Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in Maine
Becoming a medical transcriptionist is a good way to combine a foundation in medical terminology, exceptional English language and editing skills, and accuracy in keyboarding with a desire to work in partnership with clinicians within the healthcare field. In Maine, while it is not essential to have a degree to be hired as a medical transcriptionist, earning certification as a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) or Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) will help set you apart in the job market. Enrolling in an accredited training program is a recommended first step.
The job of a medical transcriptionist, who is sometimes known as a healthcare document specialist, medical language specialist or simply a medical transcriber, is to listen to audio recordings made by a healthcare provider, most often following a patient visit, and create a typed record. It is essential that this record accurately represent a patient’s history and progress, so attention to detail is critical.
Typically, medical transcriptionists work in hospitals and clinics, medical offices and residential facilities such as nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Sometimes medical transcriptionists work from home. Increasingly, however, their work is being outsourced, sometimes outside the United States.
Requirements for a Medical Transcriptionist in Maine
There are no state requirements to work as a medical transcriptionist in Maine. An employer will instead decide what skills and training are needed to be successful. While some healthcare facilities will provide some on-the-job training, it is often assumed that the medical transcriptionist already has a basic knowledge of medical terminology and medical science.
In Maine, employers hire medical transcriptionists who have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. For entry-level positions, coursework in medical terminology and transcription and at least one year of experience are required. In medical specialty areas such as acute care, however, sometimes as much as three to five years of experience is expected. Skills in editing text are always a plus. Hiring preference is often given to those who have completed a certificate program.
Programs Leading to Competency in Medical Transcription
The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) is a professional body whose mission is to ensure competency among entry-level medical transcriptionists by establishing educational and training standards and providing accreditation for those programs that meet these quality standards. As such, the AHDI has approved a number of distance-learning options. Listed are those programs that are currently accepting new students:
- American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group
- CanScribe Career College
- Everett Community College
- Richland Community College
Improving Prospects Through Certification as a Medical Transcriptionist
While Maine does not require certification for medical transcriptionists, many employers want it. Not only does proof of certification through the AHDI reflect an established level of proficiency, it can also provide a competitive edge when negotiating salary or seeking promotional opportunities.
To demonstrate competency as a medical transcriptionist, the AHDI has two test-based certifications available:
- Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS). This credential is for recent graduates of medical transcription programs and those having fewer than two years of experience in acute care.
- Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS). This certification is for medical transcriptionists having more than two years of experience transcribing in a variety of clinical specialties or in acute care.
Employment Outlook in Maine for Medical Transcriptionists
Nationwide, the employment picture for medical transcriptionists for the period 2018 to 2028 is expected to drop by four percent, according to CareerOneStop figures. In Maine for the period 2016 to 2026, the number of job openings for medical transcriptionists will remain relatively stable, predicted to decline by only one percent.
In a report dated May 2018, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that annual earnings for medical transcriptionists nationally averaged $36,350, with an average hourly wage rate of $17.48. In Maine, salaries are similar to the national figures, with earnings averaging $35,710 annually or $17.17 per hour.
Finding Employment as a Medical Transcriptionist in Maine
Employment opportunities for medical transcriptionists in Maine are primarily in hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices. Most employment is found in the southern part of the state where the population is more densely concentrated.
While it is true that the profession is facing many challenges as its workforce is impacted due to outsourcing, the implementation of electronic medical records, and the introduction of voice-to-text editing software, there will remain a need for skilled medical transcriptionists, particularly as Maine’s population ages and demand for healthcare services increases. Available jobs already reflect the impact of technological change on the profession, as employers seek those having specific high-level skills such as document editing and management.