In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

April 25, 2022

In a Word: Brooks Edwards, M.D., on limitless kindness, the ghost of Dr. Plummer, garage tunes and more

By In the Loop
Drs. Terri and Brooks Edwards

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's a relationship 66 years in the making. Brooks Edwards, M.D. was introduced to the world at Mayo Clinic as a newborn at Saint Marys Hospital.

He returned to Mayo Clinic 44 years ago to attend Mayo Medical school, now Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, and joined the staff in 1989. The rest, as they say, is history.

"The best part of Mayo Clinic is the people, our colleagues and our patients," Dr. Edwards says. "If I had to be stranded on a desert island, I would take all my colleagues from the Transplant Center, and I guarantee we would have a good time."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: The culture of Mayo Clinic is unique. It's a precious commodity that doesn't exist at many other places. We need to continue to foster and support our culture. Once it becomes eroded, it's hard to restore.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): I try and show sincere gratitude to the people I work with every day. If you're not sincere, don't waste your time or others' time. Fake gratitude is worse than no gratitude at all.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): Let's change this question since most of my reading is not that interesting to others. Let's try: What's your favorite quote? "There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and there is never a wrong time to do the right thing." — Lou Holtz

Mayo Clinic has taught me: Amazing things can happen when people work together, especially if they are not worried about who gets the credit.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: When I was the editor of Mayo's website, I worked closely with Dr. Ken Berge, a very wise and seasoned internist. He had retired but was back working on a contract for Mayo Medical Ventures.

He has great institutional memory and grew up during the depression in rural Minnesota. Ken was a wonderful man — wise beyond his years and made tough by the Minnesota winters.

Ken had a way of putting everything quickly in perspective. If I ever would get upset about something, Ken would just look at me and say, "Get over it." It was always the best advice.

Most memorable Mayo moment: One of my favorite memories at Mayo Clinic revolves around our first face transplant. As director of the Transplant Center, I worked very closely with Drs. Mardini and Amer, the surgical and medical directors of the Face Transplant Program. 

When a donor became available, more than 100 providers came together, working throughout a weekend to perform the transplant. More than 55 hours in the operating room. 

It was an amazing example of the Mayo Clinic team approach, bringing a diverse team of dedicated experts together, focused solely on the needs of the patient.

The result, in my opinion and others, was the best outcome a face recipient has ever had. It happened because of a dedicated committed team all working together.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: "Aloha 'Oe," the most famous Hawaiian music. If you are on hold, you need a little bit of the Aloha spirit to help you chill.

Favorite space on campus this month: The Plummer Library. Now, with everything online, I don't get there often. But when you walk in, you feel all the history and culture of Mayo. I'm not sure, but I think I have seen the ghost of Dr. Henry Plummer walking in the stacks at night, usually up by the current periodicals. I think Henry is staying current.

People who inspire me: My father was a cardiac pathologist who began his career at Mayo Clinic in 1946. He found everything in the world interesting. 

He was a gifted and patient teacher who taught not only Cardiac Pathology and Physiology, but more importantly, how to live one's life. His kindness was unending.

He believed everybody was special, and those less fortunate just needed a little more support to reach their potential. He always provided others with his care and support.

The most fun I've had at work this year: I actually liked being in the hospital at night, focusing on the needs of a critically ill patient. There was quite a hum of activity that permeated the hospital — folks working together, all mission-driven. There are few distractions and always a sense of camaraderie.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W. Why? I'm on Team Charlie. He lived out in the country and seemed to be a little less formal than his brother, Will. He seems like the kind of guy who would be willing to get his hands dirty in the garden and probably track mud into the house.

If he were alive today, I suspect he would listen to Simon and Garfunkel music with friends. But when he was alone in the garage, he would have Rolling Stones turned up extra-loud.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: I want our patients to say, "Nobody cares for you the way they do at Mayo Clinic."


Tags: Dr. Brooks Edwards, In a Word, Staff Stories

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