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’m the supervisor of Desk C in the Hilton Building. Our team also staffs the Executive Health desk on the fifth floor of the Mayo Building, as well as Desk MC at Saint Marys Hospital. I currently supervise 52 staff members. I’ve been in this role for over 20 years, although it has changed quite a bit during that time.
It’s busy. Desk C can see as many as 1,000 patients a day. Most of our work involves blood draws for laboratory testing. We also hand out containers for specimen collection, and we perform nasal swab collections, too. I arrive at work before 6 a.m. so I can review and plan my day before patients start arriving. I help with patient care beginning a little after six each morning. Then our outpatient supervisor group meets with our operations manager in a morning huddle to discuss staffing and other issues that need attention. After that, I typically clear my calendar for a while so I can assist with patient care or any staffing issues that come up. The rest of the day, I connect with staff, attend meetings, and do the other work that needs to get done to keep everything running smoothly in such a busy area.
In many cases, when patients come to our area, it’s the first appointment they have scheduled. Because of that we are, in a way, the face of Mayo Clinic for many people. We often encounter people who are nervous or anxious. We also see people who are by themselves, and they need some guidance. Sometimes they’ve received bad news. My staff deal with a lot of that, and they do it well. We can put 200 patients through our area in one hour. But it’s our mission never to treat people like a number. Despite the large volume through Desk C, I get a lot of comments from patients who say, “They treated me like a person. They really care.” That’s what we want.
As a supervisor, I wear many, many hats, and some of them really stay behind the scenes. For example, as supervisor for more than 50 people who report directly to me, I often work with staff who are dealing with personal issues, and they need to talk with someone. Being there for them, and helping them find resources when they need them, is a big part of my job that I don’t think many people realize. Sometimes, supervisors don’t have the greatest reputations. We may get stereotyped as being mean or yelling a lot or driving people to meet quotas. I certainly try not to be that way. I want to be able to help my staff through what they are dealing with, not only so they can do their work, but because I care about them. That’s really a big reason why I’ve stayed in this job for so long — it’s to help people, both patients and my staff.
One of the biggest challenges for me is to make sure I’m connecting with all of my staff. That can be hard in a patient care area because they are working with patients all the time, and I can’t pull them away from that just so we can go and talk. I sometimes worry that the connection might get lost with such a big group. But I do have my assistant supervisor to help me, so people know we’re here for them and want to be available to them.
I’m a medical technologist by training, and when I started working in the labs, I had a really good supervisor who was a good mentor to me. He motivated me to be that kind of a supervisor, too. I really enjoy the staff I have here, and I value our team. I want to cultivate a good work environment. When people move to a different area, I want them to be moving because it’s a good move for them, not because they want to get away from something here. I also like working with phlebotomists because they do a wide variety of tasks as they are working with patients, and they do an important job quickly and well. Of course, I really enjoy working with patients, too — talking with them, hearing their stories. Mayo Clinic is about the patient, and I love being part of that. It’s great to know that we often have 1,000 patients through our area in a day without one complaint. They got to their next appointment as they needed to, and we served them well. You don’t hear a lot about Desk C, but, to me, that means we’re doing our job, and the patients are successfully on their way.
Todd Walker is a laboratory supervisor for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Specimen Operations, where he helps lead the department that serves as the gateway between collecting and delivering specimens and getting them processed. Todd credits his diverse, agile team and the impressive global logistics infrastructure that allows them to support the processing of 40,000 specimens in a day.
Working with Mayo Clinic BioPharma Diagnostics clients, Grant Elmquist is engaged in a wide range of activities that span research and science technology, as well as a host of disease states, all with the end goal of enhancing patient care.
As manager of the department’s Education Program, Deb Hagen-Moe and her team welcome new staff to Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Then they continue to offer a wide range of continuing education and professional development to those staff members throughout their careers.