I’m back…..

Well I’m back.  It’s been a while.  Nearly a year in fact.

I will now use the old cliche that ‘life got in the way’ but illness and time has a way of not playing fair… and so here I am.  I hope to be able to add reasonably regular content this time around.  I will also attempt some half decent stories every now and again.

I have my good friend Jo to thank for bringing me back from the writing dead.  She has started her own blog and I don’t want to be outdone.  So thank you Jo.  I hope to be critiquing your blazing good foray into legendary writing status in the near future.

For the record it has been a nearly interesting 12 months in parts.  I’m still soldiering on with my MT work and making a half-decent attempt at pegging doctors’ and their linguistic idiosyncrasies.  I fear I will never reach the great heights of MT elitism but I’m earning a regular income and that has got to account for something.  I’m not aspiring to great levels, simply because I would like to have a life and health restrictions limit me to part-time MT semi elitism only.

In the meantime I will be finding at least one or two days per week to jot down my thoughts and process the flickerings of literary creative goop bouncing around between my ears.

Stay tuned….


MT trenches revisited, again.

Another week in the MT trenches is now over and done with and I can hear the collective sigh of relief from various family members as I toss my leg over the armrest of my favourite TV-viewing armchair.escape

It was a rabid week of ranting, swearing, head-banging and turning blue as I threw a few tanties over a succession of misdirected English-second-language medical experts trying to twist an English phrase or two to suit themselves and the diagnosis at hand.

I have seen more new, unexplained and non-existent medical materialisations in the last 5 days than in my 10 years in the medical industry and there were times when I had to restrain myself from adding a few creative phrases of my own to the comments box regarding the sufferings of the end user – me – in this instance.

One mumbling, stumbling so-called expert got so fed up with himself, he shouted the ‘f’ word into the microphone, and my ear, four times in quick succession as he tried to reformat one sentence three times and then gave up, berating himself for his stupidity.  On the entertain-o-meter,  however, I did give him an 11 out of 10, despite his shortcomings, with a 100% rating for inspired personality insight.

My ire, unfortunately, increased towards the end of that same day after tapping away furiously at my keyboard for what had been a marathon episode of stuttering only to have the transcribee stop in mid-stutter to take a phone call of even more epic proportions without stopping the recording.  It was just as well I was not being paid by the minute and it was also just as well I was discreet, as the content of the now stutter-free conversation was worthy of a pornographic link of it’s own on another blog.

I could go into the epic meanderings of a recent Scottish addition and the tight-fisted abbreviator who won’t pay for any more than what is said, even if it doesn’t make sense – but I won’t.  I will say, however, I am looking forward to next week when my favourite long-winded, previously frustrating, yet understandable regulars come back from their summer breaks.

I’m back

medtran1Well, I’m back, which is an epic statement in itself.

I have had a mammoth six months of illness and finding my feet in my new career as an MT (medical transcriptionist) which has been no mean feat.

I am, at this point in time, pleased to say that I have managed to navigate the MT intern minefield and been promoted to a DTC MT. An impressive title which simply means that I am a ‘direct-to-client medical transcriptionist. To say the last six months hasn’t been easy would be an understatement but I think I’m getting the hang of it and I am managing to keep my head above water while dog paddling furiously beneath its depths.

The pay is not fabulous at the moment as it is entirely productivity based and I’m not the fastest swimmer in these parts.  I am getting better though, no doubt bolstered along by my recent acquisition of a new built-to-specification computer and a killer set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones.  My productivity has increased markedly as I can now actually hear the mumblers and decipher the stutterers. My Bose are not miracle workers, however, so I still can’t translate an indecipherable English-Second-Language dictator if they are not speaking an understood version of the Queen’s English.  I am an MT, not a magician.

I have a multitude of accounts, account specifics and different doctors that I transcribe for.  No two days are alike and some days are better than others.  I have given some of my doctors nicknames specific to the type of voice they have, for example, Dr Dreamy, who is an absolute dream to transcribe. I can only imagine his charming good looks and his amicable personality. Yet another I call Mr Chocolate, whose voice is good enough to eat and probably should be x-rated. Dr Speed-dial never stops to take a breath and I suspect that he may have a somewhat debilitating caffeine habit, while Dr Lead-foot prefers to dictate while negotiating seemingly challenging traffic conditions five days per week.

Some of these dictators I find amusing but others can be a little stressful at times.  I have been introduced to all kinds of new English language alternatives and new medical terminology by the English-Second-Language dictators. It is up to me to wade through what is ‘acceptable’ grammar and what is not and present the closest possible variant of what the dictator is trying to say.

I have to be a grammar-efficient talented typist who knows a thing or two about computers, computer programs, IT troubleshooting with a smattering of medical know-how.  It’s a tall order but it is not without it’s perks. I get to work from home, I can wear what I want, I can set my own hours and my commuting costs and angst are non-existent.

I have to be diligent and committed to setting my own hours and sticking to them. I have to clock in and clock out, just like everybody else in the real world outside of these four walls. My many years of university study have, fortunately, instilled some admirable, if not slightly self-absorbed working habits.

Right now I’m working to improve my speed and efficiency but I’m doing okay.  I’d have to say at this point, however, if it wasn’t for my husband and his well-paid job, we might be eating baked beans and living in a tent. I’m pretty proud of myself though. It was a leap of faith to take when I gave up work to take a year off to do the Ozetrainer course to get me started on this new career path as an MT. In the beginning I wasn’t completely convinced that I would make it through the course, let alone actually be working in the field and earning money. I was at a point in my life where it just wasn’t possible for me to continue what I was doing without it impacting on my health. Working from home was the best option for me and I plan to take it to the next level and see where I end up.

Stay tuned.

I passed, thank god

Well the results are in.

After a year of MT training hell, I have received the call.

I passed…with honours.

How good is that?

I’m still coming to grips with the reality of the situation. No more slogging it out on the report production line of garbled, undecipherable and maddening transcriptionist hell. I’ve made it through and I’m on to the next stage.

At this point I’d like to thank my long suffering husband for putting up with my rants, and believing in me when I thought I really sucked. I’d also like to thank my dogs for helping me through my finals. The doggy do-do on my grammar notes and the pee on my open Dorland’s medical dictionary during the final did nothing to lower my stress levels at the time, but it did prepare me for any situation that may occur  in my future career as an MT.

I’ve been sent an application email from an MT company already. I plan to update my resume, fill out the forms and prepare for yet another examination to get into a traineeship.

Right now however, and for the next few days, I plan to live my  life as a free woman. I’m going to smell the roses, taste the chocolate and open that sweet red I’ve had stashed under the back bed for months. My husband will be home from sea in the next few days, which makes the occasion even sweeter.

I’ve been through this before, or something similar, when I graduated from university 6 years ago. It was the same sensation of euphoria, starting somewhere in my abdomen and shooting straight through the top of my head. It’s like being stoned…or so I’ve been told anyway.

I often wonder why I keep on doing this to myself though. Is the end result worth all the madness, sleepless nights, anxiety and stress? I think only time will tell. Everything I have done in my life so far has led me to this point. The objective of this last endeavour was to earn a living from home. This, in my way of thinking, would be the ultimate opportunity – considering that I live on an island and local job prospects are quite low despite my qualifications.

The next few months will be a testament to my years of experience and my recent training. My knowledge of current technology and a lot of patience should see me through the unexpected glitches that are sure to pop up every now and again. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that technology is never a smooth road.

I can’t wait to start and earn a living again. I’m starting at the bottom, but hopefully I will move up the ranks and become a ‘seasoned’ MT that others can rely on.

I’m also planning another project for next year. I’m building a new computer. I’m hoping for the best but I’m expecting the unexpected, and another steep learning curve.

‘Learning never exhausts the mind’  Leonardo da Vinci.

Transcription 2012

Well, I’m back into it again. I’ve been slowly extricating myself from the Christmas and New Year festivities, and still feeling a tad lazy and in holiday mode.

I started to warm up my keyboard fingers for a week or two and then got a virus, so my big plans of achieving my goal of 50 percent of the second last module of my study course by now went down the veritable toilet.

I’m talking about my medical transcription certification course. I’ve talked about it before, and I will probably talk about it again, in an effort to blow off some steam and give y’all an idea of just what takes up most of my days, and keeps me up some nights. Nothing I have done in the past, university, Tafe or that horrible woman that I worked with a few years ago, has anything on what I am putting myself through in an effort to achieve my goal of working from home, and for myself.

I’m up to the transcription side of the course, and the theory side is an uncomfortable memory as I settle into the BAC module, better known as the ‘Basic Acute Care’ module. Let me tell you right now, there is nothing ‘basic’ about this module at all. I’m transcribing hospital reports of all kinds, clinic notes, radiology reports, complete medical histories, operation reports, and whatever else that comes my way from the hundreds of ‘real life’ reports that have been taken from clinics and hospitals from all over America, and possibly the world. Some of the jargon in the reports sounds like a foreign language, and that is without the aid of the foreign dictators that are thrown in just for extra pain, gain, and experience.

Just when I think I’m starting to get it, along comes a new dictator in a new setting to let me know that I shouldn’t be getting too comfortable or too smug in my newfound knowledge and experience.

So far I’ve typed well over 350 ‘real life’ reports, only the names and dates have been deleted to protect the privacy of those who participated or were talked about. So rest assured that even if I hear the worst of the worst, I won’t know if it’s you or your grandmother in the next suburb that is going under the knife, having a baby, or a bilateral salpingo-ophorectomy. As you can see, I’ve learned a few new words, and some, like the aforementioned, have been indelibly stamped into my brain for the rest of my life. Let’s face it, who could forget words like hepatosplenomegaly,  oronasopharyngeal or esophagogastroduodenoscopy?

I’m not even getting warmed up yet, and neither is this course. I’m about a third of the way through BAC, then comes AAC, or ‘Advanced Acute Care.’ I can’t imagine how much more advanced that I will need to be to get through the ‘Advanced’ version of it all.

Then after that we have the objective examination portion of all that we have learned in theory so far, of which I am hoping still resides somewhere in the corners of my unconsciousness. After I get through that, then there’s the practical, God help me.

If I manage to get through all of that, I would imagine that I will be more than capable of anything that any dictator can throw at me.

MT revisited

For those in the know, I have recently embarked on a voyage of discovery, a voyage in a new direction to test the finer qualities of my patience, if I ever had any at all, for the next few months.

I have decided, in my wisdom, that I need a new career, a change of pace, and an income from home, rather than slogging it out with the rest of the rat race on our overused and under-maintained roads and highways. I’ve done it all before, from university to Tafe college, and I’m doing it again in a different way. Online study, in my opinion, is the way of the future, and the future of a new breed of worker who can ‘do it all behind closed doors’…Work, that is. Keep your mind out of the gutter. I’ve had enough of the nine to five regimen, or in my case, the eight to six and the shiftwork that redefined ‘inconvenient.’

So here I am again. Ready to sign for the new year into my study server and download all types of fun and games classified as ‘medical reports.’  I am now negotiating the terrain of the medical transcriptionist. I have said it before here on my posts, and I will say it again. It is not as easy as some people think it is. I once thought that university was tough, but those  2500 word essays and 3-hour examinations pale in comparison to the dread of getting through around 800 reports of unimaginable difficulty and a sound  quality so bad at times, that you need to be a linguistics expert by the first paragraph.

I’ve had a couple of weeks off over the Christmas and New Year break, and I think I’ve deserved it. Self-paced online home study requires a certain amount of discipline that is not for the faint-hearted. A belief in yourself is paramount, and a steely resolve not to waste a cent of that non-refundable up-front fee by procrastinating, is all-consuming. You only get 12 months to get through the curse….sorry, course, and it’s a pretty tight schedule.

The first half of the course consists of more medical jargon that I have seen or heard in a lifetime. As a frequent visitor to hospitals over the years, and a working life that has revolved around medical administration and patient care, I have been exposed to my share of the medical dictionary, or so I thought.

Right now I’m at the pointy end of the stick. I’m up to my eyeballs and earlobes in sounds that range from high pitched nasally screeching to gum chewing, yawning, paper-flicking mumbling. Illegibility is not only confined to prescriptions…..and yes, I know that illegibility is not really a word, but if they can make up words, then so can I.

By the time I finish and have that holy grail of the  qualified ‘MT’, my certification, I will become highly employable from the home. That is the plan anyway, and hopefully my future. I just have to get through another 450 reports and sit the end examination, and pass with flying colours, to realise my dream. I believe that it will be worthwhile, and that the course itself is designed to be hard for a reason. If I can get through this and out the other side, then I can almost certainly get through any kind of transcription that they can throw at me.

To all of those who are already out there transcribing, you deserve a medal.



Life as an MT trainee, or something like it

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m in training. I’ve had a year off work now, not by choice, but  not a bad idea. I needed a break. The trouble with me is that I can’t stay idle for too long. I start to feel a sense of ‘purposeless’..if there is such a thing. You know what I mean. Anybody that is used to being self sufficient and able to support themselves, likes to be independent and likes to have their own means will know what I’m talking about.

So here I was, planning my next career move, so to speak. I thought about a lot of things that I could do, and I thought about what I wanted to do. I wanted to earn an income, that was true. But I didn’t want to have to go too far to do it. Living on an island can be a good thing, but it presents limited job opportunities, so commuting to and from the island was a necessity rather than a choice, which I soon tired of.

There were plenty of online courses for one thing or another, and plenty of online businesses that delivered their training courses online. I looked around for a while and I came across something that didn’t seem like a scam with a giant cyber banner touting the benefits of earning money from home.

MT transcription. Or for the layman, medical transcription typing. Sounds pretty basic eh? I’d worked in administration for years. I’d run offices and worked as a secretary and done plenty of dictaphone typing in my time. I could type. Piece of cake. Uh-huh.

I’d studied before, at colleges and universities. I knew what I was in for. The course was for one year. I’d studied in various capacities for well over ten years. I weighed up the pros and cons and opened up my wallet.

First up, I’d never seen so many textbooks. There were books on basic computer function. Ok, I got through that module without too much fuss. I was doing fine. There were other books on grammar and punctuation. To be a good transcriptionist you had to have a handle on good grammar. Fair enough. I thought I had a good grasp of the English language  until I got thrown a curve ball with prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, determiners…not to mention good old pronouns, written all over it. It was going to be a long course.

Right now I’m about half way through. I’ve only just started the transcription side of things. I’ve been too busy with the theory – anatomy and physiology, medical specialities, diagnostic reports, building the medical record, perfecting the text (yet another one on grammar). I was in textbook hell. But I got through it. And now I’m  onto something far  more difficult. Typing 750 different real-life practice reports with real-life doctors who mumble, stumble, chew, yawn, speed read, drawl, and come out with things I didn’t know existed in the world as we know it.

They tell me that by the time I have finished this course I will have been exposed to most possible scenarios in the workplace, and I will be prepared for anything.  I’m looking forward to that one. But right now I’ve got another 670 reports to do that seem to multiply when I’m not looking. I’m like the veritable bunny caught in the headlights. Mesmerized by the bright lights, and too daft to get out of the way.

I reached the pinnacle today when I transcribed a report from a doctor who I thought must have had a speech impediment. Nobody could speak that badly, but I guess recording their notes on a digital file is only one step up from their handwriting. That is why they have secretaries and transcriptionists. They make the world a more structured, and orderly place.

Me structured and orderly? That remains to be seen. But I am, in some perverted way, enjoying the challenge.