Clark Johnsen: A Most Unusual Journey
“It’s been the most miraculous ride..."
Before medicine, Clark Johnsen, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM)-Harlem ‘18, was an actor on Broadway.
Having started his career with roles in Mary Poppins, High School Musical and Mamma Mia!, in June 2014 he left the ensemble of the award-winning musical The Book of Mormon—and the star-studded life of a Broadway actor—to pursue medicine at a school he calls “an incredible learning environment.”
“It’s an environment of collaboration…and I feel like people understand me, where I’ve come from...they understand the value of having someone who’s had some different life experiences. Being a student has surpassed all my expectations.”
Ironically enough, his acting experience has prepared him for medical school, he says.
“In acting, you learn that the most important thing is talking and listening. Being a physician is really no different—shutting out all the other things going on around you, and being incredibly present with the patient there with you, at that moment.”
As a dance theater major at Brigham Young University, Clark also took pre-med requirements to keep all his options open. His inspiring journey to medicine was sparked on a missionary trip (ironically enough for the Book of Mormon actor, Clark is actually a former Mormon!) at the age of 19, where he was awed by the volunteering physicians who came to treat the medically underserved individuals of the remote Mexican village in which he was staying.
Now, after a ten-year career in acting, Clark is transitioning to his other passion of medicine. "Touro is training me to become a D.O. who not only thinks with his mind, but who listens and opens his heart to his patients in both a medical and human way,” he says.
“It’s been the most miraculous ride to apply my mind, to understand the mystery of the human body—which has always fascinated me—while getting access to some of the best teachers that I can possibly imagine…I so look forward to the future of what medicine can bring into my life and what I can bring to medicine.”
This is Clark Johnsen’s story.