The experience conundrum

Bodybuilders are judged by the size, shape, symmetry, proportion and the definition of their muscles. Nobody would ask how many years they were doing bodybuilding before a competition. India’s Premchand Dogra, the former Mr. Universe, was a wrestler. He only had about six months’ training experience before his first bodybuilding medal in 1980 and he eventually went on to win the Mr. Universe title in 1988. There are other young bodybuilders who have over ten years’ of training experience without any major title to their credit.

Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast attained a perfect 10/10 in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. For the first time in the history of modern Olympic gymnastics. They didn’t even have a proper scoreboard to display a score of 10.00 (Omega, as per specifications by the organizing committee made only a four digit scoreboard, since it was told that a perfect 10 was not possible. Comaneci’s score was displayed as 1:00) It was such a flawless performance on the uneven bars that nothing short of a perfect 10/10 was possible. Comaneci went on to score three more 10s on the uneven bars and another three on the balance beam. A total of seven 10s.

I have been transcribing doctors’ dictations for some time now. I know from experience that when I hear “acute and chronic” it is “acute on chronic” and levothyroxine is prescribed in micrograms. So even if the doctor dictates ‘ levothyroxine 10 milligrams’ either I correct it myself to ’10 micrograms’ in the transcript, or I flag the report. Also, when the doctor says ‘the distal ileum was tied and clamped’ I know that it is the distal end of the small intestine and not ‘ilium’, the innominate bone. Also, I know that patient safety is of paramount importance and I always strive to follow the golden rule of transcription, “when in doubt, flag”.

These are all examples from my personal experience. Yet, I know that medical science is such a vast field that no one ever becomes a master in every aspect of it in his entire life. Transcription is as art as it is science. Since it is science, there is stuff we need to learn from a book. Human Anatomy — again subdivided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy is the structure and organization of the human body, and physiology — which is the science of how the body works, human diseases, diagnostic tests and laboratory studies, medical imaging, pharmacology, common tests and medical abbreviations, medical eponyms, etcetera — the list is large. Yet it is an art by itself. We have to practice it. But nobody has outlined how much experience it is sufficient before you become someone who is considered a professional in this field.

When I attend a job interview this is one of the most difficult questions I have to encounter. “How much experience do you have?” Is experience such an objective assessment of someone’s skills? I do not know. Do two different people with different educational backgrounds and different attributes with ‘n’ number of experience produce the same results? I do not believe so.

But I am hopeful. Only the ‘getting hired’ part is difficult. One thing I have experienced is the conviction and belief from the employer’s part once I started working –“If you have people like you, please ask them to join our company.”

A famous story goes like this. When Charlie Chaplin, the famous Hollywood actor was in his prime, a masquerade party was held. The prize would go to the person who masqueraded the best as Charlie Chaplin. The original Charlie Chaplin also attended the event impromptu. And when the results came, Charlie Chaplin himself was pushed into the third place by two other participants.

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