Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in California

As documentation specialists, medical transcriptionists are a key piece of the loop in healthcare communications. In order to become a medical transcriptionist, one will need to possess good listening and communication skills as well as a keen eye for detail. Certain specialized skills will also be required and can be obtained through appropriate training.

The primary responsibility of a medical transcriptionist is to listen to an audio recording from a physician or other healthcare professional and transform it into a properly-typed, official medical document. Modern transcriptionists also bear the responsibility for proofreading documents made using voice recognition software and editing them appropriately. Working in the field requires obtaining knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical abbreviations, word processing software and health information technology. Transcriptionists will also need to know when and how to use appropriate reference materials and how to ensure proper legal and confidentiality requirements are always met.

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California Regulations for Medical Transcriptionists

Like most states, California does not require licensing for medical transcriptionists. The field is, in fact, without an official statewide regulatory body; however, those interested in the career will need to meet certain educational requirements. Most choose to obtain training through a specialized program, for which a high school diploma or equivalent is usually a prerequisite. Training programs take a variety of forms including in-person courses and online programs and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year to complete.

Training Programs in California for Medical Transcriptionists

California does not currently have an on-site training program within the state for medical transcription, so those looking to train in the profession will need to seek an online course. A few of these include:

  • California State University Bakersfield offers a Medical Transcription Editor Certificate. The program promises to prepare students for both transcribing and editing medical documents, with content delivered from industry experts. One-on-one instructor support is also available.
  • California State University in San Bernardino offers a certificate in Medical Transcription. The program is entirely online and can be completed at a student’s own pace. Students will be prepared for additional certifications through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).
  • College offers a Career Diploma in Medical Transcription. The program relies on the use of simulated transcriptions as a teaching tool and provides an oversight of speech-recognition software. The entire program is self-paced with ongoing access 24 hours a day.

Possible Additional Certifications

Obtaining specialized credentials can help improve potential for employment by highlighting an applicant’s expertise and professionalism. One agency often used by medical transcriptionists to obtain such credentials is the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Their Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) designation is earned through taking and passing an examination consisting of multiple-choice questions, audio simulations and a sample transcription.

Career Growth and Earning Potential in California

Medical transcription as a career field is facing a nationwide decline at the moment, with data from Projections Central predicting a 3.3 percent decline between the years 2016 and 2026. In California, the situation appears to be slightly worse with a 7.3 percent decline predicted within the same time period. In better news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes California in its top five states with the highest employment level in the nation. Additionally, data collected by the BLS from 2018 show a mean annual salary in California of $40,480, well above the national mean of $36,350.

Opportunities in California

For the best opportunities, look to the highest-employing industries for medical transcriptionists, such as business support services, physicians’ offices and hospitals. There is also significant potential for those in this career field to work as self-employed freelancers. A few possible employers in the state include Med Trans, Inc., The Judge Group, Ensign Services and U.S. Renal Care.