“Tricia was an abstractor and registry coordinator for 24 years and then promoted to supervisor three years ago, becoming the Cancer Program Coordinator for two Mercyhealth Hospitals – one in Janesville WI, and one in Rockford IL,” says Trudy Smithback, Transcription/Cancer Registry HIM for St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI, who nominated Tricia Obrecht for this recognition. “She has made a measurable impact over the past 27 years as a dedicated CTR. Outstanding quality assurance and trainer for her team. Very knowledgeable, well informed and educated. The pride she takes in her work is truly inspiring.”
Tricia was working in coding and billing for a radiation therapy center when she was asked to help with a research project for prostate cancer. This triggered an interest in cancer research. In 1997, without any direct experience in the cancer registry, Tricia felt very fortunate to find an opening in the Cancer Registry department at Mercyhealth. She was self-taught and without a mentor, but she did receive guidance from the state’s educator. Deciding that cancer registry was the career path that she wished to pursue, Tricia started studying for her CTR license and in 2000 became certified. She said the most difficult part of the exam for her was statistics.
Motivated by her very young team, Tricia enjoys training and sharing her knowledge with them. Her team describes her as empowering, thoughtful, intuitive, resourceful, attentive, and proactive.
Tricia is a past president of the Wisconsin Cancer Registrars Association and has held several other positions in the WCRA. Currently, she participates on the CIM Advisory Committee for Southwest Tech.
Tricia is most proud of the respect she has earned and received from physicians. One of her physicians complimented her by saying, “You have the ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” meaning she can take a problematic and inherently bad situation and make something good out of it. She motivates people that are not engaged and promotes the value in accreditation by the CoC, which in turn improves quality of care and outcomes for the cancer patient.
If she had the power to change any of the multiple rules from the standard setters, Tricia would make the rules clearer, improve communications, have more comparative data, and share case data in all state central registries, including providing additional treatment to the registries.
Tricia was previously a horse show judge. She felt this refined her skills as an educator and trainer. While growing up, she owned and showed horses, but unfortunately, had to sell them to go to college. She enjoys playing board games, reading and participates in a monthly book club, as well as, playing cards, especially Euchre. She has traveled extensively, her favorite trip being three weeks in Australia and New Zealand. When she is not traveling, Tricia is involved in scrapbooking, motorcycling, and crafting – especially floral arranging.