Dr. Mayo’s Second Medical Degree and First Professional Paper #ThrowbackThursday

After graduating from Indiana Medical College and marrying Louise, Dr. W. W. Mayo worked as a physician and pharmacist in Lafayette.

In the spring of 1851, he left this job and went into partnership with Dr. Elizur Deming. In 1853, Dr. Deming joined the faculty of the University of Missouri Medical Department in St. Louis, and Dr. Mayo expressed a desire to join Dr. Deming to further his education. W. W. and Louise’s first child Horace had died as an infant. Their second child Gertrude was a few months old, and Louise was busy with her millinery business. Nevertheless, Louise agreed to her husband’s idea of an extended absence while he studied in St. Louis. It was the first of many such absences, all of them devoted to advancing his medical knowledge, in their long marriage.

In March 1854, the University of Missouri awarded W. W. Mayo his second medical degree. (Subsequently, the University relocated the medical program to its campus in Columbia, Missouri. Today, Washington University is the successor institution to the program in which Dr. W. W. Mayo enrolled.)

By the spring of 1854, Dr. Mayo was back in Lafayette, practicing medicine as his full-time profession. That year, he and Dr. Deming traveled to Evansville for the fifth annual meeting of the Indiana State Medical Society, where Dr. Mayo presented a paper on his observations from studying the urine of his patients. He urged his colleagues to make urinalysis part of their practice—and started a tradition of medical scholarship that continues as a key strength of Mayo Clinic.

Judith Hartzell wrote:

“When Mayo spoke to the Indiana doctors, he was performing two functions, which later were systemized into the Mayo Clinic Model of Care—research and education. The triple emphases of the future clinic were thus already in place: patient care, research, and education.”

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.