"First onboard and seated on the aisle, I watched my fellow passengers as they slowly filled the small regional jet. I was struck by how many of them limped, used walking devices, lugged oxygen tanks, or had skin conditions. It took me a moment to comprehend why. Then it came to me – we were headed to Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic. We were pilgrims making our way to the American equivalent of Lourdes, seeking clarity and cure.
The thought of our collective destination suddenly caused me some anxiety. I was headed to Mayo for a different purpose. I had been invited to speak on global perspectives on primary care reform and innovation. This was a task I had accomplished successfully hundreds of times in dozens of countries. My anxiety arose from uncharacteristic doubts that I may not be up to the assignment. Who was I to offer insights and advice at the medical Mecca to which politicians, royalty, and the wealthy flocked for treatment?
I need not have worried. The evening of my arrival, I shared a delightful dinner with old friends like Rob Nesse and several other Mayo family physicians and residents. Their warm welcome set the tone that was to typify my visit. During my 24 hours in Rochester, I began to understand the reasons for Mayo’s success and mystique. While the Mayo system is very large with lots of intelligent people and considerable resources, I have been to other institutions with similar attributes. What makes Mayo special is that it has nurtured a culture of collaboration that few other multi-specialty polyclinics have achieved. There was an atmosphere of openness, humility, and shared vision that I have observed rarely in other academic health centers. Mayo has created a sense of team centered on the needs and experiences of the patient."
Read the rest of the blog post from World Organization of Family Doctors President Richard Roberts here.