In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 15, 2021

In a Word: Carol Fahje on working for Mayo in the UAE, inspiring hope and humility

By In the Loop
Carol Fahje

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.


You see them at bedsides. Behind desks. You may spot them walking down a hall or sprinting across a lobby, making every effort to look like they're walking. You see them talking quietly with a patient and family, or sitting down with you at a meeting. They may be friends, teammates or someone you know only by sight. But you're glad they're here. And it's reassuring to know that the health of our patients, our colleagues and the institution itself rests in their capable, friendly, earnest, caring and compassionate hands.

Join us in celebrating them, and let us know if you'd like to see one of your colleagues featured here. Yes, they'll probably be embarrassed and they may even protest, but let's celebrate them just the same.


Carol Fahje has been at Mayo Clinic for 37 years. During that time, she has had many interesting and valuable experiences. But it is in the last year and a half that she has experienced firsthand Mayo Clinic's reach around the world.

Fahje, a nursing administrator, works at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, a joint venture between Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company in the United Arab Emirates. She went to Abu Dhabi on a short-term assignment as a nurse leader in charge of education to help activate Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in its early stages.

"I said yes knowing it would be an incredibly challenging, yet enriching professional and personal chapter in my life," Fahje says.

That short-term assignment has morphed into a permanent role, and Fahje has embraced the opportunity to work for Mayo Clinic overseas.

"I have been warmly welcomed to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City by incredibly kind and generous colleagues," she says. "We were confronted by the pandemic shortly after activating the hospital, and we quickly formed as a team in a united way. I have learned so much from my new colleagues, and reciprocally have applied every bit of experience and knowledge that I was blessed to gain from my years at Mayo."

Fahje says she loves the multicultural atmosphere at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, where more than 47 nationalities are represented.

"What fun it is to learn about each other — family traditions, foods, beliefs and professional goals," she says.

When it comes to her favorite part about working for Mayo Clinic in Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, she says it is all about the people.

"Without a doubt, it is the knowledge that every day when I come to work, I am surrounded by compassionate, brilliant, dedicated professionals who share in the desire to meet the needs of the patient and ease suffering," she says. "I know that we will work together to face what comes our way and to do what is right for our patients."   

My favorite thing about Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City: The people that I get to work alongside who possess such compassion, talent, kindness, generosity, team spirit. All of it focused on doing the right thing for our patients.  

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Listen. Seeking to understand. 

Mayo Clinic and Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City have taught me: Working together as a team, we can accomplish anything.     

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague: It takes very little to inspire hope. It's really something. It’s a lesson in humanity.

Most memorable Mayo or Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City moment: There are two. My colleague, Zahra, and I were standing together looking at the pictures of the founding father of United Arab Emirates, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, along with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of the Abu Dhabi. On a wall adjacent to these pictures are the portraits of William Worrall Mayo, M.D., William J. Mayo, M.D., and Charles W. Mayo, M.D.

Zahra is an expat from Somalia, a wife, a mother of five and the unit manager of Nursing Education. We have developed a very close bond and have worked together on many projects. She looked at me and said, "These men have brought us together."

We were two women from opposite sides of the globe with nearly nothing in common except our love for compassionate patient care, staff education and now achieving the mission and vision for Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City. But here we are, working side by side.

When I arrived as the new manager for Nursing Education, I wished to get to know my new colleagues better. So I set up meetings with each one. At the end of one of the meetings, the nurse educator stood up and said, "I want to tell you something else." She said that she was planning to leave the United Arab Emirates because she didn't see room for her to grow professionally in her role. She then shared that one night she had a vision where God came to her and said, "Don't leave. I am bringing them to you." 

This was a year before the joint venture was signed. I was filled with awe that our footsteps were ordered here long before we knew we were coming.

If I could choose the "on hold" music for Mayo Clinic: "We Are the World."

Favorite space on campus at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City this month: Illy Cafe, which is a lovely coffee shop in a two-story bright atrium with a water feature. You can sit for a moment for a quick catch-up with a colleague and savor a cup of coffee.

People who inspire me: The front-line staff who work tirelessly with little recognition. The nurses who are finding their voices and applying Mayo Clinic's Five Safe Behaviors. The physicians practicing cutting-edge medicine while teaching others around them. The security guards standing vigilantly by their posts. The cleaners who tirelessly ensure the environment is safe for all of us. And all those behind the scenes who we don’t always see. They come to work every day and proudly fulfill their responsibilities.

The most fun I’ve had at work this year: I was watching our Mayo expats working side by side with our new Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City nurse partners during Trauma Awareness Week. They were teaching "Stop the Bleed," CPR, and raising awareness about organ donation and the prevention of accidental burns. It made me so happy to know that this partnership is making it safer for everyone in this country.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.: I am team Mayo Clinic and hold all who came before us with the highest possible esteem. I am grateful every day for their vision which all of us now carry forward. 

When patients recall their visit to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, I hope they remember: I hope they recall warmth and compassion from all those they encountered on their journey. I hope that they know we are grateful that they entrusted Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City for their health care.


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Tags: Carol Fahje, Employee Stories, In a Word, Sheikh Shakbout Medical City

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