Job candidates disappointed but still hold Mayo Clinic in high regard


By Jeff Hansel

Several prospective Mayo employees are disappointed after Mayo Clinic retracted job offers to them last week.

Four were graduates of Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Mayo has called them the "top quality candidates in the nation." However, it had to rescind some job offers because of economic conditions.


These individuals enter a job market where a nursing shortage remains and won’t have trouble finding employment, said professor Mary Tarbox, chairwoman of Mount Mercy’s nursing department. They’re top-notch students, she said.

"We are not discouraged with Mayo," Tarbox said. "We understand in this economic time that things like this happen, and it doesn’t reflect on our admiration for the facility or the understanding of how high quality they are, and we understand that this was probably a very tough thing to do."

Still, the news was tough for job candidates, some of who had moving plans or a place to live.

Turned down position

Jennifer Stossel has diverse leadership experience on the local, state and national level with nursing organizations such as the International Nurses Honor Society and has been named "an emerging leader" by Mount Mercy for her extensive volunteer work, such as her service with homeless people.

"My husband had an excellent job offer, about a $50,000-a-year job, and he turned that down — and his position’s filled," Stossel said. His current job as a tax preparer ends in May. She had submitted a termination notice to her own employer at a hospice center.

"And I called my job, and my position’s filled," she said. Even so, she remains committed to Mayo.

"I feel very blessed that I was given the opportunity to go for the internship, and it was an excellent experience, and I have tremendous respect for Mayo and all of the people that I met," she said.


Shannon Gilbertson worked at North Memorial in the Twin Cities, a Level I trauma center, until she was laid off Jan. 1 and lost her health benefits. She continued to work there on an on-call basis, actually getting called so often that she had to cut back on her availability.

"I had seen everything from gunshot wounds to reattached limbs, so it was really a lot of experience in a really short time," Gilbertson said. That helped her get the job offer to work in the sugical-trauma ICU at Mayo. That experience will also make her marketable as she searches for another job.

When her North Memorial hours waned, she sought the Mayo position.

"Mayo, to me, was like a dream job," she said. She had been scheduled to start July 20. Now she and her boyfriend are considering moving away from Minnesota altogether, Gilbertson said, possibly so she can work as a travel nurse.

"I’m not just going to jump and get on a plane, but I’m kind of thinking about it," she said. Travel nurses fill in when there’s a strike, a hospital has a staffing shortage or a nurse takes a leave of absence.

Taylor Felker, another of the four Mount Mercy students, was going to be a staff nurse on a general medical unit at Mayo in Rochester.

"I loved Rochester. It’s such a diverse community, and there are so many opportunities," she said.

"It was such an honor to be asked to work at Mayo, she said. "It was honestly something I had literally dreamed of for the past seven years of my life. It was my ultimate goal."


She’s now looking to large institutions for a new offer because she wants to further her career.

"I’m always considering myself a student. Any chance I get to learn something new or do something in a different way I will jump at that," she said.

Frustration felt

Despite the praise of Mayo, many are frustrated by Mayo’s action, especially that the decision wasn’t shared with job candidates sooner. One parent wrote to the Post-Bulletin to express his concern.

"None of you had to take that call from a sobbing daughter whose dream of working at the Mayo was dashed by your lack of sensitivity, understanding, and apparently a total lack of understanding of the business side of the Mayo," he said.

Affected individuals confirmed that Mayo offered assistance, such as paying for scrubs they had purchased, although one said there’s no way to repay the delay in job hunting.

Jan Rabbers, spokeswoman with the Minnesota Nurses Association, said hospitals have seen a drop in patient census of 2 percent to 7 percent. As cost-cutting measures like layoffs occur, the results are bad for Minnesota, Rabbers said.

"We’re very concerned about staffing, and we wouldn’t be as hasty about the decisions that are being made in regard to bedside care," she said. Although the patient census is down, she said, the patients who remain hospitalized are sicker and require a higher level of care.


"I certainly don’t want to poke a finger in an eye," Rabbers said. "It’s just that a lot of people have made a lot of wrong decisions, and it’s affecting lives. And it’s not just affecting lives. We are concerned it’s going to affect patients’ lives as well."

Mayo Clinic officials have said they will focus new hiring on patient care. But a spokesman said last week that the clinic is also watching the patient census and making decisions based on patient need.

Reporter Jeff Hansel covers health for the Post-Bulletin. Read his blog, Pulse on Health, at

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