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Another first: Duluth alum takes on role as assistant dean

Alan Johns, M.D., M.Ed. “I feel both personal pride and increased responsibility — an ownership of the curriculum for these students,” says Alan Johns, M.D., M.Ed., of this year’s incoming medical students. “I want them to become excellent practicing physicians, and this is their first step.”

Johns (Class of 1976) is taking his first steps, too, as the new assistant dean for medical education and curriculum at the Medical School, Duluth campus. He replaces Richard Hoffman, Ph.D., who left that role in anticipation of his retirement in 2012.

The new job is another in a series of “firsts” for Johns, who was one of the first 24 students — and one of the first Native Americans — to attend the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus when it opened in 1972.

Johns has practiced internal medicine at St. Mary’s-Duluth Clinic Health Care System (now Essentia Health East) since 1981 and began teaching clinical medicine in 1982 as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. He received his master’s degree in education in 2009 from the University of Minnesota, Duluth as well.

Medical students have selected Johns as Clinical Teacher of the Year multiple times. In 1998 the Lake Superior Medical Society named him Educator of the Year, and he was the first to receive Duluth Clinic Foundation’s Excellence in Education Award.

Johns says he plans to build on Hoffman’s accomplishments but adds, “I also want to expand how we evaluate our educational effectiveness. Simply put: What works, what doesn’t work, and why?”

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