Esther Johnston, MD

Career Story: 

I grew up in Los Angeles and completed my undergraduate work not far from home at the sunny University of California San Diego, where I obtained a B.S. in Animal Physiology & Neuroscience as well as B.A. in History. It was while an undergraduate that I first fell in love with global health, working across the border at the Flying Samaritans Chapultapec Clinic in Mexico throughout my four years of college. An itch to explore my own country brought me to the beautiful southeast, where I worked in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for one year prior to starting medical school at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. On a one-year leave of absence from medical school I obtained my M.P.H. in International Health with a focus on humanitarian assistance and refugee health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, completing a capstone project on chemical contamination in the Mae La and Kakuma refugee camp water systems. Throughout the last 6 years I have worked on water quality issues in Guatemala and Nicaragua, trauma systems development and short-term surgical and humanitarian missions in Ecuador, and was provided with a CDC-Hubert Global Health Fellowship to fund design and implementation of community-oriented measles outbreak response activities in Kenya. I went to the University of Arizona FMRP because of my desire to learn full-scope family medicine that would provide me with the procedural and diagnostic skills to practice in underserved areas within the United States and around the world. The program's unique focus on integrative medicine provides us with the whole person approach we need to function effectively as empathic physicians. The in-patient service offers tremendous opportunities to practice under-served medicine: treating the homeless, the incarcerated, and patients suffering from rhabdomyolysis and intestinal illnesses who are brought in the custody of Border Patrol after the long foot crossing over the border from Mexico. After residency, I have taken a position within the Peace Corps under the Global Health Service Partnership in Tanzania.