In honor of our upcoming inaugural Department of Medicine Education Retreat, I will be posting interviews with some of our educational leaders every Friday leading up to the retreat on Tuesday, October 30. This week, we interviewed Erica Johnson, program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Bayview. Click here to view last week's interview with Sanjay Desai.

For more information and to register for the retreat, visit: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Medicine/education/education-retreat.html

Erica has served as program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Bayview since 2015 after serving as associate program director for the residency program since her recruitment in 2014. Before coming to Hopkins, she spent 11 years as a physician in the Army, where she served as associate program director for the Internal Medicine Program at the San Antonio Uniform Services Health Education Consortium. During her time in the Army, she received multiple teaching awards, both during residency and while a faculty member at the Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences. Erica also received the Lieutenant General P.K. Carlton Outstanding Faculty Award.

What are you most excited about now and for the future?

This is my favorite time of year. There is such a heightened sense of renewal in medical education, and each year brings a new class of residents with new energy and endless possibilities. By October each year, as my team and I sit down to meet individually with each of our house staff, we see that our interns have fully embraced their new role as physician, our junior assistant residents are truly coming into their own as leaders, and our senior assistant residents are hopeful as they prepare for what’s next. It is also an important reminder to me and to my team of our responsibility to each of our residents – to their professional identity formation, and to their development as exceptional physician leaders who will shape the future of medicine in their own unique way.

What obstacles do you foresee?

Part of our duty in training residents is teaching them the skills to sustain their energy – and importantly empathy – throughout their career. They face a constant barrage of threats to this, in part due to things I ask them to do as residents! But there are also numerous institutional and regulatory pressures that must be constantly balanced with their primary responsibility which is to become great physician leaders and physician citizens.

What solutions do you have in mind for these obstacles?

I think that one of the solutions is encouraging the habit of deeply focusing one’s attention on the things that are most meaningful to each of us. It may be allowing ourselves the luxury of being fully present with our patients as we talk to them at the bedside or in the clinic. It may also be going to the lab to seek the answers to the questions that come up when we spend time with our patients or developing educational products that allow us to teach trainees how to do this. The importance of deep focused intentional work and career sustainability was highlighted in a recent essay by Siddhartha Mukherjee in New York Times Magazine: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/magazine/for-doctors-delving-deeper-as-a-way-to-avoid-burnout.html

What are your hopes for the inaugural retreat?

I am looking forward to learning from other educators across both campuses. I hope that as the retreat grows, there will be opportunities for educators from other specialties and from outside of medicine to participate – I suspect we have a lot to learn from them too. And I am most excited to see one of my residents, Dr. Zain Gowani, participate in the teaching competition!

Tune in next Friday for interviews with Mays Ali, Karan Desai and Mariah Robertson, assistant chiefs of service of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Bayview.

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