From Old Dr. Will to Young Dr. Will
Transitioning from father to sons was at first an uneasy one for patients. A call would come in from the country and the Old Doctor would send his son, but the farmer would send him back, saying that by "Dr. Mayo," he meant W.W. Mayo. If the father thought he could do so without alienating his patient altogether, he would send the young man back to try again.
When the young doctor was given the chance, he proved himself worthy of confidence on his own merit.
The lawyer, Burt W. Eaton, called the Drs. Mayo to attend his mother when she was taken ill late in May 1884. Dr. Will arrived alone, explaining that his father had gone to Washington to attend a meeting of the American Medical Association. He pronounced Mrs. Eaton very ill indeed, outlined his proposed plan of treatment, and set to work on it, all without question or ado.
But Mr. Eaton was uneasy. Finally he said, "Look here, Will, you're a young man and a new hand at this game. My mother means everything to me, and I'd like to call in old Dr. Cross."
Dr. Cross assured Mr. Eaton that the young doctor was entirely right in his diagnosis and was doing all anyone could do. Then he left, and the case was Dr. Will's, the first serious one he faced alone.
Throughout the day and evening Dr. Will stayed with the patient, never leaving her bedside. About 3 the next morning he came out of the bedroom, weary but smiling. "She'll be all right now," he said. And she was. The Eatons never again insisted upon having the Old Doctor.