Alumna Esther Johnston receiving the AAFP’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education
The American Academy of Family Physicians has honored the Class of 2011’s Esther Johnston with its Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education. Of the 3,200 eligible family medicine residents, only a dozen are selected for this esteemed designation. They received their awards at the AAFP Scientific Assembly in San Diego in September.
The AAFP award recognizes outstanding family medicine residents for their leadership, civic involvement, exemplary patient care and aptitude for and interest in family medicine. Johnston is now a third-year family medicine resident in Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona.
In announcing her selection, the AAFP highlighted Johnston’s interest in global and public health. The announcement praised her effort to raise funds for the first phase of a deworming and nutrition project in the Kibera slum just outside of Nairobi, Kenya.
Johnston first traveled to Kenya from the MCV Campus on a trip funded by a CDC-Hubert Global Health Fellowship. She was awarded the fellowship while a fourth-year medical student in support of her work on community-oriented measles outbreak response activities in the African state.
She says it was during her undergraduate studies that she first fell in love with global health, working across the border at the Flying Samaritans Chapultapec Clinic in Mexico throughout her four years of college. She broadened that interest in medical school, taking a one-year leave of absence to complete an M.P.H. in international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a focus on humanitarian assistance and refugee health.
The University of Arizona’s family medicine residency, she says, is giving her the procedural and diagnostic skills to practice in underserved areas within the U.S. and around the world. “Our in-patient service offers tremendous opportunities to practice under-served medicine: we treat the homeless, the incarcerated and patients suffering from rhabdomyolysis and intestinal illnesses who are brought to us in the custody of Border Patrol after the long foot crossing over the border from Mexico.”
After she completes residency, Johnston plans to seek a position that will allow her to balance her passion for clinical medicine with a commitment to public health and medical education. She is considering full-scope family medicine faculty positions in the U.S. and abroad.