FSP Spotlight | Get to Know Rebecca Johnson, MD

Welcome to this edition of the FSP member spotlight. This month we are delighted to feature Rebecca Johnson, MD. Dr. Johnson, moved to Florida in 2012 from Massachusetts, where she was the Chair of Pathology and Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Residency Program Director at Berkshire Health Systems. Since 2013, she has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Board of Pathology.

Rebecca Johnson, MD
Chief Executive Officer
American Board of Pathology
Tampa, FL

What is your current role?
I am the Chief Executive Officer of the American Board of Pathology, a position I have held since 2013. Before that, I was Chair of Pathology and Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Residency Program Director at Berkshire Health Systems in western Massachusetts for over 20 years.

What is the best part of your occupation?
The best thing about being a pathologist is knowing you are foundational to the practice of medicine. Everything with the patient begins with pathology, the laboratory, and the correct diagnosis. Being an essential part of the health care team and helping other physicians and providers give the best care they can is rewarding. The best part about my current role is providing a valuable credential, i.e. board certification and Continuing Certification, to physicians in the specialty of pathology. Providing Continuing Certification and ABPath CertLink longitudinal assessment to help keep our diplomates up-to-date and providing better patient care is very gratifying.

How did you become interested in pathology?
I started medical school thinking that I would be a family physician, but soon realized that I loved pathology, because it was the bridge from basic science to patient care. We had a six-month course in pathology in the second year of medical school and the department chair hosted our twice weekly small group session. His name was Dr. Grant Johnson (no relation), so when calling on students, he could always remember” Ms. Johnson”, so I was called on a lot.  I did electives in surgical pathology, microbiology, and electron microscopy, which were fascinating and secured my decision to become a pathologist.

How did you become involved with the FSP? 
When I moved to Florida in 2012, one of the first things that I did was join the FSP, the FMA, and the Hillsborough County Medical Association. I am a believer in organized medicine and the importance of leadership, so have always belonged to the AMA, our specialty societies, and state and local medical associations. I have served in a number of roles on committees, councils, and as officers of some of these organizations; however, in my current role as CEO of ABPath, I am currently precluded from serving, because of perceived conflict of interest. I plan to become active again in organized medicine when I step down as CEO at the end of 2021.

Explain how you benefit from being a member of FSP
FSP is the best way for me to meet and connect with other pathologists, pathology residents, and fellows. The exhibitors at the meetings are friendly and great supporters of FSP. The educational programs are outstanding and the venues very nice.

What would you like to see occur in the field of pathology (i.e., scientific advances, greater awareness of the field, etc.) during your career?  
I would like to see the pipeline for US medical graduates going into pathology improve. Students have little opportunity to see pathologists as role models and understand what a great career choice pathology is. We all have a role in recruitment. I also hope that the important role of pathologists and the laboratory continues to be appreciated long after the COVID 19 pandemic. I see a great future for digital pathology and telepathology in the future.

What are your hobbies outside of the office?
Up until the pandemic, Michael and I would travel several times a year and look forward to getting back on an airplane. We have had some great adventures traveling to Antarctica, Machu Picchu, Galapagos Islands, Iceland, the Arctic, and most recently Jordan, Petra, Cairo and sailing the Nile.

What is something surprising that most people do not know about you?
I grew up on a farm in a small town in southwest Minnesota and still keep in touch with many of my high school friends.

Is there anything I did not ask you that you would like to mention in this article?
I appreciate all the good friends I have made and connecting with old friends by attending FSP meetings and look forward to when we can all be together again.

Publication Date: 
Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 1:00pm