March 13, 2006

Briefly on the New Job

Training began this morning at the uncivilized hour of 7:30 a.m. I am wiped. I am about to go down for a nap, actually, before I haul myself to a little thing the school's Spanish department calls Noche de Cine so I can get "cultural activity" points. Watching Univision doesn't count as a cultural activity, nor does watching Office Space in Spanish with the English subtitles on; I already checked. It's too bad, because it's pretty funny hearing Bill Lumbergh say "¡Peter! ¿Qué te pasando?" although then you have to subtract some funny just because it isn't Gary Cole saying it.

After watching Office Space in Spanish I really wished my Fellowship of the Ring DVD had a Spanish language option because every male Spanish voiceover in Office Space was like way down here, all Barry White, basso profundo, right, and can you just imagine Frodo speaking in that register? You can't. Or Gollum, damn, I am dying to know what Gollum sounds like en español. I really think that would kill me.

Instead I have to go see something that my Spanish teacher wrote down as Diario de una Moto; except, I can't find a movie by that name no matter where I look and the thing about my Spanish teacher is . . . she's a little . . . I mean, sometimes . . . I think she might be dyslexic, to tell you the truth. So who knows what we're actually seeing. The boyfriend said he hoped she meant this and I told him just for saying that, I hoped it was actually this instead. Of course I am dragging him with me. The rule in this house is that if I have to suffer, he has to suffer; also, I will need someone to poke me awake.

Wait, this was supposed to be about the new job, wasn't it? Well, so far, it's better. Much better. I guess I shouldn't go into much detail but let's just say that if you want people to transcribe dictation rapidly and accurately it is helpful not to hobble them with crapware that thwarts these aims at every turn, even if--no, especially if--that crapware is proprietary and the code base dates back 20 years. Put it in a museum, then, but don't expect me to tolerate it for long.

The real test, however, will be when I start listening to the new doctors, and that brings up something I want to make clear right now, because it's come up before and I don't want it coming up again:

If, as part of your job, you sometimes dictate stuff that other people type, I am sure you are doing this BEAUTIFULLY and I'm equally sure that whatever problems you are having with the process are the transcriptionist's fault entirely. Believe it or not, I'm aware some transcriptionists suck at their jobs. On some days I am one of those transcriptionists myself.

In other words, let me vent once in awhile, and understand that when I do so, I am so not picking on Those Who Dictate as a group--some who dictate are terrific and some who dictate are terrible, yes, but when you get right down to it, I have only one criterion when evaluating Those Who Dictate:

Do you at least kind of, sort of make an effort to do it well?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

In rare cases I may follow that up with:

I mean, I understand if you're tired or you have a cold or the baby just set himself on fire in the middle of what all you were saying or you just found out your spouse is leaving you, really. These things happen. And I understand if you stutter or if English isn't your native language. But at least half of the time you're giving it some effort, aren't you? We're in this together? And you're not actively trying to mess with me or anything, right?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

So please just take my word for it that if I am complaining about a doctor, it is because I am sensing that doctor just doesn't give a fuck, and yes, doctors do come in that variety, same as any other profession, only you hope those doctors at least give a fuck about their primary aim of caring for patients, and honestly, I think it's quite likely that they do. Some of the best doctors from the patient's standpoint can be hell on absolutely everyone and everything else and especially hell on chores they'd rather not do in the first place . . . like dictating chart notes. I had a doctor once begin a report with "This is Dr. Sexyfine [well, he was] dictating yet another fucking report on patient . . . ." It is not FUN, the dictating of reports. I get that.

And sometimes the best doctors are frankly terrible to work with. We had a great doctor at the AIDS clinic I used to work at, from the standpoint of the patients. They loved him. He wore himself out trying to help them. But he was an asshole. He threw charts. He reduced nurses to tears. He even barked at me on occasion and I was strictly back-office; my job and his job intersected as little as two jobs possibly could, but some days he'd just go on a rampage and find reasons to yell at anybody, and on those days you quickly learned not to take it personally. If you judged him by how he treated his coworkers and even his bosses you'd think he was a lousy doctor, but as nearly as I could tell, he wasn't a lousy doctor; so when I'm listening to someone um and uh his or her way through a dictation, I keep in mind that for all I know, that person is the best doctor in the whole wide world--and that's what matters, not all the umming and uhhing.

So when I bitch about this or that dictating physician, please understand a few things:

1. I know they have other, more important things to do.
2. I know dictating is an awkward and difficult activity.
3. I know some transcriptionists suck at their jobs and that it'd be faster for a skilled keyboardist to just type the shit himself rather than have to dictate it to some ninny who can't keep the difference between "it's" and "its" straight and spells "any" with an "e."
4. I can tell the difference between a naturally awkward speaker who's making an effort and a naturally polished speaker who isn't making any effort at all (because "Hey, that's what they pay these broads for") and, while I may get occasionally exasperated with the former, I will never, ever hate on them, least of all here. But for the latter I HAVE NO MERCY. If reading that sort of thing makes you freak out and get all defensive about your own dictating abilities, which it totally shouldn't do as it has nothing to do with you, then READ SOMETHING ELSE.

Okay? Okay. I just knocked half an hour off my nap time for this, so don't make me mention it again. Great thanks terrific and goodnight.

Posted by Ilyka at March 13, 2006 05:05 PM in navel gazing
Well, so far, it's better. Much better.

Sweet, I can't think of anyone more deserving.

Now, if you don't mind, my fingers are getting a little tired--I'm going to send you an audio file of the rest of my comment so you can transcribe it in your ample leisure time..

Posted by: Hubris at March 13, 2006 05:46 PM

Some people will just never understand.

Girlfriend, I am not one of those people. VENT if you need to. Your space, yanno?

And I second Hubris' thoughts, exactly. I'm so glad it's better. Better is great!


Posted by: Margi at March 14, 2006 12:23 AM

I'm assuming the spanish film is The motorcycle diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)?

Posted by: craig at March 14, 2006 05:59 AM

Prolly, Craig, but I'll never know--overslept the nap. Well, there'll be another one on the 27th; I'll try to get to that one.

Posted by: ilyka at March 14, 2006 10:29 AM

Glad to hear things are looking up!

Posted by: Ith at March 14, 2006 11:31 AM

Quit apologizing! If their job is so darned important, they should care that their reports are easy to understand. Doctors aren't gods, no one should have to becaome a professional oracle to interpret their pronouncements. Oh, and you can tell the chips-on-their-shoulders people who think you are writing about them (which is what most people really mean when they say "You're saying everyone who" etc.) that I say that it's mighty fine of them to take time off from their job of being center of the world to pick at you.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 14, 2006 11:40 AM