Pamela Johnson, Recipient of Bearman Professorship, Supports Residents

Pamela Johnson and residents at the ultrasound simulation lab opening

Pamela Johnson and residents at the ultrasound simulation lab opening

Pamela Johnson has spent much of her career supporting the next generation of radiology leaders. 

Formerly director of the Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program, Johnson is a professor in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, where she also serves as vice chair of quality and safety and as vice president of care transformation for the Johns Hopkins Health System. In these roles, she focuses on strategies for improving the quality, safety and cost of health care.

For Johnson, one of the most important ways to offer high-quality care is by investing in training young radiologists.

It is fitting work for the inaugural recipient of the Sheldon B. Bearman, M.D. Professorship. Johnson received the honor in 2020, though ceremonies were postponed until last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Bearman Professorship is endowed by the Herbert Bearman Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropic organization that provides funding for projects that seek to improve the lives of individuals living in Greater Baltimore, South Florida and Israel.

The endowment is established in honor of Sheldon Bearman, a now-retired diagnostic radiologist who completed his residency at Johns Hopkins and would later serve as a part-time faculty member. 

He became a well-known expert in ultrasound and, later, CT and MRI. During his career, Bearman served as president of the medical staff of Franklin Square Hospital, chairman of the department of imaging of Northwest Hospital Center, president of the Baltimore County Medical Society and treasurer of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland.

Bearman credits his training at Johns Hopkins with kick-starting his career. In establishing a professorship endowment at Johns Hopkins, he soughta recipient invested in offering that same support to the next generation.

The endowment provides funding each year for the recipient to pursue radiological research and support resident research.

Johnson has taken this mission to heart. During the first year of the endowment, she contributed funds to help the interventional radiology residency program create a simulation lab equipped with phantoms to practice biopsy skills. 

During the second year, Johnson used the funding to create a dedicated ultrasound simulation lab, complete with human body phantoms with scannable organs.

“These are resources that most residency programs in the country don’t have,” Johnson said.

For the third year — this year — Johnson is focused on boosting residents’ research success through the Health Care Innovation Accelerator Program. 

Trainees from diagnostic, interventional and molecular imaging and nuclear medicine residencies submitted proposals for innovative health care solutions.  Their ideas will be pitched to a panel in a Shark Tank-style event, and the highest-scoring projects will receive seed grants of up to $5,000.

Pamela Johnson and Sheldon Bearman at the Sheldon B. Bearman, M.D., Professorship Installation and Dedication in May 2023Pamela Johnson and Sheldon Bearman at the Sheldon B. Bearman, M.D., Professorship Installation and Dedication in May 2023

Bearman lauded Johnson for her work and commitment to residents. “I am honored that Pamela Johnson agreed to serve as the inaugural recipient of the professorship,” he said. “She has tremendous experience in resident training and has made enormous progress in these first few years,” he continued, adding, “I know she will establish an incredible standard for years to come.”

For Johnson, as it was for Bearman, supporting radiology residents is a core mission. 

“It’s a residency where you can become the “go-to” doctor,” Johnson said.

In medical school, she explained, students are learning the language of medicine. By the time they are in residency, however, they are applying that knowledge in a real-world clinical setting. A strong residency program with a rigorous curriculum is vital to preparing future radiology leaders for success. 

As Johnson explained, “The quality of residency training dramatically influences the caliber of the physician, benefiting the quality and safety of care that patients receive.”

It is the backing of radiology faculty and the support of donors like Sheldon Bearman and the Herbert Bearman Foundation that allow Johns Hopkins to develop world-class physicians. 

Donors are critical, enabling the work of faculty who, in turn, support the residents who will continue to push the growth of Johns Hopkins Radiology for years to come.