Do Something: Learning Medical Transcription at Home

Helen Keller once expressed, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Many of us tend to be all-or-nothing people, but with this attitude we end up missing out on opportunities. Instead of making baby steps, we make no steps; instead of going somewhere, we go nowhere. For example, if you sit down to study for a few hours only to be interrupted by the ringing phone, the crying baby, and the barking dog, do you just give up after a while and decide to study at another time? Or do you do what you can even though it isn’t what you hoped? Many of us simply get discouraged and pack it up for the day, getting nowhere—after all, we want to put in quality study time and make real progress. While it’s commendable to want to always give it your all, sometimes it’s more advantageous to give it your something. By giving it your something, you may actually be giving it your all because sometimes something is all you have.

Take the same scenario but instead of packing it up for the day, stick it out. You may start with 4 solid hours to devote to your coursework but by the time you get the baby back to sleep, pick Jimmy up from softball when his ride got a flat, and fix the billing error that caused your internet to suddenly disconnect, you are left with 2 hours at best. Isn’t 2 hours better than no hours?

Let’s face it, life gets in the way. Often you can push it out of the way—you don’t have to check the Facebook alert you heard on your cell phone—but occasionally you can’t. When you can’t, make the most of it. Don’t refuse to do something you can do just because you can’t do everything you want to do.

That same approach applies to the medical transcription coursework itself. There will be times when you hear the dictation and find yourself just sitting there, slowly starting to chuckle in an “I’m-not-sure-if-I-should-laugh-or-cry” kind of way. You’ll stare at the screen and thoughts will start to race through your head: Do I really have to transcribe this? I can do it…I…so totally can’t do it! I will never cut it as an MT! I’ve wasted all this money! , Now what am I going to do?! Panic will set in…but it’s okay.  Remember, you can’t do everything but you can do something.

To start, take a deep breath and understand the report for what it is: a learning opportunity. Your worth as a student and a future medical transcriptionist does not depend on one report (or even on several reports, for that matter). Give yourself time to adjust to the dictator’s voice. Listen to the report while maintaining a positive attitude. A negative attitude tends to emphasize the difficult aspects of the report, resulting in greater frustration and discouragement; a positive attitude, on the other hand, allows you to relax and realize how many words you can actually understand, resulting in greater confidence in your ability to tackle the report. If your head feels like it’s going to pop, take your headphones off for a moment. Just like a muscle being trained in a new way, your ears get tired and sore and require a break at times. This is especially true during vigorous reports that really give your ears a workout. Accept the fact that some reports require a generous amount of blanks. Be determined to not pack it up but to stick it out! After all, if you don’t finish the report today, it will still be there tomorrow.

There were things Helen Keller couldn’t do—see the moon at night, hear her mother sing—but there were many other things she could—graduate from college, be an inspirational woman.

So maybe you can’t do everything. So what? None of us can. But everyone can do something!

-Heather Garrett
Career Step Skills Assessment


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