In the spring of 1992, I started working part-time at St. Mary’s Hospital as a radiology transcriptionist. I’ve never looked back. I still have my original employee ID number, and have been on the employee roster all these years, either as part-time, full-time, or prn.
In the spring of 1999, I came on board with St. Mary's full time. Except for a three-year stint in a local ortho office, I've been full-time ever since.
The date eludes me now, but sometime in the early 2000s, the hospital embraced the growing trend of remote transcription, and sent us home to work. So, instead of working in little cubicles in a room of six to eight medical transcriptionists, we set up our offices at home, and spent our days working in PJs and socks. It was fabulous!
When the first home-based computer connected to the hospital for the first time, an e-mail was sent that said simply: The Eagle has landed.
From that day forward, we have called ourselves The Eagles, and we’ve been very happy in our little nests at home. We are scattered over six different counties, yet we have remained a very close-knit family, and every now and then we pack up and go to our Home Nest (the hospital) to work for a day in order to attend meetings, gatherings, etc. We’ve seen babies born, grow up, graduate high school and college, seen them get married, have us some grandbabies, and we’ve watched our parents grow old. We’ve suffered heartbreak, life-threatening illnesses, celebrated victories, and held each other close in times of sadness. We greet each other via email each morning, and strategize the game plan for the day’s work. We cover for each other when someone needs to be out. I do believe we have been closer than some actual blood-related families. And like families will do, every now and then, we have our spats and disagreements (and the occasional accidental “reply all” e-mail incidents that can go badly), but love and respect always win. We forgive and move forward. And we perform our jobs as best we can, always with the patient’s best interest in mind. It’s what we do. And what we have loved for many, many years. It has also been a wonderful blessing that we all share the same faith, and are able to encourage each other in that regard. Nowadays that’s a rare thing. What a joy that has been!
It seems impossible that it could be coming to an end. As you may remember from an earlier post, our jobs are being outsourced to a very large corporate-endorsed transcription agency. We were given the option to go with the company, but none of us want to do that, and we’ve all been seeking other employment.
One of the Eagles has already left the nest due to medical reasons, so we’re down one person already.
And now it’s my turn. Today will be my last day in the nest. On Monday, I’ll be landing in a new nest as I go to a new job. I’m praying my wings will be strong enough to carry this old bird into a new land, to learn new things and work with a new family. I’ll be working in a family practice office, and will carry my transcription skills with me as a medical scribe. It’s kind of the same thing I’m already doing, except the doctor won’t be dictating the words for me to transcribe. Instead, I’ll go into the room with the doctor, and listen to the interaction between physician and patient, and document the pertinent information into the EMR. I’ve been in the office with him on two days already, and find this concept to be very liberating for the physician. When I visit my PCP, she is hardly able to make eye contact with me, because she is constantly switching from screen to screen on the laptop, trying to find the information she needs, while asking me questions and trying to take care of me. Not the case with a scribe in the room. When I was working with Dr. J., I was ecstatic to see his interaction with the patients. He could sit on his little stool right in front of them, look into their eyes and really see the patients. They could feel it too. They know they have his attention, and that he is really listening to them. I’m there to document everything, and try to anticipate anything he might need, such as prior lab work, and can have that ready for him to view, saving him from having to search for it. It is a WONDERFUL concept, and I love it already. It makes me want to be his patient, too! It’s so sad nowadays that doctors can’t be doctors because of all the red tape and hoops they have to jump through.
While I am very excited, I’m also very sad. I wasn’t sure of my last day as an Eagle, as there were several factors that determined my start date at the new job. The phone call came yesterday morning. I had already cleared with my immediate supervisor to be off the Thursday and Friday before whenever my start date would be. So that means today is my last day. The process seems to have taken forever, but it got real when I told my family of co-workers that Wednesday would be my last day. I cried like a baby. Some of them did, too, and it ain’t over yet. I expect we’ll be leaving one by one, until there’s no-one left. At least that’s the plan, because none of us want to go with the agency. (Nasty company to work for!!) So instead of ripping the bandage off in one fell swoop, and all transition into the agency together, we’ll be going our separate ways one at a time. It will be more like taking the bandage off a little bit a time - a slow and painful process, as one by one we leap from the nest into skies unknown. We vow and declare that we will always be close, and nothing has to change. We don’t see each other every day anyhow, so we can still e-mail and Facebook. But there’s just something about being in the nest together, sharing a common goal, knowing someone always has our back. That part will be gone.
The office where I’m going is within the St. Mary’s system, so I’ll still be an employee of the hospital. This is a good thing because I get to keep my years of service, leave accrual rate, benefits, etc.
But still, it is very bittersweet. I’m going to miss my family: Tammy, Pam, Cheryl, Jeneine, June, and JoAnn. Tammy, our transcription supervisor, has grieved right along with us, and worried herself nearly sick that we have lost our jobs. She has been wonderful through this entire process, and we have been so fortunate to have a fair, compassionate, hard-working, supervisor who appreciates us, and tells us so very often. While there is nothing locally we can do about corporate decisions, I feel safe in saying the hospital is losing a dedicated group of loyal, long-standing employees. The trade off for saving money by outsourcing will be offset, I’m afraid, by strangers - many of whom live overseas- who have no vested interest in our hospital, and care not one bit about our patients. Sadly, in corporate America, the bottom line is the almighty dollar.
But, as I have always believed, everything happens for a reason. We can fret and be bitter about the change, or we can take it as an opportunity to get out of our jammies, and get our homebody selves out into the world. Shake things up a little bit. Meet new people, learn new things. Make a difference in the world. Even if we do have to wear clothes and shoes.
I’m truly grateful that this job came along – and in retrospect I can see that it was orchestrated (I believe by God), many months ago in a casual conversation with a friend from church - long before I knew I would be losing my job. There have been a few moments of anxiety, but for the most part, I’ve been very calm and assured that everything would work out, and that God would provide what I need. And I’m still counting on that heavily, as there is a significant difference in compensation. (If you look for me and can’t find me, I’m probably living in a refrigerator box under a bridge, surfing the internet for different ways to prepare ramen noodles. Haha!) Nah…. I’m pretty sure my mama and DJ won’t let me go hungry, and my dad would probably let me and the kitties live in the basement with his electronic stuff if it comes down to that. So I’m not worried. Well, maybe a little about the ramen noodles part – never developed much of a palate for that…
To my Eagle Family: As we go our separate ways, may our journeys from the nests we’ve known for so long be safe and prosperous, and may we always remember this: The Eagles will land again, and God will be the wind that carries us until we arrive safely at our new homes. We can do this. We are The Eagles!! Thank you, ladies, for loving me during the best of times and during the worst of times. You are all a part of me, and I will carry you with me as I go.
Today it is my turn to fly. I’ll turn off my computer one last time at the end of my shift today, and say goodbye to a career that has served me well, and which I have loved, for many, many years. Monday morning I’ll walk through a new door, get to know my new family, park my car at a new address, and do my best to make a difference in someone’s world each day.
And all the while, I’ll remember this verse from Lamentations: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. I say to myself, The LORD is my portion, therefore will I hope in Him.”