EMBA Alum Discusses Her Advocacy Work

Below is an interview with Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, a member of the EMBA for Physicians Class of 2020 who advocates for many issues both personally and in her role as a senior fellow at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute.

Please tell us about your role. What are you responsible for?

I am an associate professor in surgery and program director for the general surgery residency program at Morehouse School of Medicine. Additionally, I am a senior fellow in the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) with a focus on global health equity. SHLI was founded by Dr. David Satcher, the 16th US Surgeon General, to make an impact in the field of healthcare and health equity.  In my roles, I am responsible for training surgeons and preparing them for delivering surgical care to the community.  Also, I work along with SHLI to improve health equity for the community.

Please tell us about your advocacy. 

There are several areas in which I have been focused on advocating for the rights of the underserved. These include advocating for Georgians to have access to obesity treatment, working to illuminate health disparities, and elucidating the causes and possible ways to correct the disparate effects of COVID-19 on the underrepresented and underserved communities.

Through work with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, I have addressed the Pennsylvania Senate on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African-Americans and work towards implementing an action protocol to impact this community and eliminate these disparities. I’ve also had the opportunity to address the CMS Administrator and State Senatorial leadership along with other healthcare leaders regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our communities and healthcare systems.  Additionally, with a few colleagues, I published a call to action and opinion editorial in The Lancet regarding the impact of race and obesity on the mobility and mortality of COVID-19. It is a call to action for our community to save lives.

Regarding obesity healthcare coverage, I have testified to the Georgia House of Representatives on the impact of obesity on our community and the need for state coverage of bariatric surgery and obesity care. To that end, through work with the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons, Georgia Chapter, February 4 was declared Obesity Care Day in Georgia!

What would you want physicians to know who may be interested in getting involved politically?

Many of the policies that will affect our healthcare for generations to come need the voice of physicians who are practicing on the front lines. It is imperative that we are involved with policymaking and advising those who are seeking to implement policies that will impact the communities we serve. I encourage you to speak with your government leaders and advocate ardently for your patients and community.

How has the EMBA for Physicians program (and any specific skills and tools you learned) helped you at work or in your legislative work?

I have learned immensely from the EMBA for Physicians program. The greater understanding of national and state health policy, organizational management, strategic management, and all of the other classes have strengthened my drive to make a difference in the community but also improved my skills so that I may be more effective in my professional roles. I continue to work with my professors for advice and collaboration.

Is there anything else you would like to add that we have not covered here?

I am thankful to the EMBA program for the skills that it has imparted to me and look forward to further developing the skills to make a greater i

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