In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 28, 2023

Voices of Mayo: Shayla Williams on feeling support from Mayo colleagues while on feeding tubes, an ileostomy, more

By In the Loop
Shayla Williams

"Voices of Mayo" is a series that highlights Mayo staff and their stories, exploring their diverse backgrounds, the challenges they face, the opportunities they have been given, and their experiences at Mayo Clinic.


Shayla Williams dreamt of being a physician when she was a little girl.  

Stacy Williams, her mother, recalls the times her daughter hooked her up to a Ziploc bag with tubes she found around the house and made believe that she was administering an IV. Whenever someone had a small cut or burn, Shayla Williams would be there with "the largest, fully stocked first-aid kit in the neighborhood" to provide aid.  

But life and a series of health issues took her down a different path.

Shayla Williams, a patient care assistant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, started getting ill when she was a little girl, but things took a turn for the worse when she was around 15. Undiagnosed gastrointestinal issues had her down to 82 lbs. at one time. Right now, her care team is treating the symptoms while trying to get to the root of her issues.  

She is on a feeding tube, on a central line for IV fluids, and is in and out of the hospital, which has decreased since she got an ileostomy.

While health issues have been in the way of her obtaining her dreams of being a physician, Shayla Williams is looking at other ways to give back to the medical community. She is enrolled in the nursing program at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Shayla Williams shares her path to Mayo and the support she's received here. Read her story.


I am 25 years old. I'm originally from Iowa and have lived in Rochester, Minnesota, now for more than six years.  

I moved to Rochester after I graduated high school hoping to pursue my education journey in medicine. I worked as a certified nursing assistant in high school and loved the experience. I found my heart happy caring for others.  

The medical field is something I've always enjoyed, even as a kid. I always wanted to pursue my dream career in medicine.

Growing up, I had been to Mayo Clinic for my own medical issues. When I saw the environment and how everyone worked as a family, I found comfort and knew that this was where I wanted to work someday.  

I started my career at Mayo at Charter House as a certified nursing assistant. I am now a patient care assistant.

My health was stable when I moved to Rochester. But it quickly took a turn for the worse and became unstable. I have gastrointestinal dysmotility. My gastrointestinal issues made it difficult to maintain life without medical treatment and a super supportive and accommodating employer.  

I opened up about my condition as I worked connected to tube feeds, a central line, and managed an ileostomy. I wanted to be nothing but honest as this was something no one could control.  

I worked with Liz Fernholz, a senior disability compliance adviser, who works with the Return To Work Program. There was a time when my health was not good, and the Return To Work Program allowed me to work through my medical diagnosis journey.  

Fernholz continued to check on me even when I wasn't using the Return To Work resource.

I've met so many people at Mayo Clinic who are nothing but inspiring and helpful. I've seen Mayo Clinic grow so much just in the six years that I've been here.  

Research is the cure for the future, and I can't wait to watch amazing things happen.  

Mayo Clinic provides so many opportunities for staff to trial new career pathways. Mayo Clinic is hands-on learning, and I personally love that. Mayo Clinic is always so supportive when it comes to continuing education and has amazing resources and will teach you to be confident in yourself.  

My biggest role models are my doctors who have helped me through my journey. They've inspired me to keep pushing for my dreams. Your mindset is what you make of it, either good or bad.  

My doctors and nurses as well as co-workers have helped me with college pathways and motivated me when reality seemed to take control.  

I hope to see more people join Mayo Clinic as it's truly an amazing family to work for. You will meet new people who will accept you for who you are. Mayo Clinic is accommodating and has something for everyone to succeed. I'm excited to see amazing history from my time to future times. Mayo Clinic is growing and changing the future for so many of our patients who travel worldwide.  

Though my medical experience has held me back, with the continued support here at Mayo and from my mom, a licensed practical nurse, I never gave up on my dream to further my dreams. I am excited to help others be that "one nurse" that people remember long after their care journey at Mayo Clinic ends.

I'm happy to teach and share my journey as I hope to bring awareness and confidence that you can achieve your dreams when it's different from others. Your story can affect your patient's attitude and quality of life to keep going. It helps to know that you're not alone.  


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Tags: Staff Stories, Voices of Mayo

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