You Threw Off My Groove: Adaptability in the Course and Workplace
I attended a fairly large university for my bachelor’s degree—you know, the kind that has massive auditorium-sized general education classes. In one particular class there were over 300 students crammed into a theater-style lecture auditorium. I am a creature of habit, and I quickly found a seat on the left side of the auditorium in the corner. I sat there every class period for 6 weeks. One day, I came into the auditorium and there was a boy sitting in my spot! I was completely flabbergasted. I had no idea what to do! I stood in the aisle by my row, glaring at the unsuspecting boy who continued to type away on his laptop, oblivious to my plight. I ended up sitting three rows behind him. I couldn’t focus on the lecture because I was so angry with him for the perceived wrong he had perpetrated against me. That boy continued to sit in “my seat” for the remainder of the semester. When venting to my roommate a few nights after the initial incident, she quoted from that night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy:
“Change. We don’t like it. We fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change or we get left behind.”
I was letting myself get left behind because I wasn’t adapting to something as small as a guy sitting in my unassigned seat!
Medical transcription and medical transcription editing are professions that rely on your ability to adapt to changes in account instructions, doctors, and technology. If you are anything like me, adapting quickly can be difficult. Luckily, I have been able to learn how to embrace the changes that come and use them to continue growing as a person and an instructor. I hope I can provide some insight into how to adapt to changes while completing your program and how to adapt when in the workplace.
The main reason why many of us resist change so ferociously is because our first response is panic. Our minds start to race. Our bodies tense up. Our breathing rapidly increases. The first
step to embracing change is to resist the urge to run in the opposite direction (our bodies have a similar response to danger), quit working on the program, and/or throw our computer out the window. Take a deep breath and try to clear your mind. Don’t try to figure everything out at once—just take it one step at a time. Once you give yourself time to gain control of your emotions and mind, you can face the change and come up with a way to adapt.
In the program, you are going to encounter the following words almost daily: acceptable variation. For some of us, it is a new concept to see shades of gray instead of black and white rules. That’s okay! It’s good to learn new ways to look at things. One of the most common questions we get is along the lines of, “I transcribed one way, this key is telling me I’m wrong, but another report had it the way I transcribed it. Who is right?” The answer to this question is that either way is acceptable. Different medical transcriptionists with different account specifics transcribed the keys in the program. As long as you follow the account instructions you have been provided with for the block of reports you are in, you can feel confident that the format you transcribed in is correct. Style differences do not mean that you have something wrong—they just mean that there are a couple of ways to do it right!
In the workplace, medical transcriptionists and medical transcription editors are frequently asked to adapt to new technologies, account specifics, and doctors. Instead of “rage quitting” your job or stubbornly ignoring the changes, use the tips above to gain control of your emotions. When you are in control of your emotions, you will be able to focus on accepting the changes and moving forward.
Stay Alert and Informed
“I didn’t see that coming” is one of the most common exclamations elicited from change. One of the best ways to combat those feelings of denial, despair, anger, etc. is to make sure you stay alert, ask questions, and stay informed.
Career Step strives to ensure that our students are well informed when it comes to completing our programs. We know that surprises occur from time to time, but we try to we give you all the information necessary to adapt to new skill sets and instructions. Career Step’s Medical Transcription and Medical Transcription Editor programs are broken into two main sections: objective knowledge (grammar, anatomy, pharmacology, etc.) and practical application (transcription and editing). The transition between the two areas can feel a bit like being dropped into the deep end of a pool and asked to tread water. It is important to recognize that the transition is coming and try to stay informed about what to expect. There are some great ways you can do this with the resources we provide. Our student forums are a great place for you to become informed on what to expect when you get into the practical portion of the program. There are a couple of study groups that have formed over the years, and they are great for encouragement, tips, and information. We also host chats Monday through Friday that allow you the opportunity to ask questions and stay informed. When it comes to adapting, knowledge is indeed power!
In the workforce, when you are called upon to adapt to new accounts, instructions, and technology, make sure you learn everything you can about the changes. Most companies want you to be successful, and they are willing to provide you with the information necessary to be successful. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and gather the information you need to feel comfortable. Employers would much rather you ask questions and stay informed than shy away and become overwhelmed. Staying informed on how you can make the transition smoother shows that you are willing to adapt and be flexible. That willingness to adapt and ability to be flexible can mean the difference between moving forward with a company and being left behind.
When changes come—and they always will—they can either be confidence boosters or confidence killers. In most cases, change is perceived as the latter. If you take just one thing away from reading this article, I hope it is that change is a time for you to demonstrate your strengths and develop your weaknesses. It is not meant to kill your confidence.
A common statement I hear from students is, “I thought I had everything down pat; now the rules have changed, and I feel completely discouraged. I don’t know anything.” To overcome this feeling of discouragement, it is good to sit down and make a list of your strengths and how they can help you be successful in adapting to the new information, instructions, or processes. This should help keep your confidence strong in what you do best. Next, make a list of your weaknesses that can be improved upon. When you think about adapting to changes in a constructive way, you can keep moving forward.
In the workforce, do the same thing! Take the opportunity to show your strengths, improve your weaknesses, and be confident in your ability to grow with the company.
Change is the only constant in our lives, both academically and in the workforce. We can learn to be adaptable and continue to grow, or we can choose to be left standing in the aisle, glaring at the person happily embracing it. It’s up to you!