In Minnesota, when someone says the name Dr. Crutchfield, most people — especially African Americans from Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas — assume they mean the legendary obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, Jr., a doctor known for the delivery of at least 10,000 Minnesota babies in the Land of 10,000 Lakes over the last 45 years.
But in 1994 another Dr. Crutchfield arrived on the scene in Eagan, Minnesota. He too goes by the name of Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, but he is known as the third (III) and is the son of Dr. Crutchfield, Jr, who he calls Dad.
Dr. Crutchfield, III is a board-certified dermatologist, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and medical director of his own Crutchfield Dermatology Clinic in Eagan, MN. He is a native Minnesotan, born in Minneapolis and raised in the Highland Park area of St. Paul the oldest of five siblings, attending Highland Park and Minnehaha Academy high schools.
After high school, Crutchfield, III attended Carlton College in Northfield, MN, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He later graduated from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine with both a master’s degree in molecular biology and a doctoral degree (M.D.) in medicine. His post-graduate medical training included one year at the Gundersen Clinic and a three-year dermatology residency at the University of Minnesota.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, even as a child,” says Crutchfield, who had a double dose of direct and indirect parental influence on his choice of becoming a doctor. Evidence of that influence is proudly framed in his Eagan, Minnesota office.
It’s a picture of his father (Charles, Jr.) and his mother (Susan) after both had just graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1963. Dr. Crutchfield, III was three years young in the arms of his father, smiling with a stethoscope on his ears listening to his dad’s heartbeat. The proud parents were dressed in their caps and gowns.
Crutchfield, III’s mother, Susan Ellis-Crutchfield, made Minnesota history as the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Minnesota Medical School and the youngest person ever to do so at age 22.
Crutchfield, III is very proud of his family’s legacy and says that his parents blessed him with healthy seeds of thought. Most memorable to him is his parents not asking if he or his siblings were going to college; they asked where they were going to college. “That made a huge difference,” says Crutchfield, III, along with seeing a decorated waste basket covered with logos of different colleges and universities in their home to give them a daily reminder that they were heading to an institution of higher learning someday.
Dr. Crutchfield, III specializes in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, skin cancer and ethnic skin diseases, and to date he says that his current client database totals over 46,000 people. As clinical professor of dermatology at the U of M, teaching medical students, residents, and other clinical physicians, Dr. Crutchfield is a regular speaker at many statewide and national medical conferences.
He is a regular skin expert guest on several radio and television programs including CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. With a staff of 41 people, Dr. Crutchfield, III is the official dermatologist for both the Minnesota Vikings football and Minnesota Twins baseball teams.
Asked what a professional sports team needs with a board-certified dermatologist, Crutchfield explains, “There are always skin concerns, anything from sunburn to changing moles. Athletes get fungal and viral infections all of the time. Certain athletes slide and skin their legs up real bad and need attention so that it doesn’t get infected. All humans will have skin conditions and need a dermatologist, including athletes.”
Asked if the rising use of Botox has increased his patient load, Crutchfield says, “I have two businesses within my practice. There is the medical practice and the other is cosmetic. One is a need and the other is a want.”
Although appointments are out as far as four to six months for both the medical and the cosmetic practices, Crutchfield says that every day there are three emergency slots for those new or regular patients needing immediate attention.
Dr. Crutchfield, III has received many awards and national recognitions such as the “Karis” humanitarian award from the Mayo Clinic, the “Editor’s Award” from the Dermatology Nurses Association, and the “Gold Triangle Award” from the American Academy of Dermatology. In recent months he has been featured as an expert in Essence Magazine (November 2011 issue) and selected by Black Enterprise, Minnesota Monthly, and Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazines as a top doctor.
When asked how Black Enterprise magazine came up with the ranking system nationwide, Dr. Crutchfield, III replied, “I asked them and they said they conducted a systematic survey of hospitals and clinics around the country. They asked them the question, ‘If you or a family member had a skin condition, who would you send them to?’ It was compiled from all 50 states, and there you have it.
“I can’t take the credit alone,” Crutchfield adds. “It’s my team of 41 staff members. I just lead the team.” According to Crutchfield, III, his top doctors and heroes are his mother and father.
While courting his wife Laurie, who works as the clinic’s director of financial affairs and website adviser, they watched Eyes on the Prize narrated by Julian Bond. In addition to being a wholesome dating experience, the series that chronicled the civil rights struggles in America helped Dr. Crutchfield, III realize that we stand on the shoulders of giants who paved the way for African Americans like him to have a better opportunity to succeed.
For more information about Crutchfield Dermatology, visit them on the Internet at www.crutchfieldermatology.com or call 651-209-3600.
James L. Stroud, Jr. is a contributing writer and photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.