Steve Johns, PA-C, enlisted in the Army after high school graduation in Oregon City, Oregon. He became an Army medic and thrived in the military atmosphere, developing focus and discipline. “The Army helped me build the foundation that led to my success as a student and in my career,” shares Johns.
After a four-year stint in the Army, Steve Johns joined the Army Reserves. He was working as a civilian at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma as a scrub tech specializing in cardiac surgery, when a surgeon who’d been in the Special Forces said, “You are way too smart not to continue your education.”
Johns took this comment to heart and began taking evening classes to earn his associates degree. He didn’t stop there. In 2010, he applied and was accepted to the prestigious Interservice Physician’s Assistant Program (IPAD). This program, which is available to all branches of the military, is an accelerated, highly competitive program that condenses two years into one. In just 12 months, Johns completed his bachelor’s degree and began a year of clinical rotations at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eager to return to the Pacific Northwest, Johns returned to St. Joseph’s Medical Center to work in Neurosurgery.
While working as physician’s assistant in the neurosurgery department, Johns stayed active participating in local races like the Fort Lewis Triathlon and the Seattle to Portland bicycle ride. He really enjoyed the triathlon because of the challenge of competing in three categories of running, biking and swimming all in one race. Training for a triathlon is a time-consuming undertaking and with a very demanding work schedule, he soon decided that Neurosurgery was not his final stop.
Johns’ wife, Sylvia, who works for Olympia Orthopaedic Associates as the Director of Surgical Services, knew they were hiring another Physician Assistant. “My wife encouraged me to apply for a job working with Dr. Brodie Wood,” says Johns. “She knew that Olympia Orthopaedic Associates values work-life balance and that the physicians and employees are encouraged to be active.”
It turned out to be a great fit. “Dr. Wood inspires those around him to work hard while encouraging us to have goals and aspirations outside of the workplace,” he explains. “Dr. Brodie Wood has a huge heart and a great personality.” Dr. Wood has six children, so he understands the importance of spending time with his family.
Johns did his homework, making sure that Dr. Wood was someone he would feel comfortable working with. “I am the one who deals with the patients post-operatively so it’s important to me to be working with a talented and skilled surgeon,” explains Johns. “Dr. Wood fits that description perfectly.”
With work and life in balance, Johns was able to get back to training for triathlons. He had done well in his first Ironman Half triathlon at Lake Stevens in 2012. This difficult course includes a one-mile swim, a hilly 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
This successful foray into the world of Ironman triathlons gave him the confidence to compete in a full Ironman competition in Canada last July; double the distance and triple the challenge. Johns had a great race finishing 15th in his division.
Ready to take on the challenge again, he was scheduled to compete in Ironman Maryland in September. Unfortunately, a bicycle accident sidelined him temporarily. He didn’t have to go far to find a great surgeon; Dr. Trent McKay of Olympia Orthopaedics was able to get him back on his bike in no time.
“I love working at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates,” shares Johns. “The physicians here are active and encourage us all to be healthy and active as well.”
Olympia Orthopaedic Associates sponsors the OOA cycling team and the Blackhills Triathlon along with many other community organizations. When Johns participated in a stair climb to raise money for ALS, his employer supported him.
Johns is continuing on the road to qualify for Ironman Championships, which take place every year on the island of Kona in Hawaii. He will compete in Ironman Santa Rosa in May 2019 and give Maryland another shot the following September. There is no doubt that his physician employers will be among his biggest supporters.
To make an appointment or to learn more about their community involvement, visit the Olympia Orthopaedic Associates website.