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April 13th, 2016

The Mayo Culture: A Lasting Legacy

By Amanda Porter
Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building in downtown Rochester

Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building in downtown Rochester

Mayo is one of the most exciting places I have ever been. The novelty of walking through the Peace Plaza staring into the eyes of the Gonda Building still, months later, hasn’t gotten old. Every day I’m inspired. But aside from the beautiful architecture, art, and design that surrounds us here in Rochester, the best part is certainly the people. The consultants (i.e., attending physicians) here are accessible, incredibly accomplished, and passionate about their work and their patients. But what I’ve found, thus far, is that this is true for consultants who have done any piece of their training at Mayo.

Selectives are a beautiful part of the Mayo Medical School curriculum. They are especially great because you can tailor each selective to wherever in the world you want to be. For my first selective, I wanted to go home to Michigan, where all of my family lives, but I still wanted the Mayo experience. So I took advantage of the Mayo Medical School Alumni Association Directory, which includes individuals who have done any training at Mayo or who have worked at Mayo for at least one year. I discovered there were 218 individuals in Michigan. There were consultants that specialized in Transplant Surgery, Abdominal Imaging, Infectious Disease; the options were endless. I settled on neurosurgery in Traverse City, Michigan and decided to just throw an email out into the interwebs just to see what would happen.  My first choice consultant responded.

Now, remember: the culture of Mayo Clinic is (in my opinion) unlike a lot of other hospitals and clinics, and I have really gotten used to this happy, everyone-is-treated-wonderfully, patient-centered utopia that I have been dropped in to. I was pretty nervous about going to an outside organization and being disappointed that this Mayo culture is not universal, as I know it is not. But I wasn’t let down.

Dr. Tom Schermerhorn agreed to have me shadow him at my home hospital and my week with him was incredible! I learned more about spine surgery, surgical patient selection, reading spine films, and had great, intellectual conversations about medicine and its future directions. The best part of my experience was that Dr. Schermerhorn got it. He understands what it is like to be part of the Mayo environment and he carries the principles of the Mayo brothers into his daily practice. He loves his patients and he is passionate about helping them. He understands the background and foundations of my training here that so strongly emphasizes patient-centered care. But better yet, he has the experience at other institutions that allowed me to grill him about how my education at Mayo would be perceived in the medical community.

Moving forward, I look forward to interacting with other Mayo Medical School grads and those who have trained at Mayo. Learning more from these alumni about their specialties and connecting with consultants who understand the Mayo culture is incredibly invaluable, but seeing that the Mayo culture lives on in these physicians outside the walls of this esteemed institution and into organizations around the world is what really, truly inspires me.

 

Amanda, a first year medical student, is a member of the Mayo Medical School Social Media Committee. She is currently interested in some sort of surgical specialty and is originally from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Her hobbies include furniture restoration, playing with her cat Purkinje, and cross country skiing.

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