Sharing Perspectives

Bringing the best minds together to benefit our patients


It is worth-while to secure the happiness of the patient as well as to prolong his life.

William J. Mayo, M.D. Co-founder of Mayo Clinic

What do you do when an unborn baby’s heart is literally growing outside her body? How do you give hope to a Marine veteran whose body suddenly has more cancerous tissue than normal tissue, and yet he dreams of getting married and raising a family? How do you help a 23-year-old who for most of his life has suffered from painful, jerking spasms that sometimes prevent him from walking or talking — but no one has been able to determine why?

What sets Mayo Clinic apart is the way we answer these types of questions: by applying the widest range of perspectives possible to solve a given challenge. Our more than 4,000 physicians, scientists and researchers in Minnesota, Florida, Arizona, Iowa and Wisconsin work together across disciplines in a uniquely Mayo way, building on each other’s ideas to ultimately bring answers and healing to our patients.

Mayo Clinic’s internal structure encourages this collaboration; leadership roles are rotated often, and Mayo Clinic physicians frequently take on roles outside of clinical care. This enables them to gain experience in both research and education that exposes them to new ways of thinking. In essence, Mayo Clinic’s structure creates multiple opportunities to bring different perspectives together to solve a given challenge.

Our teams factor in our patients’ perspectives at every step in their care. We spend time carefully listening to our patients’ experiences and life priorities, and then applying every resource available to deliver exactly the care each patient needs, as seamlessly as possible. Our approach to compassion means that even when a patient’s condition cannot be cured, the patient and his or her family can find comfort in being treated with dignity.

At the same time, Mayo Clinic’s culture of collaboration and teamwork enables us to transform promising laboratory discoveries into life-saving treatments as rapidly as possible. This deeply collaborative style enables us to take on some of the world’s most complex medical situations, helping patients who were running out of options and creating needed innovations to benefit others at Mayo Clinic and beyond. Read on for examples of how sharing diverse perspectives shapes our approach for every patient we treat.

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01Bringing the best minds together, for you

A robust team

Well before baby Kieran came into the world wearing her heart and other organs outside her body, the result of a rare condition called ectopia cordis, a full team had assembled around her. There were two pediatric surgeons — one specifically trained in the delicate work of cardiac surgery performed on tiny newborns. An obstetrician oversaw the delivery, along with a full suite of Neonatal Intensive Care experts, a team of nurses and an anesthesiologist. The Maternal Fetal Medicine team was there. Most remarkably, the care team included a radiologist who co-directs Mayo Clinic’s 3-D anatomic modeling lab. In advance of the surgery, the modeling lab had developed a life-sized, perfect 3-D replica of Kieran herself. When it was over, the team of 60 specialists had successfully delivered a thriving baby girl.

They pulled everyone together, about 60 doctors and nurses from 12 different teams, in about an hour and a half [for my daughter’s delivery]. Now she is laid back, happy, wonderful. The possibilities for her are endless.

Caitlin Veitz, a North Dakota mother whose baby, Kieran, had a deadly heart defect discovered in utero
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Uniting for the good of the patient throughout Mayo Clinic’s history

Nearly 100 years ago, William J. Mayo, along with his brother Charles H. Mayo, established Mayo Clinic’s multidisciplinary approach to care. He noted the necessity of the clinician, the specialist, the laboratory worker and others “uniting for the good of the patient, each assisting in elucidation of the problem at hand, and each dependent upon the other for support.”

Today, as Mayo Clinic has expanded and technology has opened new opportunities for patients, researchers and educators, our founders’ team-oriented values still remain deeply ingrained in how we operate.

At Mayo Clinic, physicians and nurses are empowered to advance care by working together across specialties and geographies in remarkable ways. As salaried staff, physicians have the freedom, and expectation, to participate in education and research activities as well as clinical practice. And they do so within a culture and salary structure that values quality over quantity of patient visits and consultations, so time spent with patients is highly valued. It’s not uncommon to find physicians working together with nurses and engineers to find a solution that works for a patient’s needs. The full team gathers in one room to share ideas — often right at a patient’s bedside — and includes the patient as a central focus of the team.

Our culture of collaboration spans across all Mayo Clinic sites, connecting our three campuses in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona seamlessly with our Mayo Clinic Health System locations in over 70 communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Through the use of telemedicine, outreach physicians who travel to different Mayo Clinic sites, and an “AskMayoExpert” resource, we’re able to rapidly share insights across Mayo Clinic that benefit patients at all our locations.

For example, a musculoskeletal and sports medicine physician at a Mayo Clinic Health System site teamed up recently with a physiatrist and sports medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to invent a new treatment for the painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis. Together, they devised a way to remove damaged tendon and ligament tissue. According to Darryl Barnes, M.D., who works at Mayo Clinic Health System, “Mayo Clinic is a unique environment that allowed Dr. Jay Smith and I to test new ideas and create new products for our patients quickly.”

Decision-making happens by consensus. As a physician-led organization, Mayo Clinic is governed by committees representing all three shields in our logo: Clinical practice, education and research. Mayo administrators work in partnership with physician leaders across every department.

Physicians and administrators in leadership positions are expected to rotate in their roles regularly. These frequent shifts facilitate an open environment where experience is used across the enterprise, and fresh ideas are welcomed. In addition, Mayo produces many of its own leaders rather than relying solely on external recruitment for its succession planning. This structure — which is unusual in the medical setting, where less than 5 percent of CEOs are physicians — maintains a consistent culture and ensures that the primary focus of patient need is always at the heart of leadership decisions.

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Broad Collaborations


Telemedicine consultations, including eConsults, telestroke and video consults, conducted across Mayo Clinic in 2015

More than 1/2 a million

Patients Mayo Clinic Health System sees each year, extending the reach of Mayo Clinic services to the greatest number of patients

02Spending the time to deliver exactly the care you need

Patients’ priorities matter

For Jessie, whose benign pituitary tumor was wrapped around the optic nerve, close to the artery that supplies blood to the head and neck, a targeted treatment approach was needed to preserve her ability to work as a pastry chef. After three surgeries to remove as much of the tumor as possible, radiation would normally be the next step. But instead, Mayo Clinic customized her treatment using proton beam therapy.

This new approach treats the tumor specifically, while sparing nearby normal tissues. That means Jessie, 23, can get back to being Jessie. “I’d like to be normal. I want people to ask me how my baking is going instead of how my radiation is going,” she says.


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A pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see. My doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life.

Jessie Brenholt, certified pastry chef and pituitary tumor survivor

Seamless Care Delivery

Less than 8 hours

Limited time that many patients spend waiting for test results

5 days

Total amount of time that 80 percent of patients who travel to Rochester, Minnesota, spend at Mayo Clinic


Number of physicians, scientists and researchers available to solve patients’ challenges within numerous laboratories, centers and research programs across Mayo Clinic

Making the most of our time with patients

The Mayo Clinic Model of Care, carved in stone at Heritage Hall at our Rochester, Minnesota campus, includes “an unhurried examination” as one of its tenets. If you are a patient, this means that we not only meet your personal needs and consider your preferences, but we also take a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to addressing them. As one of Mayo Clinic’s founders, Charles H. Mayo, pointed out, “The significance of an ailment should not be measured by the inconvenience it causes at the time, but by what may come of it four or five years afterward.”

The Mayo Clinic process balances this thoughtful, unhurried approach with seamless experiences — because we know our patients want answers, but they also want to get back to their lives as quickly as possible. When a child comes to Mayo Clinic, for example, the whole family usually comes along too, and we don’t want it to take months to find them the right care. We assign a nurse care coordinator to facilitate all appointments with the variety of experts the physician wants the child to see. The family has a personalized itinerary to follow, and a dedicated resource to ask questions along the way.

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03Working together on the toughest challenges, no matter what’s required

Time running out

When four months of chemotherapy weren’t able to keep Josh’s testicular cancer from spreading throughout his body, the formerly healthy Marine thought he might be out of options. His local doctor had even told him to look into hospice programs. But at age 30, he wasn’t ready to give up. When he came to Mayo Clinic, teams from diverse groups of specialties devised a plan involving a complicated series of nine surgeries over four years, some as long as 16 hours. The team included a urologic oncology surgeon, experts in vascular and endovascular surgery, an otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), an anesthesiologist, pathologists and radiologists, and a vast group of nurses and critical care specialists.

“When Josh first arrived at Mayo Clinic, his cancer threatened every major artery, vein and organ from his neck to his pelvis,” says Bradley C. Leibovich, M.D., chair of urology. “We were initially most concerned about his ability to continue to breathe. And now I think, there’s not much question that he will be cured of this.”

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They were giving me six months. So it was pretty much as bad as it comes.

Josh Russell, former Marine from Wisconsin whose testicular cancer was overtaking his body

Decades of frustration

As a toddler, Dustin Bennett couldn’t keep his balance. Painful, jerking spasms jolted his body, making walking and even talking sometimes impossible. Dustin’s mother, Linda Bennett, took him to several doctors in search of the cause, yet year after year, the tests always came up empty.

Eventually, at age 23, Dustin made his first visit to Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida. And there, doctors tried something entirely new. Neurologist Zbigniew Wszolek, M.D., and his colleagues located a specific mutation for an extremely rare nervous system condition, episodic ataxia type 1, hiding in one of Dustin’s genes.

Mayo Clinic is one of the few institutions in the nation to offer a type of whole exome sequencing, which narrows in on the 1.7 percent of a human genome that is most useful to researchers. While there is no cure for Dustin’s condition, just knowing the cause has helped doctors provide the right medication to make his life more manageable.

“When I saw Dustin for the first time, he was not able to function,” says Dr. Wszolek. “He was clumsy, falling and had episodes of wracking movements. Now he is able to do activities such as playing basketball and going to school.”

I wasn’t willing to give up, because I felt there had to be an answer somewhere.

Linda Bennett, a Georgia mom whose son’s rare condition went undiagnosed for decades until he came to Mayo Clinic
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Destination for Top-Notch Care

#1 hospital overall

Virtually every specialty and sub-specialty available to people who need it; most #1-ranked specialties of any hospital in the nation, according to the 2016-2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings

1.3 million

Total people treated in 2015

More than 23 million

Diagnostic tests performed each year


Countries people traveled from for care

The one and only

Facility in the upper Midwest and the Southwest that offers proton beam therapy for cancer using a targeted pencil beam that spares surrounding healthy tissue from harm; only a handful exist in the nation