When Sheldon Bearman completed his radiology residency at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1974, he had already published five peer-reviewed articles — three on diagnostic ultrasound, which appeared in the esteemed journal Radiology — plus completed a presentation before the Radiological Society of North America.
“A presentation like that is an honor for a resident,” Bearman says now. “I discussed the differential diagnosis of pediatric abdominal masses.”
Bearman attributes this personal accomplishment to the remarkably collaborative environment he experienced during his residency years at Johns Hopkins.
Today, Bearman is retired and looks back at that period as one that set his career on a notable upward trajectory. Bearman became a leader in the then-emerging field of ultrasound, and later CT and MRI, as part of a distinguished career in private practice.
His career included election as a fellow of the American College of Radiology and tenures as president of the medical staff of Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, chair of the department of imaging at Northwest Hospital Center, president of the Baltimore County Medical Society, and treasurer of the Maryland State Medical Society. Bearman also served on boards of multiple nonprofit organizations. In between those duties, he managed to maintain ties to the schools of medicine at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland as a part-time faculty member.
Recently, 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, endowed the Sheldon B. Bearman, M.D. Professorship in the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. The university named Pamela Johnson as the inaugural recipient of the Bearman Professorship. Johnson is vice chair of quality and safety, a professor in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, and vice president of care transformation for the Johns Hopkins Health System.
This permanent endowment generates income each year to allow the chairholder to pursue radiological research as well as encourage original resident research that would be difficult if not impossible without the dedicated funding. Bearman was particularly interested in ensuring that the endowment sets aside time for the recipient to teach and mentor the next generation of residents and fellows, passing on their expertise and skills to future radiologists, as his mentors did for him.
“Dr. Bearman was instrumental in the early development and adoption of ultrasound here,” notes Karen Horton, director of the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. “He was a visionary, and he and his family have been longtime supporters of our department, dedicated to helping us advance our education mission.”
Says Bearman, “In talking it over with department chair Dr. Horton, there were several possibilities as to what to do with the professorship. The one that appealed most to me was to promote resident research, so that residents could get involved, like I did. That early opportunity gave me a certain start that I think others should enjoy.”
In that respect, Johnson has been ranked by the Johns Hopkins radiology residents as the number one educator in the department multiple years, recognized by the international Aunt Minnie organization as the Most Effective Educator in the world in 2017 and awarded the Costs of Care Teaching Value Award in 2018. During her four years serving as residency director, in 2016, during Johnson’s tenure as residency director, the Radiology Residency Program at Johns Hopkins was selected via a national poll on Aunt Minnie as the best in the country.
“That’s the great thing about Hopkins,” Johnson says of the specific focus of the professorship. “I was a resident here, and it’s a very nurturing place.”“I take pride in my time at Hopkins,” Bearman says. “I think it was a great boost to my career. I received top-notch training, but most of all, opportunity. Hopkins is a good thing for the world, and I want to see that legacy continue.”