Thursday, February 28, 2008

Basic Qualities of a Medical Transcriptionist

By Connie Limon

A transcriber is the machine that plays a dictated report through a set of headsets. The headset fits over the head somewhat like a headband with two little round plugs you plug into your ears. There is a foot pedal that usually has three sections. The middle section when pressed by your foot continuously “plays” the transcription report as it was dictated by the doctor. The right pedal would rewind to a previous spot. The left portion of this pedal would fast forward the report. The transcriber machine sits usually near your typewriter. It is a fairly small piece of equipment that resembles an ordinary tape player/recorder. There are buttons on the transcriber to play fast forward, rewind and open the compartment where you place the tape of physician dictated reports.

When I first became acquainted with a transcriber I was amazed! It was during an interview for a clerk-typist job in which the most important and difficult task was going to be transcribing medical dictation in a Crippled Children’s clinic. I seemed to have an immediate connection or bonding to the headset, the transcriber and the typewriter.

At the end of the interview I was hired solely upon the transcribing test. All other applicants had excelled in other areas for this job, except the transcription test. I immediately began typing the words I heard through the headset and at an amazing speed and accuracy. They were impressed! I thought what is the big deal here? No problem transcribing the words I heard through the headset. I had more problems answering the phone!

Each day was an education in many ways, but mostly in medical transcription. I learned medical transcription on the job. In those days, we called it “taking dictation.” The area of medical expertise in this position was limited to orthopedic and pediatric transcription. I later transferred to other jobs in which I transcribed Internal Medicine and Psychiatric medical reports. Of all assignments, it was the psychiatric dictation I was most interested in transcribing.

Wow! This job is actually fun. My thoughts daily were “this is not a job.” This is just plain fun. However, it is a job and I soon learned, although I enjoyed this, it was highly important to transcribe those reports accurately and after that, a medical transcriptionist must never tell anything to anyone else that they hear through the headphones.

I had two very excellent “older” mentors in this job that did not let one mistake slip by, and made no beans about slapping my hands when mistakes occurred. I had some rough days with those two women, (one I describe was almost as bad as the Old Catholic Nuns), and however, I did learn the value of accurately transcribing medical reports and to keep those records private. I feared the nun and her daughter would probably cut my fingers off and my tongue out if I disobeyed these rules!

After being in this one particular position for a total of about 13 years, I feel these two rules lay the foundation for all else that is being a Professional Medical Transcriptionist, they are:

• Accuracy in the ability to interpret, translate, and edit medical dictation for content and clarity

• Professionalism in being able to keep highly confidential information about patients ENTIRELY CONFIDENTIAL.

If there is one common quality all medical transcriptionists must possess, it is a true love and passion for “words.” This is the common thread in the profession of medical transcription. I fit this perfectly. In grade school, we had a regular substitute teacher who always gave us “dictionary” work on the days she taught our class. She would give us a list of words to look up in the dictionary and write out their meanings. We had to write the exact meaning from the dictionary and then write the meaning into our own words. It was lessons that helped to lay the foundation for my later love of words as well as typing, medical transcription and writing articles for online web site marketing purposes.

During this first medical transcription/clerk-typist job, I would go home sometimes stuck on a word. I was anxious to return to work and continue looking for that word. I always found it. I move no place without packing my medical and regular dictionaries with me. They are staples in my life forevermore I suppose. I also carry around a transcription machine complete with headset and foot pedal!

Medical transcriptionists can get lost in dictionaries. Words are truly exciting to a medical transcriptionist.

Other basic qualities that lay the foundation for a future in medical transcription include:

• Typing skill

• Good hand-eye coordination to help you quickly twist and turn looking for your books and resources to find your words

• Ability to know how and where to find information

• Good spelling and proofreading skills

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

Written by: Connie Limon. Visit to learn more about the unique and wonderful profession of Medical Transcription. Sign up for our FREE newsletters about this career choice. Visit Camelot Articles at for a variety of FREE reprint content for your websites, newsletters or blogs.

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