An Interview with Dianna Barnett
“Be aware that you will be sitting at a desk most of the day. Medical transcription isn’t the best career for you if you don’t have a passion for the medical field. You will need to invest your pride in your work and know that even though you are sitting at home, what you do makes a huge difference in the lives of every patient whose report comes across your computer screen.”
Dianna Barnett graduated from CAI Transcription, a school that trains people to be medical transcriptionists. Prior to her transcription training, Dianna earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from University of West Georgia in 1990.
Dianna took a unique approach to her medical transcription training. She didn’t participate in online or traditional classes, but instead used a medical transcription textbook and practice dictation sound files to study at home through a distance learning course.
In your own words, what is medical transcription?
Medical transcription involves writing official reports for use within the healthcare field. A medical transcriptionist needs the ability to listen to what a doctor is saying and type that information into a legible report. Some offices have software that lets doctors dictate information into a voice-recognition system, which recognizes their words and puts them into a report. In that case, a medical transcriptionist needs to listen to the report and edit it for accuracy.
It is very important to transcribe clear and concise reports when you are doing medical transcription because you are dealing with a patient’s medical history. If certain words are missing or get mixed up, there could be serious consequences for the patient. That is why medical offices look for highly trained individuals to work in these positions.
Why did you choose to study medical transcription?
I chose to study medical transcription later in my career after the events of September 11, 2001. That tragedy greatly affected the hotel industry, in which I had been working. Plus, I decided that I wanted a career that would allow me to stay home with my family. In addition, I have always gravitated toward the medical field because my mother had been a medical office administrator for as long as I can remember.
When you first considered studying medical transcription what were your expectations?
I didn’t have any idea what to expect from a medical transcription program. Before I started to study, I decided to test my skills at the local office of a nationwide company. I didn’t pass their test, but the manager recommended that I study through CAI Transcription, because she had a lot of success hiring graduates of that course. In the end, that is what I decided to do.
What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying medical transcription?
The part of my program I enjoyed most was that it felt like I was in medical school for 6 months. The transcription course I took truly prepared me to do this job by breaking medical terminology down into easy-to-understand steps. There was still a lot of information to process, but the program put the material together in a way that made sense to me.
However, some people might not enjoy the amount of information you have to absorb in such a short time. I could see other students becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material, but if you pace yourself and stay positive, then this can be a good career path. At this point, I have been in the field for 10 years, and I know that not everyone is able to do this job. But if you have the desire and inclination to do this type of work, I highly suggest you try it.
What kinds of classes have you taken in your medical transcription program?
I took a single distance learning course through CAI Transcription. I wasn’t sitting in a classroom or studying through the computer while learning online. Instead, I used a textbook and learned it front to back on my own. The course also came with several practice audio files that I used to train my ears to pick up on pertinent information, distinguish medical terminology and know what elements of the dictation did not need to be included in the transcription.
What resources do you use to help you succeed in your studies?
In my course, we used a book called The Language of Medicine, which is among the most amazing books that I have ever come across. In fact, I still have the book sitting in my desk drawer in case I ever need to refer to it. It certainly wasn’t one of those class books that I used and then simply discarded.
What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a medical transcription program and what traits would hinder success?
A good medical transcriptionist is very detail-oriented, because a single misused word can completely change the meaning of a report and could affect the treatment of a patient. You also have to be very passionate about what you do. Be aware that you will be sitting at a desk most of the day. Medical transcription isn’t the best career for you if you don’t have a passion for the medical field. You will need to invest your pride in your work and know that even though you are sitting at home, what you do makes a huge difference in the lives of every patient whose report comes across your computer screen.
What is your weekly schedule?
My current schedule revolves around a Monday through Thursday work week. One of the wonderful things about being in the medical transcription field is the flexibility it offers. I am able to work the majority of my hours when my kids are either at school or asleep. So, I can fit my 40 hours into a 4-day work week, which allows me to have a 3-day weekend with my family.
How do you manage your course load? What study tips would you give to a prospective student?
When I was studying medical transcription, I managed my coursework with very careful planning. You have to carve out the time to do what you have chosen to do, and hopefully your family will stand behind your decision and support you by allowing you time to study.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After I graduated from CAI Transcription, my vision was to pursue medical transcription as a lifelong career. I wanted to be able to take this as far as I could take it because I didn’t see myself doing anything else with my life, and I still don’t.
If you were to redo your educational training, what would you do differently?
I would not change anything about the way I trained to be a medical transcriptionist. It fit my lifestyle at the time and I have no regrets. But I do not want to discount any other programs out there, because these days there are a lot more schools that are well qualified to prepare you for this field.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying medical transcription?
I would tell prospective medical transcriptionists that they will probably find it challenging to get a job right after graduation. Because of the difficult economic situation that the U.S. is in right now, you need to be careful about the school that you choose. Make sure you check out the job opportunities in your area prior to getting into this field (www.mtjobs.com is a wonderful resource for this), and try to choose a school that offers job-placement services to help you transition into your career.