Patricia Simmons, M.D., medical director for Alumni Relations, retires
In December 2014, Patricia Simmons, M.D. (PD ’80, PDE ’82), medical director for Mayo Clinic Alumni Relations, retired after 30years of practice and leadership roles including service on the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.
“Retiring now just feels right,” says Dr. Simmons. “In fact, it feels JUST right. I will miss my patients, colleagues and work at Mayo Clinic, but I am ready to devote more time to some of the other things I love. And, so importantly, there are people in place who will carry forward our patient care and academic mission admirably. I fully expect them to be better than I am.”
Dr. Simmons plans to help support other organizations, including the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Radio and the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota, where she is a regent.
“What lies ahead is so exciting and just represents that reordering of priorities and passions I have always done. I won’t sit idle,” she says. “I plan to live half of the coming year in Minnesota and half in Europe, beginning with Venice in January. I love being in other parts of the world, there are so many wonderful things to experience. Being a physician is a big commitment. Being in leadership is a big commitment, too. I’ve had the chance to do both and, now, I intend to be a person who is more engaged in other areas.”
Retirement and engagement began with celebrating the holidays with Dr. Simmons and her husband joining daughter, Barbara, and her husband in Texas. “It’s her first holiday season in her new home, and I’ll be there,” says Dr. Simmons. “I’ve almost always worked over the holidays. My children and husband are excited about and supportive of this next phase of my life.”
Dr. Simmons says her patients also have been happy for her. “They’ve let me in their lives, which is touching and meaningful to me,” she says. “I’m humbled and grateful for these wonderful relationships. Seeing patients has always been the most important thing in my work life, and that has informed my positions and actions in administrative work.
“Our patients deserve the best, and Mayo Clinic has made me the best doctor I can be. It may sound immodest, but I’m a really good physician and couldn’t practice if I didn’t think I was good. I’ve known since I joined the Mayo staff that I’d been given an incredible opportunity that comes with a lot of responsibility.”
Dr. Simmons says she is grateful for the diverse portfolio of responsibilities and challenges her career provided.
“Learning more about areas that weren’t direct medicine and working with people who are responsible for other priorities has taught me to think in different ways and become more effective,” she says. “I’m often asked to speak about leadership and how one balances practice, leadership and other aspects of life. It involves a constant reassessment of priorities. The work and constant juggling act are worth it.”
Dr. Simmons has been surprised to learn that many others have considered her a mentor. One of the responsibilities in academic medicine is to teach and help students and colleagues develop their careers and contribute to medicine “When you find someone who is so good and who is going to be great, it’s a joy,” she says. “If I have things I can offer to support them, I’m happy. These people will be so much better than I am, and I’m thrilled about that.”
As she transitions from overseeing the Alumni Center to simply being an alumna, Dr. Simmons says, “I will always be a friend of Mayo Clinic and continue to enjoy participating in alumni activities.”