Skip to main content

Fired from the MAYO CLINIC and what I learned

When I was a young, sassy, eager young woman, I was fired by the Mayo Clinic. 
I was devastated. I worked two years to get the job - interviewed for six months - celebrated when I was hired by buying a house in Rochester, Minnesota.
I was with them for eight months and loved the work, adored my colleagues. 
But I was flawed, and they knew it. 
I couldn’t get to my cubicle on time.  I couldn’t sit still during long, purposeless meetings.
I resented the dress code, the deportment code, the high-energy mandate for all staff. 
More than anything - I resented not being the most important person in the room. 

“The needs of the patient come first.” 

I was a mess.
Only eight months out of my nasty, long-term marriage, I needed more than Mayo could offer.
My little soul was battered - my frail self image smashed.  
I needed a place to work, of course - but even more, I needed a place to heal. 
Mayo Clinic was not about to deliver. 
Their motto is - “The needs of the patient come first.” So  much for my needs, huh? 
No staff member at Mayo can escape the clear, undiluted message.  Our call, as employees of the world-class medical center, was to put on our big girl pants and step into the fire.  
No matter what our role, our responsibility was clear.  We were there for others - not ourselves.  




 “Kristine Holmgren - move your car from patient parking ramp, or it will be towed!"

Six weeks new-staff training taught us to watch for people who needed our help; individuals who looked lost, confused or in pain.
Our first task was always to be alert - to approach people standing still, standing stiff, standing alone.
We learned to ask “May I help you?” and mean it. 
We learned the purpose of the Mayo name-tag was not to announce our grand titles but to assure patients they were in the presence of someone who could help.
Nowhere throughout the facility are staff, physicians, technicians more important than the patients at Mayo.
 Prime parking spots are set-aside for patients and their families, and if a staff member slides her little VW Beetle into one of those slots, she will hear her name called out over the institution-wide intercom system;
 “Kristine Holmgren - move your car from patient parking ramp, or it will be towed.” 

If I knew then what I know now - 

The decades help a sassy woman settle down. 
Thank the great gods in heaven for the unfolding of the human mind - the ability to self-critique, forgive, and grow. 
Today, I write for the theatre, tend my gardens and enjoy the wild opinions of my thirty-something daughters and their successful husbands. 
My neighborhood in St. Paul is peppered with young girls who drop by for advice, and single mothers who rely upon my strategies for survival. 
And the lessons of the clinic frame my dotage. 
Sometimes, often times, most of the time, the needs of others come first. 
To focus on the momentary hurt, the immediate disappointment, the fleeting fear and anxiety of today leads the sassy and the superficial to bleak, desolate places. 
The clinic taught, and I retained the lesson; look around.  See those who need direction.  See those who have less than we have.  
Reach out and ask, “May I help you?” 
Mean it. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why I no longer trust the St. Paul Police

My dogs awoke me,  barking,  at 3:00 AM -  and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed my under-the-bed baseball bat and stormed into my backyard. The car next door had been burglarized; a neighbor's garage broken into. And the woman who lives in the house behind mine was robbed in the middle of the night. And so as the flood lights slapped across my empty back yard and my dogs growled, I determined to apprehend the culprit. I searched the yard for the wretched, evil doer who would dare take advantage of the decent folks who live in Como Park. Behind me, in my living room, someone walked out the front door with my MacBook and other electronics. Because I didn't check inside the house - I didn't discover the crime until the next morning. "This ain't CSI, lady."  I phoned the police at 7:30 A.M. It took him almost an hour to get to my home - and when he finally knocked -  I opened my door to an overweigh, winded officer. By then I was frant

Here's to you, Mister Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman is eighty-years-old.  Dustin - say it isn't so. Baby Boomers around the globe worship your legacy - your brave, outrageous career where you stepped out - risked much - and led us into our maturity. As Michael Dorsey in  Tootsie  - you exposed an artist brave enough to lampoon his feminine side. As Ted Kramer, in Kramer vs. Kramer  - you challenged other men to reexamine their ability to nurture, to settle for the glories of domesticity. And no one else could have exposed the complexities  of Raymond Babbitt as did you in  Rain Man.   The world honors your excessive and grand talent - but if these allegations are true, none of that will matter.  History will forget your artistry and remember you as a dirty old man. That's what I do not understand.  You're not a B list guy - - not a "made for TV" Hollywood guy. You're Hoffman, for god's sake.  And I cannot fathom you jeopardizing your lionized legacy around someone's seve

Overheard at a coffee shop; An old woman's wisdom.

When she was a small child, she posed in front of her nursery mirror - fascinated with her reflection.  Sometimes she emulated Betty Davis.  Sometimes Shirley Temple.  When she was old enough, her mother enrolled her in tap dance classes, hoping to channel some of that ham-bone energy into something constructive. It worked.   Twice each year, the tap school dressed her in frilly, fluff-flounced costumes, put her on stage with a dozen other little show-offs,  and together they tapped their way to elementary school stardom. When she turned 13-years-old, her tap-dance gang joined the downtown YWCA where they spent their Saturdays doing something called "creative dramatics." Swimming, archery, bowling and hula absorbed their weekends, and she made new friends who introduced her to neighborhoods and families she might never have met and enjoyed. In high school, she auditioned and was cast in every onstage opportunity. In college, where the competition stiffened, she turn