Look for one that follows AHDI and COMPRO. What is AHDI and COMPRO?
The Association For Healthcare Documentation Integrity is the professional industry organization that represents medical transcriptionists. The AHDI (formerly AAMT) has developed a competency profile for medical transcription education (COMPRO).
This profile outlines many of the areas that a good solid Medical Transcription Training program should cover. In brief, some of these areas include the following: English language, medical knowledge, technology, healthcare documentation, and professional practice. Under each of these broad headings are very particular sets of competencies that a medical transcription student must demonstrate to show they have mastered that area. The full COMPRO guidelines are listed on the AHDI’s web site, and we highly recommend that all prospective medical transcription students visit the site and go over the profile in detail.
Why Not a Less Expensive, Faster Program?
When you take the time to research the skills that a quality medical transcriptionist needs, it will become evident that a shorter, less comprehensive course of study isn’t going to give you what you need to succeed in the workplace. Many prospective students who look into very inexpensive fast programs buy into the idea that they can learn medical transcription quickly and then begin making good money right away. You may hear some people say that a comprehensive education is not necessary and that you just type what you hear. This type of thinking is not only faulty but actually dangerous because in medical language many words sound alike but have very different meanings. Please see the example below:
EXERCISE: Say the following words aloud. Say them slowly and then faster:
Dysphagia (dis-phage-ee-a) Difficulty swallowing.
Dysphasia ( dis-phas-ee-a) Difficulty speaking.
Dysplasia (dis-plas-ee-a) Abnormality of development.
Ileum (il-ee-um) The small intestine.
Ilium (il-ee-um) Hip bone.
It is clear to see that without a clear understanding of the meaning of these sound-alike terms and the medical context in which these terms and numerous others would be dictated, it would be very easy to type in the wrong word. Now consider the consequences of a medical transcriptionist typing in the wrong medication because it sounded like a similar one. It is true that physicians are supposed to read the completed reports for accuracy before signing them. However, the medical transcriptionist is the main person responsible for proofreading the reports.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many physicians are very busy and rushed. Many times they sign reports that they read quickly. It is the job of the medical transcriptionist to make sure these reports are accurate.
What are the Results of Poor School Choice?
It is a sad fact that even if graduates of sub-par programs are able to pass an employment test and get hired (which is rare), they have a very hard time on the job. This is because they lack a comprehensive understanding of medical language. Sure, they may know some basic anatomy and terminology; however, they lack a clear understanding of what is being said. How would this affect their potential income and job security? Well, medical transcriptionists are paid based on production. In other words, most MTs are paid according to how much they are able to transcribe in a day. Most companies have minimum quotas for the amount of work they want each medical transcriptionist to produce in a day. If a new transcriptionist has to stop and look up every other word because they do not understand the context or content of the dictation, they are not going to be able to meet the company’s minimum quotas. This often happens to new MTs who are poorly trained. See a comparison of two new MTs and one experienced MT and their daily production:
Daily pay @ .07 cents
NEW MT #1- 1,250 lines done for the day. $ 87.50
NEW MT #2- 600 lines done for the day. $ 42.00
EXPERIENCED MT #3 – 2,000 lines done for the day. $140.00
Which of these MTs would you like to be? As you can clearly see, MT #2 is not making very good money. If both MT #1 and #2 worked the same amount of hours that day, what explains the difference in pay? Maybe MT #2 had to stop many, many times during the day to look up simple medical words. MT #2 is not going to be very happy with her paycheck at the end of the day. Also, MT #2 is at risk of losing her job because she is FAR below the company’s minimum production standard for the day. However, it is possible that MT #2 feels that she got a great deal on her medical transcription education because it cost under $1,000 and only took her 4 months to complete the entire program. MT #3 has about a year or two of experience, has had advanced medical transcription training, and is clearly making good money.
Most new MTs are hired and then put on a probation period where all of their reports are checked by an editor or quality assurance person. Most companies allow between 30-90 days for a new MT to get up to production standards in terms of production and quality. If the new MT’s work is not up to company standards by that time, it is likely they will be let go. This happens every day to new MTs. Being serious about getting a thorough education will avoid this problem. Investing now in a good education will assure that you can start out in the workplace ready to handle difficult dictation with ease.