It’s funny how a late-night chat with a friend led me to write this article. My friend always wished for a career in healthcare, but the prospect of med school gave her cold feet. Plus, a toddler at home narrowed down her options considerably. So we sat down together and after draining a dozen cups of coffee, hit upon medical transcription.

She wasn’t too convinced about it, probably because she wasn’t aware how important medical transcription is to the healthcare industry. How can someone who just types some medical words onto a document contribute significantly to healthcare? So I explained to her the importance of this career and I’m writing it for all of you who have ever thought of medical transcription as a career but were never sure about it. Read on to know why medical transcription is an integral part of healthcare and the impact it has on patient care.

A quick overview on medical transcription

Before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at what exactly a medical transcriptionist (MT) does. When you visit a doctor, the doctor records all details about your physical, previous and existing ailments, prescribed medicines, lab and pathology reports, tests, and diagnoses into an audio file. An MT listens to this audio file and transcribes these reports into a document while checking for all kinds of errors. This document is now an indispensable part of your medical history which can be accessed by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff as and when the need arises.

Importance of medical transcription

  • Medical transcription is a vital step in creating patient’s medical history which acts as a reference for physicians and lays the foundation for future patient visits. It helps the doctors evaluate the current physical condition and chart out a suitable treatment plan and take quick and correct follow-up measures. Accuracy is an equally important aspect. Even the smallest error can cause huge trouble. A hastily put-together prescription could mean a carelessly added or deleted zero, which could alter dosage significantly and have fatal consequences for the patient.
  • Patients are often treated by more than one doctor. A detailed patient record enhances communication between doctors and specialists from various disciplines and helps them to arrive at the best possible diagnosis and treatment options by enhancing the flow of medical information.
  • Nurses and support staff can use the patient records as a guide on patient care, including warning signs they should remain alert to, exact dosage of the drug to be administered, and testing samples required by the lab technicians.
  • Medical records are used by billing and coding staff to bill insurance companies. Accurate medical transcription is extremely crucial for claims and reimbursements.
  • And last but not the least; you need to maintain medical records simply because the law requires it! These documents can serve a very valuable purpose in case of a legal conflict.

Is medical transcription the career for you?

There’s a sizeable student population who wish to make a career in healthcare, but are driven away by the mere sight of blood and the thought of working in hospitals for long hours or aren’t too keen on spending years in med school. Medical transcription can work out to be a great career path for such people. Like I said before, you don’t have to work closely with patients and don’t even have to come anywhere close to a needle! This career also offers immense flexibility and allows you the freedom to work from home after you have gained some experience.


Many vocational schools and community colleges offer medical transcriptionist training programs preparing students in subjects like anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, medical jargon, and language and grammar skills. You can choose from online courses that can be completed in a few months to an associate degree lasting two years. Schools such as CareerStep offer online training that can be completed in as little as four months. If you have prior experience you can also work as a medical transcription editor by correcting reports generated by speech recognition software.

Job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an MT who has complete medical transcription training can earn more than $16 per hour. Medical transcription is expected to grow by 8% in the coming decade, as fast as average.

I’d say I was lucky enough to change my friend’s long-held notion that medical transcription is nothing but a fancy word for a typing job, albeit in the medical field. Yes, it’s typing, but it’s also so much more! You have to type fast and your reports must be perfect and free of any errors. Because the entire healthcare staff depends on you for their patients’ up-to-date and accurate medical history, without which they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs effectively!