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Serving Over 20,000 US Medical Transcriptionists

20 years as an MT - now I am on strike...sm

Posted By: on strike on 2005-09-12
In Reply to:

After 20+ years as an IC I have seen my salary go down, down, down! Not because my speed has decreased, no, it has in fact increased dramatically due to the availability of shorthand programs. No, my salary has gone since the inception of AAMT and their "standards" and practices. The organization that was going to help MT's become more respected has done the opposite. Yes, there were doctors out there who initially thought of me as a "typist" but I quickly showed them the difference between a typist and a "medical transcriptionist" (medical language specialist). Some of them were unwilling to pay for the difference, but most were pleased to pay a bit more for someone who knew when he was making a mistake and was willing to call and get it right. Today, however, the large MT companies have driven the IC out of business. They offer 4-hour turn around at ridiculously low rates. Many of these companies outsource to India, Pakistan, the Philippines, etc. Some of the outsourced work is done perfectly. Most is not. I am hearing this from office managers who cannot convince the business owners that it is "cheaper" to have the transcription done correctly the first time rather than have more time (money) spent doing QA.

Most of my work has been for large radiology clinics. Conglomerates that own upwards of 100 to 200 radiology clinics across the country own these clinics. The bottom line with management is the "bottom line". Their bonuses and hefty salaries are dependent on keeping costs down...therefore cheap transcription is a "must".

Finally, the reason for the steady decrease in salaries for MT's is the availability of cheap foreign and (yes!) American labor. MT's in this country are becoming more desperate and accepting the lower line rates. Yes, of course you need to in order to pay for food, etc. However, if ever there was a time for us to organize a "strike" this is the time. It will never happen, however, because we are too busy just getting by. And where has the AAMT been during this time (in particular the last ten years when salaries have been eroding the fastest)? They have been telling us the "proper" way to do transcription. In the "good old days" if we did not transcribe correctly we were fired. If we used poor grammar, we were fired. That simple! Meanwhile this group (AAMT) purporting to be working to benefit MT's has instead been working to benefit themselves. They benefit themselves by touting their CE courses and the need for us all to become CMT's, that we can only do through their courses and their tests. None of which are free.

No, I am not an AAMT hater. I hate the hypocrisy of the AAMT. I hate the fact that experience counts for naught in this field. I hate the fact that the moment corporate America realized that medical transcription was an income producing product mostly male executives realized that they could take over with large companies, offer work at a much lower price than an individual could, and force the medical Transcriptionist to work at the prices they foist on us. That is what I have seen over the past twenty years.

Don't bother flaming me for telling you what I have seen. Most of the flamers will be from large corporations or IC's who have accepted their fate. Yes, you are making good money typing thousands of lines a day at a few pennies each line. Yes, you pay your bills doing so. I am not putting you down for doing so. What I am saying is that over the past 20 years the medical transcription field has changed (been hijacked by large corporations) and as such the bottom line is "how cheap can we get the transcription done". Such is corporate America. Get it done cheap or someone else will get the contract.

So, what am I suggesting? I don't know for sure. Perhaps there is no answer for most transcriptionists other than to accept their fate. As for me, I am lucky enough to have an income so that I can go on "strike" until I find a job that pays me what I am worth. Or, until I go back to school to find another career! Which is the most likely course of action a lot of us will be taking no matter how much we love what we were doing.

If you have any useful insights I would love to hear them. Flamers will be ignored.

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Let's go on strike.
Bombard the board of directors with our complaints. We need to be heard!
Go on strike???
That will just give them more reasons to ship the work all overseas because those people are so "grateful" to have the jobs. The company won't be hurting, but we will when we don't have any money coming in to pay the bills.
on strike
All I know is about 10 years ago, I made what I considered "good" money working for a small company (for a year).  THEN, the company was bought by a corporation (which shall remain nameless) and our salaries dropped by 1/3 to 1/2 -- and there was just a helpless feeling of not knowing what to do about it.  What do you do when it's a take it or leave it attitude?  I always wondered if it is so cheap to do work overseas, what isn't any of that savings coming back to the American MT.  Give us a raise with all that savings.  I also wonder why they act like they think it is considered a benefit of the job to work at home.  Look at all they must save on having us do that.  None of us have raised a fuss, so they can get away with just about anything.  What does AAMT exist for?
I can't agree more.   It is the large corporations like MQ who have the reputation of hiring MTs at a very low line rate, hire more MTs than they can provide work for and then still have the nerve to overbill the clients.  Go figure.
on strike
You are so right in all that you say.  I've been a rad trans for 30 years and I've watched the pay scales go down instead of up.  I truly wish there were something we as a group could do to fight the corporations.  And to add insult to injury, some companies advertising for rad trans are paying by the report!  Anybody who does transcription and gets paid per report is only encouraging this trend.  Yes, I know, you have to work to live but if everyone stopped working for places like this and held out for a better position, we might all be better off.  Pay per report is a slap in the face.  I work for a teaching hospital on the west coast and often times transcribe 10-12 page neurointerventional reports.  And I'd be farther ahead to get paid $1.50 for the report?  Give me a big fat break.
I'm in for a 1 day strike
I'm not unhappy with my job - but am disgusted with what has happened to transcription. If we can get enough involved - I do believe that it would have an affect or is it effect (LOL). Let those making the money figure that one out for a day.
so when are we going to go on strike?
There's nothing selfish about demanding a living wage, and there's certainly nothing selfish about organizing your fellow employees so that they can all reap the benefits of a living wage as well. If we let the current troubles beat us into submission, and then we let the good times lull us into submission...when exactly *do* we ask for what we need?
Let's start with a one-day strike!
That will show them who makes the money. All the degrees in the world won't help if they can't transcribe. They want to cut the throats of the very people who slave to make the money for them. I think if we all agreed on a one-day work stoppage, they might get the message. If not, next time, 2 days. Just a suggestion. I don't know if it would accomplish anything, but we would get out point across!
I thought a strike would be more beneficial
but that has to be done by most everyone in order to work.
Tell you what - you strike and I'll make my
Are you ready to strike (with no income)

Is anyone willing to strike when an agreement is not met (higher wages, etc)?  I doubt it.  Most are living paycheck to paycheck as it is.

I hate to be a pessimist, and this will be my last post on this subject, but sad to say most of us can't even get along on this board, do you really think we could come together to form a union? 

There was another post about someone trying and no one showing up.  I guess they had to stay home and type...  Good luck though...  I truly mean that..

ABSOLUTELY I'm ready to strike!
MT's would be hard to unite, but that doesn't make it impossible.
ASR strikes again. When does the linguist strike??

This is what ASR put: AP lateral and oblique x-rays elected vision were obtained.

What doc actually dictated: AP lateral and oblique x-rays of the left 5th digit were obtained.


Strike at this time is selfish
I think that during this hard time for the country, anyone who is going to strike, ie. kick and scream till they get what they want, are being selfish. There are SOOOO many unemployed right now and sooo many more running the risk as well. I understand not wanting to take cuts, etc. but face it people, that is what a lot of people in this country are resorting to because they have no other choice. Many, I am sure, would be HAPPY to have a job...and these people want to quit working till they get their way? And these people are the people who preach about patient care? - just my opinion
Have you ever been part of a hospital strike sm

I will tell you that I first-hand saw that out of a varied group of workers, the MTs were the FIRST and ONLY work group to cross the picket line to scab themselves for the money. 

I didn't, but it was me and 2 other people out of 25 who stayed out.  That is the reason unions and strikes do not work for transcriptionists.  We have a majority who will sell everyone else down the river to put more money into their own pockets.


I laugh at the comedy board not at a strike.
then get off of the porch.  You call this OP venting?  Cut me a break.  Sounds more like a cry for help.  Why don't you all find a new profession instead of wanting everything handed to you on a silver platter.  I find no humor in compromising patient care because someone wants to have a b***ch fit!!!  
A 2-day strike will not hurt patient care
it will give the physicians something to think about when they have to hand write their STAT H&P for patient's surgery tomorrow.
A macro shortcut requires that you strike 2 or more keys. nm
Strike in Pakistan slowing down offshored work here. Just another example of offshore
Lot's of people work for cheatin companies. They bide their time and strike when they can.
As for me, I have joined a class action law suit on behalf of shareholders and MTs.  Double whammy.  Not too dumb.  By the way, don't you have some managing to do or are you on duty all day to try to make MTs think MQ is AOK and everything else going on around them financially is just a figment of their imagination. 
58, AHP/self-taught, trained at hospital 5 years, now with 2 of my own accounts for 10 years, employ
Also worn out 2 keyboards in 4 years. I will never retire. DH will come home some day from work and I'll be slumped over my keyboard. I put in 14 hours a day 7 days a week.
Pack years = packs smoked per day x years of smoking - sm
25 pack-years = 25 years of 1 pack a day, or 12-1/2 years of 2 packs a day.

I don't think pack-years applies to someone who smokes only cigars. But I don't know for sure.
I worked for Cbay for 3 years. I was also part of their lay off back many years ago. sm
Even though I got stuck in a lay off era, I still love the company. They paid well then. The people were nice (exception of 1 person) and if I had the opportunity I would go back again. Fortunately (or unfortunately - depending on how u look at it), I have a great paying job right now, so I am not looking for a change. I do know that at one time, they asked management to accept late paychecks, but never sure of the reason why. My check was never late.
I know it used to be 5-10 years back, but the laws changed within the last 2 years. They can only g
6 years legal then switched to medical 17+ years ago. sm

I don't mind doing legal and will do it now from time to time, but be prepared to be totally bored out of your mind.

At least that's the way I feel.  I love to transcribe, learned legal in college, went on to get my paralegal degree, etc., etc., but I did temp work when the kids were younger, which was about 90% medical and I would never go back to legal except for once in a while.




Only 3 years away from reaching total years for retirement
but if I had to do this and raise a family, would feel exactly like you do. The pay is terrible compared to what I used to make. I work 32 hours a week, hope to be able to continue even after full retirement age. I have worked on VR now and unless places get to where they really do not care about how their reports look, think they will need MTs. I very seldom do a report and it is 100%, just cannot remember 1 like that and most take a lot more editing. Working now because want to, not have to anymore, thank goodness!!
I dumped my ex 20 years ago, but got lucky 13 years ago

It would take me all night and pages and pages to describe what a bad person my ex-husband was.  After six years of putting up with his OCD, verbal abuse and alcohol, I left him the house, took the kids (5 and 1) and didn't look back. That was 20 years ago.

I wasn't looking to get married again, but I did.  After 13 years I only complain when hubby doesn't see things my way. :) 

My older kids, who were 5 and 1 when I left, are married and have kids of their own now.  My husband gets the Father's Day cards.  Their "real" father sits alone in the perfect little house I left behind and let him have and he drinks himself into oblivion every night because nobody is "perfect" enough, including his kids and his grandkids that he never sees. 

Sad, but true.  So glad I smartened up and got  out of there when I did.

We have been supporting other countries for years and years now.
What is the big deal.  Look at your clothes, cars, items in your house.  You will see mostly China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan etc., etc.  We have not supported our own people like we should have for years now!!!!
Only 2 in 13 years for me. First Edix for 8 and now Webmedx for nearly 5 years. nm
When I trained, back years and years ago
We did not have spell checking nor the internet (Google for instantaneous help). OMG, how did we do it? We used Correcting Selectrics with the lift-off tape to correct errors- you only had dictionaries, both English and medical, to look up things so yes we did have to learn to spell all those big longgggggggggg words.
MT: 24 years. Same company: 11 years same co. after buyout.
Grammar Question: 9 years' ago or 9 years ago? *sm*
I have a terrible time trying to remember this rule! HELP!
Worked inhouse for years and years
Inhouse transcription from 1973 to approximately 1992 and we had no downtime for answering the phones and when the physicians came into the room (or others) needing some assistance, just part of the job. I did not feel bad about doing it then and I dont see why you would either. You donít realize that probably you are making right now more than if you are outsourced, right? You have hourly salary plus incentive. Guess how many of us have that now? Probably inevitable about outsourcing so I would say just enjoy while you can. The pay our here now sinks further and further. I make, for instance, 4 cents a line for voice recognition and 8 for straight. Now, more complaining?
19 years old...married 26 years. nm
they've been doing this for years and years (nm)


People have been saying that for years and years - SM

however, I am working fewer hours and making more money. I think maybe the answer here is working as an IC for a one-owner company. MTSO was an MT for many years and she knows the secret to making lots of $ is putting your MTs doing what they do best and leaving them alone.

I don't think it is the "national" part of services that hurts. I think the low wages can be gauged by the number of suits in the company. More suits = less $.

And why pay QA? Just hire people experienced/good enough to do the work correctly the first time.

I have been doing Radiology only the last two years after several years (sm)
of acute care. I love it and find it easier although not as interesting as acute care. I was told by those who hired me that a good medical Transcriptionist will be able to do Radiology even with no experience in it. There are some specialized terms but easy to learn. I would never go back to acute care unless there were very good dictators and good sound quality.
30 (!) years; OTJ (don't think there were schools 30 years ago) nm
Years ago it was 7 years. Not certain as to status now.

10 years here, too, and making 8.4....same as i was 5 years ago. nm
Shame on me.. Am I the only one with 4+ in 2 years, but with my last one 2 years.

Lots of little "stints" in between, just trying to keep my head above water.

24 years MT, 7.5 years with the same hospital nm.
22 years, same company 10 years nm
32 years, longest was 28 years at same co. (nm)
28 years, 9 years at 1 hospital..sm

9 years at one hospital, 8 years with 2 services, then went out on my own (11 years ago) and got a bunch of surgeons and I moonlight on weekends for a national (9 years with national). 

If I knew what I know today, with how the MT business has gone down $$-wise for us over 20+ years, if I had my druthers and could start over again, I would have stayed with CODING/BILLING instead of MT work (though I love MT work) as billing/coding is still lucrative in this country....

just my 3 cents

32 years, 18 years at hospital...
7 at Medquist, 7 at Spheris. Starting at Transtech Medical tomorrow.
Do you need to have 2 years full time experience or just 2 years' experience? nm
49 years old/self taught/daughter 20 years old/self taught. I'm a CMT, and daughter is studying t
take the test soon.
I know I'm old - 30+ years as well
but I do remember specifically being told "double".  Maybe there is something to the reason being that they used to "talk good."
I'm going on 35 years of doing this

and I try to keep my goals realistic dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, etc.  I don't like to see a minimum of 200 lines/hour; occasionally can reach nearly 300 lph but depends on the dictators.  Seems the account I do now mostly has dictators from India, the ones I dislike the most.  I love Russians, Japanese, Germans, French, etc., etc., but for some reason I find the Indian accent very difficult!!!! 

I, like you, do not use expanders or "normals" etc., mostly because I'm from the old school and I type every word.  I'm sure if I used some of the crutches I could easily reach 275 to 350 lines/hour, maybe more who knows!  I keep telling myself one day I'll relearn how to do all that but right now, I don't care....when the time is right I'll know.  Mainly I just keep trying not to stress myself out too much.  I've put in my time and paid my dues and do a great job.  I'm not a young chick anymore and don't expct myself to produce these huge line counts, but believe me, I know I could if that was my wish!!!  Don't worry.....Be happy!