John R. Griffin, M.D.

What attracted you to medicine and dermatology?

I was born and raised in Texas. I am the first physician in my family. I had the opportunity to work with a dermatologist during college. I was inspired by the mix of clinician and surgeon and the possibility of having a small practice. I explored other specialty options while in medical school and decided that the best fit for me was a medical setting in a visual and academic specialty. Dermatology just seemed to fit!

What attracted you to Mayo Clinic for residency training?

The people and the place attracted me to Mayo. The faculty, support staff and residents are incredible. There is a passion for learning here that is contagious. The facility and its reputation are arguably second to none. The atmosphere of excellence sets the stage for cases that are wide ranging and valuable for training.

I had the opportunity to work with several Mayo Clinic alumni during medical school. I knew that I wanted to do an away rotation to see what other places were like. When I talked with these people about their residency experience, their eyes lit up! I had to see it for myself.

I spent one month visiting Mayo. Each day I was more impressed by the facility, the people, the patients and the opportunities. Faculty is congenial and down-to-earth. They love to teach. There is a tremendous amount of administrative support. Patients arrive from all over the world, an incredible learning opportunity.

What makes the Mayo Clinic dermatology residency unique?

There are several important and unique aspects of the dermatology residency:

  • Clinicopathologic correlation is emphasized and residents have the resources to practice it. For example, the biopsies that I perform in my continuity clinic are read out by the dermatopathologist down the hall. Then, the actual slides are placed in my inbox for review. I review them on my own. If I have any questions, a dermatopathologist is always available to discuss the case.
  • There are many residents in the program, but not so many that I get lost in the mix.
  • All residents have a continuity clinic. Following patients longitudinally is beneficial for the learning experience.
  • The facilities are centrally located.
  • The patient population is a unique mix. There are plenty of farmers locally, but people drive hundreds of miles around and fly in from all across the globe to be evaluated at Mayo Clinic. Referrals are made from tertiary care centers for further evaluation and treatment on a fairly regular basis.
  • Mayo has a dermatology inpatient hospital service.
  • Mayo performs specialized treatments for psoriasis (Goeckerman therapy) and erythroderma (wet dressings) further broadening residents’ exposure to therapeutic modalities.

What is living in Rochester like for you?

There is no traffic! I lived in Houston for some time, so no traffic is a major benefit. My family and I live downtown, which means that I can walk to work and to any event that is happening downtown. Another benefit is the reasonable cost of living in Rochester.

To dispel a myth about Minnesota, the weather is really quite reasonable — and remember, I grew up in Texas. Sure, it gets cold in the winter, but the rest of the year is absolutely beautiful. There was a bit of convincing I had to do to get my wife on board with the idea of living so far north.

What does your future look like right now?

I am in my first year of dermatology residency (PGY2). I am considering pursuing a fellowship in dermatopathology. I may spend a few years in academia. I plan to have my own practice or join a small group practice eventually. I hope to have an opportunity to teach, as well.