Teacher FAQs

Frequently asked questions by teachers and schools

Not finding your answer?  See other FAQs or contact us.


Q.  Is The SUM Program available online?

A.  Yes!  HPI has partnered with The Schwegler Group to offer SUM Program dictations to schools online!  This solution eliminates shipping delays, provides an on-the-job learning environment that simulates real-life work flow, and offers semi-automatic grading that can be customized for each school.

Read about the features of The SUM Program online, how it works, and all the advantages for schools, teachers, and students!


Q.  Are transcript answer keys for The SUM Program compatible with AHDI’s Book of Style, 3rd ed.?

A.  Yes.  All SUM Program transcript answer keys are BOS compatible.


Q.  Do you allow schools to edit the transcript answer keys?

A.  Yes.  The answer keys are available in Microsoft Word at no charge to instructors upon request.  (E-mail hpi@hpisum.com for more information.)  School-edited transcripts can also be loaded into the online version of The SUM Program for the auto-compare feature.


Q. How long does it take to complete The SUM Program?

A. The average student completes the transcription portion of Beginning Medical Transcription, 2nd ed., in about 160 hours. It takes an additional 240 hours to complete the reading assignments and exercises, so plan on 400 hours total. For example, those who study 30 hours per week can expect to complete BMT in 13 weeks. The Surgery Unit takes approximately 160 hours to complete, while Advanced Medical Transcription, 2nd ed. will take over 400 hours to complete. Note: This is a self-directed curriculum which students complete at their own pace. Some students will require more time to actually master the material; other students may require less time. 

Download recommended textbook assignment grids for all courses in PDF format for the beginning and intermediate units.  

These assignment grids are also available in Word format (beginning and intermediate) so you can edit them to suit your program.


Q. Do students need to complete ALL of The SUM Program training units (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) to become a qualified medical transcriptionist?

A. Beginning Medical Transcription, 2nd ed., prepares students to transcribe most physician office dictation. However, it contains no surgeries or advanced dictations, so it does not prepare them to transcribe hospital dictation. Encourage students, even those who begin working after completing Beginning Medical Transcription, 2nd ed., to complete the intermediate surgery unit and the advanced units because the more skilled they are, the more versatile and productive they will be. Because most transcriptionists are paid on production, those with a solid educational foundation generally provide the best quality at a lucrative productivity level.


Q. There are many textbooks on disease processes, medical science, and laboratory and diagnostic procedures. Why should we use the HPI workbooks, H&P: A Nonphysician’s Guide to the History and Physical Examination, Human Diseases, Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures in Medicine, and The Medical Transcription Workbook?

A. The workbooks that are included in The SUM Program curriculum and which accompany the Beginning Medical Transcription Unit, 2nd ed., were written specifically to coordinate with The SUM Program dictations. The workbooks are arranged by body system or medical specialty, as are the dictations. The content in each of the four textbooks was written from the perspective of what medical transcriptionists need to know about the subjects. In H&P: A Nonphysician’s Guide, for example, each paragraph of the history and physical report is discussed, explaining not only what the physician is doing, but also what the MT can expect to hear in the corresponding section of the report. In all the texts, terminology (including abbreviations, brief forms, and slang) specific to medical documentation is included and explained. All four workbooks were written by authors who understand the needs of medical transcriptionists.


Q.  Does HPI offer desk copies of the textbooks to teachers?

A.  Yes.  To receive one desk copy of each textbook, please write a letter on your school's letterhead and fax it to HPI at 801-521-2522.  Provide the following information:

  • List which books you are considering adopting and how many students per year you expect to use each book.
  • Provide the name of your program director and/or lead instructor, plus e-mail address and phone number.
  • Include the school website address, mailing address, and shipping address.
  • Specify the shipping address for where to send the desk copies (if different from school shipping address).


Q. We are considering having some students work in an independent-study environment. How much success can we expect?

A. Thousands of individuals have successfully completed The SUM Program by independent study. Specific instructions, assignments, and a well-rounded study plan are incorporated in The SUM Program. Students are provided with step-by-step instructions for completing reading, exercise, and transcription practice assignments. They check their own transcripts against the answer keys and re-transcribe as often as necessary until they achieve mastery. Self-motivated students are comfortable learning on their own with these self-directed materials and can do as well as classroom students.


Q.  I've noticed that The SUM Program Career Development Series units are shorter and less expensive than the regular SUM Program units.  Are they suitable for the classroom?

A.  No.  The SUM Program Career Development Series units are too difficult for those who are just learning transcription and have no experience.  They are designed to help transcriptionists working in the field build skills in specific areas, but some advanced students may be able to benefit from them too.  They are well-suited for continuing education courses if your school would like to offer those.


Q. Is Health Professions Institute accredited?

A. HPI is a private publishing company, not a school; thus, it neither accredits nor is it accredited. However, The SUM Program is used in hundreds of accredited colleges throughout the country in courses that have been reviewed and approved for both academic and vocational credit by the same accrediting bodies that review university courses. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI, formerly known as AAMT) approves medical transcription programs that meet certain academic criteria. Schools using the entire SUM Program as recommended in The Teacher’s Manual were the first to be approved. (HPI is not a school, so it cannot qualify for AHDI approval. However, The SUM Program is listed in an appendix resource in the AHDI Model Curriculum.)


Q. Do MTs really need to have good spelling skills with the availability of sophisticated spellchecking software?

A. Good spelling skills are a must in medical transcription. There are many similarly spelled words and soundalikes in medicine, surgery, and pharmacology with completely different meanings. Spellchecking software detects incorrectly spelled words, NOT wrong word choices. Spellcheckers are a helpful tool in the hands of an experienced transcriptionist with good spelling ability. We recommend that beginning transcriptionists NOT use spellchecking software but instead rely on medical dictionaries and references with definitions.


Q. Does HPI offer anything to help us get started with a medical transcription program?

A. Absolutely. HPI has many materials available for teachers, including a FREE 200+ page Teacher’s Manual. It includes a course syllabus for each of the recommended classes. Each course syllabus provides course objectives, topics for discussion, recommended textbooks with reading assignments, and a sample schedule.  Download any or all of the following documents to help you plan your program:

The Teacher's Manual, 5th edition, and Articles for Teachers, Revised May 2010 (235 pages, 2 MB)
Beginning assignment grid in PDF format
Intermediate assignment grid in PDF format
Beginning assignment grid in Word format (editable)
Intermediate assignment grid in Word format (editable)
Sample Chapters - H&P: A Nonphysician's Guide, 4th ed.
Sample Chapters - Human Diseases, 3rd ed.
Sample Chapter - Lab Tests & Diagnostic Procedures in Medicine
The Medical Transcription Workbook, 3rd ed., Table of Contents

Q. Why doesn’t HPI allow schools to make copies of The SUM Program dictation?

A. Each student deserves an equal opportunity to learn transcription on media that have been properly prepared, with the excellent dictation quality HPI intended. This is assured only by using authentic HPI dictation. After purchasing an original SUM Program unit, extra dictation CDs are available for classroom use at a nominal charge. They can be purchased at any time and in any quantity thereafter. Defective materials are always replaced free of charge.

The SUM Program has an established reputation for providing quality materials that work. Using pirated copies of The SUM Program not only robs HPI, but it sends a strong message to students that ethics are not important in medical transcription. Thus, we ask that you please honor all the copyright laws that protect The SUM Program materials.


Q. My students have heard that they can earn over $50,000 a year doing medical transcription from home after a short course of training.  What can I tell them?

A. Working at home requires a thorough knowledge of medical transcription and familiarity with the kinds of problems that inevitably occur. This kind of competency comes only with intense medical transcription experience; therefore, students whose ultimate goal is to work at home should be advised that it will take many months of work on the job before they are productive working independently.

Though there are many home-based opportunities for transcriptionists, even for the newly trained, most new transcriptionists would progress more rapidly in their career, gaining needed experience and increased productivity, by working in an office, benefiting from supervision and interaction with peers.

Pay scales vary widely throughout the nation and are often based on production. Entry-level transcriptionists can expect to earn at least twice the hourly minimum wage. Experienced transcriptionists and those paid on production usually earn significantly more. It is not unusual for highly skilled transcriptionists to earn $60,000 or more per year. The medical transcription field offers opportunities for advancement as well.

Be warned that some medical transcription programs and schools lure students with promises of high salaries for a few hours of work at home. Medical transcription can be a rewarding, interesting career, providing good pay and flexible work hours, but it is not a get-rich-quick profession. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Q.  How does the pricing for schools work?

A.  Schools that offer The SUM Program must pay a licensing fee for the first purchase of each unit.  Thereafter, schools can purchase that unit at the drastically reduced student price.  Schools pay HPI a per-student fee for each unit used.


Q.  Does HPI allow schools to offer The SUM Program on their local area network?

A.  No.  HPI stopped selling network versions of The SUM Program in early 2010.


Q.  How can I get Continuing Education Credit for the HPI products I've used?

A.  Each of The SUM Program Career Development Series units is prior-approved by AHDI for up to 10 Continuing Education Credits.  Contact AHDI for information about receiving your credits.


Schools, are you ready to learn more about using SUM Program curriculum to enhance your medical transcription program?  Sign up for a free consultation now!  It's quick, easy, and free.