Patient Care People

Q&A with Rhinology Chief John Schneider

John Schneider in front of Yosemite's Half Dome
Photographer and skull base surgeon John Schneider, MD, on a recent family trip to Yosemite National Park.

The Department of Otolaryngology launched its Rhinology Division in August, naming John Schneider, MD, MA, as its inaugural chief. Schneider has been with Washington University since 2013, specializing in the care of patients with sinonasal disorders, acute and chronic rhinosinusitis, nasal polyps, nasal and sinus tumors and anterior skull base tumors. 

photo of Schneider family with Wookie
The Schneider family – John Schneider, MD, wife Erin, and children Naomi and Noah – met Chewbacca on a recent trip to Universal Studios. (Dr. Schneider is in the blue shirt.)

His research interests include chronic sinusitis, quality measurement and improvement, health care communication, and cognitive bias in health care.

Schneider received his medical degree from Pritzker School of Medicine at The University of Chicago and completed his residency in otolaryngology at Rush University Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital. He then pursued fellowship training in endoscopic sinus and anterior skull base surgery at Vanderbilt University before coming to WashU.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is learning about the lives of my patients and my colleagues. Everyone has such different experiences that bring them to health care, and we can learn so much from each other and our life experiences. Taking care of my pediatric patients is especially rewarding.

You talk a lot about boogers. Did this fascination play a role in your career choice?

photo of John Schneider reading with the dogs
John Schneider, MD, finds a moment to catch up on some reading. Alone time is not always exactly that.

While I joke about boogers, I decided to pursue rhinology because I thought the sinuses and nose were so interesting. I suffer from allergies and have had nasal surgery myself, and so have always been fascinated by how our nose interacts with our environment.

If you were not a surgeon, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a surgeon, I’d probably be an actor/photographer/woodworker/writer.

How many YouTube videos do you watch in a day?

I watch between one and 756 YouTube videos per day.

What is your favorite type of music and/or artist?

My favorite musical artist is Frank Turner, but I love all types of music. I was in punk rock bands growing up, but Luciano Pavarotti’s version of Nessun Dorma from Turandot still gives me goosebumps.

photo of Dr. Schneider with kids
John Schneider, MD, and kids (Noah left, Naomi right) show off their St. Louis spirit.

How did you get into woodworking and who taught you?

I really learned woodworking on my own, but my uncle does a lot and I’ve worked with him over the years.

What portion of your iPhone storage is photos/videos of your kids, and if you could give your children one piece of advice what would it be?

Last count I have more than 39,000 photos on my phone, but that grows almost every day.

My advice to my children comes from an Albert Einstein quote my father told me when I was growing up: “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.” I add to that justice and humor, and I hope that they can keep those values with them as they grow up.