Faculty: Dr. Jordan Griffin

Dr. Jordan Griffin, a Physician Assistant clinical assistant professor at the College of Allied Health Sciences, is from Macclesfield, North Carolina, in “the tiniest little part of Edgecombe County.” The town with no stoplights that “nobody’s ever heard of,” Griffin said, is home to about 300 people.

The fabric of her community is tightly woven, she said, but quality health care is scare.

It was probably inevitable that she would wind up an East Carolina University alumna. Her parents are Pirates, her mother a graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, then the ECU School of Medicine, and her father is a faculty chair at Pitt Community College teaching and leading the business faculty.

“Growing up with a parent as a physician, I can’t remember how many times I was asked, ‘Are you going to be a doctor like your mom?’” Griffin remembered. “It was in my head before I ever even had the chance to really think about it.”

Griffin remembers spending afternoons at her mother’s family medicine practice in Wilson during high school, in-between travel for softball games and a competitive cheerleading career. Taking care of people like the ones who walked through the front door just seemed inevitable, but she couldn’t envision what shape that service might take.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be medical school or doing something else in health care. College wasn’t an idea my parents even talked to me about, it was always assumed I was going to college. There was no question,” Griffin said.

Like many young adults, after graduating from South West Edgecombe High School, Griffin wanted to get as far away from her hometown as possible, but a scholarship and a spot in ECU’s  Honors College showed her that horizons can be broadened in your own backyard.

A bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology in 2015 lead to a job as a medical assistant in a gastroenterology clinic in Greenville — a team of doctors, advanced practitioners and nurses who have become a kind home base.

It wasn’t long, though, before she realized that she needed to take the next step in her professional life.

Her decision to choose the PA path was shaped by her clinical experience at Gastroenterology East, where she works directly with both physicians and advanced practice providers. She was drawn to the autonomy and flexibility that advanced practice providers have without the demands of being a physician.

“When I decided to go to PA school, I had to come back and take a couple of pre-requisites. Then I applied to several different programs and got into ECU, which is where I knew I wanted to be,” Griffin said.

After a few years of practicing as a PA, Griffin said she was satisfied in being able to help individuals she cared for in the clinic, but knew that her influence on health care in her home of eastern North Carolina could be exponential if she taught the next generation of PAs.

Impacting Community Through Students

Teaching has fulfilled every idea she had about kind of impact she can have on individual student’s lives, and the lives they in turn will improve.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see students come in on day one and they’re so inspired, ready to change the world and make a difference,” Griffin said. “And it’s fun seeing them in clinical practice and on their clinical rotations.”

While teaching has become the centerpiece of her professional life, Griffin said continuing her clinical practice in critical for remaining relevant in the classroom. She is able to bring lessons from real-world experiences and interesting cases from the clinic back to the classroom.

Dr. Jordan Griffin, a clinical assistant professor in ECU’s Physician Assistant program.

Dr. Jordan Griffin, a clinical assistant professor in ECU’s Physician Assistant program.

“We’re not just telling the students they should do it, we’re actually doing it,” Griffin said.

She believes that having practiced before teaching has benefited the way she imparts theory and practical knowledge. When she was only practicing clinically, Griffin said she had blinders on, only thinking about gastroenterology, but with students in front of her, she’s forced to reconsider the patients she was seeing, and to instill a whole-person perspective into her students.

“That’s of one of the things that I love about it. I can make a difference in my patients lives, but if I can teach people to make a difference in their patients’ lives and do that for years and years and years,” Griffin said.

The students Griffin teaches come from a wide variety of backgrounds – paramedics, nursing assistants, sports physiologists – and each brings an important worldview to patient care.

“Everyone brings a different perspective, which is really cool in forming our class dynamic because they’ve got a pretty small class of 36 students per cohort. They spend a lot of time together and they really get to know each other, to share perspectives and give different insight to different clinical situations,” Griffin said.

One of ECU’s draws for Griffin, when she was an undergrad, was the Honors College, an organization that affords students opportunities to study abroad and participate in groundbreaking research as underclassmen.

The connections she made through the Honors College have carried through today. A classmate she met freshman year through the Honors College is still a close friend. Todd Fraley, the current Honors College dean, was a faculty member when she was a student, and they have recently collaborated on ways to provide current Honors College students preference in the review of their applications to ECU’s PA program with the goal of cultivating clinicians who are passionate about rural health.

Griffin recently graduated from the University of Lynchburg’s Doctor of Medical Science degree program, a relatively new program of study designed specifically to provide PAs with the education administration and business skills necessary to progress the profession into the coming decades.

The PA profession is moving toward having practitioners be trained to the doctoral level, Griffin said, so undertaking the program was important to her, to stay ahead of the curve and be ready to take on increasing levels of responsibility in her students’ education and professional development.

Whether in a clinic caring for patients or preparing her charges to do the same after they graduate as qualified Physician Assistants, Griffin is proud to call Greenville – and especially ECU – home.

“I remember applying to PA schools and I interviewed at a few different places,” Griffin said. “I wanted to stay in Greenville. I remember coming here for my interview and I was just like, ‘Man, it feels like I’m at home. I just need to get in here because this is home.’”


Name: Dr. Jordan Griffin

Title: Physician Assistant clinical assistant professor

Hometown: Macclesfield, NC

Colleges attended and degrees: East Carolina University, bachelors degree in exercise physiology and masters degree in Physician Assistant studies. University of Lynchburg, doctor of medical science.


Years working at ECU: 2

What I do at ECU: I teach in the didactic curriculum of the Physician Assistant program.

What I love about ECU: The passion we have for our Pirate community!

What advice do you give to students? To always remember the “why” behind what brought you to ECU’s PA program.

Favorite class to teach? Introduction to Clinical Practice – a simulation-based course for our last-semester didactic students to help transition them into clinical year!


What do you like to do when not working? Spend time with my loved ones and relax with a good book!

Last thing I watched on TV: Scandal

Guilty pleasure: Any sweet treat!

Favorite meal: A good hearty chicken parm.