Interim dean puts ‘service over self’ as a physician guided by God’s plan

March 25, 2021

From police officer to physician, Dr. Joseph R. Johnson said he’s been guided by God’s design for his life.

“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was in the fourth grade,” he said, “but just didn’t have the family and financial support.” His mother never graduated from high school, and his father barely did but supported his family as a firefighter for 35 years.

Johnson accepted Christ as his Savior in the fourth grade. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a way to pay for college and then worked as a police officer in Phoenix, Ariz., following in his father’s footsteps as a public servant.

But all along, he knew that his childhood dream of becoming a physician was a part of God’s plan. At age 34, married and with five children, he started medical school.

Now, Johnson has spent 26 years serving God in the medical field, including in his most recent position as interim dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Johnson started at LUCOM in December after previously working as associate dean at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences where he maintained an active obstetrical and advanced surgical role. He also has a background in chiropractic care.

From his own life experiences, Johnson strives to encourage LUCOM’s student-doctors to lean in to their own callings for their futures.

“I always tell my residents and my medical students that if they keep their order straight — God is first, family second, and career third — that they’re going to do pretty good in life. As long as you understand who the ultimate boss is, you’re going to do well
serving Him.”

Johnson said a commitment to serving God with your profession is about “putting service over self.”

“As part of the body of Christ, I think it’s our task to perform to the best of our abilities, and that’s not for our individual recognition but for the God we serve. I realize we are all being moved into each other’s lives, a thread we play in the tapestry of God’s mission here on Earth.”

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