Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in Montana
Medical transcription is a detail-oriented field that is ideal for people with advanced word processing skills and an ear for conversation. If you enjoy working with audio files and editing reports for accuracy and comprehension, then you should consider becoming a medical transcriptionist. You’ll work in a clinic, hospital or other healthcare facility, or even remotely from home as you transcribe audio notes and turn them into patient records and medical reports.
Medical transcriptionists are highly skilled professionals with a diverse set of abilities. They not only type up verbal notes from exams, surgical operations and diagnostic tests, they also edit these reports and ensure all the information is included and correct. Medical transcriptionists translate medical acronyms, drug names and other jargon into understandable English and format the information into the appropriate medical records. As a medical transcriptionist, you’ll be able to seek full-time employment at a local healthcare facility or look for more flexible positions online. While there are only a limited number of positions available within the state of Montana itself, there are many opportunities for remote employees if you don’t mind working from home.
Requirements for Medical Transcriptionists in Montana
There are no education or licensure requirements for medical transcriptionists in Montana. You will be working with sensitive medical information, so you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, have your high school diploma or GED, and be able to pass a background check and drug test.
Medical transcriptionists should have strong listening, computer and word processing skills, a solid grasp of spelling and grammar, and be familiar with medical terminology, acronyms and medications.
Unless you have prior experience working in a medical office, you may find it easier to obtain entry-level employment if you get your associate degree (AS) in a healthcare-related field first. Some medical transcriptionists complete their AS degree in medical information management or medical administration, and then take a short course in medical transcription online to prepare for employment.
Educational Programs in Montana
There are currently no traditional associate degree programs specifically for medical transcriptionists in Montana. You’ll have to get your degree in a related field such as medical administration or information management and complete your training with an online course in medical transcription. If you already have an AS degree or experience working in healthcare, taking a short online program in medical transcribing may be sufficient to secure entry-level employment.
Your options for further education in Montana include:
- Helena College. Part of the University of Montana system, Helena College offers a couple of AS degree programs ideal for future medical transcriptionists. You could get your degree in healthcare administration or become a medical administrative specialist if you prefer. Both programs will prepare you for work in a medical office and give you a foundation in medical terminology, writing and clinic operations. They also offer a certification program for medical transcription that can be completed online via a partnership with ed2go.com in as little as six weeks.
- Great Falls College. Also a member of the University of Montana system, Great Falls offers an AS program in Health Information Technology that can lead to working as a medical transcriptionist. You will learn about medical terminology, data systems management, clinic and hospital operations, human disease processes and how to maintain online medical records. They also offer a certification course in medical transcription online via ed2go.com.
Professional Certification for Medical Transcriptionists
Many medical transcriptionists gain professional certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Once you’ve passed the multiple choice and transcription tests, you’ll be certified for three years. To maintain your certification, you’ll have to go through the recertification course and retake the final exam prior to your certification lapsing.
If you are a new transcriptionist with less than two years of experience or one who works in a single-specialty environment, you can become certified as a Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS). More experienced transcriptionists and those working in a multiple-specialty facility can take the exam to become a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS).
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 180 medical transcriptionists employed in Montana in 2018. They reported an average wage of $14.96 per hour or about $31,120 annually. This is lower than the national average of $16.72 per hour or $34,770 a year for full-time employment as a medical transcriptionist.
Medical transcription is changing rapidly as new technologies get integrated into healthcare systems. Overall, the field is shrinking, and there are fewer positions available each year nationally. Montana is one of the few states where the field of medical transcription is growing, albeit only slightly. It is estimated that Montana will see an increase of 2.6 percent over the next six years. The state currently has about 50 openings a year for medical transcriptionists, so you have a good chance of finding a local position if you want one.
Working as a Medical Transcriptionist in Montana
Medical transcriptionists will continue to be in demand as medical information is modernized and goes online. These skilled professionals are an integral part of the healthcare system, and you can often find positions available with large healthcare providers like Benefis, Saint Peter’s or the Community Medical Center in Missoula. While there may not be a huge number of employers within the state of Montana, if you have a good Internet connection you could always look for a remote position instead. As technology evolves, more of these jobs are offered online rather than in a traditional office or clinic setting. You won’t be limited to working for a local physician or hospital, so this career offers a lot of options and flexibility for the right person.