Can I still be a secretary transcriptionist if I'm wearing stockings and high heels?
May 21, 2007 9:52 PM   Subscribe

I know that there's an old closed thread on medical transcription. Medical transcription is also a very common response to making money in one's spare time. As a grad student, are online courses for certification worthwhile towards getting work - and is this something that I could do? [more]

As a grad student in the wet sciences, I can't reasonably hold onto a job that requires set hours (say, bartending or washing dishes - 6p-12. Well, sometimes I have to be at the lab between 8p and 11p, unpredictably - and these hours have a higher priority than, say, my loyalty to a bar or restaurant).

A common response to a lot of ask.mefi thread on 'making money on spare time' points to medical transcriptions... I've also seen "look around" - er, what are good places to look around to get this kind of work?

Has anyone taken an "online" or distance-learning course? Have those certifications helped you get jobs?

I have a liberal arts undergrad degree (English, philosophy, psychiatry, phys. ed., history, theology, biochemistry, &c) and a MSc in research clinical immunology and currently working towards a PhD in neuroscience.

Would this background help me get... jobs? gigs? contracts?

posted by porpoise to Work & Money (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you have a faculty of social work at your university, give them a call and see if they have any possibilities. I've been transcribing tapes for the faculty at my school for the last few years and I have a liberal arts background. After my first gig (which I found from a random flyer I saw around the school), everything else has come through referrals.

If you have your own transcription machine, it usually helps, because they are usually in short supply. However, the machine will set you back anywhere from $250-400.
posted by perpetualstroll at 10:16 PM on May 21, 2007

Best answer: I've been a medical transcriptionist for over 10 years, and it is the knee-jerk suggestion to anyone who inquires about working from home. Unfortunately, it's not that easy, and I'm thrilled that you asked about online courses instead of assuming that you could just jump into it because you know how to type.

The only two online courses that are respectible in the MT community are Andrews and M-Tec. Most courses take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete, so you're looking at a good deal of time, money and effort.

You can find some answers to the most commonly asked questions about medical transcription in the FAQ for the newsgroup

Working from home is a huge draw, but there are some quite big downfalls to it. For example, a local gig is great, but tough to get. When doctors have an MT they know and trust, it takes a lot for them to get rid of them. There are lots of companies online that you can work for, but all of them that I've seen, without exception, require you to work a set shift, which really does detract from the allure of working from home.

The pay is done per line usually, instead of by the time you spend working, so you have to really have a good ear and know the terminology so you don't need to spend 15 minutes researching on a dictation that was only 2 minutes long.

Most companies pay starting at about 7 to 9 cents per line (cpl). If you graduate from Andrews or MTech, you can usually get a higher line rate to start, as those schools are respected schools.

Do you have any experience of working in a doctors office, or a strong grasp of anatomy? Honestly, it sounds like it would not be worth the effort considering your education and time constraints. If you're lucky, you get somebody who speaks clearly and concisely, and does not contradict him/herself, and that would work out well, but that is indeed a rarity. General transcription might fit for you, but unfortunately I cannot help with any tips on that.

Feel free to contact me if you (or anyone in the future reading this) would like more information on the wonderful world of medical transcription. I also have some generic soundfiles from training programs that I'd be happy to send over so you can hear what a dictation sounds like.
posted by Iamtherealme at 12:56 AM on May 22, 2007

Best answer: My bride is a medical transcriptionist, a graduate of M-Tec. My impression is that it's challenging work which doesn't pay well considering the investment of time and money and the fairly specialized skills needed. However, it's very popular with house parents and so there seems to be a large pool of workers available which keeps the rates low. It frustrates me that Mrs. Max works pretty hard but would be challenged to survive on her wage if she had to pay for housing, etc.
posted by maxwelton at 2:05 AM on May 22, 2007

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