Working (and Teaching) Differently



“Can you help me connect?” was all it took for Dan O’Neil, Sr. Project Manager at the Center for Innovation to jump into ‘help mode’ and assist. Dr. Pruthi, Medical Director of Patient Experience at Mayo Clinic and the newly named physician lead of the Center for Innovation Connected Care Platform, embraces new methods and technologies to reach people without the boundaries of time and travel. This bit of serendipity revealed an even deeper connection between Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and Mayo Clinic then the team ever imagined simply because she found herself caught between meetings and away from her office (where normally such connections take place for Dr. Pruthi).

Once connected, on-screen was a Harry Potter-like auditorium filled with upper class students from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, located in nearby Faribault, and the lesson this day was on breast cancer, in particular, the prevalence of breast cancer in both women and men, how to prevent and monitor our own bodies for signs of concern, and what to do when you see or feel a change in your body. They also discussed how activities like yoga and meditation can help in both treatment and prevention. Turns out Maren LaLiberty, M.D., and the Director of the newly established Bioscience Program at Shattauck-St. Mary’s, had reached out to Dr. Pruthi two years ago when the girls soccer team wanted to do a service learning project focused on breast cancer. In doing their research, they learned about Dr. Pruthi’s work on yoga and wellness activities focused on breast cancer prevention and recovery. Since their initial meeting the girls soccer team has raised over $4,000 for Mayo Clinic, supporting this research.

At the Center for Innovation the team knows that focusing on the experiences of our users creates opportunities for personal transformation. For the students, we guess this experiential lesson on breast cancer is one they will remember for a long time. When asked how many of them had friends or family members impacted by breast cancer, over half in attendance raised their hands.



Dr. LaLiberty’s BioScience Program is a multi-year, experiential, academic program for the high school science students who intend to pursue a career in medicine, biomedical engineering, or scientific research. She knows what it takes to create experiential learning moments and the power of bringing in subject matter experts to talk directly to her students creating an opportunity for the students to learn from experts by connecting in new ways. These moments are imprinted at a much deeper level for the students “It really impacts the students to know they had a Mayo Clinic expert on breast cancer they were talking to.”

Dr. LaLiberty has also connected with Mayo Clinic and the Center for Innovation in 2012, when she and the BioScience Program students attended the Transform symposium. “Mayo Clinic is an amazing resource for my students, and everyone I’ve met along the way has been incredibly gracious whenever I reach out.”

When asked why and how Dr. Pruthi makes time to do such things, virtual encounters like this for patients and now, high school students, she shared “I am passionate about educating patients and people about prevention of breast cancer.  I’ll make the time and find a way to connect.”  It is exciting to see the students are engaged in the clinical and research aspects of medicine and appreciate their generous support towards the research in breast cancer at Mayo Clinic. “

With a student population comprised of students from 39 states and 31 countries our guess is these educational moments will touch many more lives as these young people graduate and share the lessons they’ve learn while in school with their friends and families back home. We had to share just another example of how Mayo Clinic is touching lives by working differently and sharing our knowledge in transformational ways.