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 came to Mayo Clinic about 19 years ago. Before that I was a manager at several manufacturing companies. Someone I used to work with had joined Mayo Clinic and told me about a manager opening at the lab. I wasn’t sure if it was fit. I thought well, I am a business major, and I have been in manufacturing, but I didn’t have the science or biology background.
My friend explained to me how the lab runs, getting samples from all over the country, and having good processes and systems in place to perform the work quickly and effectively. There were a lot of parallels to what I’d already been doing. So, after I took a tour of the lab, they offered me the job and I was super excited. Mayo Clinic is world-renowned, and even though I grew up as a military brat, and I wasn’t from Minnesota, I always knew that Mayo Clinic was special, and just felt honored right away being a Mayo employee. Coming to work for Mayo Clinic was an easy decision for me.
I am a laboratory supervisor for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Specimen Operations. Every day is very different. Before I even come in to work, I am focused on checking to see if all the early work has arrived to the lab, making sure there are no delays in flights, reviewing reports about how many samples are coming in, how our staffing looks for the day, and seeing if anything jumps out at me.
When I get to the lab, we have pod huddles and a lead huddle to review what to expect for the day. I am currently managing about 100 people, so that also takes a good amount of my day — supporting my team, interviewing candidates, helping with professional development. I like to talk to people about my passion for Mayo, the honor that it is for me to be here, the good things that we do, and encourage them to be a part of that.
We have 60+ state-of-the-art labs and a great team of experts who work with providers to put their patients first. Our test catalog is comprehensive with over 3,000 tests. Many of them are very specialized and can only be done at Mayo Clinic Labs.
We have an incredible global logistics infrastructure to support our operations of processing 40,000 specimens in a day. My department is the gateway between collecting and delivering those specimens and getting them processed. We are very quality- and customer-focused so we can ensure there is a good, accurate order in the system, and that we can move specimens through at a good clip. Because of our services, expertise, and people, I feel strongly that we offer so much more than other reference laboratories.
It is amazing how far we’ve come in 19 years. We get 40,000 human specimens in a day now to process. When I first started, we were doing 12,000, and we really didn't have a lot of processes or infrastructure in place. Over the years we have created systems for processing specimens in an efficient way, introduced automation, established pods, increased our recycling programs, and much more.
Within our workforce, I am really proud of hiring a diverse team. Our lab employees represent all different backgrounds, age groups, and cultures. Also when I started, there wasn’t a clear career path for our staff. Since then, we have added additional roles, such as assistant supervisors, and created lots of opportunities for promotion and longevity.
Trying to think of efficiencies for the future can be challenging. We are trying to figure out how we can use automation to our advantage and optimize the accessioning process. We were thrown the huge curveball of COVID, and we had to work through the surge in daily specimens and the staffing challenges that it produced. Curveballs like that force us to look at technology to see how we can leverage it for efficiency.
I am starting a master’s degree program soon called digital transformation in the health care industry. I am hoping it will get me to that next level in my thinking, learning a lot more about digital technology and how to apply that to my work here at MCL to develop future solutions for us.
Robin Huiras-Carlson's connection with Mayo Clinic traces back to her early years, marked by a diagnosis of a rare genetic condition at the age of 10. Today, as a senior marketing specialist with Mayo Clinic Laboratories, she draws inspiration and purpose from this personal journey to illuminate Mayo’s positive impact on patients and ongoing evolution in diagnostics.
Becca Johnson, a dedicated project manager, joined Mayo Clinic in 2014, driven by a desire to contribute to an organization making a global impact. With BioPharma Diagnostics, Becca oversees large projects, ensuring efficient sample handling and timely client results. Committed to patient-centric care, she works on transitioning clients to electronic solutions for streamlined processes. Becca finds purpose in collaborative efforts that shape healthcare's future and positively impact patients' lives.
In her current role as senior manager for global logistics at Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Sarah Mason oversees the coordination of patient sample shipments by working with a network of stakeholders, couriers, carriers, and vendors. Sarah emphasizes the critical nature of safe and timely delivery of more than 38,000 samples each day, highlighting the dynamic challenges in healthcare logistics. Through her work, she finds meaning and purpose in collaborating with diverse teams to bring impactful change to Mayo Clinic operations and its patients.