Mayo Clinic Employee Experiences: On a lifetime of fun, challenges of being mistaken for each other as identical twins

Kay Bachman and Kim Baumann
Kay Bachman and Kim Baumann

In this episode of Mayo Clinic Employee Experience, you'll hear from Kim Baumann, a medical administrative assistant supervisor, and Kay Bachman, a nurse study coordinator, as they discuss their experience being identical twins working at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic is a unique place: the culture, the values, the people. "Mayo Clinic Employee Experience" explores the experiences of Mayo Clinic staff as they navigate life personally and professionally. Sharing these experiences increases understanding of others and ultimately contributes to finding connections, belonging and inclusion at work.  

In this episode of Mayo Clinic Employee Experience, you will hear from Kim Baumann, a medical administrative assistant supervisor, and Kay Bachman, a nurse study coordinator. They both work in the Division of Allergic Diseases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They discuss their experience with being identical twins working in the same organization, their special bond, and their relationship as kids and into adulthood.

Listen as they discuss the joys and memories of being identical twins:  

Or read the transcript:

NARRATOR: In this episode, you'll hear Kim and Kay share their experiences as identical twins that still have a very strong connection as adults.

BAUMANN: You always have someone to do something with — always your best friend. I'm the oldest — and Kay will be the first to point that out — by a whole six minutes. My name is Kim Baumann, and I've worked here at Mayo Clinic for 46 years.

BACHMAN: I'm Kay Bachman. Of course, the last names need to be similar. I've worked here for 44 years, and I'm going to point out I'm six minutes younger. Thinking back to childhood, coming home from the hospital when Mom couldn't tell us apart because we were so identical, we had to have bands on our ankles for at least a couple of weeks. And then she would put little dots on the bottom of our feet so she could tell the difference.

BAUMANN: When they washed off, she had to put a few more dots back on until we had our differences for people to tell us apart. Well, parents anyway. Other people still couldn't for many years.

BACHMAN: The uncles and aunts couldn't tell us apart. So instead of being called Kim and Kay, it was "Hi, twin" because they didn't know who was who.

BAUMANN: Or "Hey, you" always worked, too.

Kay Bachman and Kim Baumann

BACHMAN: Surprisingly, our brothers and sisters could tell us apart quite easily. We had the same friends until we were old enough and lived separately. When we met future spouses, we had different groups to hang around with.

We'd be dressed alike, either exactly identical in style and color or the style would be the same and the color might be a little bit different. We'd get many gifts that we had to share, instead of something for each. But we didn't mind that.

BAUMANN: Our food had to be the same. When we were younger, we had to have the same amount of milk in the glass. We put them side by side and measured so it was exactly the same. We'd count the M&M's and the potato chips so we had the same always.

BACHMAN: We shared everything. We had to sleep in the same bed for a while. Then we had our separate beds growing up but always in the same room. We were in the same classes in elementary school. We would be sitting at different ends of the room and would answer a test question the same, almost identical in the way it was worded or the choices we made on that. And the teacher always wondered if we were cheating somehow. But it's just that we thought alike and answered things alike because we studied together.

In middle school — it was called junior high back then — we decided that we would study each for one test and take it twice.

BAUMANN: As each other.

BACHMAN: We only did that once because I'm sure that the teachers would have frowned on that had they figured it out. And in dating, we tried that once. We went on each other's date, and sadly, it took them a while to figure it out.

BAUMANN: One time we went to a week-away camp and we'd never been apart, but the rule of the camp was they'd like to separate siblings. So we were in separate tents and not in the same group. And Mom got a call saying how miserable we were at camp, and she said, "Well, you do have them in the same spot, don't you?" And they said: "No. We like to separate them." And she goes, "Well, there's your problem." So they put us together. Once they did that, we were fine.

BACHMAN: I worked in the hospital starting out, and Kim was at the clinic. But after so many years, I wanted to move into the clinic setting. We worked for 30 years in the same division down the same hall. Doctors would get us mixed up. New residents would get us mixed up. They wouldn't know who's who. We usually didn't tell them right away. They had to figure it out. It's funny that we work together and with the names being so similar, I would get a call from one of the doctors. And he'd start talking. I'm going, "I think you mean Kim because I have no idea what you're talking about."

BAUMANN: Once you get to know us, we have our differences. You can see differences now that we're older, but being younger, we were totally identical. People who we meet now, if we're together, they can see the difference. But if we're apart and they just see one of us, they're not sure who it is.

BACHMAN: The glasses. I don't wear my glasses all the time. That's one telltale.

BAUMANN: I always have my glasses on. So I tell people to remember "Rims Kim."

BACHMAN: We go to lunch pretty much every day. It's embarrassing now because we go to the same spots. Because we're twins, we're always together. If you happen to go there by yourself because someone has a meeting, it's, "Where's your sister?" If you're not a duo, then they're wondering where the other one is.

BAUMANN: What's even worse though is if we wear the same color. We have identical sweaters. If we're shopping, we'll buy something. Then the other one will buy the same thing. Not knowing what we have, we'll wear it on the same day. And it's like, "Oh, my."

BACHMAN: Being identical twins, you always had your best friend. We really never argued. We were not competitive. We congratulate each other on whoever's better on, say, bowling or a test score, even though the test scores would be similar. I honestly never saw any challenges. We were just that much in sync.

BAUMANN: Of course, she answered the same way I would have. You're never alone trying to entertain yourself because you always have your sister there. And I never saw challenges either, as well, just because we never had any differences except careerwise.

BACHMAN: We have another set of twins in our family. Our youngest sisters are also twins. They also work at Mayo in different areas. But they work in the same building, and they're not identical. They're more fraternal.

BAUMANN: And we also have two brothers and another sister. We have a large family. But we are the oldest, and the other set of twins is the youngest.

BACHMAN: We each took a twin and babysat them when we were little. We grew up in Winona. Kim came up here to work at Mayo. I didn't really know what I wanted to do yet. I decided to go to college and be a dietician. But I really didn't like that. I ended up going into nursing because a lot of the classes I took fit that profile.

BAUMANN: Then we had our children. I had two girls, and she had two boys. That's our difference there.

BACHMAN: Kim and I feel more connected with each other than with our other siblings. Although, we're kind of close to the other set of twins more so than the two brothers and our other sister because she doesn't have a twin. We babysat them when they were little, and we kind of took them under our wings. They are here in Rochester and work at Mayo. We see them a lot more than we do the other siblings who are down in Winona.

BAUMANN: When we're out together here at work on the elevator, and we're going to lunch together, you'd see people get on the elevator and they'd look. They try not to stare, but they'd be looking. And you know they're going to ask.

BACHMAN: "Are you sisters?"


"Are you twins?"

"Well, yeah, that, too."

BAUMANN: Also, if someone would ask us a question, sometimes we would both answer at the same time and say the same thing just verbatim. That's kind of embarrassing when we do that.

BACHMAN: Picking out cards for birthdays or whatever. Quite a few times, we'd buy the same card and send it to the same person. My son's getting married, and there was a bridal shower. The shower gifts we bought were both wrapped in the same wrapping paper.

BAUMANN: I got married first, and I think you did maybe 10 years later.

BACHMAN: I was a little slow on that. Kim's husband, we grew up with him as kids. so we knew who he was. And my husband, I met at the hospital.

BAUMANN: I had kids before her. I had my oldest, and then you had yours four years later. And then, I had the next one, and she had the next one. So they are kind of close in age, except for my oldest daughter. She's about five years older than the rest of them. The other three are within a year of each other.

BACHMAN: I remember babysitting like her oldest daughter when she was little, and she always called me "mom." She thought I was her mom. At first, I thought it would be kind of fun to have twins — a boy and a girl — and I'd be all done with it. Mom was really young when she had us. And she had lot of trouble at first. We were both colicky to boot, so that didn't help any.

BAUMANN: I think she had a farm us off to the relatives for about a week just so she could get some sleep. Because it was so bad. So, no, I don't want twins — not if it's going to be like that. I hope it skips a generation like they say it does.

BACHMAN: They say you can feel what another person is feeling, but we never really had that. If she was hurt, did I actually know she was? I really didn't have that, surprisingly.

BAUMANN: Mom thought we had some kind of secret language because we babbled back and forth, and we knew what we were babbling about back then. But I think our brains think the same. We get the same thought that pops in our head. If we see something and I'll say something and Kay will say, "I was just thinking that." Maybe our brains think alike when we see something.

BACHMAN: We want to buy the same things when we see it. She'll buy something. And I really wish I would've seen it first. Most of the thought processes are very similar in what we do and what we say and what we like. We like the same things, foods, cook the same way. Sadly, even to this day, sometimes we have to make sure that you cut something in half. It still has to be exactly in half. Sixty-some years old and things still have to be the same.

I always loved being a twin. I never even gave it a second thought that I might want my own personal identity. I feel I do kind of have that. But we have that connection, which I love. And I probably never would want to give that up.

BAUMANN: I think it's great being a twin. My goal is that we grow old together and live to be 103 like our grandmother did so we can live together in our nursing home and still do our stuff together.

BACHMAN: Make sure there's a Starbucks and a secondhand store around, and we'll be good.

NARRATOR: Do you know a set of twins or are you a twin? Fraternal or identical? Consider sharing in the comments below.

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