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Become a Healthcare Documentation Specialist


A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are considering a career in healthcare documentation, as a healthcare documentation specialist (formerly medical transcriptionist), or speech recognition editor, it is important to be well informed about the industry, the profession, and the educational process for your career. To assist you in an organized approach to gathering information, we’ve provided a step-by-step process below.

Before contacting the association with questions or requests for further information, we suggest that you take the following steps.

Step 1: Learn about the profession and the industry

Download and read our “About Healthcare Documentation Specialist” informational packet. This will provide you with a wide array of information about the profession, including:

  • A description of what a healthcare documentation specialist does
  • A description of the skills and abilities required of a healthcare documentation specialist
  • Information about the current state of the industry and how the profession is evolving
  • Criteria for choosing the right MT/HDS school
  • A list of AHDI approved schools and discussion of the importance of choosing an approved school
  • Information about the RHDS credentialing exam for entry-level certification
  • Career path and professional development information


Step 2: Purchase our “A Career in MT: Everything You Need to Know” e-book.

This invaluable resource can help guide you through the early decisions for stepping into the dynamic profession of healthcare documentation. How do I find a school? What equipment will I need? What do I have to know? All of these questions, and more, are addressed in this electronic resource, written by MT/HDSs with extensive experience in healthcare documentation and healthcare documentation education.


Step 3: Research training programs.

AHDI has developed a model curriculum that meets the entry-to-practice demands of the industry, and has established an education program approval process to evaluate programs that teach medical transcription/healthcare documentation. Programs that have been through the approval process have met a rigorous evaluation of both their curricula and their overall program. Begin your search for the best training program here:


We further recommend that prospective students look for schools whose advertising emphasizes excellence in healthcare documentation, rather than focusing on the ideas of working at home or completing a program rapidly. We also recommend prospective students look for programs that focus solely on healthcare documentation (e.g., medical transcription, speech recognition editing), rather than offering courses for a number of different professions.

Please note that no educational program can offer “certification.” While a program may provide its graduates with a certificate of completion, this is not the same as either the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) or the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) credentials that are recognized in the industry and achieved only through successful completion of examinations by AHDI.


Step 4: Become a student member of AHDI.

Once you’ve made the commitment to step into the profession, have selected an approved school and begin your course of study, join as a student member in this association. Student members receive many of the benefits of professional membership and have opportunities to meet seasoned practitioners. The best advice about the industry will often come from working professionals.



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