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University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071


UW Profiles

Future Physicians

WWAMI graduate Paul Johnson now helps to educate the next generation of Wyoming doctors.

By Micaela Myers

When Laramie, Wyo., native Dr. Paul Johnson graduated from the WWAMI program, he wasn’t sure he’d practice in Wyoming. “In fact, I initially took a job in Oregon out of residency,” he says.

Johnson soon realized his home state was the place to be. “I took a job in Cheyenne in 2010 and am very happy with my decision,” he says. “Wyoming is a great place to practice medicine. It's also a great place to live and raise a family. My time in Seattle and New York City reinforced this!”

Affiliated with the University of Washington School of Medicine, WWAMI stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, the states that participate in the program, including the University of Wyoming. The program allows first-year medical students to study in their home state before going to Seattle for their second year, and clinical rotations take place throughout the WWAMI region.

“I was fortunate to have options for medical school,” Johnson says. “I chose WWAMI for the reputation and quality of education.

“The WWAMI program is an amazing opportunity for the state and its students,” he continues. “Its students are very well prepared and have the opportunity to go on to top residency programs. It exposes students to providing care in our five-state region, including many rural practice opportunities. I think this exposure, along with the financial incentive of loan forgiveness, draws our students back to the state.

“Wyoming has a problem recruiting and retaining physicians,” Johnson says. “The WWAMI program fills a real need in this respect. The last statistic I read was a near 70 percent return rate to practice in Wyoming. That's absolutely phenomenal. On a lighter note, it is fun for me to interact professionally with fellow alumni throughout the state.”

Johnson graduated from the WWAMI program in 2003 and completed his residency in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) at Columbia University in New York in 2008.

“I grew up in Laramie and graduated from Laramie High School in 1995,” Johnson says. “My father is a professor in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, and my mother is an instructor at the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing.”

During medical school, Johnson met his wife, Amanda. She returned to Wyoming with him and is now head of gynecology at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center and works part time in private practice at the Cheyenne Women's Clinic.

Johnson is a partner at Wyoming ENT & Allergy in Cheyenne. “We deal with medical and surgical care of problems in the head and neck,” he says. “We also have a thriving allergy practice.”

Johnson, who was named UW College of Health Sciences Medical Education Program’s Outstanding Alumnus in 2012, also keeps busy outside of his practice. “I serve as a trustee to the Wyoming Medical Society, as secretary/treasurer of the board of the High Plains Surgery Center in Cheyenne and as president of the board for the STRIDE Learning Center in Cheyenne,” he says.

“Things have come full circle,” Johnson says of his involvement with the WWAMI program. “I run an elective in otolaryngology here in Cheyenne for medical students.”

“There are few programs of this quality out there,” he adds. “The contract program with the state makes this a very attractive program financially; this is particularly true in this age of ballooning tuition costs.”

For students who have the opportunity to enroll in the WWAMI program, Johnson says, “Go for it.”

One of the 10 Cowboy Ethics adopted by UW is

is “Ride for the brand.” WWAMI alumnus Dr. Paul Johnson exemplifies this principle by helping to educate the next generation of Wyoming physicians.


Dr. Paul Johnson
“Things have come full circle,” Dr. Paul Johnson says of his involvement with the WWAMI program.

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University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071


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