Healthcare Documentation Specialist
Physicians as well as other healthcare delivery personnel utilize digital recording devices to dictate reports that document the care provided for each patient. The healthcare documentation specialist (medical transcriptionist) accurately transcribes the spoken/recorded word into a written document. They also edit reports generated by speech recognition technology systems. Speech-recognition editing is becoming prevalent in the industry. Because of the nature and content of medical reports, they are highly confidential and considered to be medicolegal documents. These documents become part of the patient's permanent medical record. They must be handled with the utmost discretion, integrity, and care.
With the continuous development of new medications, new surgical procedures, and new treatment modalities, healthcare documentation specialist is a career in which there is an ongoing learning process. Whether performing traditional medical transcription or speech editing, this career choice is a challenging, exciting, and rewarding option that offers flexibility in employment and work schedule including work-at-home opportunities after sufficient experience is gained.
Full-time students entering the Roane State Healthcare Documentation Program may complete all coursework in either two or three semesters (9 to 12 months). Part-time students may complete the program in four or more semesters. The program is designed to provide the student with the necessary knowledge and expertise to be successful as a healthcare documentation specialist performing traditional medical transcription or speech editing. The clinical practicum experience provides additional hands-on experience and exposure to the work environment. A variety of flexible class scheduling options is available including online classes (see class scheduling options). Graduates receive a Healthcare Documentation Specialist Program Certificate of Completion.
Traditional Healthcare Documentation Specialist Program courses are taught at the Oak Ridge Branch Campus. The entire program is also offered online.
The Healthcare Documentation Specialist Program is approved by the Approval Committee for Certificate Programs (ACCP), a committee established by AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity); 4230 Kiernan Avenue, Suite 130, Modesto, CA 95356; 1-800-982-2182 x2456; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ahdionline.org.
Training, Knowledge & Skill Requirements
- Medical language: The healthcare documentation specialist must have extensive knowledge of medical terminology and anatomy and physiology. Knowledge of pharmaceuticals and drug terminology is also required. Our program provides a study of the necessary medical language.
- Computer/word processing: The successful healthcare documentation specialist must be proficient in computer/word processing concepts. While the RSCC HCDS student must have basic computer/word processing skills upon entering the program, technology-related courses that teach computer/word processing functions unique to the field of medical transcription and speech-recognition editing are part of our curriculum.
- Grammar and punctuation: Knowledge of the rules of grammar and punctuation and editing skills are required. Our coursework provides a review of the rules of grammar and punctuation. Editing techniques are also learned.
- Acute hearing/listening skills: Acute hearing and the ability to distinguish discrete sounds while listening to dictated reports are imperative. To a degree the skill of hearing discrete sounds may be acquired with practice and hearing the same medical terms and phrases repeatedly. However, acute hearing is essential to be able to “learn” to discern utterances that may in the beginning sound nothing like the words actually being dictated. The ability to “listen” and accurately interpret the sounds being heard is essential -- if the HCDS cannot hear what is being dictated, then he or she will not be able to transcribe or edit the report accurately. Examples of when hearing/listening skills are of the utmost importance would be when transcribing reports of the physician who speaks very fast and when transcribing for the physician who speaks English as a second language. Good listening/hearing may be something that most of us take for granted; however, learning medical transcription and speech-recognition editing will be much easier for the student who has a keen sense of hearing and the ability to discern discrete sounds.
- Spelling skills: Accuracy in spelling is also extremely important. While English and medical spell checkers do have a place, they are not recommended in the first semester. The medical transcriptionist/editor simply must have good spelling skills. Focus will be placed on learning to spell medical terms, names of drugs, surgical instruments, etc.
- Traditional Employment Opportunities
- Hospitals: Medical transcriptionists and speech-recognition editors are employed in several areas within the hospital setting including the health information management department, radiology/diagnostic imaging, pathology, and other ancillary departments.
- Medical Office: Physicians’ offices
- Transcription Services: Medical Transcription Services provide additional employment opportunities.
- Work-At-Home Opportunities
Work-at-home opportunities certainly do exist. However, it is recommended that the HCDS accept an at-home position ONLY after sufficient experience is obtained. (Generally one to three years of experience in a broad-based setting such as a hospital health information management department or a transcription service is recommended.) A new graduate should only accept an at-home position if the facility or company is willing to provide online support and mentorship for an extended period of time.
- Medical facilities: Many facilities, especially hospitals, employ transcriptionists and speech editors to work out of the home.
- Transcription Services: Medical Transcription Services provide additional work-at-home employment opportunities.
Salary is very much dependent on the individual employer, location, and productivity. Many employers pay an hourly rate and then add incentive pay for work produced over and above productivity standards. Also, most online medical transcription services typically pay by the line, and they begin at a rate that is commensurate with the level of experience. A recent graduate would anticipate beginning at a rate lower than an experienced medical transcriptionist. For these reasons, salary varies greatly.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics, provided the following information in 2012:
"Medical transcriptionists had median hourly earnings of $16.36, May 2012. The mean annual salary was reported at $34,020."
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, 2013 Research and Statistics for the Knoxville Metropolitan area lists the median annual earnings of medical transcriptionists as $31,930.
Because of the variables mentioned above, pay rates may be higher or lower than the rates quoted above.
For more information on being a Healthcare Documentation Specialist as a career choice, please visit the following web sites:
HCDS Admissions Information
HCDS Admission Information
HCDS Pre-Admission Exam Information/Registration
Applications Required for the HCDS Program
RSCC Application Link - Steps 1 and 2 are required for admission to the College and Allied Health Sciences programs
Allied Health Sciences Application Information
Roane State Tuition & Fees
All tuition and fees are subject to change by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
* Program courses that are taken in an online format are subject to a distance education fee. A Specialized Allied Health Science Fee of $25 per credit hour will be applied to all Allied Health Science courses. See Tuition and Fees link above.
Books, Supplies and Additional Program Expenses
Visit the bookstore for book titles and prices)
- Physical Exam and immunizations: (cost may vary) $150
- Liability insurance $15
- Books & Supplies (approximate cost) $900
- Voice Files $350 (fees may be provided; ask program director for verification)
- Criminal background check (if required) $45
- Drug Screen (if required) $31
Total additional cost $1,460 (approximately)
Online Course Option
Our online courses have been developed for student convenience. While this option will work well for some students, learning in this format is not for everyone. All classes require discipline; however, taking online classes requires more self-discipline and independence than traditional classroom courses. While an instructor will be available via e-mail to answer questions (asking questions is encouraged), the online student must be able to function fairly independently.
Benefits of Online Courses
- Convenience: Students choosing the online course option benefit from being able to do all coursework at their convenience. However, assignment due dates will be established and must be adhered to.
- Online assistance: Instructors assist by answering questions via e-mail and our MTClient software.
Online medical transcription course eligibility
The following criteria are recommended for online healthcare documentation courses.
- A score of at least 90 on the dictation portion of the MDT preadmission test is recommended.
- A typing speed of At least 45 wpm on the typing portion of the MDT preadmission test.
- A composite score of at least 90 on the MDT preadmission test.
- Internet/e-mail access from home.
- Provide the necessary equipment to work at home (see computer specifications)
Computer Specifications, Equipment and Internet Access
- Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer
- Microsoft Word 2010 (Word trial versions, Word Pad and Microsoft Works are not compatible.)
- Foot Pedal. You will need to purchase a special foot pedal for your computer. This foot pedal will enable you to access the dictation voice files (wave files). Once you are accepted into the program, information will be provided on purchasing the foot pedal.
- Headset. The other item you will need to purchase is a headset. Once you are accepted into the program, information will be provided on purchasing the headset.
- The student must have internet/e-mail access from home computer.
Faculty & Staff
Click above for email address
Allied Health Sciences and Nursing Admissions Coordinator
Oak Ridge Branch Campus, B-105
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