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The Rhode Island Cancer Registry Internship Training Program

Rhode Island Cancer Registry

The Rhode Island Cancer Registry (RICR) examined the idea of working with the Rhode Island State School System to develop a college-level degree program. We examined the career path of cancer registrars in the past and found that prospective registrars typically become aware of cancer registration through their work in allied health professions, and entered the field when a position became available. Education and training generally are gained on the job or by attending state and regional workshops and recently, statewide meetings conducted by central cancer registries.

The RICR Internship Training Program introduces prospective registrars to cancer registration through a combination of classroom lectures and clinical experience. The goal is to provide perspective registrars with sufficient classroom instruction and practical experience so they understand what a career in cancer registration entails before they decide to take the path to certification.

Classroom instruction incorporates the Principles of Registry Management, an introduction to casefinding, coding, abstracting, and the use of the online Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Self Instructional Manuals. Attention is paid to the role of the cancer registrar in the hospital cancer program.

Using casefinding material supplied by hospitals and pathology reports from freestanding pathology labs, interns practice their casefinding skills. Clinical training then moves to the hospital setting. Hospitals have graciously provided the program with space, casefinding materials, and medical records for interns to perform casefinding and abstracting in the hospital setting. Ideally, interns are placed in the hospital in which they are employed.

Upon completion of the Internship Training Program, the interns are qualified to perform casefinding, follow-up, and abstracting under the supervision of a certified tumor registrar. To date, 10 of the 19 interns are working in the field of cancer registration and are committed to following the path to certification. The RICR has scheduled an Advanced Training Program for interns who have completed the program that will focus on Collaborative and T-N-M staging.

The underlying purpose of the Internship Training Program is to ensure the timely flow of complete, high-quality data by avoiding reporting disruptions caused by vacancies in hospital cancer registries. Upon completion of the Internship Training Program, interns understand what cancer registration is, the role of the cancer registrar in the hospital cancer program, and the path to certification. With more than half of the interns working in the field in some capacity and several following the formal path to certification, we consider the Internship Training Program a success.

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