In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 25, 2022

Erin Pagel on encouraging one another, finding whimsy in everyday things, more

By In the Loop
Erin Pagel

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, sprinting across a lobby, or talking quietly with a patient and family. 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.

Erin Pagel came to Mayo Clinic straight out of college "22 awesome years" ago, as she likes to call them.

"I am amazed it has been that long," Pagel says.

She started out as a clinical laboratory technologist and is now an operations administrator supporting General Internal Medicine in Rochester and Mayo Clinic Women's Health.

"Mayo Clinic made me feel like I could contribute quickly, and they took a chance on me," she says.

Pagel treasures the people and the relationships she's cultivated over the years.

"I love tackling tough problems together, laughing together, finding the fun, accomplishing something that hasn't been done before and then celebrating a job well done as a team," she says.

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: I cannot choose just one. I absolutely love the stuffed hashbrowns in the Eisenberg Cafeteria. They should not be as good as they are. It's some sort of grill magic. I've described them as life changing, and I stand by that! Another favorite thing is when someone is playing the piano in the Gonda Subway. I've gotten teary-eyed just listening on many occasions.  So much beauty, hope and talent shared without any expectations for reciprocity.  And when the sun shines through the gorgeous windows making the whole space glow — it's perfection that warms the heart.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Encouraged someone who was questioning their skills and made someone smile. We all have the opportunity to lift others and encourage one another. A kind word or gesture is sometimes all that is needed to turn around someone's day or move someone to a new perspective. A little nudge, words of encouragement, letting people know you see them — there is so much good that can come of such little effort.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): I am an avid reader and a huge library advocate. Yay for libraries. It's hard to choose just one, but "When Breath Becomes Air," by Paul Kalanithi has stuck with me for a long time. It is incredibly powerful, particularly for those of us in health care. "Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End," by Atul Gawande is another great one with a health care lens.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: That we can change health care, and we are doing it every day. Mayo Clinic is No. 1 for a reason — it's our people, our culture, our legacy, our values.  We have amazing people working on innovations that, just a few years ago, would have been impossible to even imagine. These innovations are changing health care from every angle — new treatments, new delivery mechanisms, increased safety, and more personalized care —all with compassion and kindness.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: Think big but remember the timing, the stage, and the cast all needs to be right for change. If one isn't aligned, even a great idea won't get traction. Don't settle for "no," if it's really "not now."

Most memorable Mayo moment: As part of the first Heritage Classic 5K several years ago, Sister Generose did a shotgun start, shooting a blank into the air to start the runners. The sound seemed to startle her, but her smile was filled with joy. She was really enjoying herself. I reflected on that moment in particular and her smile when, several years later, the Plummer doors were closed in honor of her life. It was heartfelt and meaningful. She embodied so much of Mayo Clinic, of our RICH TIES values (Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Healing, Teamwork, Innovation, Excellence and Stewardship), and of our staff. 

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: 90s Rock — Green Day, Nirvana, Metallica, Live, etc. I think I would quickly lose the privilege of choosing the "hold" music.

Favorite space on campus this month: Anywhere outside, enjoying the beautiful fall weather and the work of our grounds team. The flowers, trees, and shrubbery across campus are simply gorgeous. The groundskeepers do such lovely work. The outdoor spaces bring peace and are truly healing spaces for our patients.

People who inspire me: I am truly inspired by my Mayo Clinic teammates, colleagues and friends. I have the privilege of working with amazing teams and individuals in all facets of my role. I witness again and again, time after time our RICH TIES in action. The Joy @ Mayo team inspires me to always find a bit of joy and whimsy in my day. I am inspired by the patients that walk in our doors to keep hoping and keep moving forward. I am inspired by our Mayo leaders and our vision for the future.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W. Why? Team Mother Alfred. She is an inspiration. She was brave, an immigrant, a problem solver, a leader, an influencer and a motivator. Perhaps a bit of an agitator, too! Mayo Clinic as we know it wouldn't be here today without Mother Alfred. She made the hospital happen. She didn't settle for an answer of "no." She was a force of nature. 

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: The true compassion and kindness that I have the privilege of witnessing every day. Not a day goes by that I don't see our RICH TIES in action. I hope our patients feel it, see it and it gives them hope.


Tags: Erin Pagel, In a Word, Staff Stories

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