Graduate Review: DonaRita Crooks

Medical Transcription8 Comments

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’”  Maya Angelou

Hi there.  My name is DonaRita Crooks.  I am a recent Career Step honors graduate who lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

I am a mature woman who, after more than 20 years, was downsized from a job that truthfully forced me to work way too many hours at a demanding and stressful pace.  Obviously, it was time for a change and I was ready for it. 

I started my career many years ago as a medical secretary transcribing operative reports, discharge summaries, and consultations for the surgery floor.  (Orthopedics was and still is my favorite!)  It seemed natural to return to my roots, and while contemplating what my future might become, I discovered Career Step online.  I researched other institutions, but Career Step seemed to offer the most comprehensive course and support for the best price.  And did they deliver!  Everyone that I have been in contact with has been unfailingly supportive and encouraging.  Their response time is amazing - whatever my question or concerns.  I attended university twice in my younger days, spent a lot more money, and was never treated as well as I am by the Career Step team.

However, I was rather naïve thinking that my previous experience would allow me to breeze through this course.  Was I wrong!  This is a thorough, well-planned, and very demanding course.  But I am here to tell you, there is life after the practicums . Trust me.

While you are slogging through the seemingly endless cycle of practicum transcriptions and editing, a marvelous thing is happening. Your tired and frustrated brain is actually retaining information and building confidence that will serve you well in your new career.  Sure, there is that little thing called the final exam you have to get through first, but it will happen.  (For the final exam, my only words of wisdom are prepare well, be confident, be refreshed and relaxed, and be careful.)  For me, passing with honors was one of my proudest moments.  I mean, I worked really, really hard for it but I did get through it, and so will you. 

The best reward is that companies in Canada and the United States, and probably everywhere, want to hire you.  They know you are well qualified and possess all the necessary skills and qualities they need.  You will still need to spruce up your resume, but Career Step helps you with that too. You will be amazed how many job leads they send your way.

So here I am, employed shortly after I graduated and loving it.  My speed is not where I want it to be, but my accuracy is very good.  Sure, I am working hard and there is another learning curve to adjust to your client’s software and profile, but believe me, those practicums prepared me in a way I never imagined.  I remember things I didn’t even know I learned. 

As a mature graduate, this is the perfect career choice for me at this time in life.  I work flexible hours as an independent contractor.  However, there are endless opportunities for young and old alike.  Just the other day I learned of an opportunity with an insurance company that wanted someone with medical terminology knowledge, and my local hospital is practically begging for a few good onsite transcriptionists.  Although those opportunities did not appeal to me, it proves that there is work and it is more varied than I might have originally anticipated.  I think of all the young people spending thousands of dollars for degrees and ending up unemployed or underemployed.  I am so happy to have left the crazy, harried 60-hour work weeks my former profession demanded.  While I may never get rich working as a transcriptionist, it is an interesting and a flexible career choice that allows me the time and energy to enjoy my family, friends, and my LIFE.

Thank you Career Step for helping me create a more balanced life.  Best of luck to all you soon-to-be graduates.  Exciting opportunities await you.  And now, my garden beckons.


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  1. Beth Triplett July 22, 2014

    Thank you so much for this DonaRita!  I am a recently divorced stay at home mom who literally just started the program and I’m scared to death.  Your post gave me hope and confidence.  Really appreciate it! Enjoy your garden.


  2. I love this!!! This seriously gave me that encouragement and determination I needed. Thank you so much for sharing! smile

  3. Connie July 23, 2014

    You are an inspiration to me.  I have the ability to retire from my current job but I am not ready to stop working.  I did my research as well and found Career Step as having the most to offer. I recently started the MTE program and I am very pleased. I am counting on this program to allow me to have a life after the J-O-B!  I am hanging your words on my bulletin board above my home PC!  Thank you!

  4. Dianna Leon July 30, 2014

    Wow. I am glad that someone else struggled like I am. I do not have the medical background and I am struggling through all the typing, trying to listen to accents, telephones ringing, foreign auctioneers lol. I get so frustrated that I feel like giving up. I am 48 and trying to start over in a different career choice. I have been an office manager for 25 years and now I am trying to learn something totally different. I appreciate your story. 
    I went to Vancouver Island last year for my honeymoon from Colorado and I would move there in a heartbeat. It has the mountains plus the ocean and is beautiful.  If you have any tips on how to get through the typing and what to do to prepare for the final I would appreciate an email. 



  5. Daisy July 31, 2014

    Hi, I am pleased to to hear about your positive experience.
    I recently graduated with Honors, and do not realy know how to proceed. I took my entrance exam more than a week ago, and I did not get any feedback yet. Would you know what I have to do next? What was your procedure to get a job? How does it work?

    I would appreciate it if you can get back to me with some clarification.

    Thanks a lot,

  6. DonaRita August 03, 2014

    Thank you Beth, Breanna, Connie and Dianna for your kind words.  I am pleased that my story will help you create the life of your dreams.  There is indeed a life after the J-O-B!  I have been working now for 2 months.  I’ve had a steady increase in my speed, and hence paycheque, and I still think of myself as a beginner! And so far the dictators are much better than most in the practicums.  Or maybe I just find them easier because of the practicums.  The course is challenging but it prepares you well. Boldly forge ahead. Once you graduate and start working, you will be very happy did.

  7. Career Step August 13, 2014

    Hi Daisy,

    Contact your Graduate Advisors! They are available to help with situations just like yours, and they can provide help polishing up your resume, preparing for interviews, and even just deciding on the next step. You can reach them directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-888-657-5752.

    Best wishes!

  8. Amy August 14, 2014

    Thank you DonaRita for the review. This is definitely positive information to read from a fellow Canadian. I am looking into the medical transcription program, but am a little hesitant and want to make sure that it is viable in Canada. My husband is in the military so I think this might be a good opportunity for me.

  9. Michelle January 31, 2015


    I am so discouraged. I am almost finished and ready to take exam and then they told me I have 14 Practicums to do being I did not pass them.  I thought we did not have to pass all of them as long and we tried doing them.  I tried 5 of them and still did not get any right.  I just don’t know what I am doing wrong and it does not come up showing what I did wrong therefore I can’t move forward learning it or finishing it.  I did well through the entire program until I came to the Practicums.  I feel like there is information that might not have been expressed or I missed when tying this all together.  The sequence possibly?
    Can anyone help me to get through these last inpatient practicums and know the proper sequences?  I don’t want to throw out an entire year working on this program…..I do like coding but so frusterated right now.

    Thanks for any help/insight.

  10. Career Step February 02, 2015

    Hi Michelle,

    Have you contacted your medical coding instructors? You can reach them directly at 1-888-657-5752 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). They’re there to give you the one-on-one help you need to get through the course, and they would be more than happy to help you and explain what’s going on.

    It’s also important to remember that all of the practicums are there for a reason. You’re gaining real world experience on records just like those you’ll see when you’re working, so we want to make sure you have the skills you need to produce quality work on the job.

    Keep your chin up and be sure to contact your instructors!



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