Destiny Brings Police Officer Into the Field of Medical Transcription

Destiny Brings Police Officer Into the Field of Medical Transcription


Destiny Brings Police Officer Into the Field of Medical Transcription


‘There’s room in medical transcription for a lot of different people. It’s never boring or stagnant.’

—Betty A. Honkonen, BS, CMT

Special to ADVANCE

If you believe in destiny, as Betty A. Honkonen, BS, CMT, does, it is clear that a force of fate was not just gently guiding her, but actually shoving her toward a career in medical transcription.

It took awhile, but eventually she got the message. Today, Honkonen is the owner of TranScribe Services Inc., an education, consulting and transcription service in Miami, FL. Long before she opened her business, however, she was leading a double life.

In the early 1980s, Honkonen was working full-time as an assistant to the president of Miami Children’s Hospital and studying for a bachelor’s degree in health services administration at Florida International University. At the same time, she was working part-time as a police officer with the Metro-Dade Police Department and raising twin sons.

Enter destiny, with key events to show Honkonen her true vocation.

There was a classroom project that took her farther than she had ever imagined. As part of a course requirement, Honkonen was investigating a way to reduce the cost of medical transcription at Children’s Hospital, which was then sending its work to outside transcriptionists. An in-depth study, completed with the help of her boss—the hospital’s president—showed that there were ways to cut costs by bringing medical transcription services back in-house. Her boss suggested that she present her findings to the board of directors.

“I did this big presentation, and they voted in favor of my idea,” Honkonen recalled. “But I thought it was a mock vote and didn’t make much out of it until the next day when my boss said, ‘We want to start moving on your ideas in a few days.'”

Honkonen was stunned but excited at being given a $100,000 budget and the freedom to create the hospital’s transcription department, which eventually grew to 12 employees.

The final message from fate came when Honkonen and her fellow police officers were responding to riots in Miami. They were sitting inside their cruiser when two rounds of gun fire flew toward them and hit the car’s engine block.

“That’s when I thought, ‘What am I doing this for?'” Honkonen said. “I had a husband and two children. And by this time, I was disillusioned with police work. As a medical transcriptionist, I was helping the hospital make a difference in people’s lives.”

Shortly after the riot, she resigned from the police force and threw herself wholeheartedly into medical transcription.

“I love medical transcription,” she said. “It’s like solving a puzzle. You’re supposed to take a doctor’s gibberish and, without being able to ask him any questions, make something out of nothing.”

After her stint with the hospital and police work, Honkonen opened her first business, Quality Medical Transcriptions Inc. in 1985. Her first client was a doctor she had been doing transcription for on the side.

“I was working for him four or five nights a week and earning as much as I was at my full-time job,” she recalled.

Her transcription business flourished over the next five years, but Honkonen, an energetic and restless spirit, never can seem to do just one thing at a time. When some other doctors opened Ward Stone College, to train medical transcriptionists and court reporters, she jumped at the chance to develop their medical transcription program and teach.

Honkonen then went into business with the doctors, merging her company with National Transcription Technologies Inc. (NTT), a transcription service where Honkonen served as vice president of medical transcription services. The company did well for awhile until the owners opened an office in Jamaica and hired Jamaican nationals to do medical transcription. The differences in educational levels and cultural differences in expectations about production, among other things, led to financial disaster. The firm went bankrupt in 1994, and Honkonen was out of a job.

After grieving about the loss of the business, Honkonen worked for two years as a transcriptionist for Medical Transcribers Inc., a company now owned by EDIX.

In February, she decided to try once again running her own business. In addition to serving medical transcription clients, she has developed a medical transcription curriculum and is teaching 25 students. Honkonen says she teaches according to guidelines provided by the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT), although she makes her own practice tapes to keep her overhead low.

Honkonen’s career has been a roller-coaster ride, but she insists she would not have had it any other way.

“There’s room in medical transcription for a lot of different people,” she said. “It’s never boring or stagnant; it’s changing all the time, and I like that.”

* About the author: Pamela Rohland is a free-lance writer and the owner of Rohland Communications in Bernville, PA.

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