Breeann Robinson took her post as vice chair of planning services at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., at a time when the organization's leaders needed her most. With the task of clarifying and restructuring their strategic plan, they counted on Robinson to listen to their numerous ideas and distill them into a concise plan-one that would shape the operations of the 202-bed clinic.
"We went through some very difficult soul-searching and had to make critical choices, and we looked to her (Robinson) to assist in that process," says Jim Anderson, chief administrative officer of Mayo in Scottsdale. "You can have ideas, but unless you have a mechanism and force like Breeann in place ... you'll never really be able to fully realize that."
Robinson was consistent and persistent in implementing the plan, which has been so effective that it's now used at all three Mayo locations. At age 32, she has gained respect throughout the clinic for her ability to analyze situations and look beyond the surface and conventional routes to find solutions, Anderson says.
Robinson began at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., shortly after receiving her master's degree in health administration from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1998. She was part of a select group of candidates chosen to participate in the clinic's administrative training program, where she rotated through all administrative areas and realized that planning services was where she belonged.
"You get into high-level discussions about what's going on, and operations lets you understand how it all plays out in real life," says Robinson, who served as administrator and director of the department before being named vice chairwoman in March. "I can see a connection between what we're doing and the fulfillment of our vision and mission."
Robinson took a roundabout route to healthcare administration, starting college with the goal of becoming a doctor before changing her major to English and then going to graduate school for healthcare administration. "I thought this would be my route back to healthcare," she says, adding she always knew she wanted to work in the medical setting but decided the clinical aspect wasn't right for her.
Still, she says, she works hard not to lose sight of her desire and duty to serve patients in the midst of creating overarching plans about the organization's future. That compassion is reflected in the system she implemented to monitor the organization's performance and guide strategic decisions. Unlike many systems, this one not only measures financial data, but also patient and staff satisfaction, accomplishment of the mission, and quality, safety and service initiatives.
Robinson's ability to relate to people at all levels of the organization helped her gain momentum for a patient-satisfaction survey that shows detailed results, allowing each department to hone in on what improvements it needs to make.