Except for MT, there are not many professions that offer tremendous flexibility. We’ve all worked at jobs where we had to be responsible and worked hard to provide our employers with dedication and performance over and above what was expected. I always knew I would provide my employers with a more than adequate performance on a daily basis. It didn’t make sense to pay a manager to monitor me, perhaps returning 10 minutes late from a well-deserved lunch break – I felt it was pointless because I knew I was going to do all my work and with dedication. For the most part, I was theirs for 8 hours. I would have gladly traded extra time and work for some flexibility. If I could break up the day for a couple hours and go out into the daylight, run a few errands, or work out at the gym, or go over to the school for the kids’ Valentine’s party, the stress cycle would be broken and I would be more productive. I could perform my job at the same level or better without someone inventing things for me to do because I was on the clock. Either I was a good worker, or I was not. My supervisors were not going to change that fact – they were simply going to keep me moving for 8 hours regardless, and for me the days became stress-filled and mundane. When I worked the 8 to 5 routine, I drove in Houston traffic 2 or more hours each way. There were few jobs where I could work unsupervised, and I had to be extra lucky to land one of them. I knew that I was going to give my job 100%, whatever it was, and I knew that I would be an asset to whatever company I worked for, even if I had to put in extra time to compensate for my detour to the nail salon.
My discovery of medical transcription was exactly what I had hoped for. At first I was nervous and felt a little guilty; however, as time went on and I developed time management techniques, most days went by without a hitch, so long as I met my quota, and my goals for an incredible work situation were realized. The added perks that were not my main motivator during my pursuit for the perfect job, such as no traffic, less wardrobe, even cheaper insurance because I traveled less, quickly became apparent. These are benefits I don’t want to relinquish, thus the need for me to develop better organizational skills and stay on task better than I did before – a trade well worth it.
I think a person needs to be realistic and expect to benefit from this type of working situation only if they prepare and plan ahead a bit, but most importantly make a solid commitment to be responsible for their actions and get the work done that is assigned. Some MTs have positions were they are “logged on” for a specific shift, but if they are reasonable about it, even those MT positions you can get up and throw a load of wash in or start dinner, get on the treadmill, et cetera. You can decide if you want to put on make up, shower later, or sit outside for a minute and watch the sunrise – or set. It works for many of us. Ask an MT if they love their job.
I did have to learn to be an unsupervised worker by trial and error. It didn’t take long to realize that the best day for me was to knock the work out early if at all possible. Most days things just click along and I get a great sense of accomplishment and I am always astonished at the extra time I have, mostly because there are no interruptions as one would expect in an office situation. You have the responsibility to set the ground rules for your workday. It won’t take long to realize how valuable your personal time is and what you can accomplish. It comes down to a good balance; work responsibilities and personal flexibility. It’s not difficult; organize tasks and plan ahead.
I like to travel with my laptop and I can very successfully meet the quota I set for myself. I’ve had a few hiccups and discoveries in doing so. If I had been nitpicky about organizing ahead, I could have avoided a few headaches. For instance, if you think that skiing on the slopes for 8 hours and coming back to the hotel to do your hours online is doable – it is, but at a price of being extra tired. But, sometimes that’s a fair trade in my opinion – as long as I go into that kind of situation with the full expectation that I have to do my work no matter what.
A few discoveries I made while experimenting with a play day/workday (and I did this with the primary goal of allowing myself flexibility but it had to go unnoticed) lead to a few late nights and sometimes hurdles to overcome in a quick hurry. A few of these could have been avoided had I prepared ahead by calling ahead. Troubles I have experienced included coming to a hotel finding out that the hotel charges for wifi – sometimes you can explain your need to be online and have this waved, but it is best to call and negotiate and discuss your online needs beforehand so you are not surprised, charged a fee you didn’t expect, or worse – having to move hotels because of inadequate connectability. Know what your needs are head of time. Another experience was a time at South Padre at a beautiful beachfront RV park. I wanted to get there Thursday, finish my work that evening so I could arise early Friday and go deep sea fishing. I called ahead to ensure that they had phone lines and that I was guaranteed a site with a connection. We set up camp, took everything out, connected the ethernet cable last only to discover that the salt water had eroded the box, so I had to pack it up and move sites. (Flexibility is what I asked for so I had better be flexible!) Some of you may think that it’s not worth it – that’s okay, start slow. A forgotten ethernet cord is easy – run to Walmart. Exhaustion after a day of play is not so easy – know your limits.
Bringing yourself to a working/playing location is very rewarding and makes you realize how flexible your job can be, but you have to think about what is most important and plan for anything. In my mind, my work had to come first. I know if I end up in a campsite my primary responsibilities are confidentiality and getting my work done. Be open minded, knowing what your responsibilities and goals are if your idea of flexibility is portability.
I would love to hear from the readers about MT experiences and discoveries; maybe share some tips to enhance our flexibility. Perhaps this seems overboard for some and you may be one who believes if a person wants some time off, take the day off and enjoy. But maybe there are some of you who like to work, like me, and enjoy the challenge of taking the job to new levels and getting the most out of it. Medical transcription is far from dull.
Photo Credit: romana klee
Program Director, Med-Line School of Medical Transcription