Pearl D. Johnson, MD


  • University of Chicago: BA – Biological Science (1974)
  • University of Chicago: Master of Arts in Teaching Biology (1975)
  • Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine: MD (1979)
  • Saint Francis Hospital/University of Tennessee: Memphis, TN: Family Practice Residency (1982)

Professional Interests & Specializations:

  • Medical Informatics
  • Quality improvement in healthcare
  • Community Health 

Length of time at PUSH:

Before coming to PUSH in 1992 I was a private solo family practitioner in East Chicago, Indiana for 10 years. I came to PUSH as a Student Health Physician, worked at first as fiscal year physician, then changed to academic year.  This allowed me to use my summers as a ‘locum tenens’ physician (locum tenens is Latin for ‘holding a place’). Essentially I was a traveling physician, working as a temp for places that had physicians on vacation or needing somebody to work until they could fill an empty spot.  This was a fun time to travel the US and see places I otherwise would not.  I worked with an American Medical Association organization called Project USA, serving mostly on Indian reservations. Doing this also allowed me to keep up my skills in Pediatrics and Prenatal/Obstetrical care, things we don’t do here at PUSH.

In 1998 I took a position as a medical director for the Tippecanoe Community Health Clinic (now known as the Riggs Community Health Center) where I worked for five years. During this time I was proud to be involved in helping the clinic receive the honor of becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center, which means that it receives funding to allow it to provide low-cost health care to the uninsured.

            In 2000 and 2002 my grandchildren were born.  I wanted to be a prominent part of their lives (they lived out of state) so I went back to locum tenens medicine.  This gave me total flexibility to spend time with them, as I could work whenever and wherever I wanted.  I also took on a job as consultant for health care organizations, helping them to meet the challenges of providing safe quality care to our nation’s patients.             

Why do you like working at PUSH?

During all these years that I have worked at other places, I have continued to work at PUSH on an “as-needed” basis. I have valued my ties to PUSH because I love working with the student population (and the diversity is AMAZING).  I love working with the staff here, and I love the environment which is about teaching our young students to take care of their health in a positive manner.  What I also like is that PUSH stays on the cutting edge of standards of care in medicine, and the communication of these standards to the providers; this is very valuable in this day and age of rapid fire information, and frequent upgrades and updates to the practice of medicine.

What is your philosophy of care?

I have always been about providing the best care, but also about teaching patients how to care for themselves and make sensible decisions.  I consider myself to be non-judgmental; I just want to help students get better, and I am respectful of all lifestyles and views on life.  To me the definition of medicine and healthcare in general is about optimizing quality of life from the patient’s perspective.  I see healthcare providers as resources for patients as they wander through the quagmire of information, and as especially helpful sources to help patients sort through the mountains of information on the internet.  This is certainly true for students, many of whom are on their own to make decisions about their health for the first time in their lives.  I feel PUSH provides that environment and that is another one of the reasons why I like working here.

In addition, my expectation is that students are honest and thorough about the information shared in helping me to make the best decision for management of their care; this trusting bond is very important.  Healthcare providers are diagnosticians and much of the assessment can be based more on what is said than what is seen.  Missed information, misleading information, the wrong information, can lead the healthcare provider down the wrong path for optimal recovery.                                                

What do you like to do when you’re not at PUSH?

One of my daughters lives in the New York Metro area, the other daughter lives in the Los Angeles metro area, and my parents are in Chicago. So I get around.

My scientist daughter is degreed in Math and aerospace engineering, and teaches students in the arts in New York City.

My right-brained daughter, a professional dancer, is a fitness instructor in L.A. (hey, check out her website, and numerous YouTube exercise videos).

I love Thai food - Basil Thai is on my speed dial.  I like trying out all the newest latest and greatest electronic gadgets (still scared of video games, my grandsons are helping me with that). My latest ‘toy’ is the Amazon Echo. I like to cook, consider myself a ‘foodie’, collect practically every newfangled cooking gadget on the market (you should try the airfryer; safe for dorms, lowfat cooking; and a high-powered smoothie maker).

I like crafts: sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, etc. On my bucket list: learning Spanish, taking courses in computer technology.

I love Love LOVE television, especially movies and binge-watching! Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, I’ve got it all!! My faves are action/adventure, terror/horror, sci-fi, psych thrillers. I’ve got almost every Zombie movie made, and an awesome Ultraviolet digital movie library, very useful when traveling.

 Fun Fact about me:

Don’t sweat the small stuff.