Written by: Emily Blocker, ICU R.N., Rochester, MN
“There’s no fun like work.” This short, yet powerful phrase hangs in the historical suite of the Plummer Building in Dr. Charles Mayo’s office. Dr. Charles Mayo in conjunction with his brother Dr. William J. Mayo and father Dr. William W. Mayo are the heart, mind, and soul behind what we know today to be the Mayo Clinic. As I stand in the office doorway of one of the most powerful minds in medical history, I smile at the thought of Dr. Charlie never truly “working” a day in his life. Why? Because he, like myself, found a career where work and passion coincide perfectly.
I, like the other 63,000 plus Mayo Clinic employees from across all sites, have my own Mayo story. Prior to my employment at Mayo, I was a student at the University of Missouri. During my time in college, although I was successful and very involved across campus, I never imagined my life and future career would lead me to be an ICU Registered Nurse at the number one hospital in the country. Certainly I had always dreamed of such a career, yet I didn’t believe it would become a reality. In the summer of 2014, I arrived at Mayo Clinic Rochester to start my Summer III Externship naïve to the pivotal role Mayo would play in my life. While it may seem like a “no-brainer” to accept such an honorable externship, I struggled to make the choice. Like many nursing students, I had my eyes set on an ICU position, specifically with pediatric patients. So, when I received my assignment as an extern to work in the Inpatient Float Staff, I was hesitant. However, after many conversations with family and Mayo Clinic Rochester employees I took the leap of faith on what was the start of my life-changing career here at Mayo. As a Summer III in the Inpatient Float Staff, I was fortunate to have a unique experience that allowed me to learn and work across the breadth of Mayo highlighting the multitude of specialties we have here at our world-class institution. Ultimately, if not for Summer III, I would not have known about the opportunities available to me on my current unit – Mary Brigh 5BG Cardiovascular Surgery and Transplant ICU – where I am currently finishing my second year of practice as an RN.
While starting off in the ICU as a new graduate nurse was challenging, my heart always called me to the intensity and critical thinking of ICU nursing. As a mixture of fate, hard work, and dedication would have it I have found the perfect fit for me on my current unit as it allows me to care for a diverse group of highly complex patients both adult and pediatric—just what I always wanted. As an ICU nurse at Mayo, I have had countless opportunities to not only develop my clinical skills, but also, grow as a young professional and leader. Within two years as an RN, I am an active member of my Unit Council, soon to be serving as the Education Chair for over 200 staff members, and giving back as a Preceptor and Summer III Clinical Coach. This highlights my favorite part about ICU nursing within the Mayo Clinic enterprise—the sky is the limit.
Shortly after embarking on the adventure of being a new graduate ICU nurse, I quickly discovered several reasons why being a Mayo Clinic ICU nurse is more than just a job—it’s a life-changing career. During my time in college, I completed a capstone in an ICU that laid a foundation for the workflow, communication, and expectations of an RN in this role. Upon my arrival to Mayo Clinic Rochester, I soon realized our ICU environment is unique for several reasons compared to its counterparts around the country. Here at Mayo, the interdisciplinary communication between members of the healthcare team is exemplary. As the bedside RN, I am confident my voice is valued and important as the team develops and adapts to an ever-changing plan of care. The respect both shown and given to fellow members of the team highlights Mayo Clinic’s approach to care ensuring the needs of the patient come first. I am humbled by the deeply personalized and attentive care we provide to our patients. No matter how sick or complex their medical needs are, we as RNs in the ICUs at Mayo always strive to ensure we never lose sight of the individual. Albeit physical, emotional, or spiritual needs it is my honor and privilege to walk side by side with my patients and their families during some of the most troubling times in their lives. Whether motivating a patient to walk for the first time after a heart transplant, listening to a husband depict the moment he met his wife as he is trying to decide whether or not to withdraw care, or running at 0300 to a Code 45 across the unit, my role as a nurse is powerful and far bigger than myself.
As an ICU nurse at Mayo Clinic, I am honored to be working alongside the best of the best. The experiences and growth during my two years have set me on a path for a long, happy, life-changing career. Looking ahead, I feel supported by my coworkers and leadership team in whatever endeavor I take on next. Ultimately, I plan to return back to school to obtain my Doctorate of Nursing Practice. However, in the meantime I look forward to advancing my career within my current unit in roles such as becoming a Charge Nurse. As Dr. Will Mayo once said, “I look through a half opened door into the future, full of interest, intriguing beyond my power to describe…”
As I look ahead to the future, I am reassured no matter where my career takes me the foundation of excellence, dedication, and passion has been laid by my time working as an ICU nurse at Mayo Clinic. Ultimately, I am a nurse at Mayo due to the foresight of the Mayo Brothers and Sisters of Saint Francis because they recognized passion mixed with work is an unrivaled force. You see, being a Mayo nurse is not something you become—it’s something you already are…and I know this is exactly where I am meant to be.