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Honoring a Pioneer: William James Mayo, MD

We have a tradition here at Medelita of naming our lab coats after medical pioneers – extraordinary men and women in history that have contributed to the medical field in interesting ways. For our next men’s lab coat, a prestigious looking, highly tailored coat that exudes professionalism, we've given our customers a chance to get involved. William James Mayo, MD was just one of the names suggested - and I'll be examining more of our submissions in the coming days. “The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered." These words, spoken by William James Mayo, M.D., reflect the patient-centric ideology of this famous physician. One of the seven founders of the Mayo Clinic, W.J. Mayo was greatly involved in the creation of the world's first private integrated group practice. Born the children of a pioneer physician, William and his brother Charles often accompanied their father on his rounds, gaining more responsibility as they grew older. At the age of 16, William accompanied his father to an abandoned hotel, where a patient had just died, and watched his father perform the autopsy. Needing to attend another patient, Dr. Mayo left his son to finish the procedure. "Sew up the incisions and then tuck the sheet around the corpse. When you finish, go right home." William recounted the incident many years later saying, "I'm about as proud of the fact that I walked out, instead of ran, as of anything else I ever made myself do." William James Mayo continued to follow his father's example. He earned his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1883, and, when a tornado stuck their home of Rochester that same year, the Mayos were instrumental in establishing a temporary hospital to treat the injured. Following the incident, Dr. Mayo and his two sons worked with the Sisters of Saint Francis to establish Saint Mary's Hospital - the foundation of the Mayo Clinic.