In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 17, 2022

In a Word: Carey Deacon on bleeding Mayo blue, strength in diversity and more

By In the Loop
Carey Deacon

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.

Carey Deacon likes to say she bleeds Mayo blue. Deacon, who is director of Operations Support and the Physician Recruitment and Licensure team in Florida, has been at Mayo Clinic for 10 years ― this time around.

Deacon worked at Mayo Clinic in Florida from 1999 to 2001 before moving to Georgia to raise her two daughters. Once her girls grew up and became more independent, Deacon decided to return to work full time, and she could think of no better place than at Mayo Clinic.

"What's not to love?" she says. "I love being part of a care team and the collaboration that allows us to meet the needs of the patient. ... My greatest fulfillment and favorite part of working here comes from being able to serve, coach and develop a team of almost 200 employees."

An added bonus, Deacon says, is that both of her daughters also are employed at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: It would be our RICH TIES values of Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Healing, Teamwork, Innovation, Excellence and Stewardship. When I decided to reapply at Mayo Clinic, the values were the driving force in my decision because they align with my personal values.

I was also excited about the strides the organization was making regarding diversity and inclusion initiatives. Christina Zorn, our new enterprise chief administrative officer and longtime chief administrative officer at Mayo Clinic in Florida, was instrumental in moving the needle in this regard. She championed Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity initiatives, particularly for LGBTI employees and allies. She was the first executive sponsor for the Florida LGBTI Mayo Employee Resource Group, which I've been fortunate enough to be a part of for the past five years.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Coaching and mentoring the Medical Operations Support Leadership team. These efforts improve joy and work-life balance for our staff.

I subscribe to the servant leadership theory. To drive that home for new employees, all of whom I meet with individually in their first 90 days, I tell them what my expectations are for the supervisors that serve them in the practice. Ultimately, I have an expectation of how the supervisors will live our values in the way they support their teams.

Every day, when I drive on campus, I give thanks for this job and the opportunity to have an impact on the professional growth of others.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): I am an avid reader. I highly recommend Adam Grant. He is a popular author and a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His work specializes in organizational psychology. I recommend his books "Think Again" and "Give and Take."

As leaders, we have a responsibility to stay informed about new leadership theories and to be lifelong learners. This allows us the tools to hone our skills of listening and improving our emotional intelligence.

When not reading for professional growth, I enjoy a variety of authors. Although, I admit, I am particularly fond of southern authors like William Faulkner, Rick Bragg, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy and Alice Walker.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: Since the Mayo brothers founded the organization, we've excelled because we use a team-based approach. Mayo Clinic has taught me the true value of being on a team and getting buy-in from all stakeholders.

At Mayo Clinic, stakeholders should represent the diverse community we serve as well as the diversity of our staff. If a committee is talking about intolerance or ending racism, we must ensure that the committee members and stakeholders represent the ethnicities, religions, races, cultures and sexual orientations of the community and our employees.

A diverse team is a stronger team.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: Overcommunicate, and get buy-in. Both mantras ensure we model our team-based approach to drive the "Bold. Forward." 2030 strategy to transform health care.

Most memorable Mayo moment: Being given the opportunity to be the director of this work group was my ultimate professional goal. I worked in the same role for eight years but knew that a larger role in the administrative support space is where I could add value and improve workflows.

In my interview, I said I wanted to elevate the medical administrative assistant position to be the business professional role that it is. To raise the bar, I had to earn trust and build my relationships and reputation. Also, I was intentional in offering front-end and continuous training to our team so that they felt valued, confident and well-prepared to meet the needs of our patients on the first call.

I am also proud to have led Mayo Clinic's first Physician Recruitment and Licensure team. This team was created from a vision Dr. Kent Thielen and Christina Zorn had about what a physician or scientist candidate's experience should be when interviewing at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

They wanted candidates to meet a diverse panel that represented Mayo Clinic. They also wanted to provide a truly memorable experience before, during and after the interview process.

In partnership with Human Resources and recruiters, over the past 2 1/2 years, the team of five recruitment coordinators and I have successfully delivered on their vision. We've experienced a 114% growth in interviews from year one to today.

The team receives very positive feedback from physician candidates, many of whom cite their experience with the Physician Recruitment and Licensure team as a motivating factor when accepting a job offer.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: I love all genres of music from classical to rap. That always surprises people when I say that. For our patients, many of whom are dealing with complex medical conditions, I'd likely choose music that is soothing, like soft jazz or nature sounds and meditation music.

Favorite space on campus this month: I am amazed by the growth we've experienced in Florida over the past 10 years. Half of the buildings weren't here when I returned in 2011.

I am so proud of our campus. I'm in awe of designers like Michelle Woosley and Section Head Leigh Palmer and the work they do here. I've had the pleasure of working with them and Dave Martin on a variety of projects, and I'm truly inspired by their talent and vision.

When I think of our spaces in Florida, the Mayo Atrium simply takes my breath away.

People who inspire me: My daughters, Dr. Mayo Angelou, Jesus, Dr. Peter Murray, first responders, teachers, scientists and peacemakers. I am deeply inspired by my family, friends and Mayo Clinic colleagues across the sites. I am also inspired by the Medical Operations Support and the Physician Recruitment and Licensure teams.

As for leaders who've inspired me, I was fortunate for the past two years to work with an incredible leader: Associate Administrator T'Nita Walker. She was the best boss I ever had. She was brilliant and thoughtful. She has an incredible business acumen and took the time to teach me the financial aspects of our business, as well processes used by senior leaders to prioritize initiatives. She recently took an enterprise role, and I miss her guidance very much.

Carey Deacon

Another inspirational leader I've had the pleasure of working with is Associate Administrator Caroline Sarratt. She exemplifies Mayo Clinic's values and will be instrumental to our future success.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Definitely our socially distanced and HICS-approved event, Medical Operations Support "trunk-or-treating" on Halloween. We set up outside of the Vincent Stabile North entrance and decorated one of the supervisor's cars. We had props and spooky music. We had hundreds of goodies and goodie bags available for all the medical administrative assistants to drop by and grab a treat. I wore a ridiculous costume, and the smiles I saw on my staff's faces absolutely made my day.

It is so important that we take the time to recognize the hard work our teams contribute each day. Their efforts are key components to the overall success of Mayo Clinic.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W. Why? That's tough. I am in awe of what the Mayo brothers did and the legacy they left for me and others. It is why Mayo Clinic has more No. 1 rankings than any other facility based on factors such as our reputation, mortality index, patient safety, nurse staffing and Magnet status, patient service, and technology. Innovation was truly at the heart of all they did.

If I had to pick, I'd say Team Dr. Will. To start with, his eyes are piercing. In all seriousness, his heart for teaching others and his work to heal the sick make me Team Dr. Will. More than 150 years later, he remains an inspiration for us all.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: That every employee at Mayo Clinic is here to meet their needs. I tell my staff in training that without the patient call, fax or letter, our jobs would be obsolete. We are here for the sole purpose of our patients. I hold that responsibility near and dear to my heart.


Tags: Carey Deacon, Employee Stories, In a Word

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