Lancaster University Medical School welcomes new Dean


Lancaster University has recently appointed a new Dean of Health & Medicine Faculty. Professor Neil Johnson, currently the Pro Dean Educational Professor of Medical Education at the Warwick Medical School, is looking forward to joining the University in August.

When SCAN asked Johnson about what attracted him to the opportunity, he responded “…the job itself, the University, and a feeling that I could bring something useful to the Faculty…[Lancaster University] feels to me to have a real sense of drive and ambition but is still of a size where personal relationships can make a difference.”

Professor Johnson has experience of working in a similar-sized faculty at a very similar stage of its development. He feels very ambitious his new position: “I have already seen lots of evidence of excellence in research and teaching and the Faculty is part of a University with a really good reputation – so there’s already a really good foundation.”

He was also attracted by the fact that the Faculty of Health and Medicine partakes in wide range of research, from basic cell biology to applied health research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith seemed very positive about Johnson’s appointment in his official press release:

“Neil has extensive experience in the development and leadership of medical education, the NHS and links to biomedical sciences. I am confident that he will help us achieve our future ambitions in the pursuit of outstanding biomedical, medical and social scientific research and education.”

Professor Johnson spoke of his career so far, as well as what has influenced his decisions: “My career has had four phases.  The first was my training as a doctor.  The second phase was more of an experiment.  I was interested in research – so I decided to test whether I had any aptitude for it.  I really enjoyed it – and also discovered how much I enjoyed teaching too.”

Between 1998 and 2001, Professor Johnson was the Director of Postgraduate GP Education in Oxford, before he became the Postgraduate Medical Dean at Leicester University in 2001 until 2003.

“The third phase was a result of a combination of understanding more about my strengths – and weaknesses – and interests along with some career guidance – some might call it ‘shoving’ – from a highly respected mentor.  In this phase I took on a series of leadership and management roles in education in the NHS.”

From 2003 and 2005, Professor Johnson was the Group NHSU Director. Afterwards, all his professional development was located at the University of Warwick Medical School where he first took the position of the Director of Partnership and Short Course Programmes (2006-2007), before moving on to become the Director of Community-Based Education (2007 – 2008) and finally taking of the position of Professor of Medical Education (2008-2013). He has also been a GP since 1989, and continues his work as a GP one day a week, to actively engage with patients.

“The fourth phase resulted from a change being forced on me.  The government decided to close the organisation I had joined – so I had to take stock and decide what the options might be.  I spent some time looking again at what I was good at (and not so good at) and where my interests lay. Based on that I decided to move into higher education – but could only do so with strong support from some key colleagues.”

Johnson will begin his role at the beginning of the 2014/2015 academic year, and hopes his impact may raise Lancaster’s profile in the UK Medical School leader boards.

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