Learn more about Joya Griffin, DVM, Dip. ACVD, and how she became a National Geographic veterinary dermatologist
Joya Griffin, DVM, Dip. ACVD, never had a goal of being a veterinarian on television. One day, she came across the opportunity to apply to be on a National Geographic show looking for the veterinary version of Dr. Pimple Popper and decided to apply. Griffin thought it would bring more awareness to her clinic, Animal Dermatology Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky, and veterinary dermatology as a whole. After completing multiple interviews, Griffin was selected to be the star of the show. Now, Pop Goes The Vet is teaching households all over the world what veterinary dermatology is, the cases veterinary dermatologists handle, and the struggles they face.
Griffin was first drawn to veterinary dermatology because of her pet Gizmo. According to Griffin, Gizmo had horrible skin. Griffin would take her to receive dermatology treatments at Cornell University, where she saw the impact dermatology can have on a patient, their quality of life, and their families. After seeing first-hand the impact of dermatology, Griffin decided her future was dermatology.
As she continued to become a dermatologist, she had clients tell her they never knew dermatology existed. The lack of representation and understanding of veterinary dermatology to pet parents is what inspired her to join the show, she wanted to help showcase the wonders that dermatology can do to improve pets. Because of the show, Griffin began to see growth in her practice, a better understanding of her field, and more of her colleagues being referred pets.
“What's been really fun is seeing people from a wider scope, at least distance-wise from our clinics. So typically, we see cases from Kentucky and Indiana, sometimes from Tennessee area, but for the most part Kentucky and Indiana, and we started seeing cases from West Virginia, Ohio, [and] Pittsburgh,” explained Griffin.
“I receive Instagram messages like in Facebook messages every week with a pet that needs help from even further away. So obviously, people don't typically come from more than 8 hours away. We've had a lot of interest and have been able to direct them to my colleagues in different states and cities. So, the pets can get the help that they need,” she concluded.
When asked about the show, Griffin joked with dvm360® at first that it is a show on popping things. Although the popping factor is what can draw an audience in, as seen with Dr. Pimple Popper, Griffin explained that the show goes deeper than that.
“I guess it's a little bit more than that it really kind of delves into the world of veterinary dermatology, which I think most people don't even know anything about,” explained Griffin. ”It shows me and my staff working on a day-to-day basis, and some of the interesting cases that we see some of those have things that are palpable, like cyst, gross ear disease, some have just terrible skin where they've got crusts and legions, and you know, they smell bad, and they haven't been able to get the relief that they deserve. And they come in to see us and we make it all beautiful again.”
As for the cameras, Griffin explained that it was not that hard to get used to. As a veterinarian, Griffin is used to educating and she considers the cameras just another way to do so. One challenge the clinic now has because of the show is staying on schedule. With interviews, retakes, and setting up, it can be easy for the clinic to get behind on appointments. To solve this issue, Griffin lets any patients scheduled that day know they are filming and to expect delays.
Although this was not the path that Griffin expected her career to take, the opportunity she was handed means a lot to her because she can use her show to educate and help children, and adults, understand dermatology in a fun way.
"I think that [inspiring others] has really been the most fun and the most unexpected joy from the show because I think I didn't really think of that. I thought, ‘Okay, this is going to bring exposure to our clinic, this is going to bring exposure to the field, this will may get me more business in the city’ you know, those kinds of things. I really didn't think about it bigger than that and it definitely has become bigger than that. I've inspired people in a lot of different ways, even adults. I've had, a lot of people just tell me how they love the positivity that they see in our clinic and the way that my staff work and I together and it's real. That's just how we treat each other,” she expressed.