AAMT’s CMT Is the Original Certification for Transcriptionists
AAMT’s CMT Is the Original Certification for Transcriptionists
Attention, medical transcriptionists! Become certified today. No exam, no waiting, no fuss, no bother. Pay the fee and get your credential. And don’t worry about finding time for continuing education. It isn’t necessary. Just pay a renewal fee, and you’re good for another 2,000 miles.
Does the above offer sound enticing? Do you know medical transcriptionists (MTs) who want the advantage of using the certified medical transcriptionist (CMT) designation but really don’t want to spend the time or money taking a two-part exam? How about MTs who don’t want to risk the objective assessment of their ability to become certified by the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT)? Does anyone really know the difference between an AAMT-certified transcriptionist and any other kind? Just who can use the CMT designation anyway?
The Road to Certification
For years, we’ve been telling people that the only way to become a certified medical transcriptionist is by passing AAMT’s certification exam, now a two-part process, and that the only people entitled to use the CMT designation are those who have passed the exam (or were originally certified by experience during the grandfathering era) and then maintained the credential by meeting AAMT’s stated requirements for recertification.
We’ve been comfortable with the knowledge that AAMT is the professional association for individual medical transcriptionists and that no other organization had undertaken the daunting project of developing a comparable certification program.
However, in today’s climate of instant information and easy access, we may hear of other groups marketing a similar certification for MTs.
How do MTs, and others, tell the difference?
Will another certification for MTs cause confusion in the health care arena and beyond?
Certification Is Voluntary
It is generally accepted by the certification and licensure community that certification, particularly in health care, is a voluntary activity designed to attest to the competency of specified professionals.
Certification is not mandated by any government body, whereas licensure generally refers to public or state regulation. And there are no required or mandated standards for programs offering certification.
In effect, this means that anyone can claim to provide a certification in almost any field.
It becomes the responsibility of the community (the public and the professional community) and/or professional organizations serving practitioners to influence and guide certification programs. Any certification program that hopes to survive in today’s competitive market must have the support and buy-in of the profession itself, as well as its practitioners and other appropriate segments of the public.
In the case of certification for MTs, gaining the recognition and support of employers, clients and users of health care services is considered very important.
Is Your Certification Credible?
What makes a certification program credible?
Specifically, what should an individual look for when evaluating the merits of certification for medical transcriptionists? At a minimum, a program should include:
- an objective assessment of an individual’s competency, usually including testing; and
- requirements for renewal or recertification through continuing education and/or retesting.
Certainly, testing and other methods of assessing proficiency should be carried out under the guidance of experts in professional credentialing and in the profession being assessed to assure validity, fairness and relevance.
AAMT’s Medical Transcriptionist Certification Program (MTCP) offers a two-part certification exam to individuals who wish to become CMTs. Those who successfully complete both parts of the exam within two years are recognized as certified medical transcriptionists and are entitled to use the CMT designation awarded by AAMT.
Certification is valid for three years, during which time CMTs must accrue at least 30 continuing education (CE) credits and pay the required fees to recertify for another three years. Recertification may also be accomplished by passing both parts of the two-part exam again.
Minimize Credential Confusion
If other groups do offer certification for medical transcription, AAMT-certified MTs may be concerned that a similar (or identical) designation may undermine their credential, one they’ve worked hard to achieve and maintain and are proud to use.
What can be done to minimize confusion? AAMT wants to protect the integrity and credibility of MTCP and the individuals certified through the association, but CMTs must also speak up for themselves and their credentialing organization.
Education is the key. Here are a few suggestions.
- Let others know exactly what is involved in becoming certified through AAMT and in maintaining certification over the years.
- CMTs are encouraged to use their unique CMT number on resumes, business cards, and other relevant documents, and to include the date of renewal.
- Advise employers, clients and others to verify the currency and the source of an individual’s CMT designation. MTCP will provide confirmation in response to oral or written inquiries.
- AAMT-certified transcriptionists can proudly wear their CMT pin at work and to outside meetings, further reinforcing their professional commitment.
- CMTs whose performance demonstrates up-to-date knowledge and skills should willingly provide proof of continuing education activities for personnel files as documentation of their efforts.
- CMTs who believe that certification awarded by a respected professional organization makes a difference are eager to promote it to their peers.
- Refer to certification and the CMT credential as authorized by MTCP/AAMT to further link the designation to a recognized and respected certification program and professional association.
Employers Must Help
Additionally, employers and clients of medical transcriptionists should keep the following points in mind when interviewing or hiring CMTs:
- Verify that the CMT designation has been awarded by MTCP/AAMT.
- Request a copy of the CMT wallet card, and keep it with the individual’s files.
- Make sure that certification is current; contact MTCP at AAMT for confirmation by phone (209) 551-0883; fax (209) 551-1722; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Encourage and support CMTs by promoting continuing education, appropriate compensation and recognition of their accomplishments.
Does the source of a credential make a difference? We believe it does. Look for the AAMT seal of approval in certification for medical transcriptionists: the original CMT, not an imitation.
Linda A. Byrne is director of certification at the American Association for Medical Transcription.