Putting the Needs of the Patient First: Mayo Clinic's Core Value, Institutional Culture, and Professionalism Covenant

Viggiano, Thomas R. MD, MEd; Pawlina, Wojciech MD; Lindor, Keith D. MD; Olsen, Kerry D. MD; Cortese, Denis A. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181575dcd

From its inception more than a century ago, Mayo Clinic's founders instilled the core value, the needs of the patient come first, into the institution's culture. Today, this core value of professionalism continues to guide the clinic's leadership practices, management strategies, and daily activities. Members of the Mayo Clinic staff embrace and reinforce this core value and regard it as a professionalism covenant: a collective, tacit agreement that everyone will earnestly collaborate to put the needs and welfare of patients first. This covenant is articulated for patients and learners in two key documents, both crafted in 2001—the Mayo Clinic Model of Care, and the Mayo Clinic Model of Education—and is reaffirmed through Mayo Clinic's mission to provide the best outcomes, service, and value in health care to every patient, every day. Mayo's value-based culture serves as a powerful, positive hidden curriculum that facilitates the accomplishment of desired practice and educational outcomes and fosters the development of health care professionals with the highest standards of professionalism. The profound allegiance of Mayo Clinic staff and students to its patient-centered culture connects all to the purpose and meaning of their work, elicits collaboration and voluntary efforts, and fosters an environment that is committed to excellence and continuous improvement. In the context of contemporary challenges and competing commitments facing academic health centers, the authors discuss key initiatives that Mayo Clinic has implemented to preserve the institution's culture, honor the professionalism covenant, and enable faculty, staff, and learners to align their behaviors, work activities, and resources to accomplish the institution's mission.

Author Information

Dr. Viggiano is Barbara Woodward Lips Professor of Medicine and associate dean, Faculty Affairs, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Pawlina is professor of anatomy, chair, Department of Anatomy, and assistant dean, Curriculum Development and Innovation, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Lindor is professor of medicine and dean, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Olsen is professor of otolaryngology and a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees and Mayo Clinic Board of Governors, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Cortese is professor of medicine and president and CEO, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Viggiano, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street Southwest, Rochester, MN 55905; telephone: (507) 284-3671; fax: (507) 284-2634; e-mail: (viggiano.thomas@mayo.edu).

© 2007 Association of American Medical Colleges