Standing up for
Suzanne Bennett Johnson has built a career out of demonstrating
psychology’s value to medical and scientific communities. As APA’s
2012 president, she is taking that message to the masses.
BY SADIE F. DINGFELDER • Monitor staff
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, had been on the faculty of the University of Florida’s medical school for less than a year when she found herself in trouble with the chief of
pediatric endocrinology. He called Johnson to his office to ask
why she, a psychologist, thought she should be the principal
investigator on the National Institutes of Health grant she had
written to study pediatric diabetes management. The physician
disagreed, arguing that he had the medical bona fides it would
take to get the grant funded. Johnson, however, insisted she be
treated as an equal by her physician colleagues.
struggled to control chronic illness while helping pioneer the
field of health psychology, says Larry C. Deeb, MD, a pediatric
endocrinologist in Tallahassee, Fla., and former president of the
American Diabetes Association.
“Psychologists have become welcome additions to diabetes
teams, partly because of Suzanne and a handful of other leading
psychologists,” Deeb says. “She is held in such high regard in the
medical community. She was the first distinguished professor
elected at Florida State’s medical school, and she’s not even a
As APA’s 2012 president, Johnson will take her message,
that psychology has much to contribute to the larger medical
and research community, to a national stage. “I have learned
from experience that when psychologists join health-care and
medical research teams, their contributions become obvious
very quickly ... and the quality of care you can deliver is so
much better,” she says.
Her presidential-year aims — maximizing APA’s
organizational effectiveness, expanding psychology’s role in