Cara Ryan

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.


What is your role at Mayo Clinic Laboratories, and how long have you been in it?

I’ve been at Mayo Clinic for almost 17 years. I first worked in Outreach for Mayo Clinic Laboratories for almost five years. I then changed my path to contract work to return to more of a legal focus. I started as a one-person team as contract manager and worked my way to director of Contract Administration. The contracts team is now a team of five and supports Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Mayo Clinic BioPharma Diagnostics, and Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Services.

Cara Ryan


What does your day-to-day work involve?

Every day is so completely different, which is what I love about my job. Along with my awesome contract team, I work with many different groups and departments. I have the privilege of interacting with a variety of positions across the organization in projects, contracts, process development, and problem-solving, which allows me to constantly learn and grow. I might spend one day in meetings with various groups across several different service lines and the next day testing my skills at contract drafting.  


How does the work you do affect providers and patients?

In general, people look at contracts and the work we do as being far from the patient. However, we handle the contracts that allow our Mayo Clinic Laboratories clients to send testing to us. We are affecting patients every day by playing a part, albeit small, in making it possible for their testing to be done at Mayo Clinic. On the research side of things, we handle all of the agreements for our Mayo Clinic BioPharma Diagnostics group, many of which allow patients to take part in clinical trials. My team takes it very seriously that finalizing an agreement could affect a patient getting into a lifesaving clinical trial as quickly as possible. Although it may seem fairly indirect, we feel we have a role in the day-to-day patient experience, and we are affecting people’s lives with the work we do.


Is there anything about your role that people might find surprising or unexpected?

Believe it or not, contracts aren’t as boring as people think they are. It may sound a little nerdy, but contracts can actually be pretty interesting and strategic for our business. Our jobs encompass much, much more than just reading and redlining agreements. We’re not just slogging through contract language every day. My job is really very diverse. I may start my morning with a difficult contract negotiation with a research organization in Ireland, move to working with internal teams to develop a process around a current issue, sprinkle in some continuous learning about labs and billing through various project meetings, and end my day with an impromptu sales strategy discussion. If someone unfamiliar with our team looked at what we do each day, they would probably be surprised at the level of interaction we have with each service line and Mayo Clinic as a whole to ensure we can do our jobs effectively.


What part of your job do you find the most challenging?

Working remote has become one of the biggest challenges, especially now as my team is starting to grow. Working remote has made it difficult to grow the relationships that would normally continue to develop being on-site. It’s also difficult to meet new members of our organization’s team and help them understand the level of support they have and how important they are to the larger organization. While video meetings allow for some personal interaction, it can never replace in-person discussions.


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?

First and foremost is the work my team does to support patient care on an international level. Even if it seems indirect, the connection is very real to me. Second, the internal teams I work with are phenomenal, with a special shoutout to my contracting team. They are a brilliant set of individuals with excellent attention to detail and a never-ending willingness to take on new challenges. It’s a strong group, and I’m honored to be part of it.

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Tracy Will

Tracy Will is a senior marketing specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories where she covers innovation, specialty testing, and advances in laboratory medicine. Tracy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2016.