In a Word: Alisa Stark on learning from people who overcome odds, more

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.

Alisa Stark was juggling a few things while in nursing school. She was cleaning and painting buses as well as working in a long-term care facility. During her last year of college, she also was selected to be a student nurse intern at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.

That experience, more than 16 years ago, proved to be so great that she couldn't picture herself working anywhere else. Now, she's doing her part to recreate that experience for others coming to Mayo Clinic.

"I want other positive people to join me here, so I do my part to welcome students and new employees and to foster a safe learning environment," Stark says. "The positive influence that we have on students and new staff is something that has guided my career."

Stark says she appreciates the opportunities and resources she has been given to make practice changes, as necessary.

"It is nice to know that we can solve almost any problem as long as you involve the right people," she says.

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: My favorite part about Mayo Clinic is that we share information throughout our various sites. It is nice knowing that if we don't have a specialist here in Mankato that we can contact a specialist via telehealth or phone. It is awe-inspiring to be a part of providing first-class care so close to home.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): As a charge nurse of a busy and overcrowded Emergency Department, the single most important thing I do is support my team. I have the privilege of working alongside caring and dedicated people who stretch themselves beyond measure to meet the needs of the patients we see. I do everything in my power to ensure that we all have what we need to continue to provide safe and effective health care for our community.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read: I recommend everyone read the book "Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders," by L. David Marquet. This book has guiding principles for leaders at every level. This book shows you how your actions affect the morale of the team and the importance of allowing front-line workers to be involved in decisions — most importantly, trusting them to complete their daily duties.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: How to use my resources to advance my knowledge. Learning from specialists and taking courses through Udemy Academy have been essential. I also have learned so much through my involvement with various Quality Improvement projects and committees. It is extraordinary to play a part in practice changes.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: You foster what you tolerate. When I hear co-workers expressing dissatisfaction with a process or with another co-worker's interaction, I always try to empower them to speak up in the moment to have a crucial conversation. This allows for the opportunity to share each of their perspectives. Often, I find that after these conversations, they walk away feeling more confident and more open to feedback in the future. Mayo Clinic RICH TIES (Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Healing, Teamwork, Innovation, Excellence, Stewardship) values are guiding principles. We need to make sure we are each doing our part to uphold those principles not only for ourselves but for our patients and each other.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: Definitely 90s and 2000s pop rock. I love to sing, as my co-workers can attest. That genre has the songs that I know the most lyrics to.

Favorite space on campus this month: The social workers' office because they have candy and fantastic listening ears.

People who inspire me: I am inspired by people who believe in a cause and are not afraid to fight for it. One of my favorite things to do is to watch movies that share the stories of instrumental figures in our history who have overcome great odds. I love learning from others' experiences. I also am inspired by people who embrace their differences and are not afraid to show others their true selves.

The most fun I've had at work this year: I had so much fun this year as a part of the Nursing Council. It is remarkable to connect with nurses throughout the hospital. I enjoy brainstorming solutions to problems and implementing initiatives to advance the nursing practice. I have enjoyed playing a part in shifting our nursing culture in a positive direction.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W. Definitely Mother Alfred, because without her we would not be where we are today.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: The resources, education and the tools that we provided them to continue on their road to recovery and health.