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Getting Started As a Home-Based Medical Transcriptionist

Apr 14, 2008 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

 

If you want to work from home, becoming a medical transcriptionist is a great option.  Medical transcriptionists record a doctor’s dictations into medical reports, correspondence, patient files, and other administrative documents.   It’s a job that can be easily done in a home office, and many hospitals and practices hire freelance transcriptionists who work off-site.  If you’re interested in building your own business as a home-based medical transcriptionist, here’s how to make it happen.

Take a course

If you have no background in medical terminology, you’ll need to take a online course in medical transcription to start your career.  Most employers look for applicants who have taken at least a year-long medical transcriptionist course; some prefer applicants with an Associate’s Degree, but it isn’t required—especially if you plan to start your own business rather than apply for in-house work.  

If you already have a medical background, employers may not expect you to enroll in a full year-long course or Associate’s degree program.  Instead, you can take refresher courses in medical terminology to prepare for the job.

Get certified

You don’t need to get certified to work as a medical transcriptionist, but it can help differentiate you from other job applicants.  Some medical transcriptionist courses include professional certification; while certification is not required by the industry, it can make you look more desirable than other applicants.

There are two parts to medical transcriptionist certification. Part I, the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) certification, is designed for recent grads or those with fewer than two years’ worth of professional experience.  Part II, the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) certification, usually requires two or more years of experience on the job.

Work in an office

Even though you want to work from home, most independent medical transcriptionists get their start working on-site at hospitals and health care facilities.  If you can get started by working on-site, it’s a good idea; this will give you the added credibility of work experience, as well as contacts in the health care industry that could come in useful when you start your own business.  Most medical transcriptionists start by working for two or three years in an office before starting their own businesses.

Set up your home office

When you’re ready to start your business, you’ll have to set up a home office.  As a medical transcriptionist, your business has very low start-up overhead.  You’ll need a computer as well as transcription software such as a medical spell checker, an electronic dictionary, and a line counter.  You may also need specialized phone and recording equipment. 

Start looking for work

As a new medical transcriptionist, you may have some difficulty finding your first client.  Network with as many health professionals as you can; this is where your time spent on-site will come in useful. Someone who worked with you in your previous job may be willing to give you contacts and a recommendation; or your former employer may want to hire you on as a freelancer.   Check sources outside of work as well; you never know when your family doctor or friend in the health care industry might know someone who needs a medical transcriptionist.

In addition, get in touch with local health care providers. Remember that every practice that sees patients needs a transcriptionist; don’t limit yourself to hospitals and private practices.  You may also find work with chiropractors, psychiatrists, and any other practice that treats patients.  Marketing a medical transcription business is similar to marketing any other business; you’ll find tools such as brochures, sales letters, promotional postcards, and a website helpful.  You can also put in cold calls to office managers, depending on what marketing methods you’re comfortable with.

You can also look online for work.  Websites such as MTDaily match up medical transcriptionists with employers all over the country.

Medical transcription can be a rewarding and flexible career—great for work-at-home moms, disabled workers, and anyone else who prefers to work from home.  Put in the time you need to gain the skills and experience that will make you an attractive job candidate, and you’re sure to see success in the field.

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