Cancer Registrar Finds Flexibility & More with AMN Healthcare
After 21 years at her hometown hospital, cancer registrar Toni W., CTR, is now part of AMN Healthcare's Cancer Registry team, where she is finding fulfillment and greater flexibility. She is also proud to continue using her skills in the fight against cancer.
AMN staffs cancer registry jobs nationwide, including certified tumor registrars (CTRs), lead CTRs, registry managers and cancer program coordinators.
In 1998, Toni started working in medical records as a file clerk for her hometown hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. She later applied for a registry assistant position because the hours let her care for her two young children. Toni worked with cancer data that helped save lives, and found it brought a whole new purpose to her employment at the hospital.
"I felt as though I was a part of the patient's life while doing my job," Toni said. "I was born and raised here, so I know many people in this town, and when I knew patients who came through the registry, it was heartbreaking."
What is a Cancer Registry?
As part of the cancer care team, cancer registrars, such as Toni, are data information specialists who help capture a complete history, diagnosis, treatment, and health status for every cancer patient in the United States. The curated data provide essential information to researchers, healthcare providers and public health officials to better monitor and advance cancer treatments, conduct research, and improve cancer prevention and screening programs. Registrars are a part of the treatment process and have an integral role in the fight to cure cancer.
For employment, most hospitals and central cancer registries require their cancer registrars to have a certified tumor registrar (CTR) credential from the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). The NCRA notes that a CTR registrar can earn a significantly better salary than a non-credentialed registrar.
Working for AMN’s Cancer Registry Division
In 2014, Toni was still at her hometown hospital when it built its own cancer center and let its registrars work from home, which she enjoyed. Then in 2019, she started looking for opportunities to go part-time. She had talked to an AMN Healthcare representative while attending an NCRA educational event, so Toni contacted AMN recruiter Emily S. The two have been working together ever since.
After her initial conversation with Emily, Toni decided to take the job with AMN but continue working full-time, and she's been delighted with her decision.
"I love it," she said. "Working for AMN is flexible, and the education they offer is wonderful. You learn something new every day. Plus, they pay for your CME (continuing medical education), and, overall, compensation is much better now than when the hospital employed me."
Toni is also happy about the support she receives. "Emily calls me about every two weeks just to check in," she said. "She makes the process easy, such as the onboarding and if there's education that has to be fulfilled. She helps a lot and gets things squared away for me."
To date, Toni has worked on three cancer registry assignments with AMN from home and is currently working with Swedish Health Services in Seattle. Assignments are usually six months, but extensions have kept her there for two years.
Toni has found that a registrar’s duties can vary depending on the need of the hospital registry. At Swedish, she only does abstracting, which involves auditing and data abstraction of patient records in support of the facility's clinical process improvement and patient safety initiatives.
"With abstracting, I get all the information from the hospital file, all the statistics of the patients, including when they were born, when they were diagnosed, and which treatments they had," she said. "Once patients are in the registry, they are followed their entire life."
Toni pointed out that cancer registrars also follow up on patient data and sometimes find that patients need follow-up calls for treatments. The registrar will contact the doctor's office to let them know to contact the patient.
For people considering becoming a cancer registrar, Toni said they have to be able to go with the flow and get used to continual changes to the registry manuals, which affect registrar duties. But being a part of the fight against cancer helps make it an extraordinary job.
"I don't know the patients personally," she said. "I haven't touched them or talked to them, but they have touched my life, and I want to do my best to ensure that they get the best treatment and what is available for them."
AMN Healthcare is continually expanding our Cancer Registry Division, which is part of the Revenue Cycle Solutions team.