Name: Christen Johnson, MD, MPH
Social media handle(s): ChrissyJMD (Instagram and Twitter)
Undergrad: Wright State University, Class of 2012.
Graduate school: Wright State University Class of 2017. (Masters of Public Health)
Medical school: Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Class of 2017.
Residency: The Ohio State University Family Medicine Residency Program- Urban Track, PGY-2
Tell us about yourself?
I was raised by my mom in Columbus, Ohio. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom made it her personal goal for me to reach my fullest potential. She often worked multiple jobs to ensure I had the best opportunities possible and in return the expectation was excellence. My mom didn’t get to take the summers off and neither did I. I participated in a host of after school activities and summer programs to keep my mind sharp and my hands busy but supported my interests like gymnastics, skiing, painting, and science. I honestly believe this is what prepared me for the hard work and rigors of medical school. Academic excellence was always important however; service to others was equally expected. Fast-forward a few years and I am humbled at the opportunities that my mother’s dedication, sacrifice, and example have afforded me including serving as the 2016-2017 National President for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), representing family medicine residents around the country in multiple capacities to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), having a part in national research projects that positively impact the future and the blessings of both the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the National Health Service Corps Scholarship.
Why did you choose medicine?
Medicine chose me. I had an ear infection as a toddler and was treated by an African American female physician who allowed me to see the beauty of medicine through her eyes. I listened to her heart and apparently got the opportunity to play with the otoscope and that was all I needed to get in the car with my mother and let her know I wanted to be a doctor. Somehow, I never wavered and by God’s grace that little girl’s dream became a reality.
How did you decide your specialty?
I like variety but at the same time, it really matters to me what happens to my patients. Their lives, their families, and the community that we share – it’s all-important. The only specialty that allows further training to broaden your scope and see patients of all ages for all ailments is family medicine. Family medicine also closely aligns with my values. Excellence and service are at the core of what we do as we are never sure what one may need as they walk through the door at the front lines of health care regardless of their ability to pay.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in medicine?
This isn’t a sprint like most of us believe it is. It is truly a marathon and like marathon runners- if you do not train properly, you won’t make it. The physical aspects like eating well, exercising, and trying to sleep are key but even more importantly, spending time on what makes you happy will mentally prepare you for the challenges ahead. If your mind isn’t healthy, your body isn’t either and it will make this journey impossible. Enjoy yourself along the ride, surround yourself with your ‘support squad’, and the sky is truly the limit!
What or who inspires or motivates you?
Sounds cliché’ but I have to say my support system.
–God first and foremost has blessed me to be able to have accomplished so much in such a short time. I’m constantly in awe of the wonders he has done in my life and it pushes me to keep going and follow the path he has created for me.
–My mother raised me by herself and she is a consistent cheerleader and my right hand. When things get rough she is figuratively and literally (she and I talk everyday) a reminder that a bad day will always end at midnight, the next one is an opportunity.
–My Grandfather, who has worked everyday since he was 9 years old and faced the Jim Crow south, is a steady and dependable example of hard work and sacrifice. He has supported me through every step of the way and has had a strong influence in my success. Even though he didn’t have the same opportunities, his wisdom has helped to mold me into the woman I am today and has prepared me for challenges that I have faced on this journey.
*All photos credited to Katie Spinner*