Mary O'Connor, M.D.

When I first arrived at Mayo Clinic for my residency, I was struck by the fact that residents did doctor work and not technician work. We weren't up in the middle of the night drawing blood or starting IVs, and I thought that was fabulous. The physicians and technicians were part of the team that provided the patient-centered care. The pervading attitude was that everyone was doing their best for the patient.

Nobody here aims for or accepts mediocrity. This value of always trying to do what is right for the patient is what makes Mayo the place where I want to work. Today's changing economic environment challenges us to put the needs of the patient first. People here continue to work very hard to stay true to our core value and provide the best care to our patients every day.

On diversity

The world of medicine, and particularly orthopedics, needs more diversity. In particular, we need more women and more under-represented minorities. It's my belief that if we don't foster and welcome women and under-represented minorities, we will fail to recruit the best and the brightest. Health care disparities are very real. The data is undeniable. Moreover, it is not just an issue of cultural competence and access to care but of true disease and treatment response differences between sexes.

We need more research into these differences to promote individualized, optimal treatments. We want to continue to provide the best care possible to each patient, every day. That care will be increasingly optimized as we continue to add to the diversity of our physician and allied health staff.

On family

I am a proponent of a family-friendly work environment which allows women and men to work part time after the birth of their children, and then ramp up to full time when their children enter school. We have to support families. I had two children when I was doing my training at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I won't say it was easy, but I felt supported by my department and my fellow residents. Due to board-certification requirements I was only able to take one month off after delivery and that really isn't enough time. We want to recruit and retain high caliber staff. To do so we simply must be family friendly.


Along with Lisa Cannada, M.D., I edited and published a book called Guide for Women in Orthopedic Surgery through the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society. The book contains very useful information for medical students considering a career in orthopedics and for orthopedic residents. Orthopedics is a field where there are far more men than women, and the profession, in my opinion, would benefit from increased racial and gender diversity. As the head of the orthopedic surgery division at Mayo Clinic in Florida, it's one of my goals to see that change.

Dec. 07, 2011