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An Advocate for Access

Published on Wednesday April 3, 2024
Headshot of Amy Johnson, NP
By Amy Johnson, NP

As a child growing up on my family’s farm in Highland County, one of the more rural parts of Virginia, I had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Since we raised beef cattle and sheep, I figured I would always work in the agricultural industry, and never thought that I would end up working in healthcare. 

After high school, I went to Virginia Tech, pursuing a degree in Animal Science. While there, I took an EMT course in order to work at a summer camp. This led to me volunteering at a local rescue squad in my free time. This time spent volunteering sparked my interest in healthcare and started me down the path to where I am today.

My senior year at Virginia Tech, I was accepted into the Paramedic Program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, VA. Prior to starting this program, I would have a life changing experience. The summer of 2002 following my graduation from Virginia Tech, I ran an EMS call for a farming accident. The resulting fatality was one of my former classmates. Being with him that night when he died was something that would stay with me for many years to come.

After working as a paramedic in the ER at a local trauma center as well as a local EMS agency, I went back to school to become a registered nurse. Soon after this, an opportunity became available in the ER at Bedford Memorial Hospital, and I transferred there in 2008. I immediately fell in love with the Bedford Community. Growing up in a small town, Bedford truly reminded me of home. While it was much bigger than where I grew up, the people were friendly and so appreciative of the care that you provided. My husband and I were also farming on his family farm, growing wheat, soybeans and hay.

After being influenced by many great APPs in my career as an RN, I chose to go back to school once again, and I was accepted into the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Radford University. My capstone project was raising awareness about the importance of farm safety and preventing injuries on the farm in honor of my former classmate. 

I graduated in 2013 and began working with Dr. Lenord Cohen in Huddleston, VA. Having worked in emergency medicine my entire career, primary care was an entirely different experience for me. Now, I can’t see myself doing anything else. 

I joined Centra Medical Group in January 2015, and I enjoy providing primary care in a rural community and working with farmers and their families. I am very active with the Virginia Farm Bureau outside of work and continue to promote not only farm safety, but also the importance of preventative care in agriculture and taking care of your mental health. 

I have had the opportunity to speak on a state and national level on these topics to a variety of audiences. One of my proudest moments was in 2020, when I was asked to speak at the White House for a national press event about the importance of telehealth in providing access to healthcare for rural populations.