An Interview with Denise Boonie
“As a medical transcriber, you need to be patient, dedicated and self-motivated.”
Denise Boonie earned her online Certificate in Medical Transcription from CAI Medical Transcription, LLC in 2007. For the past 5 years, she has worked as a medical transcriptionist for Nuance Transcription Services. She lives in McClure, Pennsylvania.
Denise enrolled in her medical transcription program after working as a certified respiratory therapy clinician. She wanted to remain in the medical field but was also interested in working from home, which is common for medical transcriptionists. In fact, she thinks that is 1 of the best parts of the job.
In your own words, what is medical transcription?
Medical transcription is a position that supports doctors and other medical professionals. Medical transcribers take the audio files that doctors create when they dictate care or observation of patients and transcribe these files into Word documents. We transcribe discharge summaries, admissions history, operative reports, physicals, progress notes and notes from consultations.
Why did you choose to get a certificate in medical transcription online?
I decided to get my certificate in medical transcription online from CAI Medical Transcription, LLC because it was the most convenient way for me to earn the education that I needed to start a career in the field. I also don’t live near any schools that offer certificates in medical transcription.
I enrolled in CAI’s program because I knew someone who earned their certificate there and heard that the program was well designed and worth the investment.
What did you find most and least enjoyable about studying medical transcription?
I enjoyed every part of the learning process while I was studying to earn my certificate in medical transcription. Now that I am on the job, I find that there are still many opportunities to learn as well.
There were few things I didn’t like about my certificate program, but now that I am a medical transcriber I can say that the most challenging part of my job is transcribing the dictation of doctors whose speech is difficult to understand.
When you first considered studying medical transcription online what were your expectations?
When I first thought about earning my certificate for medical transcribing online, I didn’t realize how challenging it would be. I already had a background in the medical field, so I thought that I would breeze right through the certificate program, but there was a lot that I needed to learn.
What kinds of classes did you take in your medical transcription program?
I took classes in anatomy, physiology and basic medical terminology. But the majority of my classes involved learning techniques to become an efficient transcriber. These classes consisted of taking dictations and learning how to format them into basic medical reports. Then we listened to real dictations from doctors and got a first-hand idea of the challenges involved in the day-to-day duties of medical transcribers.
Which of these classes do you think were the most valuable for the work you do today?
My most useful class was the one I took that used real dictations from doctors and asked us to transcribe these. We had to deal with background noise, static, doctors’ accents and mispronunciations, which are all typical challenges to medical transcribers who are on the job.
What classes do you feel were least useful?
My class on medical terminology was the least helpful to me, but that was because I had a background in the medical field and was already familiar with medical terms. For other students, I think this class would be 1 of their most valuable classes.
What resources did you use to help you succeed in your studies?
CAI did a great job of pairing resources with each course, so I didn’t have to seek out any additional resources on my own. CAI provided an anatomy textbook, booklets on drug names and laboratory references and a list of other online resources that we could access.
How did you interact with your professors?
I interacted with my instructors through e-mail or on the phone. I didn’t interact with them very often because the coursework was laid out so thoroughly that I rarely had any questions for my instructors.
Were you able to interact with your peers while studying online?
There weren’t many opportunities to interact with my classmates in my medical transcription program. We posted to a message board with our thoughts and questions about our assignments, and I would often scan these to see what other students found challenging. But there was no online system for students to post biographical information about themselves or access each other’s e-mails.
What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a medical transcription program and what traits would hinder success?
As a medical transcriber, you need to be patient, dedicated and self-motivated. Some of the audio files that you will have to transcribe will be difficult to understand and will require you to spend a lot of time listening and re-listening. And since most medical transcribers work from home, you need to be dedicated to your work and able to motivate yourself. No one will be standing over your shoulder asking you to complete your work.
So if you are the kind of person who needs a lot of direction and doesn’t like to work independently, you will have a hard time succeeding as a medical transcriptionist.
What was your weekly schedule?
In order to complete my certificate in medical transcription at CAI, I studied for about 6 months. I spent about 2 or 3 hours on my coursework each day and usually studied 5 or 6 days each week.
I also held a part-time job while I completed my medical transcription coursework, so I had a busy schedule.
How did you manage your course load? What study tips would you give to a prospective student?
My best study tip for other students is to make a conscious effort to devote part of each day to your coursework. Set aside a certain amount of time to get a few tasks done rather than assuming that you will spend 1 or 2 days each week completing all of your assignments. Though you might think that this will work, I found that I am more productive and successful if I do smaller amounts of work more frequently.
Do you think the fact that you studied online affected your job prospects?
No, I don’t think that studying for my certificate in medical transcription online had any effect on my job prospects. Within 4 months of completing the program, I found a job at Nuance Transcription Services, where I still work. That was in 2007, so I have been employed with them for quite a while now.
Do you feel that your online medical transcription program prepared you for employment?
Yes, I do think that my online program at CAI prepared me for my current job. I learned all of the basic skills that I need, and the director of the program was always available on the phone if I had questions that I couldn’t answer on my own. Since most medical transcribers work from home anyway, it makes sense to attend an online program in this field.
Now that you have completed your medical transcription program, if you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
High school was a long time ago, but I don’t think that there is anything I would do differently. At that point in my life, I was focused on science, so a lot of my high school classes were also oriented to the sciences. I think that this has helped me as a professional in the medical field.
If you were to redo your certificate program, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently if I were to redo my program at CAI. I found the program to be very well designed and received support whenever I needed it. I would recommend the program to other students who are interested in becoming medical transcribers.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying medical transcription online?
My advice for students who think that they may want to pursue a medical transcription program is to be prepared for working from home. There is no reason that you can’t pursue an online program in this field, since you will work from home once you become employed. This is actually a great benefit, since I don’t have to travel to an office or have commuting costs.