Creating an Effective Home Office: Part II

Medical Transcription4 Comments

Now that you have your office space and desk selected, it’s time to think about your chair, your computer setup, and finishing touches that will help boost your productivity as you do medical transcription from home.

The Chair
Your chair is going to be your very best friend (well, unless you plan on solely using a standing workstation) while working as a medical transcriptionist and editor.  A chair can make or break productivity. You want something that is ergonomic and comfortable enough to sit in for extended periods of time. A kitchen table chair is not going to cut it.  If you already have an office chair that is comfortable and functional, great!  If you don’t, definitely go and try out a bunch of chairs at your local office store or furniture store and find the one that works best for you. I found this great Lifehacker article on what to look for in an ergonomic office chair:

Computer Considerations
The big debate in this industry over computers usually boils down to one question: laptop or desktop? There is no easy answer to this question because, truly, this is a matter of preference. You can set up an effective workstation with either a laptop or a desktop. The laptop does require a few additional considerations and I will discuss these here.

Basic Specifications
For medical transcription and editing work, you don’t need a super expensive, powerhouse machine, but there are a few basic things you will want to look for. Firstly, you will want to look for a computer that has at least 2 GB of RAM and 250 GB hard drive. Most modern computers have much more than that, so you should be fine. You will also want to make sure that the computer has a pretty good sound card. You will be playing audio files a lot, so you want to give yourself the best chances of success. Beyond that, some companies will want you to have Microsoft Word, though the version required will vary from employer to employer.

Laptop Considerations
If you plan on using a laptop, great! A lot of medical transcriptionists and editors like laptops because of the ease of portability. Their tiny screens and uncomfortable keyboards, though, make laptops a bit of a nightmare to work on for extended periods of time. There are a few things you can do to make them great work machines, though.  The first thing to consider is getting an external ergonomic keyboard.  You can find plenty of great USB ergonomic keyboards to connect to your laptop. Check out your local Best Buy, or any other store where electronic equipment is sold, to try out some of the models and see what works best for you.  Second, consider getting one or two external monitors to hook up to your laptop. An external monitor can go a long way to preserving your eyesight by reducing eye strain.  Using two external monitors side by side can be extremely beneficial because you can have your research windows open on one monitor and have the report you are transcribing or editing open on the other. Last, you might also consider getting an external USB mouse so that you don’t have to reach over to your laptop’s touch pad to navigate around your computer.  Essentially, you can turn your laptop into a desktop machine for when you are working in your office, but still maintain the portability of it if you need to take it somewhere else.  A laptop docking station (you can find one for your specific laptop brand by googling the brand with the words “laptop docking station”) can allow you to plug all your peripherals into it, which, in turn, will allow you to connect your laptop to the docking station to use it with the peripherals.

If you want to make your laptop really secure to help with HIPAA compliance, most laptops come with a Kensington Security Slot, or some equivalent of it.  This slot is part of an anti-theft system and it is a small, metal-reinforced hole used for attaching a lock and cable apparatus.  Locks are generally secured in place with a key or combination lock attached to a rubberized metal cable. The end of the cable has a small loop that allows the cable to be looped around a permanent object, such as a heavy table or other similar equipment.

Finishing Touches
You’ve done it! Your office space is almost complete! There are just a few finishing touches you may want to make. First, even though you do want to make a distinction between your office space and the rest of the house, it’s okay to bring in a few personal artifacts to make you feel a little more at home. You don’t want to overcrowd your workspace, but a few fun family photos or your child’s artwork in cute frames can be just the touch of “home” you need to remind you why you want to be a medical transcriptionist and editor. 

Once you have everything set up the way you think will work best, try out your space! If you find that your resources are just a little too far out of reach, try shifting things around until you feel comfortable.  Adjust your computer equipment until it feels comfortable, and make sure your desk and chair are at comfortable heights. It’s better to get everything comfortable now than to wait for when you get out into the workforce. Fumbling around can waste valuable productivity time.

One last finishing touch I would like to mention may sound silly, but it really can help! Make up a sign for the door to your office space (or entrance to your office space) that informs passersby that you are currently working and do not wish to be interrupted except for an emergency. You can slip the sign in a clear sheet protector and hang it using a Command hook.  This makes it easy for you to put it up when working and take it down when you are on a break or done for the day. This sign might also help while you are going through the course, to stay on task!

If you want additional office design ideas, check out This website collects pictures of different home office ideas and can give you some great visual suggestions if you are a little stuck. Everyone can get creative when they have a little inspiration!

Now you are all set for your work at home medical transcription job.

Happy home office designing!

- Alesa Little
CS Student Support

Leave a comment below »

  1. Vickie Osten March 20, 2014


    Loved your “home office” series. Any chance of doing one for a home office/guest room combination?

    Thanks!  smile

  2. Alesa March 20, 2014

    Vickie: I haven’t thought about that, but I will certainly take that into consideration for a future post. Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Sharon Terranova May 09, 2014

    Hi Everyone,  I am new to this site and have just signed up for the Medical Transciptionist Editor program. I am shopping for the best computer to buy, not only for this class but for future employment with companies I might work for. Those of you that have experience with this and have obtained employment with actual companies, which one of the computers have you found to be more effective and acceptable for this position, the computers with Window 7 or the Computers with Window 8 or 8.1?

    Any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  4. Career Step May 13, 2014

    Hi Sharon,

    You should try posting your question in our Student and Graduate Community ( too! There’s a lot of activity over there and it may be easier to get an answer. You’ll need your student ID to create your account—if you can’t find it, contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-888-657-5752 and we’ll be happy to look it up for you.

    Best wishes!



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