Historical photo of visiting surgeons observing at Mayo Clinic

Our history, and our future, is rooted in education

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Since Mayo Clinic was established more than 150 years ago, our goal has been to provide outstanding care to our patients and offer superior educational programs that ensure the success of the next generation of medical, scientific, and allied health professionals.

In fact, even our name — Mayo Clinic — comes from this idea. From the beginning, Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his sons, Dr. William J. Mayo and Dr. Charles H. Mayo, invited physicians and students to visit Rochester, Minnesota, and learn about their innovative medical and surgical practice. Visitors coming to observe referred to attending the "Mayos' clinic."

At the same time, the Mayo brothers and their colleagues were distinguished scholars who traveled the world to learn from others and bring back the latest medical developments to incorporate into their own practice. As the Mayo Clinic integrated medical practice grew, the importance of education continued to be a central focus.

Highlights from our schools and training programs

Establishing one of the first graduate medical education programs

In 1915, the Mayo brothers established the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All income from the clinical practice was placed in a trust to fund stipends for fellows who came to Mayo Clinic to study after medical school.

That same year, Mayo Clinic partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, one of the first three-year university-based programs to train graduate physicians in specialty practice. In 1917, the first graduate degrees in Mayo's programs were conferred to two women and two men. By 1922, more than 1,000 prospective candidates a year were seeking opportunities for graduate medical training at Mayo Clinic.

Now known as Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, the school has approximately 300 individual training programs covering nearly every medical and surgical specialty. The school includes the largest number of ACGME-accredited programs in the country and is the only integrated school of graduate medical education conducted across broad geographic regions — Mayo Clinic's three campuses in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota.

Advancing the science of medicine

The Mayo brothers were deeply committed to advancing the science of medicine through biomedical research. As early as 1915, Mayo Clinic began preparing candidates for master's and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences, with the first Ph.D. degree in biochemistry awarded in 1917. Early degrees were granted through an affiliation with the University of Minnesota.

In 1989, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences began independently conferring master's and Ph.D. degrees. The school celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019.

Training the next generation of physicians

Mayo Medical School, now known as Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, opened its doors to its first class of 40 students in 1972. And in 1983, the first class was admitted to the Mayo Clinic Medical Scientist Training Program, an M.D.-Ph.D. joint degree program offered collaboratively by Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

In 2015, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine announced a national expansion of its education programs. Added to the existing four-year M.D. training program on the Rochester campus were opportunities for students to:

  • Train for all four years on the Arizona campus in newly constructed medical school facilities
  • Participate in a 2+2 program, training for two years in Rochester and completing their third and fourth years on the Florida campus

That same year, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine launched its Science of Health Care Delivery curriculum, an innovative education program integrated into all four years of medical school training that prepares students for leading and working in today's ever-changing health care environment.

Educating allied health providers

Mayo Clinic has been educating allied health staff since its early days. Mayo's first health sciences professional, Edith Graham Mayo, was trained as a nurse anesthetist in 1889. She was the wife of Dr. Charles H. Mayo, one of Mayo Clinic's founders.

In 1906, Saint Marys Hospital Training School for Nurses was founded. The Colonial Hospital Training School for Nurses was established in 1918. While neither school exists today, Mayo offers many nursing-focused clinical rotations, advanced practice training opportunities and continuing education programs.

The Mayo Physical Therapy Program was established in 1936, setting the standard for education in its field. Programs in clinical pastoral education and medical social services were also started around this time to address patient care needs.

Mayo School of Health-Related Sciences opened in 1973. Later renamed Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, the school today offers more than 150 training programs in allied health specialties.

Providing continuing medical education

Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education, now named Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development, was established in 1996. It formalizes the continuing education of physicians that Mayo Clinic has provided since its founding. Medical professionals throughout the world rely on Mayo Clinic to learn the most advanced practices to enhance their patient care skills.

Built on values since the very beginning

Learn more about our rich history with a tour of Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall on the Rochester, Minnesota, campus.

Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall Tour


Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall Tour