Pros and Cons of AAMT

AAMT Webpage / 1999 Convention Board / Discussion in 1998 / AAMT Pros and Cons 1997 / Ideas for Change / Convention Report 1996 / Free Stuff
3/15/96, from Rhonda Winchester,
It may be a measure of my ignorance (or the fact that I am working on average 48+ hours a week) that I know nothing of the general disillusionment w/ AAMT. I am a member of AAMT as well as being a CMT. I have always found them willing to help me out when necessary. Yes, they are sometimes "hidebound." All large and potentially expanding beauracracies are. We should remember that for many MTs this organization is the ONLY source of information available. Not all MTs have easy access to the WWW or the Internet, and those of us who choose to work for hospital, clinic, or in a physician's office and don't have a computer with a modem (and sometimes someone willing to pay the fees if we can't afford it) need the professional support and information. Don't write AAMT completely off, and please remember that some of your colleagues do find this organization a valuable and important tool in their working lives. Your participation and input might help someone with whom you have never before communicated!
4/14/96, from Patricia Seitz,
Yes, there are problems with AAMT, but there are always solutions -- well maybe not always, but I think opening up dialog, whether on this board, at meetings or whatever is a great first step.

I sometimes feel people are very ready to complain but don't want to get involved in making changes. I was very active in my chapter back in Ohio, and I was president when I moved out here to Idaho, and it was very difficult get members involved; they were afraid it would take up way to much time. But even as president I did not spend ALL my time with AAMT. I think maybe people are afraid to actually get involved with trying to make change because they think it will be too time-consuming.

Being on this board is a great way to network and get educated, but I still feel belonging to a professional association just brings our profession one step higher to getting better recognition and respect; I know I have met many doctors who are very impressed and pleased that I belong to a professional association, and did not even know that one existed for us!

Maybe some day there will be other associations to choose from for us to belong to, but right now all we have is AAMT and I think it should be supported. Like I said before, if enough people are dissatisfied with their association, then a new one or even more than one will be organized, if people are willing to go that route, which I don't think they are!
4/15/96, from Susan Francis,
I have been off the board lately and was surprised to see so many responses to this topic. As you know, I am in FULL support of AAMTs efforts to obtain recognition and respect for the medical transcription profession. Being a 20+ year veteran, this has been long over due! To me, that is really what is important. I can find my own job, educate myself, pay my own taxes and operate my own business. I do NOT expect AAMT to do that for me (and DO NOT want them to). I DO expect them to be in contact (friendly) with the membership with information on upcoming technologies, better ways for medical transcriptionists to communicate (I think the Web site is a must), etc., and to keep in touch with the AHIMA (who I did NOT know did not welcome AAMT to their meetings -- I belong to the local chapter and we interact very well), the AMA (which does recognize AAMT the last I heard) and other professional groups to further the medical transcription profession.

Members of AAMT all have to take the responsibility to bring about changes that are IMPORTANT to everyone. Some times we see our cause as important, but the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. This is an organization just like any other that has rules, regulations and guidelines that they MUST operate under. Change can come from the local chapter levels as well. I for one (and now maybe 2 or 3) think AAMT is doing a good job with the time, money (the dues are not overly exorbitant) and SUPPORT that they have been given. I really hope to see more people get involved instead of uninvolved! Starting another group may be a good idea, but along with it (over time) will come rules, regulations, dues, and unhappy disillusioned members as well. You have to take the good with the bad!

3/4/96, from Mary Morken:
I have avoided this subject on forums because I wanted to keep this place friendly for AAMT when they arrived, but since it appears they aren't coming any time soon (except perhaps on a web site), I am willing to discuss it here, hoping both sides will speak up.

I've also avoided the subject on MT Daily and have handled questions on the subject by Email. I've decided to start a new page on the subject now on MT Daily, and would like to use the best of the notes posted here, if folks are willing. I hope we can hear from some who remember when AAMT began 18 years ago. And hope against hope, I hope we can hear from some national AAMT leaders on here, if they are allowed yet.

I won't be going to the national convention of AAMT in Minneapolis in July, but perhaps others are going and would like to set a time and place to meet as online MTs to get acquainted, as they did last summer.

4/96, (name withheld): I have had by CMT for a year and-a-half now. I have done a few articles from the JAAMT for credits, but am FAR from my required 30. Every time there is a local chapter meeting anywhere near me, it's on a weekend that I have some other major thing going on. I am glad that the journal is finally giving more medical credit opportunities, but I would like more choices. I am finally going to go to a meeting in another state (4-hour drive, $40 for room, $45 for the meeting) to get 5 medical credits. I would much rather download some Med-Sig article that has been preapproved for $5 or $10, obviously, and do it on MY time. I checked out the AAMT page; I see they are still under construction. Have you heard if they are going to include credit-worthy stuff on that page?

4/96, name withheld:
I work for a service that recognizes CMT and gives compensation for it, but I still had to take a test on the interview. When it comes down to it, the only way to know for sure if someone can do the work is to see what they can do.

With regard to the CMT issue, having been through the process only a year ago, I can tell you that it leaves a lot to be desired!! First of all, I have been a MT for well over 17 years. Like a lot of MTs I know, I learned all I know on the job. I took a six-week course in medical terminology a few years before I ever decided to actually try to work in the field. I thought a lot about getting my certification, not because my employer required it, but because I thought it would help me in the future, and also because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Because I had waited so long to take it, I found that now it required a written AND a transcription test. For somebody who never took an anatomy and physiology course, much less a course in "MT professional ethics", that test was agonizing. I was the lead transcriptionist in my company, the only one in the pool who could type any account, any doctor, any accent, etc., and yet, needing a score of 85 to pass the written test, only scored an 83! They told me I missed it by one question! There was $150 down the drain. I was humiliated, naturally, so I came home, crammed on the questions I knew I had missed and retook the test the following week and passed. I went on to take the transcription part, and passed that with ease, as I knew I would.

The bottom line is this...I believe that someone fresh out of school could ace that written test and possibly even pass the typing part, as I did not find it that difficult. BUT could they do my job, which includes acute hospital transcription, something I have been doing for 17+ years? I seriously doubt it. What does that do for the value of the title, CMT? In my book, not very much! Not to take anything away from students or new MTs by any means, but if someone who has 17 years of experience but who is not a CMT, and a new inexperienced CMT applied for the same job and they chose the CMT, what would it show that employer? That is exactly my point.

I do not regret having gotten my CMT, but in all honesty, it has not done a thing for me. I did not get a raise. I did not get more recognition (a lot of medical employers do not even know what CMT is) but what I did get was personal satisfaction, which was MY goal in the first place. Expensive gratification!

From Mary:
I just called AAMT again to make sure: They recommend one year of experience before taking the CMT test, but it is not required. They have recently made the CMT a little more separate from AAMT and do not require membership, but highly recommend it as AAMT have approved materials and meetings for CME credit. While it is expensive ($350+ I think), AAMT still gives support as the CMT program has a deficit each year. The July 1995 publication states that the CMT program "is a voluntary credentialing program of the. . .AAMT and is an internally adminstratively independent body." It is a member of the "National Organization for Competency Assurance."

The CMT is not comparable to the MD, RN or EMT in several ways. It is not required by law.

There are MTs of many years who are not pursuing excellence and learning, but there are CMTs like that too.

Very few employers can afford to require the CMT; there are only around 4000 CMTs. The earliest CMTs were grandfathered in; they didn't have to take the test at all.

Quoting from the CMT publication regarding why to take the test, it is called "a measure of proficiency at a specific point in time. . .It is objective." The author states she took the test "to proclaim to my employer, peers, and the public that I want to be the very best. . ." She states, "I feel as though it puts me in an elite class." She then gives a disclaimer, stating that there are some great MTs who have chosen not to become certified. She ends by stating that she thinks the CMT will become a standard measurement for MT employment.

I gave up my CMT and AAMT membership for several reasons, partly in protest and grief regarding their opposition to MTs being online and the confusion regarding the meaning of the CMT. I respect much of what they have accomplished, and hope they will join us online soon. They are working on a web site. If you want more information about the CMT, you can call AAMT at 800-982-2182.

Quotes from the "Cert Alert" July 1995 not by permission, but within the rules of quotes permitted by copyright law, to the best of my understanding.

From Mary: Regarding the CMT, I do not think many places recognize the CMT since the AMA doesn't. It does help with other CMTs perhaps, but I think years of experience, actual performance and ongoing learning are the best credentials. Maybe we could have "virtual reality" 5-year pins, 10-year pins, etc.! We've got lots of 20-year and 30-year experts on here without CMTs. I think there are about 4,000 CMTs out of the 10,000 AAMT members. There are 200,000+ MTs in the country. I think online networking is an excellent way to keep sharpening skills and getting "continuing medical education." From Mary to Cathy:
I think it would be a shame for someone with your experience to have to take the CMT test which is designed for new MTs and would not at all reflect your expertise. I think you can confidently stand on your experience and performance, especially if you have been a learner.

There are several good companies that would be delighted to hear from you and do not ask about the CMT. Are you open to work at home? I hereby award you a virtual 20-year pin! :)

From Mary to Arlaine:
CMT would mean something if the AMA recognized it. I think years of experience, performance and ongoing learning are more accurate measures than the confused meaning of the CMT. I do think years of experience ought to be rewarded; every time someone starts with a new company they have to start from the bottom again it seems.

From Bambi,
I've been an MT for many, many years (by the way, I've begun going by Medical Language Specialist because it seems to have a greater connotation). Never once, when I was a CMT did I receive higher compensation, better benefits, reimbursement for expenses, or anything that would make one think obtaining the useless title is worthwhile. AAMT is a political organization. They need to get their finger back onto the pulse of the real issues and forget about the other junk.
From Trisha Potter:
I am a member of AAMT and a CMT. From the beginning of my involvement with the s.m.t. usenet newsgroup two years ago, I have perceived a definite lean to the negative with regard to views on AAMT and CMT. I've always tended not to express an opinion in these periodic debates because of my perception. However, I am moved to speak at this time because I think preserving the membership of this group is of tantamount importance. It is the diversity in our group that makes it strong. It would be a shame if those involved with AAMT and CMT felt excluded somehow because of a perception that the majority opinion is an opinion against AAMT.

As an unmoderated group, s.m.t. has no official stance on AAMT. We all agree to disagree. Any comments regarding AAMT should be stated as opinion. Those requesting opinions of the users of s.m.t. can draw their own conclusions as to whether AAMT serves their professional needs and whether it is worth it to them to pay for those services. Freely express ideas and opinons. If you disagree with an expressed opinion, explain why!

I work for a service which pays me an incentive to maintain my CMT status and which also reimburses me a certain amount per "semester" towards continuing education expenses or dues. Therefore, it is very much worth my while to maintain that CMT. It may just be a few letters, but to my employer it is becoming a pretty important marketing tool. Clients are beginning to inquire as to how many CMTs are employed by the service. I don't feel like I am a better person just because I am a CMT. In fact, money was my motivating factor. I judge no one else because of their lack of CMT; no one should jugde me for having it. I am a self-educated MT. My first teacher was my mother, a non-CMT who learned terminology from nuns. The woman from whom I learned the most on my first job was a non-CMT with 20+ years experience.

Therefore, I, too, believe that in our field, experience is more important than passing any test. It is truly a hands-on profession, and everyday is a learning experience, thank God, or some days I'd die of boredom. There are bad people everywhere. There are people who had superiority complexes long before they got their CMT. I don't see CMT as a way to prove my worth. I've made it worth my while, I learn things I want to learn, and, yes, I actually enjoy it. It makes me proud of myself, in my mind it doesn't say anything about anybody else.

>From Linda Campbell:
Trisha's point is well taken. It's hard to keep one's opinion to oneself after listening to the discussions that have taken place. I am charter member of AAMT (my AAMT number is 62), and I go back a long way both as a volunteer when the organization was just getting started back in 1975 and as a former employee of AAMT (twice) in the 1980s.

There is no question in my mind that AAMT has deviated from its original goals and has become what we originally determined it was NOT to be--a political organization. Certainly, if one has access to, and reads over, old AAMT publications, it becomes crystal clear that there is a huge gap in its institutional memory. Many of their actions today are politically motivated, and it is questionable who is serving whom.

Having said all of this (and I could say much more), I am STILL a member of AAMT. I still pay my (ever-increasing) dues. I still go to the Annual Meetings when I can. Why? Because AAMT is the only professional organization mainstream transcriptionists have. From it have sprung many opportunities for self-improvement and growth, medical education, recognition (for some), and companies competing to provide quality reference books for MTs. There was a time, not that long ago, when the only references available were a dog-eared copy of Dorland's, Harbeck's Glossary, and Szulec's Surgeon's Syllabus. When the Medical Word Book by Sloane came out, it was manna from heaven.

Each of us needs to decide what we think about what AAMT has to offer. Then make your choice and join--or not. But DON'T stop the flow of ideas or discussions! Only by making problems public can we even begin to address them and (hopefully) resolve them. Is this AAMT-bashing? I think not. The free expression of ideas and opinions, and the responsible discussions of controversial issues, are paramount.

Linda Campbell, CMT, Director of R&D, Health Professions Institute, E-mail

From Cynthia Lewis:
My brief experience with AAMT was not exactly positive. I had to claw my way in under a student membership (they did not want to consider my participation in a home-study course as being a true student), and then I was very disappointed to find a complete lack of any acknowledgement for MT as a home business. Their thrust seems to be toward large institutions and self-promotion. I think they serve a useful function for those employed MTs who have a need for a professional association, complete with endless bylaw discussions, ranting against unfair (in their eyes) employment practices, and promoting their conventions. Objectively, I was impressed with their stress on continuing education and in encouraging professionalism, but it seemed to always be professionalism according to their gospel and agenda. For the home businessperson, however, I feel that they do not offer any incentives which justify their membership fee. No group medical insurance, for instance, no voice for the home business, not many large discounts on various products or services (which many other professional groups offer.) I probably will not rejoin AAMT, and have no desire or need for CMT certification.

From Donna:
Thanks for the CMT information. It's hard for me to believe they expect an MT to try to pass the CMT examination with only one year of experience. The lady I used to work with who is now a CMT had a two-year degree in business with a special section on medical transcription AND five years' experience (in a small hospital) and still wondered whether or not she was qualified enough to take the test. She did finally take it and passed. The last I heard it was $150 for each portion of the test.

I don't see how a CMT would be able to stay a CMT without some commitment to learning; after all, she does have to have so many medical credits to renew the CMT.

It is my personal opinion that many, many years ago other professionals were in the same predicament we are in now with little recognition and no political clout. They banded together to form organizations to gain for themselves political clout, recognition, and increased salaries, and I think AAMT is still in the infant stage in this area but is trying to gain the same kind of recognition for us. Of course, along with political clout and recognition (and increased salaries) comes more responsibility and more liability. I see that happening with the errors and omissions insurance being offered to MTs now (in fact, I recently received a package from AAMT regarding that type of insurance).

I personally think that if AAMT would come down on their membership fees a little (I renewed my membership before it went up to $100, which is outrageous) more MTs would join which would bring in more participation and ideas. I am also 45 miles from the closest chapter, which I think makes it difficult to be an involved chapter member. One of the chapters closest to me meets either at 7:30 or 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, which would make it extremely difficult for me, especially in winter.

Most of the "higher-up" AAMT people that I have met at the two state onventions I've been to (Texas and Colorado) have been extremely supportive and friendly and have not acted condescending at all.

You have brought up some very interesting observations. I guess the bottom line is an individual's preference. I know I certainly have enjoyed this forum immensely and have really gotten more out of it than from my two years in AAMT.

From Mary Morken:
About CMT education, it does not at all guarantee the kind of ongoing learning needed to keep on the "power curve" today; I don't think they give credit yet for web research or online experience, as AHIMA and AMA do.

About professional development, AAMT has certainly majored in this, and can claim some accomplishments. However, I fear they have eroded into what I call "professionalisticism" where it becomes sterile and paralyzing. We are in a time of such rapid change, we need as much flexibility as professionalism right now, and they lack that, as most well-established professional organizations do in this time of revolutionary change in the way we do our work, obtain information and relate to people.

About AAMT's money, they are very strapped for money, in view of their goals. I think they could benefit from less travel and conferencing and more online investment, the direction of the future for us all I think.

From Mary, 4/96:
I received a correction by E-mail regarding a reference I made to the AMA Style Guide in a post several days ago when we were trying to figure out just what is the final authority for dictation/transcription standards for doctors writing for medical records. The correction was that the AMA Guide is not considered an authority for this kind of writing for doctors but only for academic and journal writing, and that JCAHO does not recognize any final authority for this writing either.

It appears that in AAMT's effort to provide a style guide in this vacuum, they give the impression that they are the final word, whether they actually say so or not, just as they give the impression they are "THE professional organization for MTs" rather than "a" professional organization for MTs. Come to think of it, when we talk about something Online MTs have worked on, we probably sound like we think we are the final word too! How can we avoid sounding like the absolute authority or monopoly in our effort to establish standards for ourselves in such a vacuum? Such is the challenge of pioneers who chart new lands and try to make the wilderness friendly.

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