DOP Update: First WHO...Then WHAT

By Jeffrey Myers, MD | 28 February | Department of Pathology Updates, Vol 3 (4)


Welcome to the latest edition of DOP Updates, a [message] sent to members of our Department of Pathology (DOP) and others to keep you abreast of issues, events, and topics of potential interest.  Updates are also [linked] as a PDF file to preserve format across your mobile devices.  Please send me a note if you have something that you would like to share with your teammates next time.


Mary-Jo Bishop a Michigan Medicine Gold Medalist!

Last week Michigan Medicine Headlines showcased 8 individuals and 2 teams as “gold medalists” when it comes to modeling the values at the core of the work we do, whether it be the care and comfort that we offer to patients and families today, the world-class education that we provide for those who will care for us, or the discoveries that make us the sort of place others can only envy when it comes to creating the future of healthcare.  These individuals and teams were nominated by their colleagues and co-workers for demonstrating in extraordinary ways a daily commitment to our collective successes across all of our missions.  Of the dozens of nominees, our own Mary-Jo Bishop “made it to the podium” as a gold medalist for her decades-long track record of commitment to the rewards realized from working together to achieve excellence in transforming the patient experience from a pathology platform.

You can learn more about Mary-Jo’s gold medal at Headlines or on our website.  What follows are the words written by those responsible for her nomination.

Mary-Jo is one of our department’s longest-serving and most knowledgeable employees. She has trained nearly everyone at one point or another and is always exceedingly patient and supportive. She is the friendly face for our lab and has, hands down, the best customer service skills of all of us. She works hard every day to help physicians, pathologists, lab personnel, patients and families with a wide range of tasks, from collecting specimens to retrieving reports.

I know Mary-Jo may retire in the next few years, and honestly, I don’t know what any of us will do without her. She is invaluable and we’re incredibly lucky to have her! Mary-Jo is more than deserving of a gold medal!


In his classic book, Good to Great. Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . And Others Don’t, Jim Collins argues that who an organization recruits and retains is fundamental to making the leap from good to great.  In his chapter entitled, “FIRST WHO . . . THEN WHAT” he maintains that leaders of great organizations understand three simple truths.

  • If you focus on “who” before focusing on “what” you can more easily adapt to a changing world (and nothing changes more frequently and more quickly than healthcare!).
  • If you have the right people, motivating and managing them is rarely if ever a challenge.
  • If you have the wrong people, you cannot achieve greatness.

He concludes by saying, “The people we interviewed from the good-to-great companies clearly loved what they did, largely because they loved who they did it with.”  We’re incredibly lucky to have Mary-Jo who is exactly the sort of person about whom Jim Collins and his team were writing.  She makes us better and is the sort of person who makes the rewards realized from working together fundamental to our brand.  Please join me in CONGRATULATING Mary-Jo on her gold medal performance!


Sue Valliere Retiring

It is impossible to overstate the influence that Sue has had on our MLabs' story.

It is with very mixed emotions that departmental leadership announces Sue Valliere’s decision to retire effective May 1, 2018.  It is wholly appropriate to include Sue in a conversation about the importance of who when it comes to making the leap from good to great; she has been the face of MLabs for over 25 years!  MLabs, as many of you may know, is our reference laboratory division serving as the portal that provides local, regional, national and international clients access to the great work done by our staff, trainees, and faculty.  While we are very excited for Sue as she anticipates this next exciting phase of her life, her departure represents a considerable loss for MLabs, our department, Michigan Medicine, and our clients.

It is impossible to overstate the influence that Sue has had on our MLabs’ story.  She joined MLabs in 1992 which at that time comprised our first Medical Director, Gene Silverman, and 2 client service representatives.  MLabs was just 6 years old at the time and had a grand total of two hospital clients.

Cover of TIME magazine in 1992 highlighting the then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.1992 was a long time ago!  The cost of a gallon of gas was $1.05, the average cost of a new house was$122,500 and a new car averaged just under $17,000.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the year at 3,301.  Popular films included Aladdin, Home Alone 2, Lethal Weapon 3, and Wayne’s World.  Academy Award winners were Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster for their starring roles in The Silence of the Lambs which also took home the Oscar for Best Picture. Billboard Magazine’s top 10 songs included End of the Road (Boyz II Men), Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-a-Lot), Save the Best for Last (Vanessa Williams), and Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton).  In Super Bowl XXVI the Buffalo Bills lost to the Washington Redskins in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN.  Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida, TWA declared bankruptcy, rioting broke out in Los Angeles when four white police officers were acquitted in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed by President George H. W. Bush just one month after he was defeated by Senator Bill Clinton in our 52nd presidential election. 

A lot has changed since 1992.  MLabs has grown its portfolio of clients from 2 to over 700 with commensurate growth in our staff from 2 to 20.  Sue has touched every one of our new clients and staff while preserving the relationship with our long-time associates.  And until last year she did all of that while also managing operations!  Along the way, she has been instrumental in shifting MLabs from a purely regional focus to a national brand that is strong from California to New York and Florida.  More recently she has worked closely with counterparts in Michigan Medicine to cement MLabs’ role in supporting our enterprise-level strategy to grow our reach to 4 million lives.  And Sue was at the table in December as together with internal and external opinion makers we thought deeply about the opportunities and threats that will influence our strategic goals for the next 5 to 10 years.

MLabs’ leadership team will be assembling a search committee that will first work to understand the attributes essential for success in this role and will use that information to filter a national applicant pool.  True to the principles outlined by Jim Collins we will prioritize our commitment to excellence over expediency in identifying the right fit.

It is remarkable that one person could do all that Sue has done in her 25+ years with MLabs.  She did it by working hard with little regard to evenings and weekends, driven by her passionate commitment to work that she loves.  She has touched the lives of hundreds of clients and numerous staff, in turn influencing the experience of health care for thousands of patients and their families.  Please join us in THANKING Sue for her countless contributions to our collective successes, and in wishing her well in whatever comes next.

That’s the news to the moment.  Please send me an email if you have something that you would like to share next time.  Until then, let’s be careful out there . . .