Any experience with the medical transcriptionist field?

My mother is considering going back to school to get training as a medical transcriptionist. She would be good at this job–she’s an extremely fast and accurate typist with near-perfect spelling skills, very smart and organized, etc. I told her I would ask here for people’s personal experiences with the field to get a better idea of whether it is something she should pursue or not.

So, have you done this? Know someone who has? Any info or good resources would be a big help. Thanks in advance.

I transcribe as a second job. I subcontract overflow work from my sister, who does it full time. She does the medical stuff so I can’t comment about that. I do the other stuff (mostly academic research interviews).

Typing speed isn’t so important as you might think (though it can’t hurt), because you’ll find yourself doing so much stop - rewind - play - stop - what did he say again? - rewind - play, that you can slow down anyway.

You need a really good ear as most recordings are DREADFUL, and the subtle difference between “would” and “wouldn’t” spoken against a noisy background can change the meaning of the entire document. Maybe not so much for the medical stuff (but even there), you also need excellent general knowledge and local area knowledge.

This morning, I finished one with two women talking in a noisy, echo-y environment. As usual, the interviewer was dreadful ( a big habit of theirs is to intone the end of a sentence, making you hit full stop, new para break, other person’s name, etc and then add another word - "So are you going to the city…

…today?" This stuff can slow you down).

Anyway, in this noisy background, the interviewer said “swarz”.


I needed my local knowledge to know that it was “SWAHS” or “South West sydney Area Health Service”. Even most locals wouldn’t know that - they’d call it “hospital” or “The health dept”. It’s all about little things like that. The positive is that this industry is surviving being Bangalored, for the most part.

I used to do medical transcription many years ago as kind of a side gig, and kind of a help to a friend.

I pays very, very well. This is because it really, really sucks. If your mother is even kind of creative she will hate this job. It’s hard on the ears, it’s frustrating when people talk like they have a mouth full of marbles, particularly when they know the stuff is going to be transcribed, they use jargon with no explanation (I remember an office wide debate about what “bone mets” are - it turns out its bone metastises but that was an abbreviation of that one physician).

I do know that some people like doing this. It’s essentially mindless - you just sit there and type, but I hated it. For the record, I’m very good at it very fast typest, extensive knowledge of medical terminology, etc- should I ever lose my job I know I’ll have something to fall back on but frankly I almost think I’d rather clean toilets.

It can suck, but having also cleaned toilets, I’d rather transcribe.

I transcribe for a living. Regardless of your mother’s typing speed and other attributes, reputable employers will require specialized training in transcription plus, generally, 2 years of experience in acute care. There are a lot of “schools” offering training, and most of them are completely worthless, with some even bordering on scams.

I’m very fast and accurate, work my kiester off, and still do not make more than a bare living at it. (I do admit to being a little more anal than I should be, so I’m probably slower than I could be if I could make myself not care about accuracy.) I could buy health insurance thru my employer at a fairly high rate, but I am (fortunately) insured through my husband’s employer. I receive very little paid time off, and I frequently have to work mandatory overtime. I have a good employer, though, and at least I don’t have to worry that we’ll run out of work as some companies do.

I have greater than 30 years of production typing under my belt, so YMMMV, but I have severe cubital tunnel syndrome as well as nerve problems in my feet (from operating the foot pedal). Keyboarding for long shifts is also hard on the neck, back, shoulders, and arms.

The industry itself is in a bit of flux as some of the work is being outsourced overseas or converting to voice recognition. Its hard to predict job stability.

In case you want to research it a bit more, you might want to check out a couple of MT message boards, such as goMDT or MT Chat.

Hope that helps.

This has all been very helpful; thanks. It sounds like she’s going to consider other options–no one seems terribly excited about the field. We’d love to hear any other stories if anyone else sees this. Thanks again.