Shannon Vann is known to the Cancer Registry community as true professional in every way possible. She has shown true leadership qualities and has been a mentor to so many cancer registrars throughout the country. You know you have made an impact when people across the country simply know you by your first name only (Shannon). She is retiring this week from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) and we at Registry Partners Incorporate wanted to acknowledge her contribution to the cancer data field by posting this recent Q&A session with Shannon. We wish her well in all of her retirement journeys and hope that she is able to fulfill all of her personal dreams as well.
Q: How did you land in the cancer registry profession? Did your RHIA program provide any foundation for cancer registry work?
A: When I entered college at Illinois State University, I planned to study elementary education. At my father’s encouragement, the plan changed because of the lack of teaching jobs at the time. I wandered around campus and by accident found health information management (at the time called medical records administration). I was told that jobs were plentiful, and I had no other great ideas so that became my major. I worked in hospital health information management departments for several years. I left management and worked part-time when my sons were very young. When my youngest son was starting kindergarten, I landed the position of coder/editor at the Illinois State Cancer Registry. That was my entry into cancer registry work. At the time I was in college, the RHIA program had very little information about cancer registry. However, in my practicum at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL I did learn about the registry from Jan Snodgrass.
Q: When did you feel you were most successful with the NAACCR education programs?
A: NAACCR was an early adaptor to the webinar format of education and training for cancer registrars and cancer surveillance professionals. We have reached many, many people through our webinars, and I consider that a great success.
Q: Can you share with us how the central registries have evolved since you worked with the Illinois Central Registry?
A: As in hospital registries, I think electronic technology has been the biggest change I have seen in central registries. Some registry operations no longer exist due to technology while the people needed to do others has diminished. This allows registry staff to spend more time on evaluating quality and using data.
Q: You are well known for your classy fashion and love for shopping. How many pairs of shoes do you own? What is your favorite clothing store?
A: A lot! I will admit that I now have more cute sandals and flats and fewer snazzy heels.I seem to have a lot of Ann Taylor in my closet right now. However, I try to shop locally wherever I happen to be living.
Q: What is your best advice for a registrar reporting to the central registry but abstracting is not their primary job responsibilities?
A: Work closely with staff at your central registry to ensure you understand reporting and abstracting requirements. Enlist central registry staff to work with your supervisor if there are problems getting time to abstract cancer cases because it is not your primary job responsibility.
Q: What advice are you giving Jim Hofferkamp who will continue in your position at NAACCR?
A: Enjoy the ride.
Q: What has been the best advice anyone has given to you about retirement?
A: I haven’t gotten advice per se. I have heard a lot of “you are going to love it!” I have loved working in cancer surveillance, but I am truly looking forward to doing what I want when I want. That will definitely include more time with my granddaughter, Violet.