Dear Sun Spots: Can you find out what the prospects would be for getting employment as a medical transcriptionist? I am in the process of retraining and would like to know if this is a career that has possibilities for home employment as well as in the medical facilities such as doctors’ offices or hospitals. Thank you very much. -MW, No Town.

Answer: Sun Spots spoke with Mike Henry, department chairman of the business programs at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. He explained that the medical transcription field is changing. They don’t have any concrete statistics, but a lot of basic, office level transcription is now being sent overseas to be done. Some, not all, hospitals are also sending their basic transcription overseas, but are keeping high-end or immediate need transcription in-house. Although it’s a shrinking industry, our local hospitals tell Henry they are still in need of transcriptionists.

Henry noted that medical coding has more opportunity, especially through hospitals and said that 95 percent of the hospital coders in Maine are over the age of 50 and will retire within five years. Currently, there are a few coding certificate programs offered in the state. With the certificate, you can code in a doctor’s office. However, there are no medical coding degree programs offered in the state at this time; most people earn their degree online. A degree is needed to code in a hospital since they have a more complex coding system. The good news is CMCC does have the degree program going through the accreditation process at this time and they hope to be able to offer it in the fall.

If you’re looking for information on the transcription program, contact the school at 755-5100. They also have an open house scheduled for April 4, where you can learn all about the programs offered.

Dear Sun Spots: I have a variety of old and not-so-old matchbooks that I’ve collected in my travels over the years. I don’t collect them but some people do. Some are local; most are not. I’m happy to give them to a true collector. Call Jan at 783-8171. – Jan, No Town.

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