Over the past week we have learned of shootings and stabbings at Regis College, Boston College, and at Seton Hall University. These important institutions with strong religious and service identities are the last place one might expect to observe such violence. This morning, in the Boston Globe we see reports and commentary about the recent violence in our city that has led to the death of a young mother and her preschool child. This is so much food for thought and for thinking about...Read more
Dr. Alex Johnson is Provost and Vice President at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. As the provost he serves as the chief academic officer, having responsibility for all of the academic programs, the faculty, and the students at the Institute.
He is also Professor in the MGH Institute Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders; and on the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology.
Dr. Johnson, originally from Ohio, completed his BS and Master’s degrees at Kent State University; and his PhD in Speech-Language Pathology at Case Western Reserve University.
After working clinically for several years, Johnson served as Executive Director of the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, a university-affiliated comprehensive center at Case Western Reserve.
In 1988, he was appointed to launch a new division of speech-language pathology in the Department of Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan. There Johnson started the clinical program that grew to a staff of 14 speech-language pathologists, developed a post-graduate specialty fellowship, and established a collaborative research program that continues today. He established several subspecialty clinics in Voice Disorders, Stuttering, Pediatric Communication Disorders, Swallowing Disorders, and Stroke rehabilitation.
His funded research, while at Henry Ford, included studies of communication changes that occurred in the earliest moments after a stroke as predictors of both language and brain recovery. He also participated in the validation of a number of outcomes measures that are now used as qualifiers for payment for speech and language rehabilitation, and was a co-investigator on the development of the Voice Handicap Index, a widely used tool in measuring recovery in persons with voice disorders, the Dysphagia Handicap Index, and the Communication Quality Scale.
In 1999, Johnson re-entered academia when he was appointed of Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Wayne State University in Detroit. During his tenure at Wayne State the PhD program was expanded, a new Doctor of Audiology program was established, the speech-language pathology enrollment increased, the program was relocated to new facilities.
In 2008, Johnson was appointed by President Janis Bellack to join her as first academic provost at the Institute of Health Professions.
In 2006, Johnson served as President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association with a membership of over 130,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists. He is a Fellow of ASHA and has received the Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2013) which is the highest honors that the Association can bestow to “recognize individuals whose contributions have been of such excellence that they have enhanced or altered the course of the Professions.”
Johnson is the co-editor of two textbooks and numerous peer reviewed articles and chapters. Johnson has continuing clinical and scholarly interests in medical speech-language pathology and the effects of communication and swallowing impairment of quality of health and life. His interests also include a newer focus on the teaching and scholarly enterprise in higher education, as well as interprofessional education in the health science.
Blog Posts by Alex Johnson
Last week I distributed two documents. The first, a summary of the "academic" progress of the Institute tells the story of all that you and your students and colleagues have done to make the Institute better in teaching, service, and research over the past year. The second, The Role of the IHP in Health Care Education of the Future, provided a series of questions and reflections for the faculty to consider as we engage in strategic planning over this fall term. As I thought about "...Read more
We are off to a great start (why does it always feel like a race?) to our new academic year at the Institute. We have crossed a new enrollment threshold of 1000 students. This is largely due to unexpected growth in our part time and non degree programs, particularly the new year round opportunity for "prerequisites in the health professions." Yesterday we kicked off the year with a little early morning breakfast celebration for the faculty and staff.
This fall we welcome...Read more
Welcome and Welcome Back....First of all, I am thrilled to welcome 10 new faculty members who have joined us since last spring. In my next blog, I will focus on introducing them. Representing the Department of CSD, the School of Nursing, and the Department of Physical Therapy, these outstanding individuals come to us with fantastic clinical and academic experience, wonderful aspirations, and a commitment to working with our students and faculty members. Please join me in welcoming them,...Read more
We will be talking more about this issue this year, but I thought this was an article that highlighted many of the issues from a variety of perspectives. Your thoughts?Read more
If you haven't checked out the "Great Colleges to Work For" Site in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I hope you will do so soon. The Institute made the list this year, which is no surprise to most of us who work here. The commitment to excellent education, strong academic and clinical components, the commitment to transparency and trust, and the long standing sense of community are factors that have helped to place our Institute high on the list!
Now, I also think of some other...Read more
Congratulations and thanks to the IHP faculty, staff and leadership who have made 2CC a reality. This new 20,000 sq. foot space next to the US Constitution is a game changer for our academic life together. Rather than write the story, I am choosing to post some pix I took during the opening day for our new ABSN cohort. They started their day in the new active learning center. Welcome new students and welcome 2CC! Great way to start the New Year!
One of my graduate school professors suggested that during every interaction with a colleague or patient we should ask the question “what can I do for you today?” The idea behind this simple question is that it conveys genuine interest in the conversation and in the other person present during the exchange. My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to ask that question in my interactions with faculty and students at the Institute. My expectation is that from some I will hear that all is going...Read more
Dean Laurie Lauzon Clabo (School of Nursing) has provided this contribution to the Provost Blog. Thanks to Laurie for her thoughts on Nurse Practitioners during this celebratory week!
By Laurie Lauzon Clabo, Dean, School of Nursing
November 13th to 19th is National Nurse Practitioner Week. Nurse Practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses with Master’s level preparation, have been making significant contributions to the health of the nation since 1965, when the...Read more
Today, November 11, is Veterans Day. Celebrated in the United States since the 1950s, Veterans Day is "a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of
If you attended last night's scholarship gala in the beautiful atrium of the new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, you know the meaning of the word beautiful. The setting was spectacular. Colorful decorations. Wonderful friends of the Institute gathered to support us. The Degas exhibit. Great words from people who care deeply about what we do every day. Smart, remarkable students being recognized. A thought provoking video that will go viral in the next 24 hours. Faculty and staff...Read more
This is national Physical Therapy Month. It's a good time to think a bit about the important leadership and service role provided by this important discipline. Physical therapists have been at the heart of rehabilitation for at least the last century. Interestingly the first modern school of PT was established at Walter Reed Army Hospital following World War I. There are now over 200 Physical Therapy Schools in the USA and many more around the world. The profession of physical...Read more
Dictionary.com provides 19 (yes nineteen) definitions of the word "core." One of them is particularly relevant to the Institute: Definition no. 2 (noun) is "the innermost, essential, or central part of anything. Our core values were developed during last year's strategic planning process as statements about our essential and central character as a community. I try to use these values as a roadmap for myself and for the Institute. I find them to be particularly...Read more
I have been struggling with how to put this next blog together. How does one "link" Better Speech and Hearing Month, Nursing Week, and the memories of important friends and alumni of the Institute? My mind has been flooded with some memories that fit a Memorial Day theme, that pay tribute to lost friends, and that tie nicely with the theme of honoring two of our disciplines that are "memorialized" in May! So in this blog I have chosen to focus on the memory of Dr. James Mongan, former...Read more
Our students (and alums) are beyond fantastic. We all know that. They are highly recruited, so smart, and destined to be leaders. Today, I want to take a moment and to recognize a few members of our community, who have demonstrated exemplary leadership through their participation in this year's Boston Marathon. I admire their effort so much and believe they have hit a "home run" for themselves and for the Institute. See what you think:
April 10-16 is National Library Week. I was on the "T" and saw a John Grisham (one of my favorite authors) poster promoting this recognition of libraries and librarians! Grisham caught my attention, and now I hope that I catch yours!
So, first off, I think it's a good idea for me to express my thanks, at this time, to our librarian, Jessica Bell and to others who create a remarkable learning foundation for the Institute. Jessica's leadership is...Read more
Meet some friends of mine--who are some of the current roster of John Hilton Knowles Scholars. The Knowles family has established a scholarship in honor of John Hilton Knowles, who was President of Mass General Hospital when the Institute was founded. Dr. Knowles, now deceased, and his family recognized the important contribution that our students are to make, as future leaders of their various disciplines
Jason, whose home is in San Antonio, Texas has worked as a furniture mover for...Read more
Just over a month ago, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head during a mass shooting in her home city of Tucson. In this incomprehensible event, numerous others were killed or injured. The nation’s hearts have been wracked with grief for this terrible tragedy. As is always true with such events, the news media pounced on the story. The public (myself included) looked forward to learning of what happened as the...Read more
Wouldn't’ this have been a great headline on the Institute website? At about the same time that MLK was assassinated, the Institute was in its earliest formative years. Wouldn't’t it have been something if Dr...Read more
Happy 2011! I hope that each and every member of the IHP community had a wonderful break, a good rest, and joins me in looking forward to a lively semester! Part of my break time was filled with seeing a few films. One that was memorable for me was "The King's Speech". www.kingsspeech.com/
This film is receiving great reviews for the acting performance, the strong writing, and its historical significance. I liked it...Read more
December has provided for some interesting "sights" for the Institute community. I had the chance to accompany some Partners' colleagues to Delhi, India in order to explore some collaborative opportunities...Read more
December Thought #1: From all of my years in school (when have I ever NOT been in school?), December is always a memorable time. In elementary school, December meant holiday planning and celebrations; in high school and college it meant looking forward to a much desired break; and now in my professional life it almost always means time to "take stock." One of the things that I have been thinking about as I take stock of this year is--how fast we are moving to the future...Read more
Almost every culture has a celebration of remembrance and gratitude. In the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is the holiday where we spend time acknowledging those people and events that we appreciate most. In a few weeks, most of us will be spending time with friends or family (or maybe sharing time with a student or colleague who is new to Boston) and sharing in this great American holiday tradition.
This year, as I celebrate Thanksgiving with my own family, I will also be...Read more
This weekend, the Department of Physical Therapy is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of PT at the Institute. Alumni, faculty, and friends will come together for social and educational events. PT Chair (and Interim Dean of SHRS) Leslie Portney has produced a publication that reports the history of the program. Congratulations to our PT faculty, students, and alumni!This birthday celebration of PT, which coincides with National PT Month, is a reminder of the important contribution that our PT...Read more
I returned late last evening from a week long trip to Israel. This was the fourth "People to People" trip that I have led in the past three years. I was able to lead 30 Speech-Language Pathologists to Israel for professional exchange with each other via Continuing Education, with colleagues in universities, hospitals, and clinics in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, and also to tour important historical and religious sites. What a trip! Exhausting and exhilarating and filled with...Read more
Just two weeks ago, we learned that Dr. Lena Sorensen our colleague, faculty member, teacher, and friend passed away after a very brief illness. We were sad to lose this Institute leader, but relieved to know that her suffering was not lengthy and that she was with her long time partner, Alice Friedman. Expressions of disbelief, grief, and loss have been intermingled with interesting and uplifting stories of Lena’s...Read more
Blog Prepared by Dr. Bette Ann Harris
This is the third in a series of submissions this year concerning the Institute opportunity for a "triple play." Earlier...Read more
It's final! We have been notified by both the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and also the New England Association of Schools and Colleges that we are approved to grant the degree, Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences. This is a true mark of the Institute's commitment to fulfilling the vision of our Founders and to the work of so many who have led us to this point! Congratulations especially to Dr. Robert Hillman, Associate Provost for Research, to the...Read more
This is the second article in a series about subjects which have been on the collective minds of the Office of the Provost, the leadership and Board, and the community at large: active learning, diversity,...Read more
If you read the “IHP News” you know that in May each year, associations and professionals and patients that care about speech and hearing celebrate these functions. I have procrastinated on a well-intentioned blog about May being “Better Hearing and Speech Month. I have lots of excuses: 1. I already wrote a blog about...Read more
It's National Nurses Week. I am not sure why there is only one week where the nursing profession is celebrated, as so many other job categories have a whole month. If it were up to me it would be National Nursing Year, celebrated 365 days a year.
Recently, I experienced a week-long hospital stay after a very long surgical procedure. My stay was in our own Mass General. For me, the nursing professionals with whom I interacted and from whom I received care were transformational. I was...Read more
Community is where people come together to value each other, to find their identity in being part of something bigger than themselves, working together for the common good.
What a week this has been. Marathon, Exploding bombs. Dead and Injured. First responders. Uninterrupted perseverative news coverage. Anger. Sadness. Confusion. Our eyes turned to the hospitals. All of us in our community were proud and impressed by our colleagues at Mass General and the Brigham, Tufts,...Read more
I am happy to share this information from our former Associate Provost, Bette Ann Harris, who recently spent a week in Haiti with colleagues from Partners in Health. Her comments highlight the wonderful work being done, as well as the opportunity to provide important services and support to those most deserving of our attention! Thanks to BA for these wonderful comments and pictures!
A. Johnson, Provost.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I hope that you are off somewhere enjoying this long weekend as a respite from your busy and important work. It is Sunday afternoon and it's a snowy blowy day around the harbor. As many who read this will know, I am home recovering from surgery and so I am taking time to express some appreciation. I will write more about all of this in the future.
My personal gratitude for your many expressions of connection/concern/and affection is intense. I enjoy...Read more
In a few days, we will be back at our desks. We will all begin planning for a new semester and a new calendar year of 2013 (Happy New Year). New ABSN students will be arriving Jan 9 for their orientation and classes will resume on January 14. And so begins a new year.
What will 2013 be like for the IHP? There will be lots of activity, as always. Faculty Development Week, the Interdisciplinary Lecture at Hynes Auditorium, planning new research and laboratory space in building...Read more
For the past several days, I have struggled with the horrible events of last Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter entered an elementary school and shot 6 teachers and 20 first graders. As a parent and grandparent, as a professional, and as someone who hates guns, this one has been hard for me. The images, indelibly imprinted in my psyche, are terrifying and sad.
The media has conjectured extensively about the increased possibility of gun control legislation, as well as the flaws...Read more
Last Friday I had the opportunity to spend time with several students, clinical faculty members, and preceptors at the Mass General on Ellison 8. There, each week, an interprofessional group (Nursing, DPT, CSD) students spend time together caring for patients, learning about the work of each of our disciplines, experiencing day long observation of the top notch professional acute care at the MGH, and then spending an hour together reflecting on what the significant learnings were that...Read more
It is that time, once again, when we honor Veterans. These people who have served our country deserve special thanks and appreciation from all of us.
We are especially proud and grateful for those members of the IHP community-faculty, students, alumni, and staff who have served in the armed forces. Many of these individuals have served as health care providers in the service.
Please join me in saying thanks to this special group of people!Read more
Last night, the Institute’s annual gala (35th birthday celebration!) was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Boston’s Innovation District, the seaport. The venue was beautiful. As always, friends of the IHP filled the room. Old friends found each other, student scholars were recognized, fantastic staff members made the evening sparkle, there was a lovely dinner. Even though much of the pattern was the same as...Read more
In many disciplines, argument is considered to be a tool for arriving at a good decision. It may or may not be associated with anger or conflict. It does imply disagreement about a specific topic or issue. Today, at the Institute, we are engaged in a discussion that rises to the level of an argument. We are debating the pros and cons of the inclusion of a Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program in our portfolio of academic offerings. Why the debate?
Those who support the...Read more
Oh Baby! Friday, September 27 was another landmark day for the entry level graduate students at the Institute. The Institute’s annual Baby Day was held for the first time at our newest facility at 2 Constitution Center. Started several years ago by great leaders in the Department of Physical Therapy, Baby Day has become a true interprofessional learning adventure for many, many students. Having the new facility allows more babies and more students and faculty to participate...Read more
For some reason, when something is "sold out" it's value is increased dramatically. The housing market in Boston has gone a bit wild recently, because of the lack of availability of homes on the market. This has driven prices up and the competition for desirable houses, apartments, and condos is intense. It seems that limitations in access make things highly...Read more
Part 1: What is IMPACT?
Founded on principles of interprofessional education and practice, the Institute is now ready to live into its next generation of education and excellence.
Dr. Mary Knab is ready to launch an entirely new curriculum for entry level students in the masters programs in Nursing, Speech-Language Pathology and the doctoral and masters programs in Physical Therapy, starting in September. A team of three faculty members (Gail Gall, Chuck Jeans, Laura Plummer...Read more
Aphasia is a communication disorder that occurs frequently after someone experiences a brain insult; the most common cause is a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain. More specifically, the communication impairment experienced by people with aphasia includes problems in spoken language, understanding, reading and writing; while for the most part thinking remains clear. The MGH Institute of Health Professions has a...Read more
In my last post I described the IMPACT program. Anyone who has been at the IHP for the past two semesters has certainly heard of IMPACT and what we are trying to accomplish. This...Read more
A note from Alex: It is National Physical Therapy Month. I am interrupting the series on "The Impact of Impact" and will follow up with Part III soon. In the meantime I wanted to...Read more
pro bo•no pu•bli•co [proh boh-noh poo-bli-koh; English proh boh-noh puhb-li-koh] Show IPA Latin. for the public good or welfare. The term “pro bono” has been used over time to refer to “free” services. Interestingly, from the Latin it means “for good”. Some interpret this to mean “free” rather than the true meaning. However, take a few minutes to talk to one of the 300 or so folks who visit the clinics each week and they will tell you that the literal meaning is the correct one in this case...Read more
I’m not talking about plastic surgery here. I am talking about a different type of lift, a lift in spirit. One that “lifts your face” by encouraging a spontaneous smile. And one that lifts your heart because there is so much good happening around you. My first lift occurred on Friday, September 21. I had the opportunity to observe over 300 students coming together to provide community service all over the city of Boston, with support from more than 50 faculty members and staff of the IHP for...Read more
In the May 1 issue of the New York Times it was enlightening to see a discussion of interprofessional education (IPE) highlighted in a column (unfortunately) titled “Doctors and Nurses Not Learning Together” by Dr. Dhruv Khullar ( a resident at Mass General). Dr. Khullar is a frequent contributor to the column and has...Read more
Several years ago, I developed a blog about life at the IHP, musings about education and healthcare, and reactions to issues that I thought were important to the Institute. The blog had a good following and it did provide one more way for me to communicate with the IHP community-faculty, students, colleagues. Occasionally , the blog even developed some reaction and discussion. Time passed and my energies and attention shifted to other activities.
I am recommitting to getting a...Read more
Dear Graduates of the MGH Institute of Health Professions,
Congratulations on the attainment of your degree. While this degree “commences” your new life as a professional healthcare provider, researcher, or academic instructor it also serves as an important benchmark in your educational and clinical life. Be sure to take time to celebrate and enjoy this important transition.
In addition to my congratulations, I also want to send three invitations. First, I invite you to stay...Read more
- 350 students in Nursing, Speech-Language Pathology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies
- 40 Infants and Toddlers accompanied by eager parents and grandparents
- 25 faculty members from all the disciplines
- New space about to be renovated, but not quite ready yet...
It’s the IHPs annual Infant Development Day. Now, at least a decade old, this event is one of the highlights of the annual academic fall kickoff events...Read more
A Statement from Key Leaders
In this final contribution to this blog series, Dr. Inge Corless (Professor, School of Nursing) has shared a document that was prepared late last month by an interprofessional group of leaders to express concern over the separation of children and families. Thanks to Dr. Corless for her leadership and willingness to share. My hope is that this series of contributions adds to our collective understanding of the current situation affecting those being...Read more
This is part five in a series of blog contributions from faculty members at MGH Institute of Health Professions. These submissions focus on physical and psychological effects of confinement, and also the effect of separation on parents. Thanks to Drs. Keysor and Goodman.
Detainment. Separation. Neglect Abuse. Confinement. Cages.
Julie Keysor, PhD
Chair, Department of Physical Therapy
None of these words are okay when it comes to people, and are even more...Read more
Interruptions in Nursing and Bonding During Early Development
In this fourth contribution prepared by clinical faculty members who specialize in early development of young children, the effects of disruption and separation in infants and toddlers are discussed.
Emily Zeman, OTD MS, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Therapy
and Lesley Maxwell, MS, CCC-SLP, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Regarding the news of infants being torn...Read more
This is part 3 in the continuing discussion of childhood detainees and its effect on their development. One question that can be asked is "why are these people bringing their children to the U.S?" What motivates immigration in this way.
In today's contribution , Professor Antonia Makosky (School of Nursing) describes her experience in dealing with a woman and her children in the Congo, while serving with Doctor Without Borders. Antonia draws an important parallel to...Read more
June 26, 2018
This is Part II of this blog, devoted to child detainees and their health issues. First, Christopher Sim, a faculty member in our Department of Physician Assistant Studies further describes some of the medical concerns for immigrant populations. The second contributor is Dr. Mary Thompson, a pediatric nurse practitioner and faculty member at the IHP. She continues with more specific information that may be useful to providers concerned with care of children...Read more
June 25, 2018
I have felt as concerned as many of you about what we can do to be helpful with the current situation regarding detained families and separation of children from their parents. As of yesterday, June 20, President Trump has signed a new policy that prevents separation of children from parents at the borders. However, there is no clear plan for detainees currently in custody. Over 2000 infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents are currently being held in...Read more
June 18, 2018
Children, minors under age 18, are the most precious resource available to our own culture and to all the world. They represent all the hope and all the future possibilities available to everyone, everywhere. This hopeful preciousness is agnostic to their national origin, their parents’ status in social strata, their health or physical status, their religious background, or their race or ethnicity. Dependent on the adults “in the room,” their lives are precious...Read more
June 9, 2018
At the Institute, there are many great days every year. Today was one of those days for me. It was a home run kind of day. On one of the first really beautiful Saturdays of this spring, there was intense activity inside the IHP. The third floor of the Shouse Building was almost vibrating with learning. In each case the learning was voluntary (not required) and was collaborative.
Walking down the hallway I bumped into some of our students who are enrolled...Read more
March 1, 2018
As promised, here is the second invited blog post. This one is from Rachel Harshaw, an administrative staff member in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Rachel addresses the issue of consent and asks us to think about our own action vs. inaction. Thanks to Rachel for her thoughtful contribution! — Alex Johnson, Provost
“All too often, when we see injustices, both great and small, we think, ‘That’s terrible,’ but we do...Read more
February 27, 2018
Recently, I invited two members of our community – a faculty member and a staff member – to make a post on my blog regarding their views on the recent shootings in Parkland, Florida. The first guest post, which follows, comes from our colleague Professor Inge Corless (School of Nursing). Inge has chosen to focus on the topic of the United States Constitution and Public Health. I hope you will take a moment to read this contribution. Look for another post...Read more
February 15, 2018
What disease process has escalated in the past six months?
What condition will cause more loss of life than occurred in the Vietnam war?
What known cause of life and limb has prohibitions against being studied or has seen a reduction in health financing?
What is a major cause of death and disability for the youngest Americans?
What condition produces death at a rate of about 4 persons per 100,000 in this country?
You know the...Read more