Saturday, May 29, 2010

My First Job at the Vet School......

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not really here tonight. Hubby and I are on a cruise to the Bahamas, along with Nurse Jane and Pilot Brian and probably a couple other thousand folks.

Because I'm egotistical enough to think someone will actually MISS me, I created this post ahead of time and scheduled it to publish while we were gone.

Because I learned last time how expensive it is to use the internet on a cruise ship, I created this post ahead of time and scheduled it to publish while we were gone.


When I graduated from college, I immediately put my degree to work making $4.08 as a "clerk" of some sort at the University of Georgia. It was the same job I had as a student, only they turned it into a full-time job with benefits.

Then I decided to move up to a slightly better-paying job (probably around $4.15 or so). I became a medical transcriptionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The only skill required was typing, and I was (am) pretty good at it. I went to some sort of competition for typing in high school, but I have completely blocked it out of my memory because I didn't win.

When I went for my interview, the two ladies in the medical transcription department (one of them was leaving) explained the dictation machine to me, along with the fancy typewriter. This was in the days before computers, obviously. I was in awe of the typewriter because it stored data on a magnetic card. You could type type type type type type, save it to the card, then when it became necessary to edit the document, you simply had to put the magnetic card (about the same size as a business envelope) back in the typewriter and retrieve the data. I was still marveling at the self-correcting typewriter, so the mag-card was magical to me.

For my interview, they set up the dictation machine with an actual letter that had been dictated by one of the veterinarians on staff. I think they gave me that one because it had the word Pseudomonas in it. I was allowed to use a dictionary or a medical dictionary, and I was smart enough to know that Pesudomonas began with a "P". I'm no dummy.

I did get stumped by a different word, however. I backed up the tape and listened again. And again. And again. And again. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't get it. There was a weird pause in the man's voice right before this word, and I just couldn't understand it. I finally looked up helplessly.

"Do you need some help?" one of the ladies asked.

"Yes," I said, blushing furiously, "I can't make out this word."

She listened to it. Backed up and listened to it again. She looked at me, puzzled.

"Do you mean the word 'dog'?"

I'm thinking perhaps Pseudomonas saved me, because I still got the job.

In some ways it was the perfect job for me. Veterinarians from both Small Animal and Large Animal Medicine called in their referral letters and surgery reports on a machine that held five or six cassette tapes. When each tape was full, it ejected automatically and loaded a new one. We took turns getting the tapes out of the machine.

Like many government jobs, there was no overlap among departments. If we got caught up on our transcription, we did NOT take on work from other departments. That would have caused the world to tilt on its axis.

Our little world was isolated from most of the rest of the building. We were on the ground floor, just down the hall from the **reverential bow here** Dean's office. The floor above us held the various departments: Pathology, Large Animal Medicine, Small Animal Medicine. The floor below us held the teaching hospital.

We had to go downstairs to the teaching hospital only to pick up our paychecks. The first time I had to pick mine up, naturally my office-mate went with me to show me the way. She had no way of knowing that it would take many trips before I knew where I was going. The first time I went alone, I got my check without incident, but I couldn't find my way back. I just kept walking around and around, searching fruitlessly for the exit. I kept passing the same operating room, and every time I went past, every person in there looked up at me. Poor dog....his owners probably wondered why he died. Just kidding.

I was going around and around because I am a rule follower. I kept coming to a door that said "Authorized Personnel Only." What I needed was a sign that said, "Idiot, this is the door you came through to GET here, so it's okay to go through it again."

Because we didn't take on work from other departments, if we were caught up on our transcription, it was okay for us to read a book, cross stitch, or talk on the phone. This was in the days before the Internet, or I'm sure it would have been fine to surf the 'Net.

That is the job that inspired me to type so fast. The faster I typed, the more free time I had. Granted I had to be there, sitting in that little office that didn't even have windows, but I didn't always have work to do. I soon learned that I could ALMOST type as fast as some of the veterinarians talked, because backing the tape up only made it take longer.

I applied for a different job on campus one time, and they asked me to take a typing test. They put me in a room with a timer and a looooooooooooooooooooooong sheet of paper that the woman fed into a typewriter. She gave me the signal to start and then left the room.

I ran out of paper.

When the timer went off, the lady came back in and found me sitting there with my hands folded in my lap and the entire sheet of paper filled with words. She gave me a quizzical look and disappeared.

When she came back, she said, "Can I keep this?"

"Umm....sure." You're the one in charge here, lady.

She said, "I've never had anyone do this well on a typing test."

I tell that story not to brag (because that's NOT where the title of my blog originated) but to demonstrate how inspired I was to type fast in my job as a medical transcriptionist.

Other than going to the teaching hospital to pick up paychecks, the only other time we even had to leave our office was to deliver typed documents to the mailboxes of the veterinarians up on the third floor. I'm guessing these days the reports and letters are emailed. We didn't have to interact with anyone if we didn't want to. I'm not sure why we even dressed up for that job, but we did.

Sometimes I miss that job.


Maggie said...

I wish I could have that job now...

Enjoy your cruise!

And I, for one, would've missed you had you not advanced posted! So thanks for keeping my fears/ OCD at bay...

Evil Pixie said...

I second Maggie's seniments. I would have definitely missed you. Take lots of cruise photos! :)