Finding the perfect fit and my first week at Mayo Clinic
Brian Sutterer Jun 14, 2016
I’m now 1 week into my PM&R elective at Mayo Clinic and it’s been nothing but an amazing experience all around. First of all, and probably most importantly, this past week has convinced me that PM&R is the perfect field for me. I spent the first week on the outpatient side, but the subject matter and the types of patients we see are the exact things that I was hoping I would encounter and it’s solidified my choice of speciality. But I don’t want to talk about the field all that much in this post, rather, I want to talk about what life has been like at Mayo.
I spent my first full day here mainly exploring the town and the hospital area. On first glance, it’s an absolutely overwhelming place.
This is a perfect example. The picture above shows just 2 of the many downtown campus buildings. Both of them are outpatient facilities, each around 20 stories. Just to give some perspective, this outpatient only area is bigger than the entire Methodist or Eskenazi hospitals in Indy. On top of this location, there’s another hospital (St. Mary’s) roughly 1 mile away that is even larger, holding mainly inpatient facilities, the rehab unit (where I’m at currently), the emergency department, and tons of operating rooms. You hear about how many people go to Mayo and how it’s an international destination for a lot of specialized care, but I had no idea just how huge the place actually was before I got there. I believe they have around 2,000 physicians on staff, along with 2,000 residents and interns.
While the sheer size and numbers are staggering, the story and the mission of Mayo Clinic is what is really inspiring. Briefly, the original Dr. Mayo (William W. Mayo) was a physician in Minnesota treating soldiers returning from the Civil War when a tornado came through the town and caused widespread damage and injury. A group of local nuns expressed their desire for Dr. Mayo to start a hospital to accommodate the injuries. At that time, hospitals were viewed as a place where people went to die, so Dr. Mayo was initially very much against the idea. However, the sisters persisted and offered to help take care of the patients as nurses, and the “Mayo Clinic” was started. Dr. William’s two sons went to medical school and returned home to join the practice with their father.
Dr. Charles Mayo and his brother, William James, were both trained as surgeons, like their father. As the family began their medical practice, they realized that they did not have the expertise to take care of all conditions. This is the true contribution of Mayo Clinic to healthcare. The Mayos began to bring in other physicians as “consultants” to help take care of patients, effectively establishing the idea of a group practice. As the clinic evolved, they started to embrace the model “the needs of the patient above all else”, and you can still see this theme reflected in the clinic today.
When I first arrived here, I thought that I didn’t belong among these renowned physicians and was honestly pretty intimated on my first day. However, my fears were immediately abolished as I started to meet the staff physicians that I would be working with. The physicians at Mayo truly do embrace a team approach and treat everyone as equally important members of the team (including medical students!). Here I was on my first day at Mayo and one of the staff doctors was asking my opinion of a diagnosis and if I had any other thoughts. It wasn’t because he didn’t know the answer himself, but rather because he truly appreciated my role on the team and wanted to hear my thoughts. I felt extremely fortunate to be a part of that team and it’s a feeling that has carried over through every day I have been here.
I’m starting my inpatient 2 weeks right now and am really excited to see how things are on that side of PM&R. Coming into this rotation I didn’t think I would enjoy the inpatient as much as I did outpatient, but after just 1 day I’m starting to see the positives of inpatient care and am enjoying it more than I thought. I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity to learn here. Every day when I walk into the hospital I’m easily reminded of where I am and the expectations that come with it. It inspires me to listen better, work harder, study more, and just be an all around better student. Every day has been an adventure, and I can’t wait to see what the next week brings.
Also, Rochester is an awesome town and I’m really enjoying living here, but more on that to come later!