Girl em[Power]ment – Sandra Johnson MD, FAAD

Girl em[Power]ment – A Series of Short Essays.

Over the next few months will be bringing you the Girl em[Power]ment series, which consists of interviews with several working women of all ages in different stages of their career. These are women I not only find inspiring and interesting, but who I think women of all ages should know about and learn from. These women hold careers in several different industries, from creative design to politics. They’ll give us an inside look into what their job is like, how they got there, share their advice for twenty-somethings, and touch on what Girl em[Power]ment means to them.

[be sure to follow along on insta – @girlempowerment]

I’m so excited to introduce to you a women that has quite literally changed my life, who I’m so honored agreed to participate in the Girl em[Power]ment series. But first, a quick story about myself [warning: it’s about to get real].

Usually middle school is a terrible time for teens – they must endure all kind of weird hormones, it’s a terribly awkward time with boys and mean girls, oh – and on top of that, acne is usually a huge problem. With all that said, I honestly did not have it that bad in middle school. High school is when the acne came. Thankfully I really never had problems with self-confidence because of my skin [I know several people that have…], but I still wanted to express myself through makeup and fashion, which was hard with my pimply skin. I would’t dare let it show, but I was so embarrassed about my skin. All my friends had already had their awkward faze, so I couldn’t understand why it was just happening to me.
Enter Dr. Johnson, whom my mother had been going to see for a long time. Since my skin wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, first we tried laser treatment. This procedure was reserved mostly for events – like prom and homecoming, as it would cause your skin to “swell up” and be virtually perfect the day after treatment. This worked – for a while. Next were the pills. I’ve taken almost every kind of acne treatment drug out there. They all worked – for a while, but then my pimples would eventually come back. They were always there, not in full force – but still there.
Finally, during my freshman year of college, I walked in one day and Dr. Johnson sat down with mom and I to talk about Accutane [I won’t go into detail about that experience – but it was ultimately SO worth it]. We decided this was what I needed to do to once and for all get rid of the lingering acne. It was a 6 month long process that was rather intensive, but the results honestly were life changing. Throughout the whole experience, Dr. Johnson was by my side making sure everything was how it should be and to make sure my mental state was in check as well. After the Accutane, I didn’t really have the boost of the “self-confidence factor” like some people did, but I was so much happier with my overall image. Dr. Johnson really helped me get to where I knew I wasn’t perfect, but happy with the skin I am in.

The fact that she has helped SO many men and women realize their full potential is remarkable. She has not only taught me to really wear sunscreen every day, but to also embrace my creative side. Every time I get to visit with her she’s always genuinely interested in what I’ve got going on – making her an incredible Girl em[Power]ment influencer that I’m so excited to share with you all.
Oh, and she has over 50 publications, has written a book, has two patents, and has been in numerous magazine write ups. So yeah, she’s got it going on.

Introducing Dr. Sandy Johnson, MD, FAAD, of Johnson Dermatology 
Website –
Facebook – Johnson Dermatology

Q: What is your current job title, and can you please briefly explain your career path?
A: I am a board certified Dermatologist and co-business owner of Johnson Dermatology [with my husband who is also a board certified Dermatologist]. I knew from at least the age of 5 that I wanted to be a doctor. I went to Our Lady of Mt Carmel from preschool until 8th grade. I went to Niles McKinley High School for 9th through 12th grades. These are both in Niles Ohio. I then entered a combined 6 year college and medical school program at Youngstown State University and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, NEOUCOM. I graduated in 1996 then moved to Little Rock Arkansas for Dermatology residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, UAMS. After completing training, I stayed on faculty at UAMS specializing in cosmetic dermatology and clinical trials for 4 more years. I then moved back to Ohio for my husband Brad to complete a 2 year Dermatologic surgery fellowship. We moved to our permanent home and his childhood home in Greenwood/Fort Smith Arkansas in 2006 to open Johnson Dermatology. I am thoroughly enjoying this journey.

Q: How do you deal with negativity towards women in the work place [if at all]?
A: I choose to see only the positive whenever possible. If and when a negative thought is encountered, I try to think of at least 3 positive thoughts. Currently those are:
1. As Bryan Adams says: “Ain’t no use complaining when you got a job to do”. So I try to keep doing my job.
2. As [my husband] Brad says “quality always and eventually wins”. So I try to always do the right thing and give my best.
3. As Taylor Swift says “haters gonna hate”. So I try to shake it off. I really enjoy running and dancing.

Q: Who are your role models or mentors that you look up to?
A: My parents: They taught me the value of hard work. They taught me to love God and family. I still rely on them for so much in life. They moved from Ohio to our backyard in Arkansas to help us with our children. I am forever indebted to them.
Dr. Bob Brodell is why I chose Dermatology. He has inspired me in so many ways. His love for the skin is contagious. He exudes positive energy.
My mother in law. She is a testament to the fact that if you work hard, dreams will come true. She also taught me how to be a woman in the workplace. She also still can do more push-ups and pull-ups than I can.

Q: Have you ever felt unsure of yourself or felt that you weren’t “enough”, and how did you overcome that?
A: The first experience that comes to mind was when I was college chemistry and the professor made a comment about how women struggle with the concepts.  I had some self-doubt but was determined to give my best.  A few years later, his wife was sick in the hospital.  It was a big ego booster when I was a student in a team of all women doctors and nurses caring for her. 

Q: What are other things you do [hobbies, projects, interest] that you feel passionate about?
A: I love my family which I why I chose a picture of us for this blog.  The best decision I ever made in my life was to marry Brad Johnson.  He makes me a better person.  I love him and his family [trust me: you not only marry the person but you also marry their family].  He is a wonderful business and life partner. 

I am happiest when my physical, spiritual, emotional and mental aspects are all in harmony.  It is important to me to take time to thank a higher power for my gifts [for me that is God] as well as to get some physical activity on a regular basis. 

Q: Is there anyone you think that is making a difference in women empowerment that you think we should all know about?
A: I really enjoyed the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  I enjoy following Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on Facebook.  I try to surround myself with strong beautiful women.  Our Dermatopathologist Dr. Amy Hudson recently shared a quote with our team at Johnson Dermatology that is poignant:  girls compete with each other; women empower each other. 

I am very thankful for all of the teachers that empowered me when I was in school.  Most notably, Mrs Rathburn who was my high school biology teacher who encouraged me to follow my dreams and apply to medical school.  I would also like to thank my mom and the other moms in my hometown who coached the first all-girls soccer team in our town.  Playing youth sports was a very important motivator and confidence builder for me.  I would like to thank every teacher, coach, counselor, educator and friend to our youth. 

Q: What do you do in your free time to relax?
A: I relax and recharge by spending time with family and friends, running [I have run 8 marathons], and praying.  I also really enjoy travelling. 

Q: What career and/or life advice would you give to your twenty-year-old self?
A: Follow your heart.  I love what I do and don’t feel like this is work.  I am blessed that I am paid to do what I love. Enjoy the journey but be careful—I am thankful the internet was not around when I was 20 years old. Enjoy dating but take your marriage partner seriously.  My life is so much better after meeting and marrying Brad Johnson. One of my life mottos is “Your life is God’s gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift to God.” 

Q: What does Girl em[Power]ment mean to you?
A: It means exceeding the wishes that my mom had for me while being the person I would like my daughter to emulate.  It means climbing the ladder while bringing up others with me and even pushing them to rise past me.  It means always giving your best and giving it with a smile.  Our unpublished mission at Johnson Dermatology is to do everything with the 3 E’s:  Effective [do it right], Efficient [do it right the first time] and Empathic [do it with caring].   I am thinking we may need to add a fourth E: Empower. 

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