Professional Medical Transcription Supplies

What Supplies Does A Working Transcriptionist Need?

As a transcriptionist working remotely from home, it will be your responsibility to purchase and maintain your own equipment and software necessary to do the job. However, be wary of any company that requires you to purchase their proprietary equipment or special software up front, especially if they do not guarantee you will get work. Any company that has software that is specific to only their company will provide it for free and should not ask you to pay for it

Required Medical Transcription Supplies

The following 5 items are required to work as a medical transcriptionist from home.  It is our opinion that working that these 5 essentials are non-negotiable when it comes to performing this job.

1) A Modern Computer

You will need have good quality computer before you begin your training. If you don't already have a reliable computer at home, I suggest making an investment in a new machine that you will use for your new career.

Many transcriptionists use a Mac, but if you are comfortable using a PC I suggest going that route, as you will find a larger variety of compatible professional software,

This HP Pavilion is a durable and versatile computer, and happens to be listed at a pretty great discount and free shipping on  I like laptops for the ability to move it around easily. I suggest that you get a laptop with several USB ports and a CD ROM drive.

2) A Word Processing Program

Microsoft Word is pretty much the gold standard of word processing programs. your training program or future employer might use proprietary systems that do not require you to have your own word processor, I still see Microsoft Word as a necessary tool for all transcriptionists.

Microsoft Word is pretty much the gold standard of word processing programs. Your training program or future employer might use proprietary systems that do not require you to have your own word processor, but most platforms have adopted similar functionality as MS Word, so it is important to become familiar with it.

Get your copy of Microsoft Office downloaded instantly from Amazon. If you are not familiar with how to use Microsoft Word, I strongly suggest that you consider taking a short course for this purpose before you begin your training.

3) An Internet Connection

This might seem like a no-brainer! Home transcription used to be done using cassette tapes and courier delivery, but today's home transcriptionist depends on the internet to send and receive work. Regular home internet service is preferred; you should be able to get by with a low-level transfer allowance. If you don't have home internet service, consider purchasing a pay-per-usage modem, such as the service offered by Netzero.

4) A Dictation Player

Gone are the days of clunky cassette transcription machines, as we have upgraded to software programs to play our digital dictation files. There are several high-end programs available for dictation playback and transcription, but it is not necessary to make a big purchase when you are just starting out. The most popular, well used, and reliable programs used by medical transcripionists worldwide is Express Scribe. Express Scribe has easy drag-and-drop file loading, and will pair easily with your foot pedal.

5) A Foot Pedal

Playback for your dictation player is controlled by a foot pedal, which has play, rewind, and fast-forward functionality. Is it technically possible to play dictation and transcribe without a foot pedal? Yes. Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

The foot pedal's purpose is to keep your hands free for typing and mouse maneuvering. If you are trying to control playback with your keyboard or mouse while you are transcribing, you are never going to get any work done, and will get frustrated easily.

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Optional Medical Transcription Supplies

The following items are not technically required to actually perform the job of medical transcription, but are highly recommended. Medical transcription is a game of production. Production equals money! Anything that can increase your production, accuracy, and quality, is a worthwhile investment.

A Text Expander

Text expanding programs greatly increase your production as a transcriptionist. For a medical transcription professional, time is money, and expanders can help increase the amount of characters you type, therefore increasing your pay. It might feel awkward at first as you get used to using an expander, and it might even seem like it is taking you longer to type your reports while you get used to it.

In regard to both cost and time, this is a priceless investment; with some practice, you will notice that you will be able to pull up entire paragraphs, whole sections of a report and templates instantly, as well as saving time by inserting long words and phrases into your reports by typing only a few strokes. Text expanders are one of our Secret Weapons. Sure, you could get by without one, but why would you want to?

Some expanders are marketed for general use, and others are developed specifically for the needs of medical transcriptionists. Feedback suggests that investing in an expander that comes compete with a medical dictionary will save you time and money in the long run. Ultimately, you will get what you pay for. Prices listed below are approximate; many companies have several different products at different prices, depending on what you need.

All-purpose Expanders

As-U-Type $40

FastFox Text Expander $70

Expanders for Medical Transcriptionsts

Smartype $140

InstanText $89/year

A Medical Dictionary and Medical Speller

I think it is arguable whether or not a medical dictionary is required to perform the job of medical transcription. The truth is, you could, technically, get by with looking up every unfamiliar term on the internet, and relying on your memory to know if a word is spelled right, but when you consider the increase in your productivity gained by using proper tools to do this job for you, you can free up your brain for more important things, like producing quality reports.

The gold standard in medical dictionaries is Stedman's.  There are others out there that are decent, but why settle for decent? Stedman's also has a lot of different kinds of research books, like books of words and phrases for different medical specialties, but I think those are not nearly as important as a good medical dictionary, and a medical speller.

Medical speller software integrates with your Word spell checker. If you have ever typed a lot of medical words into Microsoft Word without a medical speller, you probably noticed that your regular spell check does not recognize most of the medical terms. The Stedman's medical speller will recognize these med terms, include medications, and will help you spell them if you get them wrong.  You can imagine how much time this will save you when performing your job.

A Great Pair of Headphones

You can probably get by with your everyday earbuds while you are starting out in this field. However, if you're going to be working every day, you should get a nice pair of headphones that are comfortable for long stretches, and have sound quality that helps make your job easier.  Luckily, you can get a good quality pair of headphones that are suitable for transcription at a price that is very affordable.  You want something lightweight, and with padding that is gentle on the external ears. 

When shopping for headphones, look for a set that is suitable for long periods of wear, such as those designed for telemarketing.

An Ergonomic Chair

One of the things you might not realize you need is a good quality desk chair.  If you are going to work as a medical transcriptionist, you should probably give up any daydreams about typing on your laptop while you lounge in a hammock.  You will be sitting or long hours in your work chair, and proper support is vital to maintaining good posture and good health. A cheap chair will not have the appropriate back support, and will wear on your over time. You want to choose one that has lots of padding, back support, and is adjustable so that you can make sure to maintain a proper ergonomic posture when you are sitting at your desk.

I recommend having one delivered to your door by Amazon. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you are missing out on getting free 2-day shipping on thousands of items, including giant, heavy chairs. Free 2-day shipping!  Although I think the yearly membership fee is well worth it, you should start out with the free 3-month trial.

Volunteering as a Medical Transcriptionist
When seeking medical transcription job opportunities, market yourself to local medical transcription agencies. Set up an appointment or interview, if possible. Expand your network by talking to everyone you can in the medical transcription field and let them know that you are willing to do whatever it takes, including volunteer work, to get your foot in the door. Do not forget to thank those who have helped you along the way.
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