While studying medicine the University of Michigan, one of William Mayo’s professors told him it would be wise for him to choose a career path outside medicine. But William was not to be discouraged. After graduating medical school, William and his brother, Charlie, joined their father’s medical practice at St. Mary’s before going on to found the Mayo Clinic. The two doctors proceeded to win many accolades in medicine, which helped the Mayo Clinic become the most recognizable brand name in medicine today.
Additional coverage: PBS, The brilliant brothers behind the Mayo Clinic by Dr. Howard Merkel — Today, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. William (Will) Mayo, the elder half of one of American medicine’s most dynamic duos. He is best known as one of the founders (with his brother Charles, better known as Charlie, and their father, William) of the storied Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota… Charlie and Will received some of the greatest honors in medicine. As brothers, they were so devoted to one another that in July 1939, only a few months after Charlie died in May 1939, Will passed away, too. Perhaps the most endearing (and most likely apocryphal) anecdote about these two remarkable men involved a fabulously wealthy patient who approached Will with the headstrong query “Are you the head doctor here?” William Mayo responded without a hint of irony, “No, my brother is the head doctor. I’m the belly doctor.”; Michigan Radio
Context: In 1919, the Mayo brothers and their wives signed a document that changed medical history. Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie were surgeons, scientists and humanitarians. They did not inherit or marry into wealth, but through creativity and hard work, they founded an entirely new way to practice medicine – and became among the most successful doctors in America. What began as a family practice with their father became a limited partnership with an expanding group of physicians who shared their commitment to excellence in patient care, education and research through teamwork. You can read more about Mayo's history here.
Contact: Susan Barber Lindquist