This all started with a query at MT Chat, which asked (in part):
Can anyone tell me if it makes a difference which online program you use? I've heard that potential employers look for someone that's been trained by an AHDI approved program. But when I asked Future MT, a non-approved program, they said that their program was as good as the others on AHDI's list but you have to pay to get on that list and they simply choose not to, so as to pass that savings on to the student.
I found that an interesting response from FutureMT because it's wrong on so many levels. Well – I suppose it makes sense if you're trying to justify to prospective students why you aren't on that list. I wonder how many people fall for it (probably quite a few). Because if you go read that discussion at MT Chat, you'll see that Mike DeTuri broke down the cost per student based on XX number of students and it's pretty negligible. And aside from that, schools don't pay to get on the list, they pay a fee to apply to be on the list – big difference. A school can pay the fee and submit the required information and if they don't meet the requirements, they still aren't approved – and they don't get a refund of their application fee.
So I moseyed on over to the FutureMT web site to see what their web site says about them. And I discovered something else interesting about FutureMT:
Future MT is not an accredited medical transcription course as a university within the state of incorporation, but rather a nationally recognized online education course using similar guidelines of major Universities.
When it comes to voluntary programs designed to evaluate a school program, FutureMT doesn't seem willing to waste its money, as it isn't accredited by the state of Florida, where the company is based, either. Not unlike the transcription sites that all claim “best, fastest, cheapest,” making a claim of nationally recognized online education course is pretty easy. It can't be verified, certified or accredited – but it sounds good! (Maybe I should change the MT Exchange tag line to nationally recognized online blogger.) There are a number of nationally recognized accreditations for distance learning programs, including the Distance Education & Training Council (DETC), Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Accreditation by any one of these would at least give proof to the claim of nationally recognized online education.
In fact, this is one of the requirements to become an AHDI-approved school:
The school/program must be accredited or licensed through a governmental body.
So in terms of as good as, strike one for FutureMT.
What I like is the consistent theme: we're saving money for our students!
Another benefit of Future MT’s course is that we do not have the large overhead needed to run a college, so we are able to pass those savings to our students and offer the same course at a more affordable cost.
I don't know how prospective students read this, but it makes me wonder whether they have other cost-saving measures that might be cutting corners a tad too close – you know? Like – instructors. Like – curriculum.
Speaking of which…
Another requirement for AHDI approval is that the school must follow the Model Curriculum for Medical Transcription. And it's really difficult to tell from the FutureMT website exactly where their coursework comes from.
The book Future MT uses is written by the staff of Health Professions Institute, which is the top name in the field, and extremely reputable. In fact, the founder of the American Association of Medical Transcription (AAMT) also founded HPI. Their materials are used widely among the most respected institutions.
As far as I can tell, the coursework (curriculum?) consists of handing you a book that can be purchased straight from Health Professions Institute (HPI) and the SUM Program practice recordings, which can also be obtained directly from HPI.
But wait – there's more!
You get unlimited live mentoring with experienced MTs! I'm not hearing the word “instructor” or “teacher” there. For all I know, their definition of an experienced MT is someone with 2 weeks' experience.
Students, at the appropriate time from Future MT instructors will be given access to the transcript keys and compare their work to the keys in a split-screen format, giving them immediate feedback on their errors.
Oh look – NOW we have “instructors.” Let me tell you something about giving students answer keys – they don't learn much and it renders the rest of the exercise useless once someone has the answers.
But wait – there's more!
I felt this part was worthy of a screen shot. Please comment if any of this makes sense to you.
And in the FAQ titled How Long Will the Course Take to Finish?, I found this gem:
Future MT's medical transcription training focuses on helping students find work quickly instead of spending more time training.
Yes, we certainly wouldn't want future MTs to spend too much time training! Let's focus instead on getting a job!
But wait – there's more!
There's an Employment Service!
And it's part of the Guarantee!
So let me see if I understand… if taking a list of potential employers and bombarding them with resumes for 60 days doesn't elicit any offers of employment – they'll help you do it for another 12 months, hoping for a different response? (What are their affiliate transcription companies, anyway? I hope this isn't just a list of transcription services they scrounged off Google.) Does everyone here understand the definition of insanity?
And every flippin' page at FutureMT ends with this:
I have to wonder how much value there is to that guaranty when I'm getting bombarded with messages from graduates who can't get a job. Money back? You can claim it within the first 30 days of enrolling. Of course, by the time you graduate and can't get a job, the 30 days is long past.
Do I really need to keep going? Unfortunately, there seems to be no limit to the number of people willing to be the fodder for cheap programs that will take their money, turn them loose – and then fill up my mailbox with pleas for help getting that elusive job.Which is why I keep blogging about it – someday, I'd like to believe my yammering made a difference.
I think it's pretty clear that: (a) not all transcription schools are equal and (b) FutureMT is not as good as a school that is licensed or accredited by a governmental body and approved by AHDI. Let me be clear – I don't think AHDI approval is the be-all/end-all – but it is a distinction, a step up and frankly, all we've got. Given that, I think it's essential that the medical transcription community supports that program.
But that's not all…
OK, I have to save the very best for last. This just had my jaw dropping. I went to the LINKS page at FutureMT, expecting to find links to MT resources and information. Instead, I found this:
Is it just me – or is this about the tackiest thing ever for a professional website? The only MT site listed there is one owned by FutureMT. I mean, really – credit score reports and satellite dish links on a professional site?
(Look for my followup article next week on Medical Transcription Schools and the FTC)