Atlanta, GA,
15:22 PM

Advancing Learning to Improve Care

Diane Johnston, MSPT, director of professional education at Shepherd Center, helps Shepherd bridge gaps in professional education and improve care for patients worldwide.

How long have you worked at Shepherd Center, and what is your role?

I just celebrated my 23rd anniversary at Shepherd Center. I've been in my role as director of professional education since 2016. Through the NeuroRehabilitation Learning Institute, we offer medical education with the goal of being the primary source of professional education and competency for the medical community serving patients with complex neurological diagnoses.

We strive to improve the quality of life for these individuals, even if they aren’t at Shepherd.

Why did you think Shepherd Center needed to provide on-demand education?

When I was a treating physical therapist, I'd get calls from patients and family members when they went home, saying, “I know more than the home health provider or my hometown provider. Can you please educate them on what they need to do?” Being close to the families and knowing how hard they work to take their loved ones home only to get home and feel like the bottom’s let out was hard. Their sense of concern moved me. And it's not that medical providers aren't educated on these complex neurological diagnoses. Still, in addressing the intricacies of the needs of each individual, when you don't do that day in, day out, there’s a gap in practice and a gap in confidence.

I also found that the medical community was asking for the same foundational education over and over again. So, both things drove me to the same place — we need on-demand education where we can share our expertise. Practitioners need to be able to go online and get the education they need right now because they have a patient who needs it. I was very appreciative and still humbled that our administration supports this outreach. We are affecting patients by affecting the quality of care across facilities worldwide, whether we end up seeing these patients at Shepherd or not.

What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?

Although I'm not treating patients directly, I can influence the quality of the care. Knowing that Shepherd Center is creating resources for the medical providers that allow them to continue to grow, to possibly affect or change what they're doing, to improve the quality of care, that’s the motivator for me—reducing suffering, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and helping people go back out and enjoy the things that they love to do.


Miami Dade College, Associate of Arts, Business Administration

Georgia State University, Bachelor of Science, Exercise Science

North Georgia College and State University, Master of Science, Physical Therapy

Fun Facts:

Diane’s son is a high school senior and “the light of her life.”

Her family has four dogs, three cats, and a bearded dragon.

Diane loves gardening and building things.



About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.