Mayo Clinic Labs @Work
Thousands of people in hundreds of different roles work at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Mayo Clinic Labs @Work offers a glimpse behind the scenes into this busy reference laboratory, featuring staff from throughout the organization talking about what they do and why they do it.
I live in North Carolina, and I previously worked for another lab locally, but I got laid off from that job. I started job searching and was hired as a contractor for Mayo Clinic Laboratories in January 2018, which I did for a year. After that, in January 2019, I got hired full-time, and I’m going into my second year as a Mayo Clinic employee now.
I’m a referral specialist II. When I started, we were a new group that was pretty small. We process samples at client sites and send them back to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for testing. We don’t do any testing at the client sites. We prepare the sample, aliquot it, and stabilize it. We have a courier that comes every day to pick up the samples, take them to the airport, and then they arrive in Minnesota by the next day. We do all the pre-work, so as soon as a sample arrives in Minnesota, it’s ready to go on the instrument for testing.
We have two meetings a month. One is our national meeting where everybody all over the country meets on a Zoom call. We often have training during that time, or we talk about what’s happening at all of the work sites. If we have something we want to bring to the table, we can do it at that time. Then we also have a meeting once a month with just our site team. That meeting is focused on what’s happening at our site specifically. I’m at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
We handle about 9,000 tests a month for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, or around 500-600 samples a day. At our small client site, I don’t think people would expect that volume, but that’s what we do. That’s with myself and one other part-time Mayo Clinic referral specialist doing this work. But it’s not all about quantity. Quality is very important. If 5,000 of those 9,000 samples weren’t usable when they arrived in Rochester, the number we process wouldn’t really matter. Our site has an error rate of less than 3%. We do our best to ensure our samples arrive appropriately prepped and ready to go because patients are waiting for those results. In many cases, their treatment depends on those tests.
Staying connected with the larger Mayo Clinic Laboratories organization can be a challenge. I don’t get to see my work family very often. The client site gives us a space, but we’re Mayo Clinic employees. Not being able to see my manager in person can also be challenging. Zoom meetings are fine, but I do miss the face-to-face interactions with my team. There is a lot of support, however. That makes it easier. I can call if I have questions or need more information, and those people are wonderful — always very helpful.
I really love what I do. I enjoy my job so much because it gives me a chance to see the other side of lab testing. I was a cancer patient, and I remember being so anxious about biopsies and blood draws. To be honest, I didn’t always know what all the testing was for, and sometimes I didn’t really want to know because it was scary.
Now, my job not only allows me to be the connection between the patient and their test results, it also allows me to learn about the tests and the behind-the-scenes work that happens to get those test results. If I’m unfamiliar with a test, I’ll look it up in the test catalog and find out what it’s for, what it means for the patient, and what it could mean for their treatment and care. I really enjoy that aspect of the job because I’m learning so much. It’s amazing. And because of my medical history, I never forget how important it is for that patient. They are waiting for the result, and it means so much to them for us to get it right.
Outreach manager Jane Hermansen regards Mayo Clinic as the pinnacle of healthcare. Having spent her formative years in Minnesota, she was inspired by her uncle Roger to embark on a path as a laboratory scientist. Presently, she oversees the Mayo Clinic Laboratories outreach consulting and network programs. In addition, she spearheads the laboratory industry's only outreach conference, Leveraging the Laboratory.
In spring of 2022, Adam Stewart joined Mayo Clinic’s Blood Donor Program as a marketing and recruitment coordinator. He enjoys and finds great purpose in his work because he loves to see members of his local community donate blood and help patients in need.
Joune Twist has always embraced her natural interest for learning new information and improving processes. In 2019, her curiosity and previous work led her to join Mayo Clinic’s Neuroimmunology Lab. As a medical laboratory scientist, Joune tests patient samples and shares her findings with providers.