Recently, while doing some financial research (or looking for Mayo Clinic appearances on The Simpsons, we can’t recall) we were surprised to stumble on an article in Investor's Business Daily about Mayo Clinic's history. The article, which appeared in the "Leaders & Success" section, made us wonder what inspired the publication to feature our favorite health care organization. So we reached out to writer David Saito-Chung to find out. He told us he felt "Mayo Clinic and its founding brothers, Drs. Will and Charlie, are so deserving of a profile. They changed health care for the better, forever." (We couldn't agree more.)
Saito-Chung told us he believes the Mayo brothers and other early Mayo Clinic leaders can teach readers “numerous keys to success." Among those, he says, are "genuine hard work; love of learning; love of fellow mankind; sound management principles; spirit of cooperation," and a "never-ending thirst of knowledge." In his piece (which is well worth a full read), Saito-Chung shares anecdotes from Mayo's history to illustrate those lessons. Among them:
The love of fellow mankind: "Moved by their father's vision, the two brothers took to heart his principle of doing all one could to serve the patient's needs first," he writes. "No patient was refused treatment at the clinic. This single-minded focus on what patients needed even stretched to the act of hiring interpreters way back in the 1920s." (Muy bueno.)
The love of learning and never-ending thirst for knowledge: "After Will got his medical degree … he traveled around the world to learn best practices and bring them to Rochester. So did Charlie," Saito-Chung points out. The brothers were equally committed to helping others learn. "Unique among their peers," he writes, "the brothers maintained an 'open door' toward sharing their knowledge and experience. Their hospital's operating room included an observation gallery in which visiting doctors could watch surgeries with the help of mirrors and talk directly with the surgeons." (See a photo of the operating theater here.)
Sound management principles: Saito-Chung outlines the Mayo brothers' decision to turn their medical partnership into a nonprofit organization, to hire a business manager, and to put staff (including physicians) on fixed salaries. Those decisions "helped direct the employees' energy toward a common goal: to best serve the needs of each patient." He also explains Mayo's management model, which pairs a physician CEO with an administrative partner.
Matt Dacy, director of Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall, provided background for the article and tells us that working with Investor's Business Daily "was a unique experience" because the writer was interested in telling Mayo's story from a business perspective. But, he says, "It makes a lot of sense to study Mayo with that lens. From the collaboration of Dr. Will and Harry Harwick to Dr. Noseworthy and Jeff Bolton … Mayo Clinic has been the gold standard of medicine with sound administrative principles to keep the organization strong. This model saw us through the Great Depression, and it's what will help Mayo thrive in the challenges we face today."
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