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Dr. Joseph Johnson appointed interim dean of Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Liberty University Office of the Provost has announced the appointment of Dr. Joseph R. Johnson, DO, FACCOOG (Dist.) to interim dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM). Johnson comes to Liberty after 26 years in the medical field, most recently as an administrator at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, where he maintained an active obstetrical and advanced surgical role.

“Dr. Johnson’s vast knowledge from his multiple roles in a university medical center and his focused attention on resident training and workforce development will serve LUCOM student-doctors well,” said Liberty Provost and Chief Academic Officer Scott Hicks. “His passions directly align with Liberty and LUCOM’s mission to educate osteopathic physicians in a distinctly Christian environment. He will take LUCOM to the next level in advanced medical training, technology, funding, and research.”

At Oklahoma State University, Johnson developed the state’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes) Project, an effort that joined medical education with care management to empower clinicians to provide specialty care to rural and underserved communities. One of LUCOM’s goals is to develop clinical opportunities in rural and underserved areas of Virginia that will provide expanded access for patients’ healthcare.

Johnson began his new role at LUCOM this week. Faculty, staff, and students were notified of the appointment earlier on Tuesday via videoconference with Hicks and Johnson.

Johnson earned his Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine from the National College of Chiropractic Medicine in Lombard, Ill., and his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the University of Health Sciences – College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Mo.

Johnson said when he first heard that LUCOM had launched, he remembers thinking about the opportunity to serve there someday.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be an ideal life job, to be in a Christian organization where you could just say your heart to your students and train the next generation of medical professionals from that standpoint?’”

His faith has played a pivotal role in his life’s journey.

“I really feel God is in control of the leadership here and the design of my life, too, because I’ve never gone knocking on a door for a job in my entire life.”

“At LUCOM, I feel that my mission is to try to teach the next generation of student-doctors into being Christ-centered doctors,” he added. “I always tell my residents and my medical students that if you keep your order straight — God is first, family second, and career third — that we’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.”

He is committed to serving God with his profession, putting “service over self.”

“I feel that I really do have a servant’s heart,” he said. “You will probably catch me at certain situations where I’ll start crying because I just realize that God has done absolutely so much for me.”

Johnson has cited the need to remain focused on best practices and evidence-based education, simulation, and quality clinical rotations, as well as the importance of maintaining relationships with alumni and continuing education needs.

“I want to see Liberty not only be the leader in the field, but to have us start thinking somewhat out of the box and look at innovative ways of providing the best academic education, clinical rotations, and residency success rates for our students,” he told the faculty and staff on Tuesday.

“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 that’s for the God we serve,” he continued. “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.”

Johnson replaces Dr. Peter Bell, who had served as LUCOM’s second dean since Spring 2017.

“Dr. Bell did a phenomenal job for the university, pulling our team together to meet COCA requirements, and we’re grateful for him,” Hicks said.

Opening its doors to its first class of student-doctors in 2014, the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine became the second osteopathic college in the Commonwealth of Virginia. LUCOM achieved initial accreditation status from its programmatic accreditor, American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOA-COCA), in 2018.