Connie Ohnstad

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?

I have a long history with Mayo Clinic. I was born in Rochester, Minnesota, at Saint Marys Hospital. My fraternal grandfather was a physician. My mother was a long-dedicated Mayo employee, first a private duty nurse at Saint Marys Hospital and then transferring to Mayo Clinic as a nursing supervisor in Orthopedics and then the Spine Center Clinic. My paternal grandfather was a Mayo employee as one of the first Mayo ambulance drivers in General Service, then retiring from the Business Office.


Connie Ohnstad on vacation at the Grand Canyon.

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in the medical environment as did my mother and grandfathers. After high school graduation, I worked in General Service for five years while attending Winona State University. In 1986, after receiving my degree, I was hired full time in General Service. In 1992, careers took my husband and I to Killeen, Texas. Finding a position at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, as a phlebotomist, it was there that I found my passion. Our travels ended up taking us back home to Rochester, Minnesota, and I was rehired back at Mayo Clinic as a phlebotomist in 1996. 

Once back at Mayo, I knew I wanted to use my previous experience in Texas and my bachelor’s degree in health education to advance my career at Mayo. I decided to enter management in 1999. Since then, I have taken multiple management positions, including with Laboratory Services, Preparation and Processing Laboratory, Specimen Kit Orders, and then landed in the role I have today at Mayo Clinic Laboratories (MCL).


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

I am the supervisor for Mayo Clinic Laboratories Inventory, which encompasses both Mayo Clinic Laboratories Packaging and Specimen Kit Orders (SKO). I wear multiple hats, including collaborator, facilitator, educator, problem solver, active team member, employee resource expert, patient and client advocate, and most importantly engaging in offering successful daily outcomes for employees, patients, and clients.


In what way does the work you do benefit providers and patients?

Mayo Clinic Laboratories is comprised of multiple levels, all of which contribute to the provider and patient experience. MCL Inventory, in my opinion, has a large responsibility for the pre-analytic process for specimen collections. As such, I am part of a very strong team of individuals that ensures daily all clinical patients at Mayo Clinic Rochester receive accurately prepared unique specimen collection kits as requested by their providers, as well as ensuring all MCL clients have their inventory of supplies fulfilled and shipped accurately. By doing this, we are ensuring that all patients can have an accurate specimen collected and returned for testing, and that providers receive accurate results. It is the mission of our team to help provide all patients and clients with a positive experience for an exceptional outcome.


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

I’ve definitely learned an epic number of acronyms — the Mayo language — in my role. Sometimes I feel as though I am talking in foreign tongues. With all these acronyms in my vocabulary, it is no wonder sometimes it is hard to say a full sentence where others understand me!


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

Undoubtedly, challenges present themselves as avenues for success. When an obstacle presents itself, it is my personal drive to find a solution. I do find that the biggest challenge for me now has been learning all the different ways to communicate and work as a team in this new work environment. Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams, and Skype were all foreign to me. Trying to navigate these new forms of communication and appear confident, for me are the biggest challenges I encounter. I must admit, being technically challenged as I may be, gaining success in these new forms of interactions will be a personal success in the making and one I look forward to.


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?

In one word, perseverance. Ensuring that every day I offer my best for employees I work with and for patients and clients needing our services. Knowing that in sharing my knowledge, understanding, and experience in Mayo Clinic and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, I can be a part of their success. For me, I take pride knowing that whatever I’ve done to help educate and provide a successful outcome, challenges can be conquered.

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Luci Gens

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