Professional Development for Healthcare Professions Blog

Monday Technology Tip- Increase Your Productivity

Posted by Chad Sines on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

TechnologySurely you have heard about Speed Type, Instant Text, and other shortcut expander programs. Med-Line teaches its medical transcription students how to use expanders as part of our medical transcription training. Would you like to learn advanced techniques for optimizing both?

Have you heard of AutoHotKeys? Did you know that you can use it to create scripts that perform tasks for you? Did you know there are medical transcriptionists who will share their scripts with you?

Do you know how to use macros to perform automated tasks in Microsoft Word and Excel? Macros are a very effective way to automate things in Microsoft Office. I wrote one to help with calculating grades and in graduate school I had one that would open a few thousand data files, correlate them, and perform advanced calculations that were then presented in a nice table and cool graphs. Weeks of work happened in about 30 seconds.

So where can you go to learn tips and tricks for increasing your productivity and learning these advanced techniques? I have long been a fan of Productivity Talk. This is not one of “those forums.” This is a medical transcription forum where the focus is on sharing information about medical transcription technology. There is a wealth of knowledge in these forums and people who will help you learn to use it.

You should definitely take the time to look over Productivity Talk and use it to enhance your medical transcription career.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- More Commonly Misused Words

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 @ 03:26 PM

GrammarWe have touched on this topic before, but it is one that we should revisit. Most of the time their, there, they're or lie, lay or accept, except do not change the meaning for the reader. It is intersting how our brain makes that correct interpretation. Still, MTs should be masters of the language. 

There is a very nicely written page on several commonly misused words at  Take the time to go read it now.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Earphones & Privacy

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

earphonesI had an MT ask me the other day if it was okay to transcribe without using ear phones, e.g. using their speakers. The short answer is no. If others can hear the audio, then you are violating HIPAA. Even in healthcare facilities where the entire office staff is covered with privacy paperwork, it is not okay to just share information. Each person being exposed to medical information has to have a need for the information. Playing audio aloud shares private information with anyone and everyone nearby. You never know who is listening or who might be on a phone nearby. 

So get used to the headphones. I used to use the $300 Bose, but they are not needed. Personally I like the cheap $10 iPhone earbuds. The audio is easier to hear, you will make fewer mistakes, and you will preserve privacy. 

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Word Expanders

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Apr 04, 2012 @ 04:54 PM

increaseIf you have not started exploring the topic of text expanders, then now is a good time to start. Text expanders allow an MT to drastically increase their productivity by minimizing key strokes. A typical expander works by recognizing short forms that you develop for words and then expanding them into the long form. Many suggest using the first three letters of a word and the last letter as the short form. An example might be abdl for abdominal. Every time you would use this shortcut you would save about four letters. Many use pt for patient, hy for history, rx for prescription, and so on. Just these few simple shortcuts can save many keystrokes over time. 

An MT can and should develop their own list of shortcuts over time. This is much better than simply importing lists that others give you. The goal is to use shortcuts that you know and will use versus just looking to build a large database.  

A lot of people begin by using MS Words autocorrect to define some basic shortcuts. While this works okay in the beginning, it quickly becomes burdensome to add new forms quickly, backup, and take the shortcuts with you. Using a commercial expander program like SpeedType allows an MT to quickly develop, edit, import, and export shortcuts. It also allows you to take the shortcuts with you to multiple computers and works with any Windows program seamlessly. Over a very short course of time these programs pay for themselves.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Productivity Talk

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 @ 06:29 PM

ProductiveBeing paid on production means focusing on productivity. One site that I absolutely love is This is a great place to go to learn expander theories, share productivity tips, learn about free software like AutoHotKeys (AHK) that allow you to create time saving scripts. You can also learn how to write MS Word macros. Both of these allow for endless opportunities to save time, produce more work, and ultimately make more money.  

This site is definitely worth a strong look and a community of helpful people who are worth getting to know.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Help with Professional Acronyms

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 02:13 PM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionThe list of acronyms for medical professionals is a bit mind boggling. There are a great many terms for licensing, certifications, and professional affilitations for medical service providers. Here is a nice little website to bookmark for times when you need to know what a medical professional acronym stands for.  This site is more for those providing care as is evidenced by the CMT being a designation for a Certified Massage Therapist versus a Certified Medical Transcriptionist.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Grammar Reference Sites

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 @ 11:31 AM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionGrammar can be evil. There I said it. Chastise me if you want.

Everyone knows that the Book of Style is your first reference for grammar rules; however, often we need additional information or would simply like to explore certain grammar rules more in depth. Do you know what an interjection or a squinting modifier is? There are a lot of grammar sites, but I do like this one for their examples and clarity. I really learned a lot from the Modifiers section. I actually found it because I use their service to grammar check my papers.


What grammar sites do you like?

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Brand vs Generic

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 @ 10:38 AM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionThis tip idea came from Brenda Dorsett, CMT, our credentialing instructor. She suggested explaining the difference between a brand and generic. 

Are brand-named drugs and generics the same? The brands suggest no, the discount brands say yes. So what is the difference and why the extreme price range? 

The active ingredient is the same in both. The dose is the same in both. The FDA also states that the generics must meet the same standards of dosage and availability as brand names. Some pharmacologists (researchers of drugs) will disagree. I spoke with one a couple of years ago who felt that there were subtle manufacturing differences, i.e. harder pills not dissolving as easy as others, but the FDA does refute that claim. 

Generics are cheaper because the companies making them are profiting off the trials of the brand name companies. The brand name companies expend a lot of money to develop drugs and only a fraction ever make it to market. When I was doing biomedical research it was interesting to see some of the technology ($$) used to test a lot of chemicals for possible drug applications. If you got lucky, you tested it on some kind of lab animal ($$$), and if that went well you tested it on people. Think lots of $$$$. If you were really lucky, you had a new drug. The process is truly fascinating and, take my word for it, very expensive. Those costs are reflected in the price. This is a main reason why these manufacturers receive an exclusive patent for 20 years. Sometimes these are extended. 

When the patent expires, companies can petition the FDA to allow them to make a generic. Essentially they have a working drug and know how to make it. No drug research, no testing. Just manufacturing. What is really interesting is that often the brand companies are also making generics. 

Hopefully you all know to capitalize brand names and not to capitalize the generics. 

The FDA has a link to let you know which medications recently went generic. You can see it here.

Topics: Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Student Resolutions

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Jan 04, 2012 @ 11:46 AM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionToday is time for a new year’s resolution for student MTs. I will keep these simple and straightforward. If you meet these three resolutions, you will be miles ahead.

In 2012:
  • Strive to accept criticism and feedback as positive reinforcement. It is a prevention of bad habits that would harm your professional career down the road. Your QA, mentor, instructor is your ally. They are not your enemy. Their correction is a benefit if you accept and act upon it.
  • Be a constant learner. The more you learn, the more you set yourself apart. Take advantage of continuing education. It is free for current Med-Line students. 
  • Begin to develop professional work habits. Do you have a professional email address? Do your emails to instructors read as a conversation between two professionals? Do you provide quality consistent work?
Well, there you have it. I hope you will include these three resolutions in your list. They are simple yet powerful. 

Let’s make 2012 a great year.

Topics: Professional Development, Transcription Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Indirect and Direct Object

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Nov 09, 2011 @ 10:00 AM

Med-Line School of Medical TranscriptionA question came up this week. What is the difference between a direct and indirect object.

Direct Object- A direct object answers what or who is acted upon.

  • Subject + Verb  + What?/Who?
  • I gave money to Ted.
  • I gave what? object
  • The money is WHAT is given, so that is the direct object

Indirect Object- An indirect object answer who receives the action.
Indirect objects are rare. You cannot have an indirect object without a direct object

  • I gave money to Ted.
  • Indirect objects frequent include "to" or "for"
  • Who receives the direct object (money)…Ted. “to Ted” is the indirect object
If that does not clear it up, google direct and indirect object for more examples.

Topics: Transcription Tip