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 grew up in a small farming community in Southwest Minnesota, and I didn’t know about Mayo Clinic. But when I was about 10 years old, our family took a road trip to Niagara Cave near Harmony, Minnesota, and on the way, we drove through Rochester. As we were passing through, I saw Mayo Clinic, and I told my parents, “I’m going to work there someday.” I don’t know what made me say that, but some unconscious part of myself must have known this is where I’d belong.
When I was looking at nursing programs, I enrolled at Rochester Community and Technical College, and I started at Mayo Clinic in 1979 as a nursing assistant. I became a nurse in 1981 and worked in the hospital setting until 1993. I took a hiatus from Mayo to explore other career opportunities for a few years, but I came back in 1999. I’ve been in education roles since 2002, joining the Education Office in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) in 2011.
I’m the manager for DLMP’s Education Program. In addition to my position, our team has one placement coordinator and four education staff members. We have an interesting scope of practice. We help recruit staff to DLMP, and then we provide ongoing educational opportunities to help them grow as professionals and hopefully facilitate long, rewarding careers in the department. My time is spent overseeing, creating, and delivering educational content for our staff, and I really enjoy collaborating with our team on educational topics. I’m also a member of Mayo Clinic’s Quality Academy, where I’m an instructor and a quality project reviewer. I’m a member of DLMP’s Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee, too, so I get to create educational resources and host educational events for that. We have an incredible team there.
Our education office is one of the hidden jewels that makes DLMP strong. We’re not doing the testing; we’re behind the scenes. But we’re responsible for recruiting staff, and once they’re here, we welcome them with our orientation program. Then we provide continuing education and professional development, so we have staff that can succeed in their roles. We help to set our lab staff up for success and support them throughout their careers.
It may surprise some people to know that I’m an introvert, even though I’m an educator out there teaching all those classes. I’ve been in education roles for 40 years, and it’s not because I love hearing myself talk or I crave the attention. I do it because education is so important to me and because I love to learn. I’m always learning something new as I research the topics I teach and as I share them with others.
I’m protective of my staff. So when, in 2020, all my team members were redeployed to other areas due to COVID, it made me feel powerless. I had no control over what was happening to them, and I couldn’t do anything to protect them. All I could do was be supportive and provide a listening ear. That was the hardest time because I knew they were hurting. It was a very challenging and difficult time for everyone.
I’m an educator down to my soul. Providing education content that’s relevant and useful gives me great satisfaction. One of my other great joys is having the opportunity to help other employees — get them to try something new, take on a new opportunity, learn a new skill. Watching them grow professionally is a source of true satisfaction for me. And I work with the best team around. They are terrific.
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.