As the industry continues to evolve, the future need for medical language specialists (this refers to both transcriptionists and editors) is often brought into question. A number of years ago, the industry was booming—pay was very competitive, bonuses and raises were expected, and differential pay for night shifts and STAT reports almost went without say. While the industry is not exploding at this very moment, it certainly isn’t disappearing; and key to entering and remaining in the medical documentation field is proving yourself to be a quality MLS. How so?
Medical documentation companies promise clients a very high level of accuracy. They don’t do this because they think people can be perfect if they try hard enough or because they see some grand opportunity to keep part of each paycheck for themselves by means of fines for errors. Rather, they do this because when it comes to medical records that will follow a person around for their entire life and may, at some point, be absolutely crucial in life-saving treatment, it’s not an option; it’s a requirement. Even before you are hired, your commitment to accuracy should be apparent in your final exam, resume, email correspondence, and pre-employment testing.
• The question is often raised as to whether or not it really matters if one passes Career Step’s final exam with honors or high honors. Generally speaking, the score you receive on your final exam indicates how you will score on pre-employment tests of similar difficulty. If a company is faced with deciding between two applicants, which one do you think they’ll chose—the one who scored 85% or the one who score 95%? This isn’t to say you must receive honors or high honors in order to find employment, but you might find more opportunities are available to you if you do.
In order to attain accuracy, quality MLSs first must hone their skills. True, this is an ongoing process, but a measure of skill is required right from the start. As you continue through your coursework, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking ‘I can learn that later’ only to find you reach the final exam before having learned ‘that’ (how to use a text expander, how to efficiently search the Internet, how to differentiate between easily confused terms, how to correctly format specialty terminology, and so on). Your goal during your coursework shouldn’t be to rush through it as quickly as possible—transcribe a report, submit it, submit a score, move on to the next one—but should be to work through it at a consistent pace while allowing time to learn and then apply what you learned. Practice makes perfect—or close to it.
• As important as knowing something is knowing when you don’t know something. Whether testing or working, it is imperative that you do not guess at something you cannot hear or cannot verify without flagging that guess. In fact, read testing instructions carefully as some companies do not allow applicants to leave flags with guesses, only flags left blank. Being able to discern when to leave a flag is a skill, and efforts to avoid flags at the expense of accuracy will show you to be less skillful.
Google’s quick definition of “willing” is “ready, eager, or prepared to do something.” Quality MLSs will search out opportunities to be willing. Opportunities could include requesting additional accounts, being available when turn-around-times are in jeopardy, pursuing additional education and credentialing. Being willing to do something often requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone and may require an additional investment of time and resources; but remember, you get out of it what you put into it.
• Although it may seem appealing, try to not limit yourself to a handful of dictators, native English speakers, or a single specialty (the exception to this would be specialties that have ample workflow and continue to grow, such as Rheumatology, Oncology, and Cardiology). Quality MLSs are well-rounded rather than pigeon-holed. Having an array of experience could open up advancement opportunities and will make for a much easier job search should the need arise.
Don’t just add to the quantity of medical language specialists, add to the quality and you will find you always have a place in the ever-changing industry of medical documentation.