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May 7, 2018

In the Halls of Hematology: Meet Jessica Schumacher

By Mayo Clinic Hematology Staff, @mayoclinichematologystaff

5_7_18_Jessica Schumacher_Editorial

A local Minnesota native, Jessica Schumacher grew up in Plainview, a small town just outside of Rochester. She first started at Mayo Clinic in 2007 as part of the Outpatient Operation’s Support Training (OOST) program where she was trained as a clinical assistant (CA). Her path at Mayo Clinic has taken her through the divisions of psychology, cardiology and neurology. In 2016, Jessica moved to hematology where she earned the role of supervisor 2017. Jessica uses her passion for people to help employees and patients to have the best possible experience at Mayo Clinic.

It may not be with direct healthcare, but do clinical assistants have a large role with a patient’s experience?

Yes, but I can’t really take credit for that. My staff does for sure.

CAs are the employees at the reception desk checking in and rooming patients when they come for their appointments. CAs also measure vitals, review medications and allergies, update the patient’s chart for the visit and schedule any necessary appointments while the patient is here. Before I got into supervision, I was a clinical assistant myself. One of the things I miss the most is having that patient interaction on a daily basis. I remember going through training and one of the first things an instructor taught us was, ‘You are the face of Mayo Clinic. You are the first person a patient sees when they walk in the door.’

It’s important to know that even the smallest things we do sometimes have the biggest impact on a patient’s experience at Mayo Clinic.

In your experience, what are some of those small things?

It can be as simple as a smile, eye contact, acknowledging their presence, offering a hug, or maybe just an arm around their shoulder if you can tell they are having a difficult time. It is about taking our time with each patient. Sometimes, it is a struggle because our environment is ever-changing and it is very busy, but, we try to be mindful of what we do and say and give each patient the time he or she deserves. I really take my time, especially with newer employees, to teach how important our jobs are at Mayo Clinic.

Do you mind explaining a little bit more about what a desk supervisor does and what a typical day is like for you?

By definition, a desk supervisor manages outpatient operations, collaborating with the Clinic Operations leadership, administrator(s), and consulting staff members to facilitate efficient clinical practices. In Layman’s Terms; I help facilitate the daily operations between the CAs and all other members of the care team to ensure we are providing the best possible care for our patients. Most importantly, I am here to support the CAs and to make sure they have the tools and resources to be successful in their job. I like to be at the desk so I can jump in and help them when needed. It is a philosophy my assistant and I share.

I start my day by logging in to my computer to get organized, and then I hit the floor right away. I like to make my rounds and say good morning to everyone. I’m sure our staff gets sick of me walking around and checking in, but I think it is important because I want them to know I am here for them.  When I am not attending meetings or working on my other duties such as annual appraisals and timecards, my time is spent being on the floor.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the job?

Sometimes I have to deliver difficult messages to my employees, and accept that I can’t always please everyone. That's always a challenge for me because I am an emotional person in the sense that I care for each and every one of my employees. I want to always make sure I'm doing the best thing for them.

An area of frustration with many patients, and employees, can arise from difficulty of scheduling. How do you and your staff help manage these occurrences?

We try to always remember that a lot of times, especially in hematology, our patients are really sick with complicated diagnoses. They are not here because they want to be here, they are here because they have to be here. Sometimes they get bad news and that might then make them react or be frustrated about a situation, but, it is not personal. If patients do become frustrated, it is important not to assume they are asking us to do something for them or ‘fix it’. Sometimes, a patient simply wants, or needs, someone to listen to his or her concerns.

What is something people may not know about you?

When I graduated high school, I attended the University of Minnesota. I was actually studying architecture and interior design. The longer I went to school, the more I learned about the business side of it. I learned they were intense, competitive markets to be in, and to be honest, that is not really my cup of tea.

The funny thing is, I never thought I would work at Mayo Clinic, it was never really on my radar. I was working for a veterinarian’s office in Plainview. I wasn’t a vet tech, but I did receive a lot of on the job training and absolutely loved it. Because of my experience and personality, someone I knew thought my skill-set would suit me well to be a clinical assistant. That was when I applied and was hired to be part of the OOST program.

I can’t say becoming a supervisor was my goal when I started out as a clinical assistant, but I definitely feel like I am in the right place.

Also, I have also completed the Certified Tourism Ambassador program for Rochester, Minnesota. It has been a really unique and fun experience because you get to see Rochester in a whole new light, especially as a person who grew up around the city. It is helpful because I use what I learn about the city to help our patients find things to do or see during their time not spent in appointments.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

My family loves to travel. We are always on the go, especially when the weather is nice. Locally, we love going to Whitewater State Park to hike and to the Mississippi river. I grew up boating with my parents on the river in Lake City and Wabasha, Minnesota.  Many of our weekends during the summer are spent on the river and we make it an all-day event. We leave in the morning and return at sundown. We love going to the sandbars on the river, having picnics, and tubing. Our family loves being outside!

So where is your favorite family vacation spot?

I give my parents a lot of credit, because they made traveling and seeing places outside of small-town Minnesota a priority. We never really went to the same place twice. But, one of my favorite places we went to as a family was Glacier National Park. I love the mountains.

Your parents made a lasting impression with taking trips and providing experiences, do you intend to carry on that tradition as well?

I learned from my parents, especially my mom, the importance of teaching our kids that the world is a really big place. There is more than just the life you know. If you are fortunate enough to have opportunities to travel, and to see other places and different cultures, it can only help you grow as a person.

I have to laugh though, because we don’t always appreciate the experiences in the moment. When I was 14, my parents took us to Europe for a month and I thought it was the worst thing in the world. What 14-year-old girl wants to be away from her friends for the summer? I still kick myself when I think about that. I think, ‘you should have really appreciated that while you were there.’ I’m sure I am not alone in this experience and I fully expect it to come full circle with a future trip with my children.

Any parting thoughts?

I know sometimes the reputation of Mayo Clinic is that it is such a large institution that patients sometimes feel they are just a number while they are here. In my experience, that is very untrue. Yes, we are big and we have a lot of patients, but I truly feel that every person who works at Mayo Clinic, especially in Hematology, does so because we care.

As clinical assistants, if we can help our patients understand we genuinely care here at Mayo Clinic, I know we can help them feel more comfortable and have a better experience with their healthcare.

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