Work From Home: Medical Transcription

Updated post (2014) can be found here.
I get lots of questions about my job. I think most mommies would work from home if they could but it’s hard to find a legit work-at-home gig. I knew before we had our daughter that I wanted to be at home but there was no way we could cut out an entire income. I don’t even remember how I learned about medical transcription but it sounded like something I would be interested in and I knew that I could do it from home so the information search began.

My previous job was as a pharmacy technician so I was already familiar with some medical terminology and I took a course from Career Step. I chose them because they are 1 of 3 accredited schools in this industry and, honestly, because they were a little bit less expensive than the other 2. I also liked the fact that they are partnered with several companies who test and hire their graduates. Built-in job placement was very important to me. I didn’t want to spend the money and complete the program only to find myself without work. Another big perk for me was that the program is self-paced. Reports are that you can finish in 3-12 months depending on how much time you can devote to studying. I was still working full time so my goal was to finish in a year. It took me a little longer than planned because of such a difficult pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. That’s a story for another day. 🙂
Training & Job Hunting
With Career Step, all of your tests are completed and tracked online. You have the option to purchase textbook materials but everything you need is accessible via the website. Besides, if you are going to be working from home on your computer, you might as well get used to doing just that. You will learn typing, medical grammer, medical terminology, formatting, and finally move into actually transcribing. I graduated from Career Step with High Honors, which is the highest certification you can receive from them. They helped me prepare my resume and gave me information on certain companies that I was interested in. I had a job within a month of receiving my certification. Yay!
Companies & Options
There are tons of different medical transcription companies out there but you just have to find one that is the right fit for you. Basically, they contract the work from doctor’s offices and hospitals and then delegate the work out to their employees. With this job, you can choose to work from home or inside a clinical setting. Most hospitals will have some in-house transcriptionists but a lot of the work gets outsourced. Same thing goes for doctors offices.
Working From Home, Hours & Benefits
When you work from home, doctors will dictate into a digital recorder and those files are uploaded to an FTP server or emailed directly to the transcriptionist. After the work is completed, you either upload it to their server or email it back in a Word document. The schedule is also going depend on who you work for. Some companies want you to work specific hours while others will give you a Turn A Round Time. For me, a TAT works best. In this scenario, I can work whenever I want as long as my work is completed within a certain time frame (usually 24 hours). There are some companies who offer benefits if you work full-time hours. I typically only work about 15 hours a week so that isn’t something I have looked into a whole lot but it is out there.
The Learning Curve
With any job, there is going to be an adjustment period. First, you have to learn the specifics of your account including what kind of format(s) they want. Also, if it is a specialty, you will need to learn all the terminology associated with that account. Initially, you will spend a lot of time researching to verify all the terms but once you know them things will go a lot faster. On my very 1st account it took me about 4-6 months until I felt really comfortable and then I was flying through my work.
Tricks of The Trade
The one thing I can not live without is my text expander. This helps me to type faster and more accurately because there are lots of common phrases used in medical settings and really long, difficult words to spell. For example, for an examination, a doctor might dictate “pupils are equal, round, and reactive to light.” With my expander I only have to type a few letters (first of each word) and it will type out the entire phrase for me. I type PAERARTL and it spells out the entire phrase. Also, doctors say “the patient” A LOT! I can type 2 letters (TP) rather than 11 and get the same thing. Let’s also look at the word “triglycerides.” When I first started, I would always mix up the “i” and “y”. Granted, my spell check would catch this for me but the expander helps me to get it right the first time. I type TG and it spells it out (correctly). I’m telling you. This one piece of software (Instant Text) has been a lifesaver!
Salary & Taxes
Most transcription work is paid on production rather than by the hour. Work is calculated by lines (65 characters including spaces). Starting pay in the industry is anywhere from $0.06-$0.08 per line. I have done some transcription work that is by the hour but that is pretty rare. Most medical transcriptionists are considered Independent Contractors, which means that you are basically your own boss. Even if you work “for” a company they are really just contracting the work out to you. This also means that they will not withhold any taxes from your check. You will be responsible for that come April 15th. It also means that you can deduct all sorts of business expenses including the part of your home that you use for an office. In our case, because I only work part time, my taxes have never been so much that my husband’s withholdings haven’t covered it.

Longevity & Flexibility
One of the things that appealed to be about medical transcription is the long-term job security. I’ve been doing this for a little over 3 years and I don’t see anything changing in the near future. The healthcare industry is growing like crazy, which is good. The other thing I love about MT is how flexible it has been for our family. I work WHENever and WHEREver. I’ve been able to stay home with The Little Girl during these precious preschool years and that means more to me than anything. Besides, working in your PJs isn’t half bad. 🙂
Getting Started
If you want more information, simply request a free information packet. If you choose to enroll, let them know that I referred you and you’ll receive a tuition discount. This is just another way that Career Step continues to support their graduates.

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