Heather Zovnic

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 brought you to Mayo Clinic, and how long have you been here?

In 2015, I was working with a diagnostic lab in a sales role when a recruiter from Mayo Clinic called me about a lab sales position at Mayo Clinic Laboratories (MCL). And I remember thinking, I know Mayo Clinic quite well as a phenomenal health system, but I had no idea they had salespeople and that they worked with other hospitals around the globe as a reference lab. I was intrigued. I interviewed and got the job. In the fall of 2015, I joined in a sales role and held that role for two years as one of our clinical specialty representatives. Two years later a director role opened, and I have been a region director of sales for the past five years.

Heather Zovnic


What is your current role and what does your day-to-day work involve?

I lead a team of nine clinical specialty representatives (CSRs), and they meet with hospital laboratory and clinic staff across the western United States. Between the nine of them, they cover 20 states. Their primary focus is to meet face-to-face with gastroenterology and infectious disease physicians, as well as laboratory and clinic staff. As the director, I meet one-on-one with each of the nine wonderful CSRs, and just about every week we have our virtual region team meeting.

My role does involve a lot of traveling and meetings, but then I also have that individual time with the CSRs in the field with clients. When different opportunities and challenges arise, we talk through them and work together. I really enjoy my time in the field meeting with my team and our clients, discussing our MCL testing and differentiating our testing from other labs.


How does the work you do benefit providers and patients?

We help ordering providers learn about Mayo Clinic testing and the specific specialty tests we offer. We answer their clinical questions and help them understand how MCL’s testing will benefit their patients. We develop a very trusting relationship with the provider in the office and the laboratory. It's pretty exciting when we start to see doctors ordering tests from MCL for their patients. In the end, it is the MCL test which helps the doctor care for the patient. So it's very valuable and fulfilling to know that the work we do directly impacts our Mayo Clinic primary value of “the needs of the patient come first.”


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

While our CSRs are technically a sales team, they truly are trained specialists. We have a great training department that keeps our skills and knowledge up to date and keeps us sharp. Many doctors and labs across the country see us as a resource. They will ask all kinds of questions because they have that trusting relationship with us. And if we don't know the answer right away, we reach out to the outstanding team of laboratory technology resource coordinators who support us and the providers we collaborate with across the country.

Many providers we meet with also have an interest in innovation, sharing with us the tests they wish they had or want to see developed. We routinely take that information back to our exceptional product managers to make sure our services and products meet the providers’ and patients’ needs.


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

It can be challenging to get the attention of a new client or a new doctor, to be able to give them valuable information and provide some education around our testing. And some hospitals and clinics have been slow to allow us back in for a meeting, due to the initial COVID shutdown. But that's why we lean heavily on our outstanding marketing team who support us and help us develop the tools we need to make successful connections.


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?

Number one is knowing that the work I do with my team of nine does impact the patient who receives the lab test through Mayo Clinic. That is so rewarding. Secondly, I thrive on working to create a culture within the team that is inclusive and trusting. I want each team member to know 100 percent how much they are valued.

We know on our team that our main purpose is to bring Mayo Clinic Labs to the communities where we live and serve, so patients in those areas have access to Mayo Clinic and a strong team who trust and support each other. We know deep down that we all have the same purpose, and we value each other's contributions, and it is ultimately the patient that benefits.

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Luci Gens (@lucigens)

Luci Gens

Luci Gens is a senior marketing specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She joined Mayo Clinic in 2022 and has over ten years of experience in hospital-based marketing and communications.