Top 3 Tips to Make the Most of the Practicum

Like many students, upon hearing that I had to transcribe and edit over 1300 medical reports while completing the medical transcription editor course, I felt rather overwhelmed. At first, I heard the lyrics from the famous song Down Once More from The Phantom of the Opera run through my head anytime I had to work on the reports. You know the lyrics, I promise: “Down once more to the dungeons of my black despair.” After trudging slowly through Clinic Notes for a while, I decided a change in attitude would serve me well.  I was able to power through the remainder of the transcription editing reports in less time than it took me to get through Clinic Notes (about 3 months).  I thought I would share the top 3 things that helped me to move more quickly through the reports while making the most of them:

1. Do not try to match the key exactly.

    Unfortunately, life is not quite a science fiction novel. We do not have the capability to read people’s thoughts or share a brain with someone or something else.  Because of this, we will never match a key exactly when transcribing and editing. That’s okay! As a medical transcriptionist and editor, you will develop your own transcription style. Acceptable variations will occur and you don’t need to worry about them. Focus more on the actual errors and developing strategies to overcome those errors. You don’t have to worry about matching the key exactly. Just do your best, compare the report, look for the actual errors, score the report and move forward. You aren’t required to achieve 85% or above on the reports in the course; you just cannot have any 0%’s.**

2. It’s okay to break up the monotony.

    After 294 clinic notes, I found myself needing to break up the transcription reports. To do so, I jumped ahead to Editing Theory and Editing Technique. I completed those so that I understood how to use the editing software, and then I would transcribe a certain number of reports a day (usually 5) and then jump to the editing reports for the remainder of the study period (usually doing 5 of those as well). This allowed me to make better progress through the course and I felt more accomplished at the end of each day.  Doing this also helps your transcription skills because some of the dictators in the editing portion appear in the transcription portion as well. This helps because seeing reports from a dictator helps you to better understand them next time you hear them.

3. Set a time limit on research.

    It is easy while transcribing to go down the research rabbit-hole. On one report, I spent over an hour researching a single word. I was left frustrated and upset when I couldn’t find it after all that time.  Then I realized the reports should be used as learning opportunities as much as helping to develop my researching skills. I started setting a research limit for my reports and I found that I started moving through the reports more quickly and feeling infinitely better about them. I set a limit of 10 minutes per report for research. If I couldn’t find the information within 10 minutes, I wasn’t going to find it and it was better to flag and learn from the comparison.  When I learned the new word or phrase, I would quickly look it up if I didn’t know what it meant. I would also make sure I said the word or phrase out loud.  If you’ve never said something out loud, you are less likely to understand it when you hear it.

Do you have any tips that help you stay sane while transcribing and editing reports? Share them in the comments below!

** If you are enrolled through a community college, please check your completion requirements with us at

-Alesa Little
CS Student Support

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