How A Mentor Changed My Life


Marketing Manager

Each year the Georgia Tumor Registrars Association (GATR) has the Debra Fortier Memorial Scholarship. Participants are to write a 300-500 word article. This year the topic was “Mentoring has become an important part of the cancer registry profession. Have you ever had a mentor or been a mentor in this field? Describe what the experience was like and the impact it has had on your and your professional growth as a cancer registrar”. 

GATRA received several excellent articles and we are pleased to report that the recipient of this year’s Debra Fortier Memorial Scholarship went to our very own, Morgan White. Below was her experience…

Mentoring can change someone’s life. Even the smallest impact can change the course of a person. For me it did. I was fresh into my fourth and final semester of college and I had the opportunity to do my practicum at a local cancer registry. I had no idea what I wanted to do and just went through the motions of just getting my degree. I was supposed to go somewhere else but it was too far for me so I decided not to go. Little did I know that my next practicum site would change my life and I am so happy that I said no to the first because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I began my internship not knowing what I was getting into. I met so many wonderful people that showed me the importance of a cancer registry. The more that I did the more I fell in love. A few times (which was all I needed to put that spark in me) I shadowed Ann Hatfield and she showed me the basics of abstracting. I remember learning how to abstract a prostate case and all the “puzzles pieces” that we put together. Ann also taught me that not only does prostate have specific fields but other primary sites have their own particular fields to look for. I began taking all the notes I could on that prostate case. Looking back, it was a simple prostate case but that day that case changed me for the next time I was with Ann I did my very own abstract. I loved every minute abstracting that case on my own with the help of Ann. I enjoyed putting the pieces together to tell the patients story from start to finish.

The very best thing happened next: I was finishing up on a project that I had to do for college and I was researching online with Ann guiding me. As I was investigating, I noticed a posting for a position at a local hospital and I told Ann about it. Ann went out of her way to contact the CTR working at that hospital. She told the CTR how motivated I was as a student and how quickly I learned. Ann could see the passion that I had for becoming a CTR. I put the application in for that position and spoke with the CTR that day.

If it wasn’t for Ann mentoring me during that short time and contacting the CTR I wouldn’t be where I am today. Mentoring is important especially for a young aspiring CTR like myself at the time. I am now a Quality Manager helping other CTR’s reach their full potential.

Image by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash