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What Skills Do I Need to Become a Medical Transcriber?

SyberScribe AUTHOR: SyberScribe, May 6th, 2015

The role of a medical transcriber is essential in the healthcare industry. It is their role to transcribe any verbally recorded notes or reports into written word for doctors and other healthcare professionals, and this written record is vital to the success of the industry. Working with doctors doesn’t mean that a transcriber is solely based in a doctor’s office, however. Many transcribers work in hospitals or specialists rooms, or even from home.

A medical transcriber must ensure that all reports or notes from consultations, patient histories, medical examinations, scans, seminars, operations, chart reviews, emergency room visits, and discharge summaries are accurately recorded from short to longhand with no mistakes or inconsistencies. Depending on the specific job requirements, transcribers are often required to perform many basic administrative tasks such as screening phone calls, clerical and office duties, as well as maintaining patient medical files.

This may sound like an easy task to some, but there are several skills that are essential for a medical transcriber to succeed and be competent at their job.

Medical terminology

One of the main skills required to be a medical transcriber is a competent grasp on medical terminology. Because a transcriber can work for numerous different healthcare providers, it’s essential to understand the variety of complex medical jargon that exists. There are a range of courses available through TAFE and other educational facilities that offer complete training in this area, and these courses are essential when looking to become a medical transcriber.

To enrol in these courses, completion of high school is usually required, but in some cases mature age students and RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) students may be accepted. Completing the course is recommended to anyone who plans on working in the medical industry. Depending on the type of course and how much time you have to commit to your studies, a medical terminology course may take anywhere between three months to a year to complete.

Communication skills

Excellent listening and communication skills are essential to succeeding as a medical transcriber. Knowing when to listen and when to ask questions is critical, as is the ability to work independently. This means that a medical transcriber should have the ability to make decisions unaided and communicate their ideas clearly.

The primary role of a medical transcriber is to translate shorthand and abbreviated notes made by physicians and other professionals, thus all written notes or reports must be accurate. Having a good grasp of the English language, including grammar, is not only necessary but must be considered a vital skill for accurately recording any information. This includes being able to comprehend abbreviations, as well as superior problem solving skills.

Computer skills

Leading on from this, having an above average knowledge of computer systems and typing is also essential to the role. Knowing how to competently transcribe numeric information into graphs or charts and navigate the internet for research are both fundamental skills to have as a transcriber.

A competent medical transcriber types at around 65-75 words per minute, but this isn’t expected of beginners. Aim for around 45 words per minute with a 100% accuracy rate to begin with, and work your way up from there.

Time management

Being able to effectively manage time is another skill required of medical transcribers. Because a large portion of a medical transcriber’s role is to produce reports, being able to meet deadlines independently is important. This means that a person must be motivated to work unaided and be able to efficiently organise their work load.

Attention to detail

A medical transcriber must pay attention to the fine details. They must be able to pick up on mistakes or inconsistencies in the transcripts, and be able to rectify these through research or consulting whoever made the original notes.

If you think you possess these skills, it’s possibly worth considering a career as a medical transcriber, as you’re likely to succeed in the role.