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 was actually born at Mayo Clinic, so technically my mom brought me here! But I have always loved science. I went to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. When I finished my last semester and graduated, I moved back home to Rochester to be with my family as my dad was terminally ill. After a bit, I started looking for a lab-based job at Mayo. I didn’t know they were in a hiring freeze at the time, so after about a dozen rejection letters, I finally got an interview.
At the end of the interview, I was given my choice of placement in three different labs. Since my degree was heavily genetics-based, I decided to join what was then called the cytogenetics lab. It was over 20 years ago when I became a cytogenetics technologist here.
My current role is event management coordinator for the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP). My career has been an evolution – after my technologist position, I became the lab’s first quality specialist, then I moved into the role of quality management coordinator for the division, and now I serve as the event management coordinator for the department. In my current role, I focus on non-conforming event analysis.
When things don’t go quite as planned or when they deviate from the established process – what we call an “event” – I work with various laboratory and quality professionals to pursue process improvements. It is a lot of problem-solving, networking, and understanding processes. I think of myself as an investigator or mechanic of processes.
Through my analysis and problem-solving, I help to ensure our lab testing fulfills the promise that Mayo Clinic makes in keeping the needs of the patient first. Our entire focus is ensuring we have the support network in place to deliver the right lab result to the right patient at the right time.
One of the best traits you can have as a quality professional is abundant, wild curiosity. I am constantly asking how things work, striving to understand processes and how multiple processes matrix together to drive a patient result. It is incredibly complex and at the end of the day, I am basically a detective.
Cutting-edge lab medicine and health care delivery are incredibly complex and they produce equally complex processes. So when unexpected events do occur, pinpointing the affected system or process can lead you down many paths. It involves tracking down and talking to many people, and then creating a team to address the root cause.
I love knowing that behind every specimen is a person. At one point in time, they were my dad's pathology specimens and today it could be my kid’s samples, my neighbor's samples, or a sample from a patient at Mayo Clinic, or from anywhere in the country through Mayo Clinic Laboratories. But all those samples and all those specimens go through the same process. I get the privilege of coming to work and collaborating with world-class people and world-class teams to deliver the best health care.
More than 17 years ago, Michael Goard started his career at Mayo Clinic in Specimen Operations. Today, he takes great pride in his role as a field service manager working with clients and making a difference for our patients.
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.