Sci.Med.Transcription Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled by Melinda Meahan
Last Updated 01/29/00. This is always a FAQ-in-progress. Suggestions for improvement, corrections, content contributions, etc. are always welcome.
THIS FAQ IN ITS ENTIRETY IS COPYRIGHT 1999-2000 BY MELINDA MEAHAN. IT MAY BE REPRODUCED FREELY FOR NON-COMMERCIAL PURPOSES IN ITS ENTIRETY AND WITH THIS COPYRIGHT STATEMENT INTACT AS LONG AS THE AUTHOR RECEIVES NOTIFICATION OF ITS REPRODUCTION AND FEEDBACK ON THE REACTIONS THAT THE DISTRIBUTION MAY CAUSE. THIS FAQ MAY BE DISTRIBUTED, POSTED, ETC. FOR FINANCIAL GAIN OR BY A FOR-PROFIT ENTITY ONLY WITH THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.
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PORTIONS OF THIS FAQ ARE WRITTEN BY OTHERS, WHO RETAIN THE COPYRIGHT ON WHAT THEY HAVE WRITTEN AND HAVE GRACIOUSLY ALLOWED THEIR THOUGHTS TO BE INCLUDED HERE.
The current version of this FAQ is always available at http://welcome.to/smtfaq and is posted to the newsgroup sci.med.transcription weekly (unless I forget). Comments, requests for permission to redistribute, etc. may be emailed to Melinda Meahan at mombearto4 @ usa.net.
If you are reading this as a text version, you will need to delete the spaces on each side of the @ signs for authors of portions of the FAQ to get their correct email address. This is to foil spammers’ email-skimming software. The hyperlinks on the web site, however, will give you the correct address without the need to delete excess spaces. Thanks for your understanding.
PART 1: How Do I Get Into MT?
PART 2: Getting Your First Job
PART 3: Some Sources For Reference Material
PART 4: MT Resources in Cyberspace
PART 5: Newsgroup Participation
PART 6: The Original RFD and Charter for sci.med.transcription
****** PART 1: HOW DO I GET INTO MT? IS IT FOR ME? ******
Q: I read an ad that if I can type or am willing to learn, I can learn MT and make $25,000 a year working part time. How can I get in on this?
A: MTs are generally paid by the line of produced output. A rank beginner might not even earn minimum wage to start with, according to various online reports of peoples’ personal experiences.
At a representative pay as an employee of 7 cents per line, a new MT is going to earn right around minimum wage if they are lucky. The typical output of a reasonably competent MT at the local office of major service I used to work at was around 200 (65-character) lines per hour, and that equals about $29,000 per year. MTs working as independents have reported speeds of up to 500 lines per hour, but that can hardly be considered a representative speed to use as a benchmark for all MT work in general.
THERE IS NO CAREER LADDER IN MT! Any MT should be expected to do any work that gets thrown to him/her. A newer MT will take longer and therefore earn less pay.
Q: Isn’t MT a great way to work at home and be home with my young children?
A: MTs are paid on a production basis — by the line, by the word, by the page, etc.. It is possible (and I am not the only person who has done it) to work at home and ride herd on small fry while doing MT at the same time. However, your children MUST be well disciplined to leave you alone and let you work! Alternatively, you may want to hire someone to come into your home to watch your children for a few hours a day so you can get some uninterrupted work time. Any time spent dealing or interacting with children during your “work hours” is time for which you will not be paid.
I am not trying to discourage anybody, as I have done almost all of the above, but I want to make it clear what is involved in doing MT at home with small fry.
Q: How do I learn to be an MT?
A: There are a number of correspondence programs around as well as vocational programs at local vocational schools or junior or business colleges. A thorough education in MT would include a strong grounding in English grammar, anatomy and physiology courses, pharmacology courses, and lots of practice from real doctors (not actors playing the part of doctors). A number of vocational programs also include an internship at a local hospital or similar facility, which is a real plus. A good MT course will probably be taught and/or administered by a MT or at least someone with a medical background.
A list of MT courses can be found at MT Desk’s Websites By and For MTs at http://www.mtdesk.com.
A good MT course generally:
- is run by an MT or a former MT
- includes a thorough education in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology
- has authentic dictation and lots of it as part of course work
- follows the model curriculum published by the AAMT at http://www.aamt.org.
- Takes at least six months and up to two years to complete.
- Offers full training in everything a new MT might be expected to do, as opposed to a “cram course” type of program.
- Assists students formally or informally with getting into the field after they graduate
- might offer an internship
- might find mentors (usually volunteers) for students
- won’t make unrealistic promises (i.e., “You can earn $50,000 a year part time in between diaper changes and shutting the small fry to their soccer games,” “You can decide what hours you want to work,” etc.)
Q: I can type fast (or, I am a RN who is burning out, etc.) How can I get my first job as an MT?
A: MT is more than just typing. You have to have a strong grounding in English grammar. You have to be able to think on your feet. More and more, you have to have a good ear for foreign accents. And you have to know medical terminology well, because if you think that doctors’ handwriting is bad, their dictation is worse! So it’s not so easy.
For a mom (or anybody else) who wants a job that is intellectually stimulating and who is willing to do the job right (i.e., look everything up they aren’t positive about and re-listen as many times as needed until they understand what Dr. Mushmouth is saying), put the job first when it needs to come first (i.e., treat it like a job instead of a hobby), and who is willing to start out at low pay (or no pay until they find a job) and work their way up to a reasonable and steady income, there aren’t too many better things you can do.
****** PART 2: GETTING YOUR FIRST JOB ******
This “How do I get my first job” portion of the FAQ is used by the kind permission of Peggy LaChance at digitalcmt @ mindspring.com, and I am sure she wishes to retain the copyright on this material. Please do not use it without her permission.
I quote Peggy:
Speaking as someone who’s been around a while, I can tell you that you’ll be far more successful in entering this career if you approach it from a more realistic standpoint.
The truth is that it will be very, very difficult to find someone who will allow you to work at home at first because they recognize that you simply do not have the experience/training to be able to do this successfully. Letting you do this will be bad for them … and for you.
You’ll be able to find a job faster working in-house, you’ll learn more and you’ll learn it at a faster rate, and THEN you can go home. You’ll also be likely to make better money working in-house.
It’s sad that so many people hook up with courses which give them unreasonable expectations about the job market in medical transcription, but it’s nice to be able to hear the truth on SMT — even if it is a bit belated.
This is not easy work. The reality isn’t even close to the tapes you used in your course. Your course probably didn’t even correctly communicate the variety in the types of dictation that we do, much less prepare you to transcribe it.
This field requires coursework which is the equivalent of a 2-year college program, and then requires 2-3 years of supervised experience thereafter before you can truly be able to work independently with a variety of transcription.
The best way to get your foot in the door is to go work for someone on-site until you’ve learned enough to work on your own. At that point, you’ll never be without a job.
Services and institutions are literally desperate to find qualified MTs — MTs who have a documented ability to do excellent work without supervision. There aren’t enough of these people to meet the demand. There are lots of people who just took a course, but they can’t hire any of them because their training is incomplete and they can’t do the work.
Everyone who is having trouble finding a job after taking a course needs to read this post and see the reality of this work instead of the fantasy. This job requires a broad background in medical language and science AND experience, and the only way to get that is to take a reputable course and then work in a supervised position for a few years.
***** PART 3: SUPPLY AND REFERENCE SOURCES FOR MTs *****
Data Cal http://www.datacal.com/catalog.htm
Phone: 800-223-0123 Fax: 602-545-8090
Flashforward, Wordperfect, and other programs and lower prices. Also stick on labels for keyboards: function keys, or just worn off keys.
Sylvan Software http://www.cyberemporium.com/sylvansoftware/
Medical/pharmaceutical dictionaries: Wordperfect DOS or WIN, MS Word Sylcount Line count: WP DOS or WIN.
Productive Performance http://www.foxcomm.net/productive/
WP Count for WP5.1 and WIN
Spellex Development http://www.spellex.com
Electronic spellers, Explode It (for Win 95)
PRD+: Productivity Software International.
Tel. 212-818-1144 Fax 212-818-1197
211 East 43rd St., New York, NY 10017
PRD word expansion software.
Smartype Speedtyping http://www.theprogrammers.com
Text generation software for WP 5.1 and 5.1+. Has built-in medical vocabulary.
Medpen http://www.med-pen.com E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Orders: 1 (800) 579-4300
Address: Emmaus MedPen, 3131 Emmaus Way Cosby, TN 37722
Medpen automates formatting, address insertion, line counting, naming/saving, invoicing, etc.
Martel Electronics Sales http://www.martelelectronics.com
Discount transcribing equipment
R. T. King Company http://www.transcribers.com
Specializes in new and used transcribing machines for the medical transcriptionist. Sells and services all makes and models (except Panasonic).
Dick Cummins, 21st Century Research, San Diego, CA area
Sells and services PC-Dart, Dictaphone, etc. for San Diego area and areas where there is no local rep
Sells headsets and also foot pedals. Prices range from $19 to $79. The brands include Sony, Olympus, Norelco, Dictaphone. The styles include stethoscope and stereo style.
1925-M E. Bennett St., Springdale, MO 65808. 800 994-3210.
Transcribers, parts, headsets of all kinds including Dictaphone ($18 and up)
Reliable Office Solutions
800-735-4000 voice, or fax 24 hours 800-326-3233
Transcription labels and office supplies – Free same day shipping
Medical Arts Press
1-800-328-2179 voice, or fax 24 hours 1-800-328-0023
Transcription labels and office supplies
REFERENCE MATERIALS AND PERIODICALS
Williams & Wilkins http://www.stedmans.com/
1-800-527-5597, 1-800-447-8438 (fax) Stedman’s Word Books, electronic dictionaries, etc.
W. B. Saunders http://www.wbsaunders.com/
Dorland’s reference books, electronic dictionary, etc.
Health Professions Institute http://www.hpisum.com/
(209) 551-2112 voice, (209) 551-0404 fax
Word/phrase books SUM MT course
MT Monthly http://www.mtmonthly.com/
Semimonthly newsletter with word helps, information, etc.
The Latest Word http://www.wbsaunders.com/catalog/wbs-prod.pl?1067-716X 1-800-654-2452
Monthly Prescribing Reference
Current drug information. Ask for special rate for medical transcriptionists.
Lexi-Comp Products http://www.lexi.com/products.htm
References include the Drug Information Handbook for both regular drugs and dentistry, Infectious Diseases Handbook, and Laboratory Test Handbook.
Neil M. Davis http://www.neilmdavis.com/
Abbreviations book. Web site has place to add new abbreviations to the next edition of their book.
Facts and Comparisons
phone 800-777-2295 fax 301-824-7390
American Drug Index and the Quarterly Drug Index
Advance for Health Information Professionals http://www.merion.com/hi/hi.html
Free monthly magazine.
Physicians Telephone Directory, Inc. http://www.thelittlebluebook.com/
302 West Main Street, Suite 206, Avon, CT 06001-9962
Tel: 860-409-7000 Fax 860-674-8893
The Little Blue Book
****** PART 4: MT RESOURCES IN CYBERSPACE ******
Internet sites and online service areas of interest to MTs.
Lobby to MT information in cyberspace. General MT chatter, help, info, discussions, flames, etc.
Information on voice recognition software
A newsgroup on using computers in medicine.
Help for your windows word processor.
If you have found another newsgroup helpful, please send me the name!
KAMT (Keeping Abreast of Medical Transcription) List
Focus is on already-working MTs. Mail to email@example.com with subsingle in the body of your e-mail message:
New Medical Transcriptionist Connection) List
http://www.epix.net/~jphill/nmtc/ Focus on students and new MTs, but all are welcome. To subscribe, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with sub nmtc firstname lastname in the message body.
Medspeech – medical speech recognition users mailing list – John Leipsic, MD, Listmaster
To subscribe, send e-mail to email@example.com with: subscribe medspeech yourname@address in the body of the message
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) MT Chat:
#MT-Helpline on Sandnet: Information at http://www.mtdesk.com/guidelines.shtml
Open at all times, scheduled help time and chat at M-F 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern. Experienced and new MTs welcome. Contact is Nancy M. Greene at stat @ cdsnet.net.
#New-MTs on Sandnet: Information at http://www.mtecinc.com/studentchat.htm
8 p.m. ET. This chat is specifically for M-TEC students. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need more information to get to the chats, check out Vander’s Medical Transcription: Let’s Chat page at http://www.clandjop.com/~dkvander/mtchat.html. Just don’t read anything before reading the AOL Instructions (page down a screen or two) on that page if you are on AOL, or it won’t work.
BASIC MT CYBER REFERENCE LIBRARY
Merck Manual: http://www.merck.com/
Medline: National Library of Medicine (term verification) http://medworld.stanford.edu/medworld/researchcorner.html
KEY MT WEB SITES
Arleen McGovern’s MT Desk: http://www.mtdesk.com
CONTENTS: Word lists by specialty, the famous New Terms and Equipment lists, lots of links to other medical sites. Arleen also has message areas and a chat at http://www.mtchat.com.
Janie Gilbert’s Medical Links for MTs: http://www.quailhaven.com/medframes.htm.
CONTENTS: Message areas, links.
Kim Randall’s MT Universe: http://www.mtuniverse.com/.
CONTENTS: Cyberspace resources, MT tips, self-help advice, MT networking.
Donna Gettings’s Medical Transcription Resources and Links: http://mt.theirplace.com/
CONTENTS: Nicely sorted resource list.
Julie Weight’s ALPHABEST site: http://www.alphabest.com/
CONTENTS: Surveys, WP 5.1/DOS for sale, fun stuff.
MT Meeting Place: http://www.mtmeetingplace.com
CONTENTS: A web-based message board for MTs using voice recognition on a production basis (most particularly Dragon Naturally Speaking) to get help and learn how to make it work. Your hostess: Barbara Grow.
Medical Transcription Ring: http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?ring=mtring;list
Medical Transcription Resources Ring: http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?ring=dejablue9;list
MT Networking Ring: http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?ring=mtnetwork;list
A list of known MT courses can be found at MT Desk here: http://www.mtdesk.com/noframes/mtsites.shtml#MTTraining
American Association for Medical Transcription: http://www.aamt.com/
CONTENTS: Sells AAMT Book of Style. Administers Medical Transcriptionist Certification Program.
Medical Transcription Industry Alliance: http://www.mtia.com/
CONTENTS: Organization for MT service owners. Has links list, publications listing, other interesting information about the industry.
MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTION ON ONLINE SERVICES
(information on other services would also be gladly received)
AOL: Use the keyword function (Command-K/Mac, Control-K/Windows) and type in medical transcription
Tues 10 pm or Fri ?9? p.m. Eastern at private room MTUnite – aol://2719:2-2-mtunite
Mon nights, 10:00 Eastern at Business Know-How V (Formal moderated chat).
NEWSGROUP ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS:
AOL Keyword to access Sci Med Transcription (unread messages) – aol://5862:126/sci.med.transcription
****** PART 5: GETTING THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT FROM ******
************* YOUR NEWSGROUP PARTICIPATION *************
Many thanks to Tony Sheppard for this lighthearted look at the ups and downs of sci.med.transcription. This is just to say that not everybody takes everything on the newsgroup seriously.
Sunday, Sweet Sunday
Copyright 1998 by Tony Sheppard at tjuep @ peganet.com
The sailboats on the Gulf are great,
The dolphins are at play;
The sun is warm and wonderful,
Another gorgeous day.
While over at the hospital,
ER is in full swing;
So all the weekend warriors
Still get to ‘do their thing.’
But Lo! Companionship abounds,
Who says that we’re alone?
More threads than many blankets have,
More drugs and terms unknown!
The sensitivity this week
Beats Oprah by a mile;
“Professionals,” we call ourselves,
That means we flame with style!
At times we take someone apart
>From safe behind our screen;
Amazing, all we think we know
Of folks we’ve never seen.
Within each person there’s a heart,
And feelings, too, we know;
We’ve all been hurt, so what the h___ —
Let’s tell ’em where to go!
But all in all, we still hang in
When others need, we’re there;
It’s just a little hard to see
Sometimes how much we care.
The work’s frustrating as can be
That’s true for everyone;
The folks here really understand,
That helps to get it done.
So, even tho’ the weather’s nice,
I’m sure that you’ll agree;
It’s not quite as ‘fulfilling’ as
A week on S.M.T!
Happy Sunday, everyone, and thanks for being here!
The following section is written by Peggy LaChance at digitalcmt @ mindspring.com
Looking to post a word help question to SMT?
You’re welcome to post them here. We have a number of really good MTs who are available to help. We do our best, but it’s sometimes difficult to be very helpful — not because the word is difficult, but because we don’t have enough information to make a good decision. Sometimes, we can’t help because we can’t find the post to begin with.
There are some things you can do to make it easier for us to help you.
If you are asking for help, post your word help in a NEW ARTICLE, not as a response to *another* word help question. That way, we’ll all see it. It will stand out, all by itself, in the newest postings we’ve received, and we can answer it promptly.
If you post your new question as a part of somebody else’s word help thread, you run the almost certain risk that we won’t see it. We don’t always read the responses to word helps — we only post help.
Second, provide us with enough information to make an reasonable decision about your word. You need to provide us with the exact text quote, with the word in question spelled “fon et ti cal ly” in as neutral a manner as possible. Don’t try to make up a word that it sounds like — just give us the raw sounds. Most of the time, we’ll know what you need just based on the quoted text surrounding the word you need. It also helps to provide the other relevant information (“context”) from the report. If you don’t have this information, or the text, be prepared for us to tell you that we can’t help much — we rely on the context.
Third, tell us exactly what references you searched which didn’t help and how you looked up what you didn’t find. That enables us to avoid wasting time with references which won’t produce. It will also enable us to help you develop an appropriate reference library and the skill to use it.
And if someone does suggest more appropriate references or some continuing education, or if someone does provide some little hints on how to use the ones you have, accept this with a welcoming heart, eh Grasshopper?
Finally, one reminder to all those helpful folks out there — please cite your sources when you provide word help assistance! It’s not enough to provide a spelling — the person who needs the word also needs a documented source. It’s not enough to just say someone told you what it was.
****** PART 6: THE ORIGINAL RFD AND CHARTER FOR ******
************* SCI.MED.TRANSCRIPTION *************
From jwt2 @ pge.com Tue Jun 21 19:48:56 1994
From: jwt2 @ pge.com (Jim Trudeau)
Subject: RFD: sci.med.transcription
Date: 21 Jun 1994 17:48:19 -0400
Sender: tale @ uunet.uu.net
Approved: tale @ uunet.uu.net
Xref: uunet news.announce.newgroups:5243 news.groups:106816 sci.med:90659
This is an official Request for Discussion (RFD) on the creation of a new newsgroup called (probably) “sci.med.transcription”.
Group name: sci.med.transcription
Summary: A newsgroup for the discussion of all aspects of the medical transcription profession
Proposed by: Jim Trudeau
Internet ……… jwt2 @ pge.com
CompuServe ……. 74252 , 360
America Online … Jim Trudeau
Currently there are thousands of medical transcriptionists (MT’s) working from their homes, doctor’s offices, and in hospitals who find it difficult to share professional information with each other. While some MT’s can be found on Prodigy, GENIE, CompuServe, and a variety of small BBS’s, there is a need to provide a unifying channel of communications to bring MT’s together on a worldwide basis.
An Internet newsgroup is the preferred method of providing this channel of communications. GENIE, Delphi, and AOL currently provide newsgroup access, and CompuServe plans to offer it within 6 months. A newsgroup will provide a commonly accessible method of communicating between the users of all of these on-line systems. It will also serve those MT’s who are directly connected to the Internet (Colleges, some hospitals, etc.).
A newsgroup is being proposed instead of a mailing list or list server because most MT’s access the Internet via commercial on-line systems. The volume of mail that such a list would generate would create could cause a financial barrier to active MT participation. As an example the CompuServe forum for MT’s has 30-40 messages per day, and the other on-line services would add additional message traffic.
This would be an unmoderated newsgroup providing a forum for the discussion of all aspects of the profession of medical transcription. These discussions would include, but are not be limited to:
– The spelling and defining of medical terminology
– Introduction of new medical terminology to MT’s
– Discussions about specialized equipment MT’s use
– Discussions on continuing professional training
– Guidance for new MT’s just entering the profession
– Discussions on software and hardware used by MT’s
– Spreading the word about job opportunities
– General social interaction
ADMINISTRIVIA (Administrative trivia)
This RFD is being issued in accordance with the guidelines set in the “USENET Newsgroup Creation Companion” that is regularly posted to news.announce.newgroups.
After this RFD is posted on news.announce.newgroups it will be posted in the forums on CompuServe, GENIE, America Online, and Prodigy where MT’s are known to be found. I will also have a copy of this RFD sent to two publications that are widely read by MT’s: Journal of the American Association of Medical Transcription (JAAMT) and MT Monthly. By this I hope to entice even more MT’s to “get plugged in” to any one of the services that can provide Internet access.
To return to the newsgroup sci.med.transcription, click here. To send me email, click here. Please stay tuned for the latest information!