In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 5, 2021

‘In a Word’: Nichole Nicholas on flash mobs, inspiration from front-line staff, and more

By In the Loop

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.

It was her husband's career that brought Nichole Nicholas to Rochester. Nicholas first cut her teeth in the hotel industry as a director of catering. As she began hosting events at Mayo Clinic, it allowed her to collaborate and network with education specialists at Mayo Clinic.

"It was an event area I didn't realize existed," she says. "I felt drawn to make a change from social event planning to medical education."

Fifteen years later, Nicholas, who is now an education program manager at Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine, says her favorite parts about working at Mayo Clinic are the patients and the resources available to create educational materials for patients.

"Although the Center for Individualized Medicine's Education team isn't directly involved in patient care, we know the videos, brochures, websites and events play an important part in patient care, even though it may be far removed from the amazing work done on the front lines," she says. "I remind myself often how lucky we are to have design, marketing, printing, video production, public affairs, grounds crew, finance, etc., right here with us. Having to go externally for those services can take so much time and extra effort."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: If you ask any of my colleagues, they'll probably tell you I am all sunshine, rainbows, glitter and unicorns, but I'm not glitter-coating it here. My favorite thing about Mayo Clinic truly is the people. Employees at Mayo Clinic don't work here for the biggest paychecks. They work here to make a difference, and if that means a few extra hours here and there, they'll do it. Reading some of the past "In a Word" columns, I'm humbled. I can only dream of making the impact our health care teams do, and I work hard to support them however I can.

Also on the list is the Groundskeeping Team. They are amazing. And so is anyone who sings or plays in the Gonda lobby. Both have turned bad days into good days for me, and I know it can do the same for our patients.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Send my Mondate (Monday update = Mondate). It is so easy to forget about recognition, but I try very hard to send a Mondate every Monday to the team to recognize the great work they've done or communicate important news because they matter. We all matter and deserve to stay connected, even if it is on a small scale.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read: "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and Horse" by Charlie Mackesy. It's more of a coffee-table, remind-yourself-you're-human, and a don't-get-caught-up-swirling-around-the-things-you-can't-control kind of book. In busy mom times and work times, you might find it in my purse.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: I'm human. I'll make mistakes, and I need to learn from them because Mayo Clinic is the sum of our parts. One shield can't survive without the others.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: Good work leads to more work. I was lucky to work with Dr. Amit Ghosh early in my career, and he mentioned this in a phone call. It was back in the olden days when we didn't email as much. We were excited about new opportunities. And as overwhelming as it was, we tried to see the good in it.

Most memorable Mayo moment: Caroling flash mob. I had this crazy idea a long time ago. In true "Elf" (the movie) fashion, I felt the greatest way to spread Christmas cheer was singing loud for all to hear. I talked to Mayo Security and the Information Desk staff, and decided to initiate a flash mob of Christmas carolers. But we chose generic songs to be more inclusive for all the holidays. I emailed and told everyone to spread the word. My colleagues at the time and I started at the piano and handed out jingle bells. We belted tunes from the lobby, and people just kept coming and singing. It was the most amazing feeling. Dr. Noseworthy wasn't able to join us, but he appreciated the invitation to sing.

If I could choose the "on hold" music for Mayo Clinic: "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

Favorite space on campus this month: I was able to go to the office this month. My favorite spot was Harwick 3 — great energy. And it was great to see co-workers again in person.

People who inspire me: I was inspired by someone this year working in the lab through the COVID-19 pandemic. I could be safe and work in my basement office. She, however, supervised more than 100 staff and their supervisors in a lab, processing samples during the pandemic.

We met through the Joy at Mayo Clinic initiative. Whenever I'd feel down or nervous about the world, I'd think of her and how she was going in at all hours so that staff during all shifts felt safe and appreciated. The lab staff and other front-line staff inspire me.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Hosting an international medical education conference from my home office. Don't get me wrong. I miss people and can't wait to host conferences in person. But my co-worker delivered coffee to me at home crazy early as a nice gesture. She went back to her home office, and I ran up to mine to kick things off on the right (caffeinated) foot. We — crew and speakers — rocked it across 30 countries, six continents, along with a production company in Minneapolis. I had two monitors and six different windows open.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.? Honestly, I had to do some research to make my decision. I am Team Dr. Will. It seems he understood the balance between innovating and commercialization, but also not losing sight of your purpose.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: Our smiles. A smile can go a long way on a bad day.


Tags: Employee Stories, In a Word, Nichole Nicholas

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