Dr. Blake Johnson: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award

Blake Johnson
Dr. Blake Johnson

By Connie Piloto

When Dr. Blake Johnson began undergraduate work, he originally set his sights on a career in engineering. After quickly realizing that was not for him, he switched majors to biomedical sciences and took a job as a campus emergency medical technician.

And that has made all the difference.

“I knew I had a bent toward first responder emergency care,” Dr. Johnson said. “I enjoy the mystery of experiencing anything and everything that comes to you; to be among the first health care providers to lay hands on a patient in their time of need.”

Dr. Johnson’s passion for emergency medicine, both in clinical care and the research arena, was evident during his time at UT Southwestern Medical School. He is the recipient of the 2014 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award, given annually to a senior medical student.

“Blake embraced every opportunity that we provide at UT Southwestern in emergency medicine, from [first year] airway management labs and student leadership, through excellence in his senior emergency medicine electives, both here and at other competing institutions,” said Dr. Jeffrey Van Dermark, Director of Undergraduate Medical Education in the Department of Emergency Medicine. “His research in resuscitative endocrinology has given him a great head start on a career in academic emergency medicine. Combining his research experience with his innate skills and talents, he landed a position at one of the top residency programs in the country.”

Dr. Johnson grew up in Friendswood, a suburb of south Houston. In high school, he played football, track and basketball. After graduating from Texas A&M University, he moved to North Texas and worked as a technician in the research laboratory of Dr. Nicolai van Oers, Associate Professor of Immunology at UT Southwestern. The year away from school also afforded him the opportunity to continue working with high school youth in a non-denominational Christian ministry program known as Young Life.

“I knew I was going to medical school, but I wanted to take a year off before I embarked on that journey,” Dr. Johnson said. “I was able to spend time with friends, to volunteer, and build roots in my church community. It was a wonderful experience.”

When he joined UT Southwestern as a medical student, Dr. Johnson immediately joined the Emergency Medicine Student Association, and later served as an officer in the popular student interest group. Throughout medical school he also continued to explore his love for research.

He spent a summer and his second year of medical school working in the lab of Dr. Jane Wigginton, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Wigginton is leading a clinical trial to study whether a dose of estrogen can improve survival and neurological outcomes after severe traumatic brain injury and shock. The work allowed him to present a research poster at a conference in Miami, as well as UT Southwestern’s medical student research forum.

Dr. Johnson, his wife, Lauren, and their three-month-old son, Bennett, are moving this summer to North Carolina, where he will begin his residency at Carolinas Medical Center.

“We’ve always wanted to experience living in another part of the country and this will allow us to do that,” Dr. Johnson said. “However, we love Texas, and our family is still here. I could easily see us moving back eventually.”