Typing Speed & Accuracy | Two Sides of the Same Coin

Posted on 12.14.2012

A coin is an interesting thing. It is shiny and portable, and in the company of other coins, it jingles in your pocket. A coin is finely crafted, with required markings. Some refer to “coin” as another word for money, in general. It has value; you can trade a coin for something else you desire. Professionalism, as defined in terms of your ability to produce lines and maintain a high degree of accuracy, is your coin.

When beginning the course, sometimes students ask why we instruct them to type as fast as possible in some of the Keyboard Kinetics exercises, without worrying about accuracy. After all, isn’t accuracy important as well? Of course it is! The nature of the Keyboard Kinetics typing module, however, is to test against the clock; while errors will count against your score, the main goal is to forge those synapses and create the muscle memory needed to master the keyboard by pushing to get through the material as quickly as you can. It’s okay—you can take the speed tests over if you don’t like your score. With practice, you can’t help but become faster.

The rest of the entire program is focused on accuracy. From Medical Word Building right through to Final Exam Preparation, the training turns you into an effective researcher, a meticulous proofreader, a finely tuned listener, and a sharp critical thinker, as well as a seasoned keyboard master. All of these skills must come together to make you an excellent medical transcriptionist. It is a complex task, and we often tell students not to be overly concerned about how fast they’re getting through each report in Clinic Notes, but to allow themselves the time necessary to learn as much as possible from each report instead. Don’t rush through your time as a student! Now is the time to make your mistakes, backtrack, make corrections, and move forward having learned something valuable—something you can apply to all the rest of the reports that are still before you in the course. Once you’re on the job, you will continue to learn every day, but you will be working against a deadline, with your paycheck on the line. The more you learn in the program, the easier your transition into the workplace will be.

The workplace is where all the training you received in the course is tested, and it’s also where the balancing of speed and accuracy becomes most critical. You will work with two basic goals: you must complete the volume of work you’ve contracted to complete, on time, and you must complete it to a very exacting quality level. You must be fast, and you must be accurate—both are important. As a new MT on the job, this can be frustrating because it’s much easier to be one or the other. If you must temporarily choose between speed and accuracy as a newbie, it’s best to be accurate; the speed will come with experience and familiarity with the particulars of your account, but accuracy must be there from the start. An employer will be much happier with a new employee who delivers solid work but may need to work on speed than one who spits out lots and lots of lines that need to be redone because of errors—make sense? Of course, your motivation to increase your productivity is strong, because the more lines you produce, the bigger your paycheck is. Knowing you are producing accurate work will also gain you the praise of your employer, more work opportunities, and the personal satisfaction of a job well done.

Now, let’s return to the analogy of comparing two aspects of professionalism—accuracy and speed—to a coin. The analogy works pretty well when you consider that a coin must be properly minted to pass as legal tender. If one side is blank or the stamp is crooked, the coin will be discarded at the mint, never to be circulated. Obviously, if your MT skills are lacking in either area, you won’t be as successful as you would be otherwise.

Some of us who are older may remember when we could fool a soda machine with a blank round “slug,” but today’s coin-operated vending machines are more sophisticated and will not let go of the soda for anything less than real money. The analogy works with this example because the field of medical transcription has become more demanding and sophisticated in the past several decades. What may have passed as just fine 20 years ago is no longer the expected norm, especially in terms of accuracy.

Finally, a coin is a piece of money; at least one goal of every professional medical transcriptionist is to make money. Your professionalism—your ability to produce lines and maintain a high degree of accuracy—is your coin. It’s what you can offer to trade for other things you desire, and it translates well into a direct application as the monetary reward we all seek.

It’s a simple analogy, but true, and if it helps you understand how important it is to have a firm grasp of these two seemingly opposing priorities, then it works! Here’s to a long and rewarding career, being the best of the best, having the necessary “funding” to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and a pocketful of shiny, jingly change!