Become a Medical Transcriptionist in Louisiana - LA
Louisiana Medical Transcription Training Programs
Becoming a medical transcriptionist in Louisiana is an excellent option for those with an interest in pursuing a career in health care. Employment opportunities for skilled medical transcriptionists are promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national demand for medical transcriptionists will increase by 11 percent between 2008 and 2018. Growth in this health care occupation will be driven in part by the aging of the American population, which will increase demand for medical services in general, as well as by such factors as the shift towards digitization and standardization of medical records. The need for medical transcriptionists will likely be even more intense in Louisiana, which is currently suffering from a critical shortage of health care professionals, including transcriptionists.
Most of the current need for transcription services in Louisiana is in rural areas and in the state’s major cities, including New Orleans. However, the nature of medical transcription work makes it ideal both for self-employment opportunities and for telecommuting. Therefore, Louisiana transcriptionists can live in one area of the state and perform transcription work for health care providers in another part of the state by working remotely as long as they have an internet connection and access to the required equipment, including a computer, a medical transcriber—a cassette recorder generally outfitted with a digitized foot pedal—and a headset.
Medical transcriptionists need to have a firm knowledge of medical terminology and excellent spelling, grammar, and typing skills. Louisiana does not require medical transcriptionists to obtain a license or to be certified in order to work for health care providers and facilities within the state. However, medical transcriptionists who obtain certification will have more employment opportunities and earn higher salaries. The best way to prepare for a career as a medical transcriptionist is to complete an associate’s degree or certificate program in medical transcription. There are a variety of programs for medical transcription training in Louisiana, especially through an online format. Whether or not an aspiring transcriptionist decides to take a course to develop transcription skills, it is a good idea to obtain work experience in a medical office so as to gain familiarity with medical terminology and see first-hand what medical transcriptionists do and how they work.
Medical transcriptionists who want to make themselves more attractive to employers and market themselves as certified transcriptionists can seek certification from the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). The AHDI offers two forms of certification, the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) credential and the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) credential. RMT certification is awarded to entry-level medical transcriptionists, while CMT certification is reserved for transcriptionists with more extensive experience. Certification is conferred upon passage of AHDI’s certification exam for each credential. There are no specific educational requirements to take AHDI’s certification exams or to obtain certification, although those seeking the CMT credential should have two years of transcription experience in an acute care or multi-specialty medical environment or the equivalent.
AHDI strongly recommends that those planning a career in medical transcription pursue a course of study leading to a degree or professional certificate. To that end, AHDI maintains a list of schools offering approved medical transcription courses that meet the requirements set forth in AHDI’ Model Curriculum for Medical Transcription Courses. The list of approved schools, as well as the Model Curriculum, can be accessed at AHDI’s website which can be found at www.ahdionline.org.
Medical transcriptionists with fewer than two years of transcription experience should take the RMT certification exam in order to become an AHDI-certified RMT. A medical transcriptionist with two or more years of transcription experience in an acute care or multi-specialty setting or the equivalent should take the CMT certification exam in order to become a CMT. Candidates for either exam must download an application from AHDI’s website and submit it to AHDI by email, fax, or regular mail, along with a $10 application fee.
Within two weeks of receiving the application form, candidates will receive a letter known as an “Authorization to Test” which will provide instructions for scheduling an exam date with Prometric, an independent testing agency that administers the exams. Examination fees must be paid directly to Prometric at the time the candidate schedules his or her test date. Applicable fees for the RMT exam are $175 for AHDI members and $200 for nonmembers. AHDI members pay $195 to take the CMT exam, while nonmembers pay $275. Applications must take the exam before the expiration of the 90-day period following their receipt of the letter from AHDI authorizing them to take the exam.
Both tests may be taken year round at one of Prometric’s many testing centers. In Louisiana, Prometric operates testing centers in New Orleans/ Metairie, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, and Shreveport. Test results are provided immediately after test completion. Candidates who fail an AHDI certification test must wait six months to retake it.
Both exams are timed, computerized, and divided into two parts. The first section contains multiple-choice knowledge questions, which test the applicant’s knowledge of medical language and terminology, understanding of spelling, grammar, and language usage, and important managerial, ethical, and medico-legal issues inherent in the maintenance and handling of health care records. The second section is performance-based and requires the test-taker to transcribe, proofread, and edit short audio clips of actual medical dictation. For the performance portion of the test, examinees are provided with headphones and a WAV player that is operated with a mouse rather than a digital foot pedal. Test takers may not use electronic aids such as spell checkers and abbreviation expanders and from consulting reference materials of any kind.
The RMT exam is four hours long, and the CMT is five hours long. Test takers are shown a 15 minute tutorial before the exam and are given a 15-minute break between the two sections of the exam. Thus, RMT examinees should expect to spend at least four-and-a-half hours in the testing center, and CMT examinees should expect to spend a bare minimum of five-and-a-half hours in the testing center.
AHDI certification is good for three years. RMTs will generally want to seek CMT certification after the expiration of their RMT certification. CMTs can renew their certification by completing 30 hours of continuing education.