By Amanda Sangster - November 14, 2023
Beyond providing exceptional cancer care to patients, Moffitt Cancer Center also strives to uplift team members and provide them with opportunities for career development. One such initiative is the tuition assistance program, a transformative opportunity that’s enriching careers and lives alike.
Manager of Medical Staff Services Dana Wakefield began her career in human resources in manufacturing but knew she wanted to branch out into health care after her own experience with cervical cancer as a young adult. However, when opportunities came, she found herself getting overlooked for candidates with more experience or advanced degrees.
Wanting to gain valuable experience, she finally found a perfect fit with the help of a recruiter doing what they called “human resources for doctors.”
Nearly two decades later, Wakefield is still working within this unique area of human resources. At Moffitt, her team handles the verification of credentials for all of Moffitt’s providers. When a provider is onboarding, they ensure they are licensed and credentialed to perform their assigned job duties.
“It’s like being a detective,” Wakefield explained. “We make sure they’re fully vetted and taking care of our patients appropriately.” A self-professed late bloomer, Wakefield returned to college at 40 to complete her bachelor’s degree.
Since then, she’s completed multiple certificate programs and has always felt a strong desire to move upward into a leadership position at Moffitt.
Encouraged by her department leadership, Wakefield applied to Moffitt’s tuition assistance program through the University of Arizona Global Campus. She knew she wanted to pursue her master’s degree but was hesitant to apply. After learning that the program required no upfront cost or reimbursement, she seized the opportunity and completed her master’s degree in health care administration earlier this year.
"Don’t ever say this isn’t the right time because it will never be the right time."- Dana Wakefield, Manager of Medical Staff Services
Balancing full-time work, family life and education proved to be demanding but rewarding. Her husband picked up more household duties, and she learned to establish boundaries to ensure time for both work and family. Despite missing some moments, her family understood the long-term benefits of her dedication.
“I’m not going to lie,” Wakefield said. “It was hard, but I’m the first generation of my family to graduate college, so this was important to me. Yeah, I missed some events with my kids, but we knew it was going to be worth it in the end.”
And it was. With three children — two in college — Wakefield knows her degree will open more doors and opportunities for her career at Moffitt. In the meantime, she’s setting an incredible example for her granddaughter, Oakley, whom she adores.
Wakefield is now the tuition assistance program’s biggest cheerleader. Singing its praises, she has encouraged countless team members to pursue the same opportunity offered to her.
And at 49, Wakefield isn’t finished yet. She’s always committed to bettering herself and is already exploring more leadership certifications. When asked what she would tell another team member considering the program, Wakefield advised, “Don’t ever say this isn’t the right time because it will never be the right time.”