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Job requires discipline but can be rewarding

At-home medical transcription popular profession

JACKSON — Over the years, the role a medical transcriptionist plays in the workforce has changed a lot.

What used to be done in clinical and hospital settings for doctors can now be done on the other side of the world, thanks to technological advances. The field has become a much sought after one for stay-at-home moms and others who want to be their own boss.

In the Jackson area alone, there are several national transcription companies, as well as individual contractors who work from their homes. There are also several smaller transcription companies run by individuals in the Jackson area.

Hinds Community College is one school currently considering the feasibility of adding a medical transcription program.

“We feel like that’s an area that would be a very big need out there,” said Gloria Coxwell, assistant dean of the nursing allied health center and the director of the associate degree nursing program. “There seems to be a really good job market for medical transcriptionists.”

Although the talk of the new program at Hinds is only preliminary at this point in time, the program will likely be two semesters plus one summer course depending on how much coursework a person has previously completed.

Hinds currently has a health information technology program which encompasses much more than merely medical transcription. That program covers the entire gamut of the health information technology field, including coding, transcribing, ethics, anatomy and physiology, general academics, medical terminology and health information technology, among other things. Students interested in pursuing a degree in medical health or medical records can take a test for certification in one field or the other, according to Christy Bokros, assistant dean of the nursing allied health center. Those interested in being medical transcriptionists can either go straight to work for themselves or others or may opt to take a test and then go to work.

Medical transcription, although a field one can study for in the comfort of their own home, is a highly skilled profession.

“It’s kind of hard for someone to study for it with a book at home, but I suppose it’s possible,” Coxwell said.

Kathy Merchant, a registered health information technologist, is manager of the MedQuist Jackson client service center, a medical transcription company whose headquarters is located in Marlton, NJ.

MedQuist offers training and testing on-site, and, according to Merchant, at least 80% of those who have trained and tested at MedQuist are now successful professionals.

“The only negative I see really is it’s not for everybody. A lot of transcriptionists come to us and take our test and train and get frustrated with the long-distance relationship. Some people aren’t disciplined enough to do this.”

On the other hand, for those who are disciplined enough for the job, it can be a great way to work.

“It is a real positive employment opportunity for a lot of people who are wanting to work at home,” Merchant said.

Sandy Canipe, of Ridgeland, is one person who agrees that medical transcription is a great line of work.

“It was a job of choice to work at home,” said Canipe, the 34-year-old mother of an 18-month-old boy.

Canipe, who has worked for Lyon & Company Inc. as a medical transcriptionist for about a year, found the job easy to pick up.

“I trained for court reporting so I had some medical background. It wasn’t too difficult,” she said.

Medical transcription can also be a great paying job. Full-time transcriptionists can earn as much as $32,000 a year, depending on their production.

MedQuist currently employs 8,000 transcriptionists, on salary or contract, all over the U.S. and has more than 70 offices nationwide. Most of those employed by MedQuist are individual contractors who provide services from their homes.

By using digital dictation systems, medical transcriptionists are able to dial in, listen to the doctor they transcribe for and then, when they have finished their documents, electronically transmit them to their specific MedQuist office where they are finally processed through a quality area.

Recently, the Netherlands-based Philips Electronics company paid $1.2 billion to acquire 60% of MedQuist’s shares. Philips, a leader in voice recognition technology will probably drastically change the medical transcriptionist’s job over the next five to 10 years.

And although Merchant believes the medical transcribing will not be altogether eliminated by the advancement in technology, she does believe typing documents word for word will become an editing process for transcriptionists.

MedQuist has 2,300 clients nationwide. They have partnered with WebMD to provide medical transcription services to their members.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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