This article, "MT.Con: The Cockroach Problem In Medical Transcription", is intended for medical transcriptionists, MTSOs, physicians, medical records administrators, and student MTs.

It's important to realize that even the most fair-minded, ethical employers cut their expenses by having people working for them at home. An office where everyone works on-site must have enough desks, chairs, and computers to go around, not to mention electricity, rent, cleaning service, coffee, paper towels, office supplies, and other things. When people work at home, these costs are shifted from the company to the worker.

The internet has made it possible for MTs to tell others, immediately and anonymously, of their good and bad experiences on the job. If you're being treated unfairly at work, do something about it. Your self-respect is at stake.

11. Schools which promise but fail to deliver quality education

Don't get reeled in by empty promises on matchbook covers or late-night TV commercials. Look for a school which does not claim to offer "certification", does assist with job placement, and maintains communication with its current and former students through newsletters and internet forums.

Read the recruitment advertisements for MTs. If an employer is willing to pay for an ad saying they will consider graduates of a specific MT program, choose that program.

12. "Association" fails to represent our interests

Edit 01/25/12: The American Association for Medical Transcription is now the (AHDI). Individual professional dues are $135 annually at this writing.

The American Association for Medical Transcription has: recommended the definition of the 65-character line, then backed off from saying what constitutes a "line"; facilitated the outsourcing of American medical records to other countries; rented out mailing lists more or less indiscriminately; changed long-established rules of spelling, grammar, and usage in order to revise the BOS and sell it for $49 per copy to members, and $79 to non-members whose employers require them to follow its guidelines; and repeatedly raised membership dues, while compensation paid to MTs is declining. I was a member of AAMT for 10 years, but I did not renew my membership when it expired at the end of 1999, since I did not feel that this organization had my best interests at heart.

AAMT practitioner dues are now $158 per year. Interestingly, the dues for American Medical Students Association (AMSA) are $30 per year; this organization has just concluded a successful lobbying effort to decrease the number of hours worked by medical residents in hospitals. For more than five times the money, has "our" association done anything even remotely like this for us?

With all due respect to AAMT, which did accomplish some good things, mostly in the early years of its existence, I submit that what we need now is not an association to represent us, but a labor union.

13. Many MTs never see their co-workers because they work in isolation

Speaking for myself, I love the isolation of working at home, at least most of the time. I don't miss commuting, office politics, or pantyhose whatsoever. Of course, I found out long ago that if you never set foot in the office, it is extremely difficult to keep up with situations that might affect you down the road. In 1998, the transcription agency I was working for was sold; I got the news in a broadcast voice mail message after it was already a done deal.

A place at the table

With all the different aspects of the cockroach problem facing the MT community, both now and for the future, the internet is the best starting point for bringing us together to take back our profession. As younger people become disenchanted and leave MT, and as the older MTs retire, those still working in the field need to understand the power of the bargaining chips we have.

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