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Mayo Clinic, Saint Mary's University form partnership focused on athletics

Tim Gossen
Tim Gossen
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Mayo Clinic Health System — Franciscan Healthcare and Saint Mary's University of Minnesota have formed a joint venture focused on student athletes.

Under the agreement, Mayo will provide a team doctor and a fourth athletic trainer to the SMU department, providing everything from preventive medicine to care for sports-related injuries to emergency services. 

"I think it's very unique," said Tim Gossen, SMU vice president for student affairs and student life. "It's a great piece that we can tell parents, guardians and prospective student athletes that we have Mayo-trained individuals working with our student athletes." 

SMU has 340 student athletes and offers 21 sports at its Winona campus. 

SMU officials say the venture builds on a partnership with Mayo Clinic that started with a 3+2 physician assistant program launched in 2019. That program involves SMU students taking classes at the Winona campus for three years, followed by two years at the SMU Rochester Campus taught by Mayo Clinic faculty. 


Dr. Alecia Gende, a physician with the Mayo Clinic Health System sports medicine team, has been named medical director of Saint Mary's athletics.

"This is a great opportunity for Mayo Clinic Health System to expand our sports medicine capabilities and a good opportunity for Saint Mary's University to provide more complete medical services to their athletes," she said. 

The addition of a Mayo athletic trainer means that SMU will have four such trainers working with student athletes, Gossen said. Trainers include a strength and conditioning coach and dietitian. 

Gossen said the well-being and health of UMR students is a focus of SMU President Father James Burns. And the sports medicine initiative was a way for SMU to strengthen its relationship with Mayo. 

"It was like, 'How can we take the next step,'" Gossen said. 

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