Board Member, Executive Committee
(originally published in 2016)
Department of Family Medicine
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Palliative Medicine
Mayo Clinic in Florida
“My family physician, Dr. Philip Utz (RD ’57), was an important person in my life and Mayo trained. He was my doctor, a friend and my inspiration to become a physician. I knew that using science and caring for other people was what I wanted to do.”
- Residency: Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
- Medical School: University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis
- Undergraduate: Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota
- Native of: La Crescent, Minnesota
Why did you decide to pursue medicine?
I discovered that I liked science in second grade. Also, my family physician, Dr. Philip Utz (RD ’57), was an important person in my life and Mayo trained. He was my doctor, a friend and my inspiration to become a physician. I knew that using science and caring for other people was what I wanted to do.
What was your initial impression of Mayo Clinic?
I had three aunts who were Franciscan nuns affiliated with Mayo Clinic. I remember walking the hallways in the basement of Saint Marys Hospital with them in the 1950s and 1960s. I became a Mayo patient in ninth grade for knee surgery with the esteemed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Patrick J. Kelly (OR ’56). I never dreamt of actually becoming a Mayo physician. Yet here I am, and I am loving it.
When I joined the Mayo Clinic staff in 2002 — not in Rochester but in Florida — I thought the campus and facilities were lovely. What I really appreciate is the commitment of my colleagues to serving others. I especially love the notion that the three shields are reinforced and manifest in so many ways.
How does Mayo Clinic influence your practice?
I came to Mayo Clinic from 22 years of private practice in Northfield, Minnesota. I had to do hiring and firing and negotiate with insurance companies. I didn’t enjoy those activities.
I’ve always had the romantic notion that the patient’s interests are the only interests. In the Mayo environment, I get to be the teacher, mentor and doctor I want to be. Those are the things that matter and keep me here. At my age it feels really good to be doing what I believe I was meant to do and still feel a call to serve. As program director of the Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program, I work with learners every minute of the day. I remind them that medicine practiced elsewhere in the world is very different.
What valuable lesson have you learned at Mayo Clinic?
In my prior primary care practice, I witnessed many first breaths and many last breaths, and everything in between. When I pulled up roots and came to this academic medical center, I wondered if I would make the same kinds of intimate relationships I was used to. I learned that I could indeed.
What do you contribute to the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association?
I have a passion for Mayo dating back to childhood, and I hope to continue to manifest it.
What do you do in your spare time?
My wife and I love to travel. I’m also an oenophile and foodie.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
For 10 years I ran 50 miles a week and was a marathon runner. I ran in -79 degree wind chill and a heat index of 110 degrees. I don’t regret a single step. Today I stick to walking.