Jennifer Giese on being flexible, being in a two-person band, more

Jennifer Giese

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.

Join us in celebrating them, and let us know if you'd like to see one of your colleagues featured here.

Jennifer Giese wore many hats before coming to Mayo Clinic. She was a full-time college student and worked part-time as a bank teller, a tutor at Rochester Community Technical College, a voice teacher and a hospice volunteer.

Giese hung up those hats when she got her bachelor's degree. She says she was initially intimidated by Mayo Clinic's size and reputation. But the more she learned about the organization's values and the experiences of patients, she pushed past her fears and applied for a job at Mayo. That was 15 years ago.

There are many favorite things about working at Mayo, says Giese, a solution architect in the Office of Access Management. But at the top of that list is the Access Technologies and Systems team she sits on.

"This group fully embodies the core values of Mayo, works extremely hard, and still manages to bring joy every single day," she says. "It's like coming to work with family or friends every day. I am so very blessed to be a part of such a compassionate, patient-centric team."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: One of my favorite things is the number of opportunities that exist for each and every one of us. Employment opportunities aside, there are so many ways Mayo helps people grow. There's the Mayo Quality Fellow certification, academic ranks, Scrum certification, courses for skill development, committee involvement, education funding assistance, etc. The number of tools at our fingertips is pretty amazing.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Collaborate. This may sound simple, but I have found this to be one of the most important and challenging goals I have taken on in my time with my team. Every area within Mayo Clinic does important work, but we are all stronger as a cohesive team than we are as a single entity. Finding contacts in other IT application teams, patient care departments, leaders, external vendors, etc. has helped me better understand the impact of certain changes, expanded my Mayo network and knowledge, and has proven to be extremely beneficial for finding the best possible outcomes for our patients.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read: A book on my Christmas wish list is "The Power of Moments" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This was recommended to me by a friend as it could be a good tool at work but also in regular life. During the holidays, I often try to give my kids the gift of experiences rather than things, so this is what made the book intriguing to me.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: Flexibility. I used to need fairly defined rules to feel confident in my work. Gray space terrified me. Joining the Plummer Project changed all of that. My motto became "Embrace the gray." Things change on a dime in the world around us, our organization and in our technology. It's OK to not have all the answers as long as you know how to find them. COVID-19 has been another example of this. Guidelines, compliance, testing and treatment are continually changing. Flexibility is a skill I needed to learn and embrace.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: A previous supervisor, Tim Faber, often said, "Assume benign intent." To put it into context, I take my work very personally. I'm proud of the work I do, and to hear feedback that is not constructive can hurt. Tim's words of wisdom help me take a pause and realize that the majority of the time, people are not trying to cut others down. They just have a different way of expressing their opinion or feelings. This helps me activate those listening and communication skills to ask for further clarification or reiterate what I think I heard. 

Most memorable Mayo moment: The completion of the Plummer Project has been the most memorable for me so far. It was a very long and labor-intensive project to move all regions onto a single electronic health record. Learning how all regions work, what needs they have, and working with them to make the go-live a success was an amazing experience.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: This is my favorite question. From a somewhat selfish standpoint, I would love for the hold music to start showcasing some of our local or employee talent. My co-worker, Jeff Rosedale, and I have a two-person band called "J-Squared." We sometimes perform parodies or original songs related to our work. Jeff has also written a great piece called "The Kahler." Featuring work and patient-appropriate music written and recorded by our own would be a wonderful way to spread joy and share our gifts with others.

Favorite space on campus this month: The Peace Plaza this time of year in Rochester is always very festive.

People who inspire me: I am most inspired by those who are able to find joy in the day-to-day, who are able to ask for help, make decisions for the betterment of others or the situation rather than themselves, and are transparent, honest and compassionate.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Attending XGM (Expert Group Meetings) at Epic was fun.  From the work side, a subset of our team was able to see each other face to face — we have been remote since 2020. We attended great presentations from other organizations, learned of new things coming from Epic, and networked with Epic employees and customers. On a more personal side, we were able to see previous Mayo contractors, tour parts of the Epic grounds, and do team-building exercises. Many pictures and laughs were shared while still being able to learn and bring information back to our team.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.? Team Mother Alfred. She not only had great ideas, but she was willing to invest time, money, etc. in those ideas and worked tirelessly to make things happen. At that point in history, women acquiring land for a hospital is extremely impressive. She was an essential part of Mayo Clinic's success.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: Comfort, trust and compassion from all staff they interacted with. From the first contact — operator, nurse line, appointment coordinator, business office — to the clinical care they received from their provider, and all the way to their last contact — parking attendant, volunteer, desk staff — I truly hope each and every patient believes that their needs indeed came first in every aspect of their care.