Spotlight on Cancer Registry Jobs
Two CTRs Share Their ‘Behind the Scenes’ Stories
Cancer registry professionals ensure accurate data about patients diagnosed and treated for malignancies is entered into registry databases, leading to better understanding of the diseases.
“We are the investigators of cancer,” said Tyler P., CTR, manager of cancer registry at Concord Hospitals in Concord, New Hampshire, and working remotely for AMN Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Solutions group on the oncology data management team. “It’s not a well-known profession, but we work behind the scenes, investigating each individual person’s cancer.”
AMN Healthcare provides experienced cancer tumor registrars (CTRs) to healthcare organizations across the country to efficiently track and report cancer data. Some serve as cancer registry coordinators or program managers, dealing with compliance with accreditation requirements.
“I love what I do and am passionate about it,” Tyler said. “As we grow and become further along with medical advances, data is becoming more important and more real time.”
The importance of cancer registry jobs
Cancer registrars collect data about reportable tumors, malignancies and benign central nervous system masses. CTR jobs involve collecting hundreds of data items about cancer patients’ journeys, including demographics, diagnosis, ICD codes, biopsies, staging and treatments. They use more than seven manuals to determine the most accurate coding, Tyler said.
The cancer tumor registrar sends the information into a hospital database. It is then submitted to state and national cancer databases, and the American Cancer Society. Researchers also can access the data.
“We tend to be an invisible group,” said Cindy T., RHIT, CTR, an AMN Healthcare oncology data management consultant. “No two days are alike. Every case you go into is different.”
People can become a cancer tumor registrar by studying for an associate’s degree in cancer registry management or complete a year of study with an experienced CTR before taking a National Cancer Registrars Association certification exam.
Cancer registry professionals also assist their hospitals in achieving and maintaining voluntary accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC), the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) or the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC). Cancer registrars may serve on cancer committees, tumor boards or other programs.
“Accreditation is the gold standard, showing that your facility is performing at the top level,” Tyler says.
Meet two AMN cancer registrars
Cindy’s interest in cancer registries began many years ago, when living in Missouri and working in a hospital doing medical transcription when the facility learned it needed to start recording cancer data. She started with AMN Healthcare about 10 years ago, working remotely or onsite to prepare for accreditation surveys.
“AMN recruiters and managers have been very supportive of the CTRs I have worked with,” said Cindy, who appreciates the flexibility her CTR jobs offer. She added, “A lot of people like it, because it fits their life better. They can schedule work around family or other things.”
CTR jobs “take a person who wants to learn for the rest of their career,” Cindy said. She explained that cancer registry professionals must stay abreast of new treatments, staging changes and varying reporting requirements depending on the state.
“Cindy is an invaluable member of our CTR team,” said Kathy F., AAS, RHIT, CTR, oncology data management workforce manager at AMN Healthcare Revenue Cycle Solutions. “Her vast amount of knowledge for the cancer registry field has provided clients with outstanding service and confidence that their program is providing timely and quality data.”
Cindy often works multiple assignments, either two part-time positions or a full-time and a part-time assignment, which has been necessary at times due to a shortage of cancer tumor registrars. She feels that if someone needs help, she is happy to step up and provide that assistance and is willing to switch from one project to another as needed.
“Cindy’s willingness to take on multiple assignments, each with their own nuances, does not go unnoticed,” Kathy said. “She is truly a gem to work with and rely on!”
Tyler had worked in a Level 1 trauma center for eight years before discovering the cancer registry career professional role. He immediately was drawn to it and joined AMN Healthcare this winter after working for a hospital.
“This was a completely different way I could take care of patients without being patient-facing,” Tyler said. “It’s interesting to see all of this data at a high level.”
“Tyler is one of our newer hires at AMN,” Kathy said. “I am so glad we have him here! His enthusiasm, skill, knowledge, communication and team spirit are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Tyler in the cancer registry field.”
Tyler is currently transferring all of Concord’s processes from paper to electronic data collection, with shared reporting.
“Tyler is dedicated to quality work and problem solving,” Kathy noted, adding that his current role is helping the client organization move in a forward path to successful accreditation for both NAPBC and CoC.
“I always seek out more efficient processes or workflows,” Tyler said. “That’s where I thrive.”
Learn more about cancer registry jobs
An integral part of AMN Healthcare’s Revenue Cycle Solutions group, the Cancer Registry team has opportunities for quality assurance specialists, cancer tumor registrars, and cancer registry coordinators and program managers. These qualified professionals can enjoy competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits, including health insurance; 401K retirement plans with matching; vacation, sick time and paid holidays; learning resources; and education allowances.
While benefits are important, many cancer registry professionals enjoy how their work contributes to healthcare. They can focus on the task at hand and improving patient outcomes.
“It’s helping us now to look at what patients are treated with now and if they are responding and make treatment decisions,” Tyler said. “Data is only going to get more and more important.”