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What is Medical Transcriptionist Certification?

By K. Testa
Updated May 17, 2024
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Medical transcriptionist certification is a way for someone to document his or her medical transcription training. While formal certification is not always mandated to obtain a job in the field, many employers require either certification or a degree in medical transcription; certification also offers more potential for better job opportunities and a higher salary. In the United States, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) administers exams leading to one of two certification levels: Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) and Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT).

The primary responsibility of a medical transcriptionist is to transcribe patient notes as dictated by a physician or other medical professional, into written records. Typically, the job requires excellent attention to detail, the ability to work quickly, and an advanced level of proficiency with modern technology. A transcriptionist must also be familiar with medical treatments and procedures as well as relevant legal terms. He or she might work for a medical transcription company, for a doctor’s office, in a hospital, or at home as an independent contractor.

Most medical transcriptionists are required to complete a degree program. In the US, AHDI has published a list of its approved transcription schools. A certificate of completion from one of these schools may be required in order to pursue medical transcriptionist certification as an RMT or a CMT in the US. There also are AHDI testing centers around the world that offer both the RMT and the CMT exams for eligible individuals.

Compared to the CMT, the RMT designation is a relatively new type of medical transcriptionist certification. It is intended for entry-level professionals who have completed a degree program and who have less than two years of experience. Practitioners in so-called single-specialty environments, such as private practice or radiology, for example, are also encouraged to pursue RMT certification. The RMT is valid for three years; it must then be renewed either by re-taking the certification exam or by completing a re-credentialing course.

The next level of medical transcriptionist certification carries the designation of CMT. In addition to having a degree, candidates for the CMT exam must also have worked in an acute care or multi-specialty environment for at least two years. Like the RMT, the CMT designation is valid for three years. It may be renewed by completing certain continuing education courses.

There are several advantages to having medical transcriptionist certification. As is the case with other similar occupations, certification can open doors to more advanced professional opportunities. Eventually, formal certification may be required for certain positions, and it can help confirm someone’s level of experience if he or she wants to start a business. Furthermore, certification can help address concerns about breaches of privacy and incompetence in the field; one of the main objectives of medical transcriptionist certification is to ensure that confidentiality is maintained and that records are completed accurately and with discretion.

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