Gifted physician helps students gain a healthier lifestyle

It’s not uncommon in professor Ping Johnson’s Fitness for Living class to see before and after photos of students. In fact‚ one student sent Johnson a digital photo once a week‚ chronicling her weight loss experience. By the end of the semester‚ she had shed 40 pounds.

Georgia (Apr 14, 2006) — It’s not uncommon in professor Ping Johnson’s Fitness for Living class to see before and after photos of students. In fact‚ one student sent Johnson a digital photo once a week‚ chronicling her weight loss experience. By the end of the semester‚ she had shed 40 pounds.

“I challenge students to change a behavior like overeating or smoking‚” Johnson said.

“In the case with the student who lost 40 pounds‚ she utilized lifestyle techniques taught in class and altered her eating habits and stopped smoking. Seeing students change is very rewarding.”

Johnson’s career‚ however‚ has not always felt as rewarding as it does now. She spent 10 years as a physician at Anhui Provincial Hospital in her native China. With a specialization in hematology‚ Johnson diagnosed and studied patients‚ usually with fatal illnesses related to a blood disease.

“I grew tired of seeing patients dying on a regular basis‚” Johnson said. “Emotionally‚ it was hard for me to cope.”

So‚ Johnson began to think of other career options. When a friend in the United States sent her information about a degree program in health education‚ she wrote a letter to find out more and was eventually admitted into the program at Western Illinois University.

“It was a big change to leave China and go back to school‚” Johnson said. “As a doctor at the hospital‚ I oversaw four to five residents‚ so it was very challenging to become the student once again.”

After receiving a master’s degree in health education‚ Johnson pursued a Ph.D. in community health education from Southern Illinois University. She came to Kennesaw State in 2000 from Florida after her husband was transferred to the area.

After six years on the job‚ she has already made significant contributions to the university and to the health sciences field. In 2005‚ she was promoted to associate professor in the department of health‚ physical education and sport science and received the Distinguished Scholarship Award. Since 2002‚ she has received three additional awards‚ as well as three nominations for coveted recognition.

In addition‚ Johnson has authored many articles and conducted research in health education. Her latest research project examines how African−American women use complementary and alternative medicine and how it relates to their quality of life. She and research partner Gloria Taylor plan to publish their findings soon.

“We believe that there are exceptional findings in this study‚” Johnson said.

Coinciding with the university’s celebration of the Year of China‚ Johnson has coordinated a service−learning project in China this summer. The two−week−long program‚ “Exploring Health and Wellness in China‚” is the first study abroad program offered through the HPS department. Johnson challenges interested students to propose a service−learning project that is health−‚ fitness− or wellness−related and targeted to the Chinese population. Chosen participants will gain first−hand knowledge of China’s health care system‚ including traditional Chinese medicine‚ public health and exercise/sports programs.

As she looks forward to her trip to China‚ Johnson also looks forward to her future at Kennesaw State.

“I really like it here and don’t want to leave‚” she said. “Even though I could earn three to four times more money as a doctor‚ being a professor at KSU is very rewarding for me.”




 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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