Medical transcription is a field of study that involves converting voice recordings for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals into written form. Extensive knowledge of medical terminology, abbreviations, and medical records management is required in this occupation. Other courses common for medical transcription degree programs include medical law and ethics, human anatomy and physiology, diseases of the human body, and advanced keyboarding. Graduates are prepared to fill positions with doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities.
Why an Associate Degree?
Most medical transcription positions only require candidates to have a certificate or associate degree to begin working in the field. This allows students the opportunity to enter the rapidly growing field of health care in a relatively short period of time. Students enrolled in this type of medical transcription degree online will also be required to complete a general education curriculum. These courses can help prepare students to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in the future if they decide they would like to continue their education. In most cases, accredited programs will prepare students to pursue certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
As you do your research for an online program in this area, make sure you are prepared for the application process. Here are a few common criteria schools are looking for:
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- Any transcripts from other college course work
- Application form and fee
- Application essay (if required)
Inside a Medical Transcription Associate Degree Program
Most students will be able to complete this type of degree program in approximately two years of full-time study. Any breaks taken from the program, transfer credits applied, and the number of courses taken each term will influence this estimate. Core subjects frequently include medical terminology, human anatomy, diseases of the human body, medical transcription, keyboarding, and health care law and ethics. In addition, general education courses in composition, humanities, social science, mathematics, and natural science are typically required for associate degree students.
As an online student, you will have the flexibility to work around your current personal and professional schedules. Classes usually do not have set meeting times, so students are free to manage their time as they see fit, as long as weekly and other deadlines are met. Practicum course work may need to be completed in an actual medical office, but this can be arranged remotely.
What’s Next for Medical Transcription Associate Degree Holders?
If you are considering an online associate degree medical transcription is one of many healthcare-related fields of study commonly offered. After completing an accredited program, students should be prepared to seek certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. While this certification is not required by law, many employers prefer this type of credential when they are reviewing job applicants. Jobs may be found with hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, or companies specializing in medical transcription services. It is important to note, with the increased use of speech-recognition technology and out-sourced transcription services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the demand for medical transcriptionists in the U.S. will only increase by 6% from 2010 to 2020.
In 2012, medical transcriptionists reported a mean annual wage of $34,650. The majority of jobs were found with general medical and surgical hospital and doctors’ offices, followed by business support services. Please note, actual pay and job availability will depend on a number of factors. This can include level of experience, the general economic climate, location, and the specific employer.