"I knew within the first 10 days that I'd made a mistake," admits Jonathan Curtright, who is once again a Mayo Clinic administrator. Curtright was speaking of his experience in 2000 when he left for what seemed like his dream job. The newly appointed dean of the medical school at Curtright's alma mater was a Mayo Clinic physician who was aware of Curtright's administrative skills. He had offered Curtright a position as assistant dean for management in the university's medical school. For Curtright and his family, this was like going home. His parents live in the city, and only a couple hours away is the farm that has been in his family since 1826. He and his wife met at the university as undergraduates. He holds two graduate degrees—a master's degree in healthcare administration (MHA) and a master's degree in business administration (MBA)—from there as well. "That's where I'll probably retire," Curtright observes.
But in 10 months he was back at Mayo Clinic. Curtright explains, "The teamwork, partnerships, and integration that I took for granted, the air we breathe around here, the culture of Mayo Clinic that permeates this place is incredibly unique." Curtright details what brought him back: "Teamwork and partnerships. Everyone at Mayo—physicians, allied health staff, researchers, educators, administrators—believes in teamwork. And they work together with humility. And don't get me wrong. It's not utopia here, but I think there is a certain amount of cultural humility that enables people to work together as team members, as partners. That wasn't there—it wasn't there."
"I feel like somebody that had a kind of a near-death experience, if you will. I'm back for a second opportunity," Curtright concludes. He expects to remain at Mayo Clinic for the rest of his career.
Teamwork in clinical care helps Mayo Clinic translate the patient-first value into the patient experience. While Dr. Will had publicly recognized the importance of teamwork in patient care by 1910, he had not yet applied teamwork—except with his brother—in matters of management and governance of the clinical practice that was steadily growing. A decade later, however, the time had come to plan a long future for Mayo Clinic, and teamwork in leadership and management became another enduring hallmark.
Cooperation and collaboration came naturally to the brothers, particularly in patient care. The brothers differed in personality and professional style, and these differences led to some natural divisions of labor. The brothers realized from the outset of their practice that Dr. Will needed to occupy the leadership position. Dr. Charlie's son, Dr. Charles W. Mayo, expressed it this way: "Father didn't care for the executive end of things… . Uncle Will was the executive, the man with the drive, the man who put the ideas through, though they sometimes came from Father."1 Harry Harwick knew them both well; he worked closely with them for nearly three decades as the first ...