Home / Articles / Choosing Medical Transcription Training – 5 Things You Need To Know


Let’s Take a Closer Look at Medical Transcription Trainingmedical transcriptionist with laptop computer in autumn

Some of our students say they were overwhelmed when looking at all the OTHER medical transcription training programs online. They’re all different in multiple ways. Some have little practice but heavy anatomy training. Others may be heavy in the practice dictation, but it’s not real dictation. (It’s staff dictating a medical report into a digital file.) Other medical transcription schools may have internships that require you to work three months with little or no pay. So how do you go about choosing which medical transcription program is right for YOU?

To Get the Answer, We Need to Take a Look Backwards Over the Last Decade or So.

A few years ago, when voice recognition became part of the medical industry, it enabled some transcription work to be done much faster than was being done previously. Instead of having to type the reports out from scratch as the transcriptionist listened to it, now the transcriptionist simply “edited” the incorrect parts of the report. The pay was a lot less for “editing” the reports, however, the transcriptionist could make up the difference because she could do many more lines in a day than typing everything from scratch. Theoretically, we should have come out making more money than before! Sounds like a win-win situation, right?  Not necessarily.

So here’s the dilemma: With this new technology came the need for accurate and precise medical editing skills. Unfortunately, just because someone is a good medical transcriptionist, that doesn’t mean she is a good editor. Editing requires specific training and a critical eye for detail with no errors. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of medical anatomy and grammar skills usually only an experienced MT would know. So the new positions were created, and those who did it were called Medical Editors and Health Documentation Specialists instead of medical transcriptionists.

How the Industry Has Evolved

With the medical editors being able to do twice the work of a “type-from-scratch” transcriptionist, the job market shrank. There wasn’t room for all of them! Many transcriptionists who had been steadily employed for years suddenly found themselves without a job. When applying for new jobs, the market was swamped and only the best of the best were hired. Slowly but surely, these seasoned transcriptionists left the medical transcription industry and pursued other avenues of employment. Supply and demand, you know?

That was 10 years ago. Today, we see the situation reversing. Physicians in general have long been frustrated with of the errors they’re still having with the voice recognition software. Even after years of development, it still cannot tell the difference between Zantac and Xanax and when one is appropriate over the other. It still cannot distinguish 15 from 50 in a doctor who is speaking too quickly, and it cannot figure out with any degree of certainty what the foreign dictators with accents are saying.  (To see some of the silly errors, just Google “voice recognition medical transcription errors.”  This left a lot of medical facilities and practices switching back away from voice recognition, in favor of the more traditional medical transcribing ‘from scratch.’

At the same time we’re seeing more and more medical facilities (both hospitals AND physician practices) switching back to regular medical transcribing, we’re seeing baby boomers getting older, qualifying for Medicare, having more medical tests, etc. What has actually happened is that the population has significantly increased over the last 10 years, is continuing to increase at a rate greater than ever, and the need for accurate medical transcription is greater than ever.

That Still Doesn’t Mean Everyone is Getting Hired, However.

So the market is evening out slowly. We’re seeing the beginning steps of this reintegration back to regular medical transcribing, yet we’re still doing medical editing at the same time.

What this means is that the demands employers have for medical transcriptionists are becoming more precise. Employers, like medical transcription services and hospitals can no longer afford expensive litigation from errors  made in the past by voice recognition technology.  In other words, the bar is finally being raised.

So it All Boils Down to Skill?

What does this mean for us now? According to our research, medical transcriptionists who have received proper, thorough training, continued their education diligently, and are flexible with the job opportunities are the ones getting the jobs.

The graduates of inferior medical transcription training programs are finding this out the hard way. Without the proper training, the average graduate cannot get a good handle on what is required for the job. They have significant trouble passing employers tests. (Many of them end up enrolling with us to get the rest of their medical transcription education and a job – we’ve been told it’s like the difference between night and day!)

Look at the Quality of the Training Practice Being Offered

Even though inferior training programs may have transcription tapes (which are now obsolete – digital files are what we use now) that are dictated by medical staff, they may not be real medical patient reports with all the nuances: People talking in the background while the dictator is talking, radiology films rattling while being handled, overhead announcements while the dictator is dictating, the dictator moving around the hospital or in his car with motor, wind, or traffic sounds, extra noises, sniffs, slurps, burps and chirps! For the highest quality medical transcription training reports, you really need true patient reports dictated in a real setting by real physicians to get the full picture. Don’t let anyone talk you into anything less.

Look at How Many Reports are Included in the Practice.

Just a couple hundred or so training reports are simply not enough to train someone properly – it doesn’t matter how great they are. If you’re going to take the time to study medical transcription, be sure YOU do it the RIGHT way.

Look at What Specialties are Included in the Practice.

This means you need practice in ALL the major specialties PLUS pharmacology, laboratory, pathology, and radiology. You need practice with all the major types of medical reports such as History & Physicals, Discharge Summaries, Consultations, Operative Reports, Office Notes, SOAP Notes, Diagnostic Reports just to name a few.

Let’s look at the training reports again, since this is one of the primary instruments used to train new medical transcriptionists. Years ago, when we first decided to expand on our medical transcription training in order to be able to staff our medical transcription service, we considered using our own patient medical reports that had been dictated by some of our clients. It would have been easy to remove the identifying information and call that good medical transcription training. However, we didn’t do that.

Why Did We Choose to Pay Thousands for These Training CDs for Our Students Instead of Using Our Own?

We looked at all the medical transcription training reports that were available in the industry at that time. Instead of saving thousands on using our own reports, we chose the SUM Transcription series for our dictation practice.

What are the SUM Training Reports?

The acronym “SUM” stands for Systems Unit Method because SUM units are grouped by body system or medical specialty. The SUM Program for Medical Transcription Training, developed by Health Professions Institute, is the leading medical transcription training program used in schools, hospitals, and transcription companies throughout the English-speaking world.

We wanted the absolute best practice dictation for our students.  Even today, there is still no comparison to the SUM practice dictation reports. Here’s why:

All Our Strict Criteria for Medical Transcription Training Dictation Reports Were Met With the SUM CDs.

The SUM dictation uses authentic dictation, not simulated or “fake” script-read reports. Authentic dictation features natural background noises such as telephones ringing, papers rattling, nurses talking—even a dictator yawning or eating. It is spontaneous, peppered with “ums” and “uhs,” false starts, corrections, interruptions, and the run-on sentences characteristic of natural human speech.  Script-read dictation does not prepare students for the authentic dictation they will encounter on the job. Students who transcribe this authentic dictation develop the finely tuned auditory discrimination skills necessary for employment success.

The Variety is There. Every Single Thing We Were Looking For Was Right There.

The SUM dictation includes a wide variety of voices and dictation styles—male and female, rapid and slow, organized and scattered, regionally and internationally accented, mumbled and clear, formal and informal. The more voices to which a student is exposed, the more prepared the student is going to be for the actual workplace.

How It’s Organized is Ideal – It’s How We Would Have Done It Ourselves.

The SUM series is organized by body system and medical specialty. Concepts are sequenced from simple to complex, allowing students to build a wealth of knowledge gradually throughout the dictation.

The software is self-paced so each student can move at a comfortable rate. Students can check their own work against transcript answer keys to provide immediate feedback and assure that mistakes are corrected before they become bad habits, and exams are sent in frequently to certified instructors for editing with feedback and explanations for improvement.

All in all, the SUM dictation gives our students extensive transcription practice with up to 47 hours of dictation—at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels—to provide nearly 800 hours of actual transcription practice.

You Do What You Do Best, and We’ll Do What We Do Best. But See What Happens When We Combine the Two!

Extensive research and development went into the creation of these SUM medical transcription audio dictations. These dictations were chosen from a bank of thousands of reports with vocabulary density as a primary selection criteria. Then assembled in a systematic, calculated method that moves from beginning through intermediate and finally to the advanced level.  This is how it progresses with the SUM Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced training CDs.

But We Don’t Stop There.

Even with the few schools that spend the extra money to buy the SUM CDs, most of them will graduate you after those first 3 CDs. Those 3 CDs are great, and they’ll give you some excellent beginning skills, but it’s simply not enough if you want to work from home. If you want to work at home as most of our graduates do, you’ll need the practice of very advanced dictation to gain the experience that it provides, and so we add our own advanced dictation practice on top of those 3 CDs. Your training becomes personal with us at that point, and we monitor your progress very closely.

 Please read this next part very carefully, for it defines what makes OUR school different from any other Medical Transcription program out there.


At This Point, Your Training Becomes Very Personalized. After the online book learning, the first 3 training CDs, practice exams, and working closely with finished reports, specific testing may reveal that the student is doing excellent in all areas but one. (In fact, it’s more likely to be two or three.) For example, one student may need more radiology training. Another may show an aptitude for radiology but may need more laboratory practice. Yet another student who has mastered both radiology and laboratory, and another may still have a few deficiencies in the pathology area.

It’s okay. It’s great in fact! What is important is that, with a program in place that provides for specific testing and multiple analyses of your work reports and exams, your experienced instructor is able to identify those deficiencies in order to focus on them more completely.

That in a nutshell is one of the primary reasons why our Job Placement Rate is 100% for our Advanced Medical Transcription and Editing graduates!


Now you know one of the secrets of our Job Placement success of 100%!  The development of marketable skills and a successful transition to the workplace are dependent upon EXTENSIVE transcription practice with consistent feedback from qualified instructors.

Insist on a Certified Medical Transcription Training Instructor

Speaking of practice, who’s training you? Does the program you’re considering come with certified instructors? Or are the instructors the same people that help the automotive and plumbing students with their questions too?

Medical transcription is something that has been passed down from generation to generation and person to person even before the typewriter was invented. In order to get the direct and specific industry experience you need, you need to have feedback and comments from an experienced transcriptionist. You need this experienced professional to be responsible for YOUR education by constructively grading your reports, giving you helpful feedback, and helping you with issues you just won’t find in textbooks. In order to make sure your instructor is properly trained, insist on a certified medical transcription training instructor and nothing less.

How About Getting Certification Behind Your Name?

A great medical transcription training program will not stop with just great training. They’ll continue to work with their graduates until they pass the national certification exam through AHDI. AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity) is the organization that sponsors Registered and Certified Transcriptionists throughout North America. The exam is rigorous but shows you definitely know how to transcribe.

Now don’t worry — This portion of the program is entirely optional. You will still be able to get your first job without certification just by being a graduate of this program. However, why not tell the world how professional and educated you are? Our school will help prepare you and pay for your RHDS certification exam through AHDI, all at no additional charge.  It’s all included so be sure to take advantage of it.

We bring it all together with
specific practice under expert, instructor-supervised guidance.

Here’s a Summary of Just Some of Things You Should Insist on From Your Medical Transcription School:

A. No tapes. Insist on digital reports which more closely emulate real employment. Also insist on receiving the software that goes with medical transcribing. (Not just clicking reports on a screen that you’ll never see again.) With ours, you keep the software and the reports to be able to reference them later.

B. Physician dictation in the real medical setting. Not simply staff reading reports nice and slow for you to transcribe.

C. Real patient reports with identifying information removed. These most closely simulate real work reports because they ARE actual patient reports..

D. Many medical specialties. Not just 3-4.   For example, MT School of Canada has 19 in the online training modules alone.

E. Certified, experienced instructor available with personalized feedback on every exam.

F. Close testing, evaluation, inspection, and analyses of your finished work to determine if any deficiencies remain. Then specially chosen reports for that deficiency to make YOU an expert.

G. Help with the RHDS certification exam at no cost to you. Additional study guides, practice, and testing to help YOU pass this national exam. We even pay for it.

If you’re going to make the investment in your future, take the time to research what that investment means and insist on the best. We’ll be happy to share more of our thoughts with you. Give us a call today!

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*Medical Transcription Service Owners (MTSOs) are located all across Canada and the U.S. These MTSOs employ thousands of Medical Transcriptionists who work from home to transcribe for medical facilities all across North America.