Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What QAs look for in a transcription (How can an MT get out of QA stage?)

I started my MT career as an MT editor, primarily just knowing how it is on the client's end, but not having any knowledge on how it is to properly address the MTs (correcting them, giving suggestions on researching techniques and hoping to get them out of the need for QA. I also partly used the AAMT, but I am not inclined to follow every guideline they have, which are, to my point of view as a doctor, ridiculous.). I decided to do transcribing itself not only for higher net pay, but also to avoid having bad relations with the MTs and my boss. I searched for a new employer to start anew, willing to learn every level, before I finally (I hope) embark on setting up my own business (or an option is to do some marketing and receive commissions).

I found this series of posts at a forum very helpful.


I am new working for a company and I want to make life as easy as possible for me and for QA. I try very hard not to leave blanks and spend a lot of time researching before I leave a blank. What is really expected by QA? What would you consider a good employee versus a bad one? Do you get paid for anything that comes through QA? Do you QA all work or just certain MTs?
I'm just trying to get some insight into a world unseen to me.


QA procedures differ from company to company.

We do full audio review for two weeks on new MTs, new accounts, MTs assigned to accounts new to them, and accounts on which we have received customer complaints. If the MT is performing at 98% or better after two weeks, the account is released from QA; if not, we continue with review until we see improvement.

MTs are reviewed randomly once a month on 5% of their work and are given a score of accuracy.

We provide instructions for each account which include account specifics and client preferences.

QA editors are paid per line. They are not assigned to specific accounts. They do jobs in order that they come in.

My advice to you is to find out what your company's QA policies and procedure are and exactly what they expect from you.

First and foremost, you need to know whether your company adheres to a particular style guide, such at the AAMT Book of Style. Some companies use their own style guides which are usually an adaptation from the BOS.

Secondly, clarify your account preferences, i.e., does your dictator prefer verbatim transcription, etc. If you don't have the account specs in writing, get a copy. (You never know when you might need these to defend yourself.)

It would also help if you could see a QA worksheet that shows the point system your company uses to determine your QA score. For instance 2 points for a medical word error, 1 point for an English word error, 2 points for an omission, etc. If you could get a copy of this list, you would know what types of mistakes we are looking for.

Next, proofread, proofread, proofread. Most errors can be avoided by taking the time to proofread. I realize we are paid on production, but proofreading is a step that cannot be omitted.

Regarding blanks, as many of the other posters have said, I would rather see 10 blanks than 1 guess. NEVER, ever guess at medical terms. I follow the 5-minute rule for blanks--search all your resources for 5 minutes, then leave a blank and move on. (This applies to editors are well.) If the audio quality is horrendous, don't waste time trying to figure it out. Leave a blank and let your manager know if the audio is consistently poor. Sometimes the dictators are using a bad phone or a bad phone line or they need to adjust their handheld settings. Your manager or customer service people can handle those issues.

And also, as others have stated, develop a system to record all of the feedback, corrections, and blanks that are sent to you so that you can refer to the feedback and review it frequently during the first few weeks/months.

Lastly, develop a good relationship with your QA staff. Most of us are willing to answer questions and help out if we can. Hopefully your QA editors will provide clear, constructive feedback that will help you continue to grow as an MT. I realize that some editors enjoy their perceived "power" and are hard to get along with, but most of us enjoy the teaching aspect of our jobs and are willing to do what we can to help.

If I were your editor, I would appreciate your professionalism and your concern about doing a good job. Good luck.


For those considering of making the shift from MT to editing/QA, here were some tips given:

Tests vary a lot and can include a little bit of everything ("sound-alikes," English/grammar, punctuation, AAMT style, terminology, anatomy, etc.) For example, the test may consist of several sentences that contain errors, and the instructions are to find the errors and correct them. I have taken a few tests that were very extensive and tested every possible aspect of editing, while others were very brief. I actually appreciate the tests that are more comprehensive because it shows me that the company places a high emphasis on finding qualified people. (I took a test recently and the test itself contained two errors. I decided they probably wouldn't be the most quality-minded company to work for!)

Personally, I like editing much more than transcribing. I think I am just more cut out for editing/proofreading than I am transcribing. I genuinely like the challenge and I like the teaching aspect of the job. In addition to working in QA, I also teach part-time at a college, and I try to incorporate a "teaching mindset" into the feedback that I provide for MTs.

I always had a difficult time making any serious money transcribing on a production basis because I spent so much time looking up obscure words, reading articles and proofreading my work. And now, even though I work on a production basis doing QA, I have found that I can make a lot more money.

Another thing to consider is your wrists. I was starting to have the classic tingling and wrist fatigue. I'm sure switching to QA saved me from carpal tunnel. (Now my eyes are tired at the end of the day, but my wrists don't hurt!)


I found these helpful. so right now, my first aim would be to be out of QA, then I will slowly work on my production.

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