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.
Growing up in Iowa (Go Cyclones!), everyone knew of the Mayo Clinic. Then my family moved to the East Coast, and I became employed as a laboratory administrative director in a large medical center. So, I was very pleased when a regional manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories (MML) — as it was called at the time — asked to meet with me. It happened that the lab where I worked was selecting a new reference laboratory, so we conducted extensive studies to compare the laboratory services provided by MML and two other competitor reference laboratories. The difference in the quality was astounding! We were all “sold,” and I traveled to Rochester, Minnesota, several times after we became clients of MML.
Whether it was attending an MML conference or studying in the labs of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP), I cherished my time on site in Rochester. I was able to bring back quality techniques used in Rochester to implement in my laboratory. In addition, we decided to dabble in the outreach business, and with MML’s help, we created a multimillion-dollar outpatient business.
Visiting DLMP also sparked a personal longing to return to the Midwest. So, when I heard about a new quality management coordinator (QMC) position from our MML representative, I jumped on it. I have been in DLMP ever since, first as a QMC in the Mayo Clinic Health System, then as a QMC for our more esoteric research labs. I am now in my 11th year at Mayo Clinic, and I consider working at Mayo Clinic a privilege.
My current role is director of Quality Management Services. I love what I do and am honored to have a role in laboratory quality. No two days are exactly alike, except that there are always meetings. My team is an incredible group of talented professionals, and I feel fortunate to work with them. Our current projects include converging the laboratory document management system to a new health software solution, partnering on Mayo Clinic Laboratories’ projects, and assessing new regulatory requirements from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and other agencies and applying them across the department. In addition, my team manages compliance activities, internal audits, and safety. We are a busy group!
It is estimated that laboratory results account for around 70% of the clinical decisions made in patient care, and the quality of those results is critical. Although I do not personally report test results any longer, I would like to believe that as champion for the department’s quality management system, I contribute to laboratory quality in some small way. We continually augment and advance our quality management system, which in turn continually raises the bar of quality in our laboratories.
Quality Management Services facilitates our compliance to the various regulatory and accreditation agency requirements. This not only allows us to operate, but also raises expectations for how our work is done.
I keep active with and still love medical laboratory science. I was one of those rare science nerds who knew in the eighth grade that I wanted to pursue a career in the clinical lab. I started as a medical lab science student drawing blood on the weekends, then as a bench tech in the Core Lab rotating shifts and drawing blood from donors. Eventually I found my way into education and became a medical lab science program director, then into management and finally into quality. But it still excites me to spend time in our labs and see new instrumentation or microscopic images.
Without question, the most challenging part of my job is managing conflicting priorities. Our laboratories are growing, and of course regulations are constantly changing, so being very flexible is key. We are fortunate to have so many technical tools available to help.
The people are what bring me meaning and purpose. I do not have much interaction with patients but knowing that we are part of their care team and hearing their stories is immensely satisfying.
Something that gives me meaning and purpose in my profession is leveraging my membership in the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) and fundraising to network with our Mayo Clinic allied health students. My local chapter has been able to provide over $80,000 in grants, loans, and scholarships to local women for the advancement of their education, and most of those women have either been employees or students at Mayo Clinic.
Before joining Mayo Clinic, Samantha Aldrich worked for a multisite hospital system in Michigan for 10 years. Now, as a regional service representative for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, she serves as a client advocate and works to help send out laboratories improve their operations, services, education, and training.
As a senior principal developer for the brand-new Process Innovation Through Automation Laboratory, Brian Dukek helps labs throughout the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology evaluate new automation tools and streamline automation workflows.