Professional Organizations for Medical Transcriptionists - dummies

Professional Organizations for Medical Transcriptionists

By Anne Martinez

Launching a new career and joining a professional association frequently go hand in hand. Even so, as a new medical transcriptionist, you won’t be rolling in the dough, so handing some of it over to a professional group may not be high on your list. There are compelling reasons to do it anyway. Here are just five of the benefits joining up can give you:

  • You have a way to get involved with your profession, not just work in it.

  • Your membership ensures the existence of a “voice” for MTs, so they (you!) have a presence at the table when it comes to employers and the government. A collection of voices is much stronger than a single voice. Add yours!

  • You get ready access to continuing education opportunities (and a push to use them).

  • You receive a steady supply of newsletters/publications and a chance to participate in insider discussions about the latest developments in the field.

  • Membership is a résumé builder that shows you’re passionate about your profession and ready and willing to participate in its growth and development.

This list doesn’t even include the networking opportunities, mentoring possibilities, discounts, and numerous other benefits professional associations typically make available to members.

If you decide a professional membership belongs on your to-do list, your first two stops should be:

  • Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI)

  • American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

AHDI specifically takes the medical transcriptionist perspective: health data capture and documentation. AHIMA’s mission centers around the management of that data. The two subject areas are inextricably intertwined and becoming more so every day. The two organizations are increasingly so as well.

A student membership is an ideal way to test the waters of a professional organization with minimal commitment. Both AHDI and AHIMA offer inexpensive student memberships. There’s an important difference, though: AHDI student membership is open to anyone enrolled in a medical transcription training program, whereas AHIMA only lets in people who are enrolled in a training program that is directly affiliated with AHIMA.

AHDI and AHIMA are in many ways competing for the same membership pool, which, of course, includes you. Given the convergence of their constituencies, it’s quite possible they’ll end up merging at some point.

Whether you join one or both of these organizations, you’ll gain the most bang for your buck by being active. If you lack the time or inclination to take a hands-on position, consider joining up anyway just to play a supporting role.

Dues paid professional organizations that are related to your business are deductible on your federal income tax return. For employees, that means on Schedule A. For independent contractors, the dues will come under the expenses section of Schedule C.