Mayo Clinic’s John Noseworthy to retire; search begins for new CEO

An illustration showing plans for the Destination Medical Center
An aerial illustration of the Destination Medical Center. (Perkins Eastman)

Mayo Clinic’s longtime president and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., will retire at the end of 2018, and the world-renowned organization will soon begin a search for his replacement.

The Rochester, Minnesota-based nonprofit organization announced Noseworthy’s planned retirement as part of its performance report for 2017, which leaders describe as one of its strongest years in terms of quality, safety, education and clinical practice.

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“2017 was an extraordinary year for Mayo Clinic, and I look forward to working with our leadership team throughout 2018 to continue to strengthen Mayo Clinic and advance our humanitarian mission,” Noseworthy said in the announcement.

Noseworthy has served as president and CEO for nine years, but his ties to the Mayo Clinic go back 28 years. Although he got himself into hot water last year with reports the organization cherry-picked patients with commercial insurance, Noseworthy's list of accomplishments is extensive and he is credited (PDF) with guiding the organization from a group of separate clinics and hospitals to a single integrated organization and growing the organization nationally and internally. During his tenure, Noseworthy:

  • Increased the number of patients that Mayo Clinic sees every year from 1 million in 2010 to more than 1.3 million in 2016.
  • Grew its revenue from $7.9 billion in 2010 to $12 billion in 2017.
  • Led the organization through a successful completion of the first phase of its Epic EHR system and the organization is ready to implement the system this year in Arizona, Florida and Rochester.

RELATED: In Mayo's $5.6B medical technology-focused neighborhood, culture and talent gaps are hurdles to innovation

But his greatest achievement, according to Twin Cities Business, may be the Destination Medical Center, a 20-year, $5.6 billion economic development initiative in Minnesota’s history that aims to position Rochester as America’s healthcare capital. 

Although the board wanted Noseworthy to serve as CEO longer, Samuel Di Piazza, chair of the board of trustees, said the Mayo has a long history of smooth and coordinated leadership transitions. Historically, he said, the president and CEO serves eight to 10 years while  the organization develops a “solid bench of succession candidates.”

Di Piazza said the board will announce a search committee soon and will also seek input from Mayo Clinic staff. “Our goal is to identify the next president and CEO by early fall so that the new [president and] CEO and Dr. Noseworthy will have time to work with his successor to ensure a seamless transition,” Di Piazza said. “This process will ensure a transition process focused on sustaining and advancing Mayo Clinic’s values and strong strategic direction.”

Only current Mayo physician leaders are considered for the role of president and CEO, according to a fact sheet (PDF).

Noseworthy told the Post Bulletin that he has been discussing the timing of the succession  with the board for the last two years. “The goal is to make sure we don’t skip a beat,” he told the publication. “Mayo Clinic is not a CEO-focused organization. It’s a patient-focused organization.”

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