MTBiographical Notes

3/97, from Dawn, pswee11942@aol.com:

I started "fresh out of school"--in fact, I did not even finish my home-study MT class, having gotten only to lesson 26 out of 40 and then being too busy with the work to finish the studies. I now transcribe for MDs in six different offices, two of them full-time and four of them part-time. I have typed for a total of 18 physicians in the last four years and have developed a local reputation for producing high quality work. My office *was* expensive to set up in relative terms--when you don't have it, even $20 can be a lot of money. However, over time I have been able to arm myself with a sizeable collection of good reference materials, two nice desks and a quality chair, a file cabinet, a new computer with CD ROM, the appropriate software programs, a second, older, computer for back-up, a LQ printer, a fax/answering machine, two transcribers that cover all three tape sizes, and a multitude of the necessary office sundries. Granted, my walls *are* still baby pink with teddy bears on bicycles (the office used to be my youngest daughter's bedroom--[sheepish grin]) but if one just believes, it all comes around in good time. I think I have come a long way--I used to be stationed in a corner of my dining room! I think any success comes from setting goals, including making a written list, complete with checkmarks when each successive step is accomplished. I decided what I wanted to do, then I determined what had to be done to get there. I started with a home-study personal computers course since I knew less than nothing about computers and was actually quite terrified of them! Then I started my MT course and then a couple of BOCES terminology courses. I read glutton-ously (huh?) every piece of medically-oriented or computer-related material I can get my hands on. I have always been strong in the readin' and writin' departments which, obviously, is a major strong point in this line of work. Along the way I also managed to acquire a couple of wonderful telephone mentors who encouraged me and taught me some of the simplest, yet most important, things. I have never met one of these women face-to-face yet I consider her among my dearest friends...and make it a point to tell her so frequently during our lately rather infrequent conversations. Along with the above steps, I also believe that faith and sheer determination, and sometimes plain old dumb luck, also play a large role in getting you to where you want to be. I thank You-Know-Who often for allowing me to do what I love to do and for the abilities required to do it and do it well. Now I don't mean to insinuate that my accomplishments are the norm, but I also know that it can be done if one is determined enough.


2/97, from Mary:
I got a phone call about an article in Guideposts this month. It's a story about an MT, Joy Rector, who was able to go home to work to be with her children. It sounds like the struggle and grit required were accurately portrayed.

Now, does anyone have a contact in Hollywood who could influence the story lines on family sitcoms or Emergency, to include a story with a home MT in it? Let's see, I can think of some scenes, what would your plot be?

-Ambulance waiting while MT climbs out of bed in the middle of the night and swiftly transcribes vital record... -MT finding record error of staff and bringing it to their attention... -Judith Marshall's true story of pretending to be a doctor when her brother had an emergency, so she could get the EMTs to do the right thing quickly. It worked!

From Bob Willard:
Our work is so mundane that, unfortunately, is really doesn't lend itself to TV drama without an incredulous stretch (e.g., an MT deduces from his reports that a doctor is killing his patients -- hmm, not bad, that might work as a TV movie). In the meantime, it would be fun to have a harried, frustrated transcriptionist on ER tap Dr. Benton on the shoulder in the hallway and say, "Excuse me, Dr. Benton, could you clarify what you said here in this report?"

From Kim Randall:
I'd settle for a scene of a doctor dictating hurriedly while eating and carrying on conversations with others nearby, flipping through charts and rattling x-ray films, complete with moaning and sirens in the background as well as the sound of a flushing toilet -- followed by a scene of the frustrated MT trying to figure out what he's saying, including the MT looking up all the possible sound-alike words, checking all the definitions, etc., before ultimately making the decision about which word(s) to type...


9/5/96, Ted Borreson, bookwrml@pacbell.net
My tale of transcription is hardly the epitomy of masculinity . In fact, I kind of stumbled into it (well, THAT'S a masculine enough trait, I suppose - stumbling, I mean). When I graduated from high school in 1973, I started looking for a summer job to get some college money. At the time my mother was working as the payroll officer of the local community hospital in Santa Ana, and got me a job as a file clerk in medical records. While working as a clerk in that summer job I met transcriptionists and became a little familiar with the profession. At that time I had the same attitude of all neophytes/people on the street about transcription: "It seems easy enough. What a cushy job! I could do that." Of course, in my years since then I've come to realize not only how WRONG that attitude is (misinformed wrong, I mean), and also how OFFENSIVE it is to people already in the profession. Of course, most people never think of that. Anyway, at the time the hospital was small and the personnel could afford to spend some extra time training newbies, so I worked into a position as a trainee. As it turned out, I had that combination of talents that it takes to be a transcriptionist, and stuck with it. In hindsight I realize how lucky I was - most hospitals in my current experience, including that one (which has grown a lot) don't accept trainees any more, because they have no time to train and need the productivity elsewhere. I have even taken to having a kind of, well, SATISFACTION, at finding people like trained physicians and nurses who believe that transcription is easy, and then being able to see them not have the ability to do it when they try.

So, anyway, as I said, I've been at it ever since. On the whole I find the profession a pleasant one to be in, and enjoy myself. Except, of course, it NEVER pays enough! That's probably true of any job, though - the bills will always expand to fill any financial volume they find themselves in. They're sneaky that way.

I'm originally from Wahoo, Nebraska. My family moved to Santa Ana when I was 9, and I've lived in various places around California since. Had my own business for a while (The Word Company), but through some bad business decisions on my part (I bought a house and moved AWAY from my clients, for one thing - not good) I ended up losing the business. Having my own business was very ambitious for me - I tend to prefer the laid back, more casual life style, with no stress! So in hind-sight, I'm glad I'm not self-employed now.

In terms of experience, I've worked mostly in the acute care setting in hospitals and for services, with some othopedic, neurology and rheumatology office experience as well. Lately there seems to be a trend in hospitals to offer speciality clinics within the hospital structure, like rehabilitation programs and chronic pain programs, so I've also had experience in those fields as well. Workers compensation cases also have begun to have a terminology all their own, mostly related to levels of reimbursement, but the reports we type are often used as documentation for reimbursement, so the terminology pops up there! I still remember the first time I heard the phrase "permanent and stationary". I almost left it blank because I couldn't verify it in a medical text! The doctor laughed at me when I asked him. Hmph - so much for him!


8/16/96, Jon Knowles, agjon@igc.apc.org
I am writing this in the hope that it may encourage newcomers, particularly men, who may be looking for an occupation to try this one out. I've been doing transcription steadily since about 1981. Seems like forever! but a kind of good forever. Would I do it again (become a medical transcriptionist)? Yes, without much hesitation. What are the best things about the job? Arranging your day as you wish, not having a boss. What is the downside? Not getting enough vacations, having to work "too hard" if you're saving for a pension or have to provide medical coverage. Best purchase I ever made? PRD+ (Productivity Plus, an abbreviation expander). Biggest regret? Not having raised my rates enough in these recent recession years. Have I ever been discriminated against or joked about because I'm a man? Once. That was the chiropractor who didn't want a man to do his work when his transcriptionist went on vacation, and right away the transcriptionist, a woman of course in this instance, spoke to him about his bias!

As to how I got involved in MT, I was allowed by a generous orthopaedist to work in house and learn transcription on the job for a small office back in 1981. I had an M.A. in English and he figured I could do the work. He was right. If you can spell well, type fast and more or less enjoy production typing, you can do the work. I have never worked in a hospital setting, so I can't speak for requirements there. But I am pretty sure that pay and working conditions are better on the outside. I have found that the two things doctors most value are accuracy and reliability.

When our 2 year old son got chronic food-allergy based asthma, I wanted to work at home so I would be able to take him to the hospital without a hassle when he got an attack. I also wanted flexibility so I could pursue other interests. So I bought old equipment from the orthopaedist (back in the days of Micom) and have been working at home and making a living at it ever since. The only time I didn't have enough work was when I was starting out. I was fortunate to get a large orthopaedic account (letters, chart notes, medical-legal reports) and then later another large neurology client in the same building. This makes pick up and delivery much easier.

I am often offered additional work, but I prefer to "have a little vacation each day". This has enabled me to spend a great deal of time with my son and my stepdaughter as they grew up. I am fortunate in that my wife provides the family medical coverage through her job for an HMO so I haven't had to work "too hard". Plus she is relieved of half the household chores. My income is moderate and I have perhaps not saved sufficiently for retirement, but I have a life, and not only on weekends. It has been well worth it. And our son outgrew his asthma.


8/11, Gisele Dubson, Gdubson@aol.com
I've been an MT for six years now. After following my husband around through his schooling, I completed my B.A. in English in 1986. Decided I didn't want to go on to grad school, so ended up working as a receptionist/secretary. I needed to make more money, but couldn't see myself as an executive secretary. Looking for something to specialize in, I checked out my local community college and found they had a one-year program in medical transcription. The only reason I knew what medical transcription was at all was because my mother-in-law, a really fast typist with no medical background, had been doing MT for a group of psychologists down in Florida. That made me curious enough to check it out. I took the course in medical terminology to see if I would like it, and I was instantly hooked! I had studied French and German in college, and here was just another language, the language of medicine. Had a really great instructor, an RN who had done a bit of MT work in her day. So I did the rest of the program, two terms of anatomy and physiology, two terms of MT, and a smattering of word processing and proofreading (the one-year course has turned into an associate's degree since my days). Got my first job, part-time, working for a neurologist who was very particular about his transcription. My school preparation was better than average, I would say, but I still had lots to learn. I started taking in work from other offices on the side, but I kept my on-site neurology work because I liked the people so much. Then after a couple of years I went back and taught the courses I had graduated from because they were having trouble finding anyone with MT background to teach the courses Why is that? Because a good MT can make double what my community college would pay for an instructor.

We moved out to Colorado last year, where I worked onsite for three months and did not like it very well, then worked for a very bad service, now working for a very nice one. In the interim, I studied for and got my CMT, which I think really helped me when I went to work for the very nice service. Right now I'm transcribing ortho, dental, and pulmonary medicine, plus a smattering of other things as they come up. I used to worry about my lack of hospital experience, but the longer I work, the less of an issue that seems to be. My advice to MTs who start out working from home early in their careers, as I did, would be to try to get jobs to broaden your medical knowledge. It can get awfully comfortable transcribing for a small group of doctors, but you can never depend on these situations to last, and it's best to tackle as many specialties as you can in order to increase your value.


8/11, Mary Booth, edna@aonline.com
I'm another old timer who learned on the job. I had worked for a podiatry college doing their surgical reports and at a nursing home typing geriatric reports. Moved to Alaska and got a job in a hospital where they were desperate for anyone with any kind of experience and they hired me. After a week of training (ha, ha) I was on my own. I had a very verbose doctor who had dictated a transfer summary on a patient. It took me 5-1/2 hrs to type it. The doctor came down a couple of times to see if I was done and I was busy with my head buried in the Dorland's. If it had not been a transfer summary I would have quit on the spot and never have turned back. Fortunately I did stay and figured if I could get through his report I could manage anything. Years later I did MT through my service for him and thought he was great. I've been learning for 22 years total and am glad I stuck it out.
8/11, Karen, LazR1@aol.com
Back in 1977 I was in my first year of pre-med. Decided to come home for the summer and my dad asked what I was going to do over the summer? My reply was nothing. He didn't take too this to well and decided I needed to take some summer courses at home. He owned a building that a business college rented from him. He said he wanted me to attend this business college during the summer, maybe there were some courses I would be interested in and he would swap the rent out with them for my tuition. The only thing remotely interesting at this business college was a course in medical transcription. They offered medical terminology, medical transcribing, etc. After what I had been going through in pre-med, these courses were a breeze and I became terribly interested in MT. After the summer courses were finished, I applied for a job in a doctor's office for an MT position and got hired, and the rest is history. Never went back to med school and haven't regretted a minute of it.

I worked for this private doctor's office for two years, went on to the hospital and worked there for a few years, moved and worked at another hospital for four years and then seven years ago opened up my own service. I have worked in just about every medical field there is and love it all. I have a cornucopia of reference materials and use them all religiously. There are still words out there that I have yet to come across and I am still learning each and every day, especially since doctors have a tendency to make up their own medical words when they can't find one to fit what they are looking for.

No matter how long you have been an MT, there is still room for more knowledge and we all need help occasionally. There are so many new techniques, drugs, surgical devices and so on being manufactured every day that we can't all have complete knowledge of every medical term. Of course, having the basics does help!

The main reason for opening up my own business was my son. He is dyslexic, with ADDH and LLD. I was having to provide private speech therapy twice weekly, coordination therapy and the psychologist (for both of us at that point!). Hunter, my 12 year old, looks perfectly normal in every way - blonde hair, blue eyes, very tall for his age and a very attractive child. He just seems to have more than his share of problems for a kid. Anyway, most of the time I worked two jobs; days at the hospital doing MT and picking up doctor's office work at night to do at home. I was divorced and my two jobs were not footing the bill for all of these therapies, not to mention he needed more of my time than a "normal" child. Owning my own business was the answer to all my prayers. I definitely made more money and my hours allowed me to be able to get him to all the therapies when he needed to go.

Three years ago I met and eventually married a wonderful man, Chris. He has the patience of a saint with Hunter and is very loving and devoted. Also, he joined the ranks of MT - started training him about two years ago. We work together everyday and I don't know how I would make it without him.


8/11, Julie Dodd, OddDodd@aol.com
I went into training right out of high school to be an x-ray tech, and spent two years at a junior college and a year in hospital training. The radiologists were a German, a Vietnamese, an East Indian and a Venezuelan, all with pretty heavy accents. About eight months into my year of training at this hospital, the x-ray transcriptionist went on vacation. The girl from the temp service went on a break at 9:30 in the morning and never returned. The department was desperate. I had always been very good at typing (and at this time it was still typing, not word processing), so I offered to try it. The minute I sat down I knew I had wasted three years trying to be an x-ray tech - this was what I wanted to do. I finished up my x-ray training and went on to be an x-ray/lab tech in Arizona for three years and did a couple of more years as an x-ray tech, all the time letting the transcription departments know that I would love to help them out if they were short, reading patient charts and soaking up terminology and formats and even landing a couple of private doctors to do at home. My last year in Arizona, in addition to being the lab/x-ray tech I was also the one who transcribed reports for the specialists that came to town from Las Vegas. This was in Bullhead City before they had a hospital, for those of you who may be familiar with the area.

Anyway, we moved back to California and I got a job at a hospital in Chino for a year, emphasizing my transcription experience in order to get the job. From that job I moved on to another hospital for a year or so, then to a local private service and then to the company I work for now. My x-ray training was extremely valuable in terms of learning anatomy and physiology, but I look at that time in Bullhead City when I did the lab work, x-rays and some patient care as the time when I learned the most, and I still draw from that experience to this day. I knew I wanted to do transcription but I also knew I needed to soak up everything I could in the job I was in, in order to make that transition possible. But, it is still a constant process of learning and research, even after doing this solidly now for 12 years. Old dogs can learn new tricks, we are proof of that.


8/11, Judi McClure, theo@icanect.net
I also learned the hard way - by myself. I did have a medical background as I had worked in hospitals since I was 16 as a nurses aide, etc. About 20 years ago, I had a job as the clerical supervisor for an x-ray department in a hospital. I used to pitch in whenever help was needed by any of those in the clerical section. So, I started helping out with radiology transcribing. Found that I enjoyed it, so talked to the Medical Records Department and offered to help out there when they got really behind. Then I was lucky enough to find a service that allowed me to work at home. Pulled the greatest con job of my life - I convinced them I knew what I was doing!! Used to work during the day as the clerical supervisor in the x-ray department and then at night at home doing medical transcribing with an open Dorland's, as it was the only book I had available. Talk about slow going!! Anyway, seemed to take forever, but I stuck with it. Used to get many phone calls from the service screaming about mistakes I had made, but I hung in there. To this day, over 18 years later, I am still with the same service. The owner and I often laugh over how I got them to train me!!
8/11, 7/96, Allen Langley accutran@ldd.net
I live in Possum Trot, Kentucky which is a suburb of Calvert City. Since PT is delightfully small, mail is received through the CC post office. Paducah is the community of note, however, and is 15 miles due west of us. I live quite near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The area is tranquilly beautiful in that it is heavily forested, has rolling hills, and is peopled for the most part by farmers.

I have a checkered past which for the telling would take pages and you would be either excited or terrorized by the telling. I am a former Berkeley, California hippy from the middle/late 1970's... (a "street freak") and hitchhiker much traveled. This is just another way of saying I was rudderless in my youth. I dropped out of high school to join the Coast Guard. I saw what world I could from the tossing deck of various CG cutters and between bouts of seasickness thought the scenery was awesome. I did get to be a Hospital Corpsman and loved it. I actually got to stitch folks up, give injections, work up patients, and play doctor generally.

Following discharge I took to the road and didn't settle down for a couple of years. I was a construction worker for several years and worked in a couple of hospitals. During the ensuing years I did get married, fathered three daughters, and got a lot poorer (not that I was rich to start off). I found the construction unfulfilling, the work sporadic, and the benefits lousy. So I went for my GED and passed with "flying colors". I then took the SAT at a local college and surprised myself and my wife, who is a college grad. I gained entry at the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale, College of Technical Careers in their medical transcription program. It was intense! They stuffed two years into one with 36 hours and fed us everything from kidney innards to firing neurons and chemistries of cell/cancer/disease process. I graduated with honors and I came out leaking medical jargon all over the place.

My first job was at a VA Medical Center in my hometown and then at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. I was the evening shift. In 1992, at the end of my first two years, a bunch of the employees at the facility went on strike including all but three transcriptionist. (1584 employees, and 320 walked out). I was made the "Transcription Coordinator" and ended up training 10 new transcriptionists. These folks were raw material, 50 wpm, a sprinkling of medical terminology, and want-to. I am proud to say I would now stack almost all those transcriptionists against just about anyone for accuracy and speed. One of my ladies started her own business and does a bang-up job of it.

In September of 1995, I made the decision to start my own business, fearful as it sounded. I was a nervous wreck, but my wife showed incredible support and belief in me. On October 7, 1995, AccuTrans Medical Office Service was born and I had to beat the baby just to make it breathe! Finally in March I went to work for EMS Transcription Service in Tyler, Texas. They are nice folks. I transcribe everything they send to me, including a bevy of foreigners from the VA Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. I have been a medical transcriptionist for nine years and I LOVE IT!


7/96, Dolores Archer, dol@bmi.net
I am 65 years old, a retired registered nurse and I love to type. I have an ongoing love affair with computers. I figured I could whip this "ole" MT thing with one hand tied behind my back. I did finally manage to land a job as an MT in a multispecialty clinic about 1-1/2 years ago. I truly love the work but what a surprise this old broad got on the first day she worked! No formal training, of course, but very good speller, good command (I thought) of medicalese and pretty cotton-picking fast (I thought) on the keyboard. Of course, the first dictator I had to deal with was Dr. Motor Mouth himself and I was almost ready to quit the first day. I still have a lot of work to do to get up to speed. We are not allowed vocabulary expanders and it has been everyone for himself on the macros. I would dearly love to have my own business at home, but think I am going to wait for another month or so before venturing out with my letters of introduction.
6/96, Neal Brown, New Mexico
I laughed as I read Julie's post about three 16-hour days to do a $60 job. Reminds me of when I started almost seven years ago. With no training other than many years of computer experience, I thought I wanted to try medical transcription. My wife was a nurse, I had a computer, and a seven-year-old Taber's. What more could I possibly need? I had been doing transcription for a Russian translator for about a year, but was totally unprepared for medical transcription.

I talked to a local service owner and told her how I could out-type most of the world, so she reluctantly agreed to give me a test in her office. I sat down at an old Kaypro CPM computer and tried to do my first "real" doctor's dictated tape. It was a total disaster! He talked 900 miles per hour, had some kind of a "foreign" accent, and I had no idea about most of what he was saying. To top it off, the service owner started typing behind me and totally unnerved me. She was fast! Later I figured out she was printing on a daisy-wheel printer, but at the time I thought she was doing the clackity-clack manually. I flunked the test, was embarrassed, and didn't get to work at home for the service. She did suggest that I look into the medical transcription course at the local college which I did.

The first evening in the medical terminology class was darned near as bad as the transcription test. Here I was, 48 years old, the only male in the class, had been out of school for almost a zillion years, and all these prefixes and suffixes looked like Latin to me. Now I wished I had taken language instead of music in high school. I hung in there, though, and the instructor seemed to either take a liking to me (or felt sorry for me), I'm not sure which. I ended up getting the second best score in the class. If I had been able to spell, it would have been the best. Anatomy, legal, and the actual transcribing part of the course came a little easier, but the school insisted on two classes of computer - keyboarding and something else, and I balked at that.

Several months later at my wife's urging I sent out letters to the local doctors and amazingly, one called and wanted to talk with me. The transcription service had erased two tapes and he was steamed at them and ready for a change. I started the next day with three tapes to transcribe, two of them re-dictations of the ones that had been erased. This just happened to be the same doctor whose tape I had tried to do a couple of years earlier and had failed so miserably. The two tapes that he re-dictated were particularly hard. I had told him I would have the tapes back the next day. Wow! What had I gotten myself into?

As I transcribed (sort of) I screamed, cussed, quit many times, and made my nurse wife listen to most of the tapes when she got home at night to help me try to figure out WHAT he was saying. He didn't look foreign, but the language he was using was. I found out later he was from a town 120 miles from my home town. The next day I went back and talked to him, explaining that I was having a difficult time, but would certainly get faster as time went on. He was understanding and I was relieved. It took me 37 hours to complete those 3 tapes, but I knew I was getting better at it. Maybe I was actually going to like doing medical transcription after all.

I was still very unprepared for transcribing. My Russian translator used standard-size tapes and the doctor uses micro. At first I copied the micros from a hand held recorder to a standard size tape to play them on my transcription machine until I could get a micro transcriber ordered. I also had a 9-pin dot matrix printer that would only print in the draft mode. An add-on enhancement created near-letter quality, but very slowly. My only reference materials were the seven-year-old Taber's, my college class books, and a small Webster's Medical Speller. Fortunately the doctor gave me an Orthopaedic Terminology book, and buying a Dorland's Medical Dictionary helped out. The enhancements, books and a shareware shortcut program helped my speed, but it seemed like I still had to look up just about every word.

Eight or nine years later I look back on those times and am glad I "hung in there." My original intent was to "work at home" as several people have said on this forum is not a good reason to be a medical transcriptionist. At that time my daughters were 7 and 8 years old and I wanted to raise them myself, rather than sending them to daycare. It hasn't always been easy, but I feel I have developed a special relationship with them that not too many fathers get to experience. As several people have pointed out, working at home is not for everyone and without having a great deal of perseverance I don't think I would have been able to do it. I do a very good job for my doctors and am amazed at some of the transcription I see coming out of other services and the hospital. The amount of mistakes that are allowed is amazing.

To those that say the best way to become a transcriptionist is with hospital experience I've got to agree, but the person who does only clinical or doctors' office work fills an important part of the medical transcription world. These newsgroups and mailing lists are an invaluable source of information and also give the feeling of being connected with other transcriptionists. I do urge those who are just starting out to "hang in there" and keep working and trying. The speed will come, especially with some of the shortcut programs such as Smartype and Instant Text. Medical dictionaries in the computer, drug references, and the references available on the Internet all help make the work go better.


6/96, David McDonald, bioneer1@voicenet.com:
I sort of fell into MT, actually; journalism major in college with a couple of technical writing courses under my belt, I abstracted scientific research documents, then got into coding ICD-7 (shows how old I am!!) at a teaching hospital, then pooled to the Cancer Registry, but, as these were part-time, accepted a fulltime job in Pathology as an MT. I did work on the side for a number of specialty departments, i.e., pulmonary medicine, dermatology, etc., then moved to California where I landed a job in the transcription dept at UCLA, where I sweated out the foreigners - didn't think I'd make it there for a while, but I hung in anyway. Then after about a year - my first stint with a service. The rest is, how you say, history! But I also got a chance at management and training, which I enjoyed; now I'm a home worker, occasionally brainstorming for my boss.
6/96, Janet Kruck, Virginia Beach:
I work for a local hospital as a remote transcriptionist. I work at home and modem my reports in to the hospital. I love it. I have been doing it for a little over a month now, and I can't imagine having to DRIVE to work again - I am so spoiled! I had been waiting for a LONG time to go home, and I think my boss sent me just to finally shut me up. I have been a transcriptionist for 10 years now, 6 years at the hospital I work for now. I've worked for quite a few specialty groups, too from home. I do miss my co-workers, but between their phone numbers, and all these fantastic places I am finding here on the web, I'm making up for it.
6/96, From Charis Castner
I started out as a warm body who could "type". My husband was in the military at the time working as an MRI technician at William Beaumont Army Medical Center. I had just graduated from the university with a degree in Biology and one of the transcriptionists was due for delivery. She took off on maternity leave and they were looking for a transcriptionist. I could hunt and peck about 30 words per minute and they hired me as an emergency hire. I immediately fell in love with the job! The physicians that I worked for were understanding, compassionate, and wanted to share as much of their terminology and knowledge as possible with me. This was a teaching hospital so they were used to "newbies" like me. I felt like this was an omen as I have yet to see a match for this particular group. The only problem was, I was begining to find out how much I really "didn't" know on a daily basis. My husband finally got orders and I tearfully had to leave my "temporary position" which turned into approximately three years of employment with the military.

Well, one thing led to another and we ended up bouncing all over the country and abroad where I found that there was ALWAYS a need for a transcriptionist somewhere. I ended up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and wound up working for a multi-specialty diagnostic clinic. Acquired lots of experience there and learned to develop my skills with simple day surgeries, a couple of different procedures here and there, internal medicine, family practice, OB/GYN, path, dentistry, etc...My supervisor was a military wife and got transferred back to the "lower 48" and they asked if I would be the supervisor. I promptly accepted.

About a year after having this wonderful job, I had a dreadful accident and severed my right hand terribly. I was horrified. How would I ever be able to type again? How I loved this profession. There was no way I could ever go back to anything other than medical transcription. I was in a blue funk one particular day when the phone rang. This happened to be the day I had all the sutures removed from my hand and it looked horrible. It was the instructor for the health information technology department at the local community college. She asked if I would come and speak to the health information technology students. They were in their transcription module at the time. I was very excited about this opportunity! Now, I could share with the students the fact they were learning an incredibly valuable skill. I was thrilled! I could hardly wait.

I walked into the class of approximately 30 students and almost fainted. They looked disgusted. They didn't want to have anything to do with transcription. Their equipment was antiquated, the tapes were all copies of some disgusting attempt at dictation and the workbook they were doing their transcription from was developed by a physical therapist who liked macros instead of "long hand". Oh boy, was I in for a treat! Oddly enough, it turned out to be one of the best discussions that the group had. They were so thirsty for knowledge once they found out the real story. Five of those students in that class turned out to be transcriptionists and I still keep in touch with each one of them.

The instructor took me over to meet the Dean of Instruction after this class discussion to introduce me around. Without asking me anything prior to this, she said, "here's our answer to prayer". She said that they had a proposal in for an entire HIT MT Associates Degree but all they needed was the instructor.

I went to tell my supervisor at the clinic that I had been offered this position and he told me he was so happy for me. He said he never wanted to see me go, but that he knew by the staff I had developed there at the clinic that I must have had a higher calling. I was deeply moved by that statement and it changed my life forever. I have been teaching transcription since.

I do not live in Alaska anymore as my husband has retired from the military. I've since moved back home to Texas where I live with my eight-year-old daughter, my handsome husband and two silly dogs. I am currently teaching an in-house training program at the local medical center. I don't think I could possibly do anything else in the world. I always tell my students to take advantage of the "veteran" transcriptionists, we are very few and far between. A good transcriptionist is not afraid or threatened to share knowledge with budding transcriptionists. They realize that the more they teach, the easier life is for all of us. Beware of the so-called transcriptionist that refuses to help out or "listen" to anything. Chances are they have something to hide...which is probably better in the long run that they keep it to themselves. This is not an easy field by any means; but to network, share knowledge, and perpetuate the occupation for others in the future is an endeavor that cannot be duplicated enough.

A group of my students told me at our last commencement ceremony that they were thinking of pitching in for a memorial plaque dedicated in my name at the medical center. These particular plaques hang on the doors at different locations around the hospital. It was allegedly going to read as follows: We dedicate this in honor of our instructor, but be sure you close the door, if you don't she'll get out and try to recruit you to be a transcriptionist! Little did they know, I was absolutely honored!

The name of our program is Valley Baptist Medical Center Transcription Training Program. We use the SUM program in addition to course work developed to compliment the tapes. We teach WP6.0, Physiology and Anatomy, Medicolegal Issues, Transcription I, II, and III, English, Pharmacology, Radiology, and Typing Enhancement Skills. It is a hospital-specific program which is in-house. We have had two classes of graduates to date. We only take nine students per session as this is all our lab can accomodate in our facility. We have enjoyed great success and the students are 100% placed in various transcription positions in our region. We are very fortunate that our facility encourages such a program. We have a tremendous amount of administrative support. -Cherie Castner, Program Director, Valley Baptist Medical Center Transcription Training Program


5/96, From Barbara, BTEDDER@aol.com
In a post to the bulletin board on AOL, Mary wrote "Don't think I could have learned MT much before 45 when I did learn it..." This statement gives me much encouragement. I am 39 and disabled. I have four children. Two of my children are also disabled. I have given the MT field much consideration in the past. My employment history is clerical, however, I was a pre-med student at the time of onset of my disabling condition.

I was just hired by a woman who owns her own MT company. She is not concerned about experience (given my background). She says that she will want to spend a lot of time with me initially, but that I may work at home and that she will always be available to me by phone. She also has a disabled child, we share a similar medical history and she is currently a pre-med student. I have read much of the information available through the MT Daily website and have come to the conclusion that I am very fortunate to come into such a nurturing environment. I guess it was a case of doing because I didn't know any better. I simply applied for a MT job advertised in the paper for persons with a minimum of two years experience.

I was told that what got me the job was the resume that I faxed her. It was not really a resume at all. It was more a letter of introduction. I stated my situation, any life/educational/work experiences that I had and considered to be beneficial and how I thought I was uniquely qualified for an entry level position. I really didn't think I had a chance, but here I am! All I want is an opportunity. I am thrilled beyond belief and look forward to many years of assistance and inspiration from MT Daily and online bulletin boards.


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