I’ve Completed My Medical Transcription Course…What’s Next?

Vol. 15 •Issue 15 • Page 28
I’ve Completed My Medical Transcription Course…What’s Next?

The medical transcription industry can indeed be a difficult career to get started in, but it is not impossible. Do not give up on finding that perfect job.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your medical transcription training and are ready to start your new exciting career in the health care industry! You’ve invested a great deal of time and money in your training and read about all of the increased opportunities for MTs in the United States, yet you repeatedly hear from the employers that you don’t have the required experience, or worse yet, you don’t hear anything at all. What now?

It Is Possible

The medical transcription industry can indeed be a difficult career to get started in, but it is not impossible. You have chosen a career path that has many more job opportunities than qualified candidates, therefore the odds are in your favor if you are persistent and know the steps to finding an employer willing to give you that first job. Once you’ve landed the first job and gain experience, the sky is the limit!

The first thing you need to determine is which direction you want to pursue, as there are many different opportunities for MTs. Your options include, but are certainly not limited to a doctor’s office; a small or large medical clinic; a hospital; a transcription service; or self-employment.

Once you’ve determined the work setting you prefer, then you can narrow down your search. Or, if your options are limited due to your location (perhaps you are in a rural setting where the job market is limited), you might wish to pursue all of the above so as not to limit your possibilities.

Here’s Your Check List

The next step involves a check list. Consider the following tools:

  • Resume: When was the last time you updated your resume? Be sure to regularly update it to effectively reflect your education and background. Ask several family members, friends, former instructors or even professionals in the industry to critique your resume. Often an outsider can give you helpful hints or suggestions in presenting yourself on paper.
  • Professional Organizations: One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to join a professional organization. The American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) has a reduced student membership fee. AAMT considers one to be a student for up to 1 year after completion of an educational program. Belonging to both the national organization as well as your state and/or local chapters will help you network with other professionals, as well as keep up to date on the latest trends in the industry.
  • Volunteer: Often your local chapters desperately need volunteers for different committees. By volunteering your services you open up many new doors for contacts with future employers, particularly local ones.
  • Attend Symposiums/Meetings: Find out when your local chapters are having symposiums or meetings. Students often pay lower symposium fees, so take advantage of that reduced fee. While attending the meeting, take advantage of the continuing education opportunities as well as the networking possibilities that follow in that forum. Meet your peers and pick their brains about what is happening in your local area with regard to job availability. Networking is very important.
  • Publications: Subscribe and read publications pertaining to the medical transcription industry. You must stay abreast of the changes, particularly now, as technology and health care rapidly advance.
  • Career Fairs: Check with your local learning institutions (universities/community colleges), as well as hospitals and other organizations that host career fairs. Also, check out ADVANCE’s Job Fairs and CE Events (www.advanceweb.com/jobfairs) to see if there’s an event near you. Come prepared for interviews with resumes in hand! Hint: Find out which companies are participating in the career fair and do some research beforehand so that when you speak to the representative, you come across as someone who has done his/her homework and is interested in working for that company.
  • Direct Mail Campaign: Identify companies or institutions to which you are interested in applying. Send them a dynamic cover letter so that your resume will not be filed away and quickly forgotten. Then, of course, follow up a week later to make sure that they received your resume and take that opportunity to “sell” yourself over the phone and try to gain an interview.
  • Information Superhighway: Use the Internet, particularly if you are interested in working for a national transcription service. You can post a resume on the Internet (just be careful not to give out too much personal information when posting to a public site.) Hint: Use a temporary e-mail address through a free service such as yahoo.com—something temporary and specific to your job search. Never use a personal e-mail address when posting a resume on the Internet. ADVANCE’s career Web site (www.advanceforcareers.com) has a number of job postings available.
  • Newspaper Advertisements: Certainly, reading the classified ads in your local newspaper is another method of obtaining a job; however, statistics show that a very small percentage of open positions are advertised in local newspapers. In other words, you don’t want to use this method as your only method of job hunting.
  • Word of Mouth: Tell everyone you know that you have completed your training and are ready for employment. Tell your neighbors, your grocer, your hairdresser, your mail carrier, etc. Word of mouth is a successful method of finding out where the jobs are in your area, so don’t be shy about your job hunting! (Remember, most jobs are not advertised.)
  • Piggybacking: In your attempt to enter the job market, draw upon the success of other job seekers. Contact fellow students and find out where they had success finding their first job.

    Foot in the Door

    Even with all of these suggestions for a successful job search, it is often difficult to break into this industry without 1 to 2 years of experience. Landing that job can be a slow process but persistence is the key and will often bring eventual results.

    Convince the interviewer that you are willing to prove yourself for a trial period of 2 to 4 weeks. If financially this is not possible, then perhaps you could offer to work for a lower rate of compensation for 30 to 60 days. Even a 30- to 60-day period of low pay could lead to years of well-compensated employment. Making this suggestion demonstrates to a potential employer confidence and excellence in your ability. Hint: Reserve such offers only in a personal interview, once you have the attention of the recruiter/interviewer.

    Offer to work in an overflow situation. Transcription workloads are known to be unpredictable. Work volume waxes and wanes dramatically, so offer to be available for on-call duty for times of increased workload volume, employee vacations, employee maternity leaves, etc., as a means of getting your foot in the door. Once you’ve proved your ability and skill, other opportunities could soon follow!

    Remember attitude determines altitude. When speaking with a prospective employer, always exhibit confidence and enthusiasm. Your attitude and the way you come across to that interviewer will ultimately determine if he/she is willing to take a chance on a new student with little to no experience. You only have a few minutes either on the telephone or in an interview, so your exuberant attitude will make a difference!

    Above all, do not give up. If you are not successful after a period of 3 to 6 months, consider looking into some continuing education to further your skills and enhance your education. Continuing education is a necessity to remain an employable, qualified MT.

    And you thought you were finished with training, eh? Your journey has just begun!

    Jane Williams is an operations supervisor at Spheris Inc. in Franklin, TN. She also teaches medical transcription and medical terminology at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, IL.