« All Blogs Sep 5, 2018
My CHAMPS Oncology CTR Practicum Experience
CTR Practicum

The guest blog post below was written by Juliann Sutton, a future CTR who recently completed her CTR practicum experience with CHAMPS Oncology. Read on to learn more about her journey to becoming a CTR.

“What did I do,” I asked myself? The moment of self-doubt crept in like a shadow in the darkness. “Why would I decide to change careers NOW?”

I got to this place after several personal experiences with cancer diagnoses in my family. I started to feel the need to be in a profession that helped battle cancer. So, I spent a late night with my iPad researching cancer fields, and came across a job description I had never heard of – Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). “Hmmm,” I wondered to myself. “What is this all about?”

My next stop that night was the National Cancer Registrars Association’s website. “Cancer registrars capture a complete summary of the history, diagnosis, treatment and disease status for every cancer patient,” I read. “Registrars’ work leads to better information that is used in the management of cancer, and ultimately, cures.”

Finally, I landed on the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) website. Lucky for me their Metropolitan Campus had been recently accredited by the NCRA to offer a Cancer Registrar Post-Degree Certificate Program. I didn’t waste any time enrolling and was fortunate to be placed with CHAMPS Oncology for my required CTR practicum experience.

I believe my CTR practicum experience with CHAMPS was truly a learning one. Everything I had been taught in the classroom setting was applied in this real-world experience. For example:

  • I was able to see my CHAMPS’ mentors utilize and maneuver CRStar, the registry database my Tri-C classes taught.
  • I learned what it was like to be in a hospital and use real patient cases as I moved around electronic medical records – a distinct difference from my experience in class using SEER Educate cases for abstracts.
  • When I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information in the medical records and where to begin my abstracts, my CTR practicum mentors gave me tips on how to approach each site and what to pay most attention to, so it would not be such a daunting process.
  • I saw three unique approaches to abstracting by rotating between seasoned CHAMPS Oncology registrars. While they each approached the tasks at hand a bit differently, abstracting requirements and standards were always met. This allowed me to imagine how my own abstracting rhythm might develop once I became a CTR.

My practicum was scheduled according to NCRA CTR practicum guidelines, therefore I knew each day what we were to cover. But my CHAMPS’ mentors allowed the schedule to be fluid. If we spent more time on one item on the agenda one day, we moved things around to ensure everything was covered at the completion of my practicum. Each of my mentors indulged my questions and challenged me to learn – all while managing to get their real jobs done!

I’ll close by saying I am very grateful to my CHAMPS’ mentors - Karen Mordarski, RHIT, CTR; Charita Thomas, CTR; and Christine Paavola, RHIT, CTR. They were all encouraging and gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

So to answer my first question, “What did I do,” I made the best career choice ever! Thanks CHAMPS Oncology.

Are you a future CTR like Juliann? Check out our recent blog post on tips for the fall CTR exam to help you prep!

« Previous Blog Post Meet September’s Registry Rock Star: Charita Thomas, CTR
Next Blog Post » The Cancer Registrar’s Part in Increasing Clinical Trial Enrollment