Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist in Oregon

If you have great word processing skills, a background in medical terminology and strong listening abilities, you may want to consider a career as a medical transcriptionist. Medical transcriptionists transform voice recordings into written documents for doctors’ offices and healthcare facilities. These documents become a permanent part of a patient’s medical record, so accuracy and attention to detail are key requirements for medical transcriptionists.

As a medical transcriptionist you’ll be working with audio files that may include notes from physical exams, medical procedures and diagnostic tests such as blood work or radiographs. You’ll transcribe and convert this information into a document, translating the medical acronyms and drug names into their extended forms and identifying any inconsistencies or missing information. Medical transcriptionists in Oregon are typically employed full-time and work directly for a healthcare provider, although there are more flexible positions available online if you prefer to work from home.

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Requirements for Medical Transcriptionists in Oregon

There are no education or licensure requirements for medical transcriptionists in Oregon. Since you’ll be working with sensitive and private medical information, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and be able to pass a background check and drug test.

Most positions require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, but preference is frequently given to candidates who have an associate degree in a related field. You 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.

Educational Programs in Oregon

There are currently no traditional in-state programs specifically for medical transcriptionists in Oregon, so you will have to complete your education online or get your degree in a related field such as biology, medical assisting or medical information management. While advanced education is not required for medical transcriptionists, it is highly desired by many employers. If you already have a background in healthcare, taking a short certification course in medical transcribing may be sufficient to secure employment.

Your options for further education in Oregon include:

  • Portland Community College (PCC). PCC offers both certificate-only courses and degree programs ideal for future medical transcriptionists. Their Health Information Management degree covers all the topics needed for transcribing medical records and includes practical clinic experience along with online lectures and laboratory courses. They also offer certification programs for medical transcription and in medical terminology that can be completed online in as little as six week via a partnership with ed2go.com.
  • Central Oregon Community College (COCC). COCC has a broad Health Information Management (HIM) program that is designed to introduce students to all aspects of the field. You’ll learn about computer systems and programs used in medical facilities, record keeping, medical coding and billing, and human relations and communications in healthcare. They offer both certification courses and degree programs, or you can take their short medical transcription course online via ed2go.com.
  • Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC). Located in Pendleton, BMCC offers an associate degree for administrative office professionals who work in medical fields. This two-year program is focused on the specialized skills needed for medical office assistants and transcriptionists. You’ll learn about medical terminology and writing styles, business accounting, computer systems and database management, and how to use transcription equipment to produce medical documents.

Professional Certification for Medical Transcriptionists

One way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers is to obtain professional certification through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Once you’ve passed the examination, you’ll be certified for three years. To maintain your certification you’ll have to take the recertification course and pass the final exam again.

AHDI offers two levels of certification for medical transcriptionists. For transcriptionists with less than two years’ experience or those working in a single-specialty environment, they offer a certification 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 1140 medical transcriptionists working in Oregon in 2018. They reported an average wage of $18.88 per hour or about $39,270 annually. This is higher than the national average of $16.72 per hour or $34,770 a year for full-time employment in this field.

Nationally, the field of medical transcription is contracting as new technologies make the process easier and more automated. It is expected that the number of new positions in Oregon will continue to decrease by 5.2 percent over the next six years. This is still a good career option, however, since there are about 130 job openings a year across the state and opportunities to work nationwide via the Internet.

Working as a Medical Transcriptionist in Oregon

Medical transcriptionists are usually employed by healthcare facilities or agencies that contract with healthcare providers. In Oregon, you may find medical transcriptionists in doctor and dentist offices, in hospitals and working for local insurance companies such as Moda Health. The presence of large research facilities like Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) ensures there will always be a demand for experienced medical transcriptionists in the state. Whether you want to work full-time in a physician’s office or flexible hours from home, this career path offers a lot of opportunities.