“Just knowing the folks at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun and seeing how communal, helpful, and efficient everyone is, there are just a lot of things about the practice that I love. I knew pretty much from the moment I went into Ophthalmology that this is what I hoped for.”
Some people may work well alone, while others thrive in a more team-centric environment. Andrew Johnston, M.D., is, without a doubt, a part of the latter crowd. Being a member of the team of eye care professionals at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun who work seamlessly together to care for the vision of East Tennesseans provides a kind of unrivaled fulfillment for Johnston.
From disease diagnosis, treatment, and management to surgery and everything in between, General Ophthalmologist Dr. Johnston offers a comprehensive level of eye care for his patients in Knoxville and the surrounding area that perfectly aligns with the collective goal of the practice.
Though born in Dallas, Texas, Johnston’s early childhood was spent living in Seattle, Washington followed by Boise, Idaho before moving to Knoxville sometime during elementary school. Knoxville was where he remained throughout college and where he proudly calls home today. Growing up in East Tennessee, a big part of Johnston’s life was sports, primarily baseball and basketball. It was through these activities that he developed a true love of teamwork, a trait that continues to serve him today.
Dr. Johnston is one of those somewhat rare cases where there wasn’t any indication early on that he might take a medical direction in life. Many times, people who end up dedicating their careers to the field of medicine had at least some degree of foreshadowing, whether it be through family influence or other means.
“No one in my family is in healthcare at all, so I didn’t have any exposure to medicine and never thought about it growing up,” Johnston said. “I went to college and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was actually an English major because I really like stories and reading and writing.”
While attending University of Tennessee, Johnston worked as a volunteer leader with Young Life, a youth ministry for middle and high school students. Still unsure of his professional trajectory after graduating UT with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, he joined Young Life as a staff member and lived for a couple years in Nashville. It was during that time that he really started thinking about what he wanted out of a career. A friend and key mentor suggested medicine, and Johnston was instantly intrigued. After thinking extensively about it, conducting quite a bit of research, and talking to a lot of people on the matter, he decided to go for it. The first step was going back to school to complete two years of prerequisites. Johnston started testing the waters in different areas of medicine to see where he might best fit. Thanks to a childhood friend (who happens to be our own Eric Sollenberger, M.D.), he was able to get his first taste of the exciting world of Ophthalmology.
“Since I didn’t really have any exposure early on, I just tried to see if there was a way that I could get involved in a clinic or a hospital,” Dr. Johnston said. “I talked to Eric and was able to come and work at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun for a couple of months on Dr. Cunningham’s team. That wasn’t necessarily me saying I wanted to do Ophthalmology at the time. It was more about me needing exposure to medicine. I needed to see if I liked this, and I loved it. That’s when I decided to chase it full on.”
But before diving deep into Ophthalmology, Johnston had another unique experience which ultimately helped contribute to his well-roundedness as a medical professional. A family friend and mentor who was a doctor of internal medicine was on a two-year sabbatical working at a rural, underserved clinic in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. That afforded Johnston an opportunity to volunteer at the hospital for three months and gain more exposure. It often takes a collection of experiences to shape the big picture, and Dr. Johnston can certainly attest to that.
“There were just some really neat formative experiences along the way, so many little moments that spurred me on,” he said. “I kind of thought about it as setting up some hurdles. Once you clear the first hurdle, you’re feeling good and thinking maybe you can clear the second one. So I went and did this thing in South Africa and it was an awesome experience…so was working with Dr. Cunningham in our eye clinic, and so on and so forth. It really was just kind of a perpetual process of one thing leading to the next and giving me more of a desire to keep going.”
He certainly had all the motivation he needed, which carried him through medical school at UT Health Science Center in Memphis followed by an internship at UT Hospital in Knoxville and back to Memphis to complete his residency at the Hamilton Eye Institute.
Though he admits it’s been a rather long journey of discovery that eventually led him to Ophthalmology, Dr. Johnston realizes that things just seemed to click along the way and solidify that it is indeed the field he’s meant to be in.
“It’s hard to beat,” he said. “Nothing came close to it really. I just realized Ophthalmology was the best fit for me.”
Dr. Johnston prides himself on comprehensively treating as much as he can, from glaucoma to cataracts to dry eye as well as performing oculoplastic surgery. And the opportunities of collaboration with colleagues and other specialties at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun offers an inclusive level of care to meet patients’ needs all under one roof.
“I really want to be a team player and do whatever I can help both my patients and the practice,” Dr. Johnston said. “Those are the things that I really care about – being on a team and taking good care of patients.”
Needless to say, when the opportunity came for him to re-join the practice where he was bitten by the Ophthalmology bug all those years before, Johnston wasted no time in seizing it.
“Just knowing the folks at Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun and having that previous experience of seeing how communal, helpful, and efficient everyone is, there are just a lot of things about this practice that I love,” Johnston said. “I knew pretty much from the moment I went into Ophthalmology that this is what I hoped for, so when the opportunity came up for me to join the practice, I was thrilled.”
In Johnston’s words, the practice is the “total package,” and he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
“There’s not much more that you could want,” he said. “We’ve got our own surgery center, our own LASIK® center, a medical retina specialist, two cornea specialists, and so much more. There is such camaraderie between the doctors. It really is everything that you could want in a practice.”
Dr. Johnston and his wife Jessica have four young children, so spare time can be hard to come by. But when time allows, he loves to be outside gardening, landscaping, cheering on the Vols, or hiking in the East Tennessee mountains.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnston or any of our physicians, call us at (865) 584-0905.