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AHDI Track

National Medical Transcriptionist Week: Why We Celebrate

It hardly seems possible that our calendar pages have fallen off so quickly for us to have just celebrated National Medical Transcriptionist Week May 16-21.

Back in May of 1985, the House Joint Resolution 332 declared National Medical Transcriptionist Week, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan. The wording of this resolution gave a brief description of the importance of MTs in the performance of their jobs:

    • Whereas complete and accurate medical records are of vital importance to quality health care;

    • Whereas the medical transcriptionist is instrumental in transcribing medical dictation detailing a patient's health care during an illness or injury;

    • Whereas the medical transcriptionist is an indispensable assistant to physicians and surgeons;

    • Whereas there is a lack of awareness of the job performed by a medical transcriptionist; and

    • Whereas there is a shortage of trained medical transcriptionists:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the week beginning May 20, 1985, hereby is designated "National Medical Transcriptionist Week" and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

See the actual proclamation here.

With our critical role in the healthcare field as medical transcriptionists, we strive for an accurate and concise interpretation of the spoken word into the documentation needed to record a patient's health history. Recognition for those individuals who provide such a valuable service and have one of the most unique jobs in health care is cause for celebration during this week designated in May.

Since this proclamation, we have seen many changes to our sector including a change in the name of our professional association from AAMT (American Association for Medical Transcription) to AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity), which has broadened the scope and description of our jobs as healthcare documentation specialists. In addition, AHDI has helped us to identify new roles in the healthcare documentation arena and is making it easier to advance into positions needed in our field, which may include billing, coding, quality assurance and security of healthcare information.

We no longer provide only traditional medical transcription that has been our mainstay throughout MT history but in many cases have incorporated speech recognition technology (SRT), providing editing of text documents created by innovative speech recognition software platforms. SRT-generated documents utilize MT knowledge and skill in much the same way as traditional medical transcription had, but with the advent of a faster and more ergonomically friendly way to produce the documentation without the relentless "pounding" of the keyboards as in our past.

With the advent of digital dictation systems, websites and sophisticated software systems linked to electronic health record systems, now the documentation we complete can be made available almost instantly into the patient's record through these systems. Technology has continued to position our industry as a "green" profession, alleviating the commute to a brick-and-mortar facility and the need to transport documents and dictation media through the slow and arduous ways as in the past.

Because of the innovation and great strides made in technology for MTs, it also means our workforce is more independent and self-sufficient, with increased computer skills, greater expertise in reference and research, and more opportunities for MTs to provide better service and faster turnaround times.

With all these changes and the fast-paced world that we live and work in, celebrations such as MT Week may get lost in the frenzy. It is important that everyone take a moment to acknowledge the significant role that an interpretive, skilled, knowledgeable MT has in the performance of healthcare documentation. Let us not forget how a group of MTs felt so strongly that this important contribution not fade away or fail to be recognized that they asked our legislators to identify the importance of our jobs and our contributions to this industry, and that it be shared with everyone through the writing of a piece of legislation. This has resonated throughout the years (and will continue to do so in years to come) as it speaks to who we are and anchors us to the patient's health story.

To quote President Ronald Reagan in his letter of support for National Medical Transcriptionist Week, he stated:

"It is appropriate for our Nation to recognize the contributions of medical transcriptionists. We should encourage hospitals, allied health education programs, and community colleges to provide appropriate courses of instruction recognizing the high standards that must be met by medical transcriptionists and the vital function they perform."

With such a proclamation, we have a great many reasons to celebrate!

Harriet R. Stewart is currently serving on the AHDI Board of Directors (2008-2011) and is a full-time instructor for MTEC. She has been a medical transcription educator for nearly 20 years and a medical transcriptionist for 34 years.

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