William Dunn, M.D.

Pulmonary Medicine
Mayo Clinic in Rochester

Dr. William Dunn did his residency in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester in the early 1980s. He spent the next three years in private practice in his home state of Pennsylvania before returning to Mayo to do a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care. He joined the Mayo staff after finishing the fellowship in 1989.

What motivated him to return to Mayo Clinic?"It was the unique teamwork, the infrastructure," says Dr. Dunn. "But most importantly, it was that patients are at the soul of leadership in this organization. There's a self-sacrificial attitude about patient care and excellence here."

Some of Dr. Dunn's daily experiences as a resident at Mayo were important factors in his decision to return here. "As a resident, I experienced teamwork as a co-equal with the chief of Infectious Diseases," he recalls. "We rounded daily, and then we went to the cafeteria and talked over coffee. It was mentorship extraordinaire and it was incredibly powerful."

His experiences in general private practice gave him a clear sense of what makes Mayo different from other health care organizations.

"The cultural aspects of Mayo involve attitudes that make us different," he explains. "The philosophy of the Mayo brothers has been perpetuated here. Their concept was that it's not about me. Mayo fosters success in people who know it's not about me — it's about my patients. Fundamentally, staff here must be other-person-centered."

When asked what he enjoys most about his work, Dr. Dunn says, "I love everything I do. Critical care is intrinsically gratifying. The patients get better before your eyes. And even when they don't, you have the opportunity to focus on the needs of the spouse and family to help them deal with the crisis."

Dr. Dunn's professional interests have been cultivated in the unique culture and educational environment of Mayo Clinic. "I championed the idea of a simulation center here for several years before it became a reality," says Dr. Dunn. "As I helped introduce a new idea to this culture, colleagues and committees looked for validity of thought and evidence of efficiency. It helped that I was tenacious. I am called a bulldog by some. Remember, here in the Midwest, that's a compliment."

The end result is a center that is distinctive among health care organizations. "I'm proud of the fact that while other institutions have departmentally-based centers, the Mayo Multidisciplinary Simulation Center is truly institutionally integrated and accessible," he says.

In a broader context, endeavors such as the center are essential to perpetuating Mayo Clinic's commitment to excellence in patient care, education and research. "The center is critical because it addresses all three like nothing else," says Dr. Dunn. " It's a safety and quality laboratory that can analyze and train around complex areas of intrinsic risk. Things that emerge are studied well, discussed and will lead to more innovation in all areas of patient care, education and research. In our view, there's no place like this in the United States."