Military Spouses Discuss Medical Transcriptionist Careers

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Holloway, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 23, 2007 - More than 100 military spouses gathered here April 20 to discuss one thing -- their future.

"The military spouse, as many of us know -- and I am the wife of a retired chaplain -- had to start over almost anywhere we moved," said Jerrie Cleaver, coordinator for the Office Technology Department at Central Texas College.

Whenever troops, sailors, Marines and airmen deploy, their move is felt throughout their entire family. "To me, just not having to start over and having to be the new kid on the block, ... that is worth a whole lot," Cleaver said.

The American Association for Medical Transcription and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity came together April 21 to introduce military spouses to the growing career field of medical transcriptionists. Many schools already are offering classes for military spouses and assisting spouses with tuition costs so they can get the education they need.

Central Texas College has been offering classes for transcriptionists since January. Since then, 12 students have signed up, with more looking every day, Cleaver said.

"Central Texas has had a longstanding relationship with the military," she said.

All classes are offered online so they are available to students anywhere in the world.

"Military spouses move a lot," Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy said here. "They can take this education and training, get a national certification and move the job with them as their servicemember spouse gets (reassigned) or deployed, and really it's starting at the beginning of a career and moving up and becoming an expert.

"There is a whole career track to participate in this industry," she continued, "So we think this is a great new partnership with the medical transcription industry."

Christine Simeck, a military spouse of 16 years, said she wished such a program was available when she was starting out as a military family member. "I have spent several duty stations overseas unemployed and having skills that I wasn't able to use because of the area that we were in or the restrictions that were imposed," she said. "This (program) would have been a great way to remain employed."

Although the meeting here marked the official launching of the program, preparation has been under way since January, and 2,000 military spouses already have checked it out, Arsht said.

"There is a saying in the military that we recruit a servicemember and retain a family," she added. "In the high part of that equation for retaining the family is for the spouse having a satisfactory career opportunity."

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Holloway is assigned to the Pentagon Channel.)

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