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Health Educators Explain Their Passion for Profession

Read Time: 3 minutes
Susanna Fraser, MPH, CCRC, health educator

Susanna Fraser, Mariah Wood, Donna Branson, and Jeff Yancey
Susanna Fraser, Mariah Wood, Donna Branson, and Jeff Yancey

Finding answers to questions can be hard, especially in the ever-changing world of cancer research. At Huntsman Cancer Institute, health educators help people find trustworthy, straightforward information about cancer risks, prevention, and care.

Health educators study community health, health literacy, health promotion, and public health for their work. Here at Huntsman Cancer Institute, health education includes several programs: 

In honor of National Health Education Week, we asked a few of our health educators to share why they love what they do.

What made you want to become a health educator?

When I was in college, I found a passion for science and education. Health education makes scientific knowledge more accessible so people can make informed decisions about their health. I get to experience the best of both worlds.

—Jeff Yancey, PhD, MCHES, associate director of education

What does health education look like?

As cancer information specialists, we try to answer questions about different types of cancer and treatments, as well as topics like caregiving, nutrition, and cancer prevention. We also connect patients and families to resources that make their time here go as smoothly as possible.

—Mariah Wood, MPH, health educator

What unique perspectives do you bring to your role?

I have learning disabilities that help me catch difficult language or wording in our materials. If I find it hard to read, I know it could be for someone who is stressed, tired, or experiencing side effects. I also try to help those who have limited exposure to medical language, difficulty reading, or do not speak English as their first language. It is the nerdiest of all superpowers.

—Jeff Yancey

My work as a research coordinator showed me the importance of clinical research. I am passionate about making sure that patients feel comfortable with their treatment decisions and excited to see them access new therapies through clinical trials.

—Susanna Fraser, MPH, CCRC, health educator

What do you love about being a health educator?

I love being able to support patients and their loved ones. I love connecting with patients and families, helping them pinpoint their need, and then providing them with information and resources that would benefit them. To be able to lift a burden in any way is so important to me, and to be a support in a time of extreme difficulty is what I love about my job.

—Karlie Allen, MS, CCLS, adolescent and young adult patient navigator and program manager

I love having the opportunity to focus on questions that really matter to patients and families. Sorting through all the information can feel overwhelming. We are here to listen and help you find the answers that are most important to you.

—Susanna Fraser

What is the best part of your job?

I enjoy bringing people together. It excites me to connect a patient to a resource in the hospital, a student to a new experience, a clinical staff member to a tool that educates their patients, or a researcher to a community partner.

—Jeff Yancey

My favorite part of my job is sharing knowledge and helping meet the needs of individuals in such vulnerable times. I also enjoy getting to know people on a more personal level and seeing gratitude and hope spark in individuals.

—Mariah Wood

I love working with a group of compassionate, intelligent, and motivated health educators. Regardless of our role, we are all health educators at heart, dedicated to educating everyone about all the issues people face. It is energizing to work with people who embody Huntsman Cancer Institute’s vision of “passionate individuals and teams delivering a cancer-free frontier through scientific discovery and human touch.”

—Donna Branson, director of patient and public education

For more information, live chat with a health educator or email

Cancer touches all of us.