Dr. Heather Johnson

Doctors Nova Scotia welcomes new President and President-Elect

Dr. Heather Johnson, of Bridgewater, N.S., was installed as Doctors Nova Scotia’s President during the association’s virtual annual conference on Saturday, June 12, 2021.


Dr. Johnson has practised family medicine in Bridgewater for the past 20 years. She works in a collaborative practice with three other physicians and a nurse practitioner. Outside of the clinic she provides inpatient care at South Shore Regional Hospital and makes house calls to homebound patients.

She graduated from medical school at Memorial University in Newfoundland in 1994. “I thoroughly enjoyed every rotation, and it was there that I first recognized family medicine as the foundation of health care.”


Dr. Johnson’s first involvement with Doctors Nova Scotia was as member of the Board of Directors. Over the ensuing years, she stepped into other leadership roles within the organization. “Each role has given me the knowledge and skills to advocate for physicians and for patients as we continue to move through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson was also an integral member of the Master Agreement Negotiations Team in 2018–19. “We negotiated a contract that improved compensation in key, hard-to recruit specialties and made some improvements to the work environment, all in an effort to help Nova Scotia compete with other provinces for doctors.”

With more than 65,000 Nova Scotians still in need of a family doctor, an aging physician population and an aging patient population, there is still work to do to ensure every Nova Scotian has access to a family physician and specialist care.

Dr. Johnson assumed the role of Zone Medical Site Lead for South Shore Regional Hospital in March 2020, just as the province began responding to COVID-19. She will continue to lead her colleagues in her community during her tenure as DNS President; however, some of her duties will be deferred to other leadership, should issues or conflicts related to physicians arise.

The use of virtual care throughout the pandemic has offered doctors and patients a new and convenient way to give and receive care. One of Dr. Johnson’s priorities will be to ensure virtual care is available beyond the pandemic. “Virtual care has been found to be very convenient for patients who don’t require an in-person visit; it must be an option for providing care in the future.”

Another area of focus is to support equity, diversity and inclusion in the health-care system. Doctors and patients have experienced misogyny, racism, exclusion and bullying. “I look forward to supporting Doctors Nova Scotia’s commitment to ensuring physicians and our patients have a safe, inclusive health-care system.”

Also on Saturday, Dr. Leisha Hawker was endorsed as President-Elect. Dr. Hawker is a family physician practising in Halifax. Dr. Hawker’s work with vulnerable populations will offer a valuable perspective on the association’s equity, diversity and inclusion work. Her term as President will begin in June 2022.


Barb Johnson
Senior communications advisor
1-800-563-3427 ext. 4915