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January 2003

Mayo Clinic General Surgery Training Legacy

Arch Surg. 2003;138(1):7-8. doi:10.1001/archsurg.138.1.7

IN 1864, several decades before the name "Mayo Clinic" finally caught on, William Worral Mayo, MD, moved his young family to Rochester, Minn, to start a medical practice. His two sons, Will and Charlie, joined him in practice after graduating from medical school: Will from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 1883 and Charlie from Northwestern (Evanston, Ill) in 1888. The Mayos' medical practice benefited from several unique "advantages." First, as a direct result of a tornado that destroyed a great portion of the city of Rochester on August 23, 1883, the Catholic Sisters built, funded, and staffed Saint Marys Hospital with W. W. Mayo as its initial medical director. The hospital was modern and efficient and expanded quickly with the direction of numerous extraordinary caregivers: the local nuns. Second, the American railway system flourished during the late 1800s, and Rochester was a necessary stopping point for most trains heading west from Chicago, Ill, or Milwaukee, Wis, north from St Louis, Mo, or south from Minneapolis/St Paul, Minn. Patients and visiting physicians had easy access to the Mayo Clinic. Last and perhaps most important, the Mayo brothers had a fondness for teamwork. With Will focusing on abdominal surgery and administrative duties and Charlie concentrating on thyroid, urologic, gynecologic, and orthopedic procedures, the brothers shared the practice and became expert surgical specialists.

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