Transcriptionists begin training for Fletcher Allen jobs

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(Host) The state’s largest hospital will hire Vermonters to process medical transcriptions instead of sending the jobs overseas. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington plans to employ the new workers after they undergo an intensive eight-month education program. Twenty trainees began their studies this week.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Kathleen Davidson is one of the select few. The Brookfield resident is among 20 medical transcription trainees who were chosen from a pool of 700 applicants around the state.

(Davidson) “It’s very exciting. This is a golden opportunity for myself. It’s something I always wanted to do. I can be at home for my children and earn a living.”

(Dillon) Stacked in front of Davidson in a Williston conference room are two piles of reference books, including medical dictionaries. She’ll need these books to learn how to accurately transcribe the detailed medical records dictated by doctors.

(Gerry Ghazi) “I would say 90 percent of this education deals with the medical terminology and the context of that medical terminology.”

(Dillon) Gerry Ghazi is president of Vermont HITEC, a Williston-based non-profit that does workforce development training. Vermont HITEC teamed up with Fletcher Allen, Burlington College and the state of Vermont to fund and launch the transcriptionist training program. The program is free to participants and the goal is to hire Vermonters instead of outsourcing the jobs to India.

Phil Fiermonte, a Burlington city councilor, worked on the training project. He says the country as a whole lost half a million information technology jobs over the last three years. Many of those jobs went offshore.

(Fiermonte) “Now we have an example here in Vermont at Fletcher Allen of doing just the opposite, moving away from offshoring to hiring local people at decent wages.”

(Dillon) The trainees agree to work for Fletcher Allen for at least a year if they complete the program successfully. All the graduates will work at home, and their starting salary will be around $11 an hour.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Williston.

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