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What Kind of Equipment Does a Medical Transcriptionist Use?

Question:
I am thinking of becoming a medical transcriptionist, but since I plan to work from home, I would first like to know what equipment I will need. I already have a computer that is pretty reliable, but I think I will need more than just that. Can you give me a list? Thanks for the help. Jackie

Medical Transcription

Answer:
Jackie, a computer is obviously the first place to start! Of course, you will need other equipment, but it seems that the more technology advances, the less physical equipment medical transcriptionists need.

When I first started out, our doctors used cassette tapes. Every day, I drove to their office and picked up the tapes. After I finished transcribing the dictation, I printed out all the reports and drove back to the office to deliver them and pick up another tape. As you can imagine, there are several problems with this method, most importantly that cassette tapes can get broken or lost or fall into the wrong hands! And, I wasn't fond of all that driving, either.

Thankfully, the way I receive the dictation now is through digital files. The doctor's office downloads them from the doctors' recorders and they email them to me. I download them and complete the work, and email the work back to the doctor, always using special software for privacy.

In addition, there is other equipment you will need to have. Here is a short list of what is in my office.

1) A very comfortable task chair. My chair has adjustable arms so that my wrists and hands are level with the keyboard. Also, I have the seat in a position so that my right foot is where I need it for comfortable use of the foot pedal. Here is a great article from the Division of Occupational Health and Safety entitled Ergonomics for Computer Workstations that you might find helpful.

2) A foot pedal with the proper plugs and connectors. Since you don't yet know which company you will be working for, it would be best to purchase a foot pedal that has the best capability to work with different file formats. There are many different types of connectors and plugs, so you should get the most versatile one that you can afford.

3) Medical reference books. You can't do this job without great resources. Up-to-date medical dictionaries and prescription reference books are invaluable. When shopping for these items, look for the ones that have CDs available as these are often easier to use and update.

4) Medical transcription software. Your online medical transcription course will usually provide you with transcription software, but this probably only works with their particular course. When you begin working for a company, they will also provide you with their own transcription software unless they require that you use your own, such as MS Word. Another type of software you might want to purchase is medical transcription shortcut software. Shortcuts are already built in; all you have to do is learn them. And, shortcuts are one of the best ways to increase your speed and thus your income. You can read more about medical transcription software in one of my other answers.

Obviously, a computer with high-speed internet access is a must. And, there is always the possibility that the medical transcription school you choose could provide you with most of the equipment you will need. Keep in mind also that a company you go to work for might provide some equipment that is specific to their company, like copyrighted software and corresponding foot pedal.

My suggestion is to wait until you have enrolled in your course and decide what you need to purchase after you find out what they provide for you.

Thanks for the great question!

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