Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in Massachusetts

For those who are proficient in keyboarding, have a solid grounding in medical terminology and are highly competent in English language usage, a career as a medical transcriptionist is within easy reach. Whether you complete a nine-month certificate, one-year diploma or two-year associate degree program, you can land a first job.

A medical transcriptionist, also known as a healthcare document specialist, is a detail-oriented professional whose main function is to take audio recordings of patient notes created by healthcare professionals and transform them into typed documents. Transcriptions might include summaries of patient histories and physicals, physician progress notes or reports in specialized areas of medicine, such as surgery, pathology or radiology. An understanding of health records and the protection of confidential information are important elements.

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Medical transcriptionists work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, nursing homes and in public health agencies. Sometimes healthcare professionals outsource their work, which means that some medical transcriptionists may work from home.

What is Required to Become a Medical Transcriptionist in Massachusetts

There are no specific state requirements to work as a medical transcriptionist in Massachusetts. Each employer will instead determine basic requirements necessary to meet their needs. Most, however, will expect a high school diploma or GED, coursework in medical terminology and transcription and at least one year of experience. In medical specialty areas, such as pathology or histology or surgery, sometimes as much as two years of experience is required. Preference is given to those who have completed a certificate, diploma or associate degree program. Certification can sometimes substitute for experience.

Massachusetts Programs in Medical Transcription

Relevant education and training will increase the likelihood of employment. Focus on programs that are approved by the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), provide a broad skill set and include the opportunity to complete an internship.

For distance learning options, AHDI-approved programs include:

Certification for Medical Transcriptionists

While certification is not required for medical transcriptionists in Massachusetts, demonstrating competency through the AHDI could improve job prospects and opportunities for advancement. In fact, some Massachusetts job postings have specifically named certification as a substitute for two to three years of experience.

The AHDI was established to promote the profession, bring attention to the need to ensure competency and accuracy in creating medical records, and to transform the profession’s image from clerical to its current status. To further reflect this change, in 2012, the title “Medical Transcriptionist” was changed to “Healthcare Documentation Specialist.”

Certifications through AHDI include:

  • Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) – For recent graduates and those with fewer than two years of specific clinical experience
  • Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) – For medical transcriptionists with greater than two years of experience in a diverse medical setting

Online courses that help prepare for these credentialing certificates are available.

The Employment Picture in Massachusetts for Medical Transcriptionists

Between 2016 and 2026, the number of job openings for medical transcriptionists in Massachusetts is predicted to decline by roughly 12.3 percent, or to approximately 70 new job openings annually. Nationally, CareerOneStop figures indicate that for the period 2018 to 2028, employment for medical transcriptionists will decrease by 4 percent.

As of May 2018, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that annual earnings for medical transcriptionists nationally averaged $36,350, with an average hourly wage rate of $17.48. In Massachusetts, medical transcriptionists earn on average $36,610 annually, with an hourly rate of $17.60. In the greater Boston, MA, area, hourly rates are higher and average roughly $21. As with any profession, earnings are based on experience, certification and education.

Working as a Medical Transcriptionist in Massachusetts

Medical transcriptionists in Massachusetts are employed in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. In a technology-driven environment that includes the introduction of electronic medical records and speech recognition software and the outsourcing of transcription work to off-site providers, the job outlook for medical transcriptionists will continue to be impacted. Despite these impacts, the industry will continue to need highly skilled and experienced medical transcriptionists to spot and address errors created using new technology, such as speech to text software.