Without exception, the #1 question I get via e-mail from MT Registry goes something like this:
I graduated and I can’t get a job. All the job openings require experience. How do I get experience when nobody will hire you unless you have experience?
It’s like traveling back in time to when I was looking for MY first job. Not much has changed in 21 years. And I have to give credit where it’s due – AHDI has been attempting to address this issue for many years. I think the fact that it’s still an issue isn’t due to a deficiency their efforts, but has more to do with the nature of the business.
Medical transcription is extremely labor intensive. Speech recognition software attempts to alleviate the labor, but remains only somewhat successful. Couple that with low profit margins, hospitals and clinics constantly trying to cut costs, the commoditization of transcription – and you have a formula that just doesn’t allow much room for training people who come to the job unprepared to do it right out of the gate. When I was doing production transcription services, I tried to hire new graduates and found the experience costly and discouraging.
- Some people shouldn’t be transcriptionists. They’re doing it for all the wrong reasons; they don’t have the skills required and they’ll never have the skills required, but they have forged ahead because either they felt it was their only option to earn money or they had a great desire and confused that with ability. And of course, they can always find a school that will accommodate their desire/need.
- Some programs simply don’t adequately prepare MTs to work and the amount of time, retraining and education required to bring them up to speed is too costly for a transcription service.
- Even if an MTSO is willing to spend the time and money on someone, there’s nothing to stop them from leaving to go somewhere else or out on their own before the MTSO has recouped the investment made in them. My personal opinion was that new trainees should have to make a deposit, which wouldn’t be refundable until they’d met certain goals and completed XX number of lines after meeting those goals. If they left before doing that, they’d forfeit the deposit. (And I’m not talking a small deposit here, either.) I just don’t see MTs willing or able to do that, however.
And I am tired of the answer given in many of the forums: “You should’ve gone to this or that other school.” It isn’t helpful. For a variety of reasons, not everyone can go to this or that school – it doesn’t meet their needs, they didn’t pass the screening exam, they didn’t research it before signing up with the school they went to – whatever the reason, they’ve paid their money, completed the program they paid for and they can’t find a job. It isn’t productive or useful to tell them they should start all over again.
Let me talk about the people who pursue MT as a career against all advice to the contrary. I had a doctor who once stated: “The indications for a hysterectomy are no longer the presence of a uterus and the presence of Blue Cross.” The same is true for career goals. The need to work at home so you can be with your children and have a flexible schedule isn’t an indication for becoming a medical transcriptionist. The desire to work in the medical field isn’t an indication for becoming a medical transcriptionist. Love of medical language isn’t an indication for becoming a medical transcriptionist. If someone has told you that this isn’t really the right career for you – don’t insist that they’re wrong and plunk down your money to go to school to learn it! Because have no doubt – there will be a school happy to take your money, even knowing that you will either never complete the program; or if you complete the program, you will not be able to get a job because you can’t pass the screening exams; or if you actually do get a job, you won’t be able to keep it and your “career” will consist of one job after another. I mean really – you can’t make a career out of being terminated, and it’s going to be depressing and discouraging for you.
I know it really should be the role of a school to see that (a) there are companies that will hire their graduates and (b) their graduates are prepared to take the jobs they’re offered. But let’s face a little bit of reality here: schools are a business, just like the medical transcription companies, hospitals and clinics. They have absolutely no motive to tell eager prospective students that the pay is lousy, the benefits are terrible to nonexistent, they will be working at home but their hours will be nights, weekends and whenever they can grab enough lines, the dictators can be horrible and and and… If you go to the web sites of some of the highly regarded schools (ahem!), you’ll see cautious optimism sprinkled with reality checks that are touched on about as lightly as a butterfly landing on a delicate flower. From there, you go to the school sites that tout “high demand = high income!” and place a lot of emphasis on “work at home! no commute! save on child care!” Every school is going to claim that employers are clamoring for their graduates, just like every transcription service claims to deliver the fastest TAT and best quality, all for the cheapest price. I’m not saying it’s right or the way it should be – it’s the way business is. Nobody is going to tell you what’s WRONG with what they’re selling.
That said, “high income” is all relative, I suppose, especially in this economy. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t be motivated to roll out of bed for 7 cpl on an account laden with crappy dictators, cherry pickers and vague directions. However, I can see situations where someone else would be, so to each his/her own.
But I digress.
In looking through some of the resumes and contact letters sent at MT Registry – some of them to me, as the administrator – I think some people could use some help in writing their resumes and cover letters (and following the directions posted in the job listings). But then it occurred to me that isn’t enough, because it still doesn’t give them the experience and it still doesn’t move them forward in getting that first job.
I’m going to ask the employers to come together and tell me what you’d like to see: what would it take for you to hire new graduates? I’d like to add value to what’s offered in the TranscriptionConnections network, but I want to make sure it’s value to the MTs and value to the employers. Is this something that could be fixed or at least made a little easier for everyone; and if so, how?
For the newbies (new graduates without experience), here’s my question to you: after graduating from whatever school you went to, would you be willing to put more time and money into something if you could see a job at the end of that road?