't FULLY understand? If your answer to these questions is "no," chances are that you are not a good candidate for medication transcription work. Remember, you will be transcribing documents dictated by doctorate-level college graduates! Those "doctors" utilize vocabulary commensurate with their abilities. They use arcane words. They use alternate definitions of common words that you never dreamed existed! Are you curious and tenacious enough to look up every single word, English or Medical, that you are not 100% certain that you know its intended meaning and usage? If you dread looking up words, MT work or training is definitely not for you.
Medical transcriptionists absolutely HAVE to look up every single word, English or medical, that they are not 100% certain they know the meaning and usage of--ABSOLUTELY everything must be looked up and VERIFIED 100% of the time--NO EXCEPTIONS!!!! That one "exception" could kill somebody. It is literally a matter of life or death!
Medical transcriptionists are always learning. It's not a matter of just passing a course and getting a job. You will have to keep up with the latest advances in medicine. You will have to subscribe to and read professional journals. You will have to purchase professional reference and text books and keep those reference books up-to-date yearly. That's what responsible medical transcriptionists do.
You will have to learn medicine. You will have to learn anatomy and physiology. You will have to learn medical language and terminology. These and other attendant* courses and subjects are just the very beginning of MT training. (*Look it up...doctors dictate this word frequently.)
*Are you computer saavy?
You'll have to be in order to function as an independent, stay-at-home MT. You have to know how encryption works and why, how to encrypt files, how to FTP files, etc. Can you find lost files on your hard drive? Can you configure your services on your computer? Can you troubleshoot and repair configuration problems on your computer? This is but a tiny aspect of MT work. Nobody is going to be able to hold your hand--you have to have enough knowledge of computers to do this yourself.
*Can you type at least 60 words per minute accurately?
Realistically, you need to be able to type quickly and without any errors whatsoever. Don't go by the "corrected" words-per-minute value. What actually counts is how fast you can type without any errors. That should be considered your typing speed. If you are always reaching for the backspace key to delete an error, you will not function well in the MT world.
Accuracy is of prime importance; speed is always secondary to accuracy. However, here's the catch: how much money you get paid depends upon your speed.
Folks, this is piece work! You get paid by the line--yes, the measly line. Oh, and the lines are not standardized. Some companies pay for spaces between the words, and others do not. Some pay 2-3 cents per line, and others may pay as much as 6-8 cents per line. How much you get paid depends on the quality of the your work, the quantity of your work, and the quality of your education.
*Getting a Medical Transcription Job
MTSOs, medical transcription service organizations (they are the businesses that hire work-at-home MTs), require anywhere from 2 to 8 years of acute care experience (that's working on difficult hospital accounts) BEFORE they will even let you TEST for any position. Medical transcription involves careful documentation and virtually 100% error-free transcription of people's medical records.
Many reports are "STAT," which means they have to be transcribed immediately. The reports cannot wait until you put the laundry in the dryer, feed the kids, or change a diaper. The transcription of STAT medical reports and all your transcription must come before caring for your children or tending to household chores. The misleading and common idea that medical transcription can easily be done by stay-at-home moms is very erroneous. It is extremely difficult to do medical transcription with the kids needing your attention.
You absolutely have to give the transcription 100% of your attention 100% of the time while transcribing. It doesn't matter if the baby is crying or needs to be fed--the transcription has priority. You may be able to swing at-home medical transcription during the night hours when everybody is in bed, however. Realize that work-at-home medical transcription is indeed work, and it is very demanding, tough work. Allowing household concerns or the needs of the children to take priority over the transcription could kill somebody. Always keep that in mind.
Such STAT reports include history and physical examinations that absolutely must be done before a patient can go for surgery or even get further medical treatment. If a patient is admitted through the emergency room and needs emergent surgery, the doctor's report has to be done right now. If you delay, or if you have "difficulty" transcribing the report because of the stress and the horrendous pressure you'll be under, you are putting people's lives in jeopardy--it's just that simple. Accidentally spell the patient's name wrong, and that patient CANNOT get surgery because the report "belongs to someone else." Could the patient die while waiting upon you to fix the error. Sadly, yes.
So just what does 98% accuracy mean? Well, first off, it doesn't mean that every report can contain 2% errors. Rather, it means that out of every 100 reports you transcribe, only 2 errors will be made.
Errors include simple misplaced punctuation marks, mostly commas and hyphens. These still count as errors even though they are rather minor. Some of the major errors include sound-alike words. These sound-alike words can actually kill people. Doctors dictate very quickly, and words like Primacor and Pravachol sound identical at break-neck dictation speeds. Incorrectly transcribing a drug can kill a patient. (Primacor is a vasodilator for congestive heart failure, and Pravachol is a HMG-CoA inhibitor for hyperlipidemia.)
Major errors such as described above can get you quickly fired. Period. It is better to fire YOU immediately than to kill a patient. So, when you're talking about 98% accuracy, realize that the errors would not be of a type that can injure or kill the patient.
Medical transcription is not an easy job, nor is it easy to learn. Make sure you invest your money in the best-quality training. Be aware that no training course can "certify" you as a medical transcriptionist.
If a school or an eBay seller touts that the particular course they are trying to sell makes you a certified medical transcriptionist--WATCH OUT! You're about to be had!
The only way you can become a certified medical transcriptionist is to take and pass the AAMT Certified Medical Transcriptionist test after at least 2 years of acute care work. No school can make you a certified medical transcriptionist by completion of training. Sellers often use description to dump medical transcription courses on eBay.
Medical transcription is a job. You will have to work regular hours. It is a job based upon piece work and not an hourly wage.
If you have found this accurate description of the medical transcription field informative, please take the time to vote "yes" at the bottom of the screen.