Crystal Johnson-Mann, M.D., MPH COM Class of 2012; General Surgery Residency Class of 2017

Crystal Johnson Mann MD

Crystal Johnson – Mann, M.D., MPH is a gifted bariatric and minimally invasive surgeon and passionate health disparities advocate. She is an Assistant Professor of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery and the Assistant Chair of Inclusion and Wellness for the University of Florida Department of Surgery. She also serves as the fourth-year clerkship director for medical students rotating in surgery. 


Dr. Mann is a proud graduate of the MUSC College of Medicine and General Surgery Residency Program, where she holds the distinction of graduating in the first all-female class. She completed a minimally invasive surgery fellowship at the University of Virginia Health System, where she refined the skills she honed at MUSC under the nationally and internationally recognized faculty in the GI surgery division. 


“During my time as a resident, I fell in love with foregut and bariatric surgery,” said Dr. Johnson-Mann. “Not only did I have the opportunity to learn excellent technique from world-class surgeons, but I was also supported, challenged, and encouraged by these surgeons. By the time I started my fellowship, I was exceedingly well-trained and had the opportunity to further refine my skills, particularly on complex cases, through this advanced fellowship at the University of Virginia.” 


Dr. Johnson-Mann grew up always knowing she would go into the medical profession. Her father was a national registry paramedic and former director of emergency medical services in her hometown of Camden, South Carolina. She often accompanied him on trips to the hospital or to the emergency medical technician classes he taught during her breaks from school. These experiences significantly influenced her, ultimately leading to her decision to pursue medicine. In high school, not only was she academically gifted, but she was also a two-sport standout in basketball and volleyball. She was named MVP of both teams and led her volleyball team to the State Championships in her junior and senior seasons. 


She attended the University of South Carolina on a full athletic scholarship for volleyball and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. While at the University of South Carolina, she was consistently recognized as a Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Student and active in community service through the Athletics Department.  


She graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina for medical school in 2012. As a medical student, she continued her community involvement and leadership development. She founded “A Lady & A Scholar,” catering toward mentoring African-American females in high school and college interested in medicine. The program merged with “A Gentleman & A Scholar” to form “Student Mentors for Minorities in Medicine,” an organization she remains active with today.


“The College of Medicine at MUSC has a lot of programs that have been in place for a long time that help support diverse medical students and residents,” said Dr. Johnson-Mann. “I enjoyed my mentoring and leadership opportunities and am passionate about helping to pay it forward for the next generation of URiM physicians and surgeons.” 


During her residency training, she learned excellent surgical techniques. She felt supported by several faculty who have become life-long mentors - most notably David B. Adams, M.D., Rana Pullatt, M.D., Mark Lockett, M.D., and Katherine Morgan, M.D. 


“I value the mentorship that I received, specifically from Dr. Adams, who has been my mentor since I was a medical student and continues to mentor me to this day. I talk to him and his wife, Marti, often,” she said. “In fact, I don’t make major decisions without his input.”   

"I'll always remember Crystal as the person who stopped me after a busy clinic one day and asked: ‘Dr Adams, can you give me some feedback on how I'm doing?’” said Dr. Adams.  “I was taken aback.  No resident had ever asked me that question.  But Crystal had been a varsity athlete in college and expected active coaching. I gave her some advice on how to improve her game which she carefully followed. Crystal’s got ‘game.’ 

Crystal not only liked to be coached, she liked to coach.  

“She was usually not around on a Thursday afternoon when she would slip away and meet with a group of middle school kids, to mentor and coach them, following what she had been taught in her life: ‘Lift as we climb,’” he adds.

“The demands of surgical training cannot be understated,” said Dr. Johnson-Mann. “Of all the things that I have done in my life, the rigors of being an NCAA Division I college athlete and the mental fortitude it takes to excel in that arena prepared me well for surgical training,” said Dr. Johnson-Mann. “During my training, I drew on my collegiate athletic experience to develop coaches and mentors to help gauge my performance.”  


Although she says she did not feel discriminated against based on her race or gender by faculty, there were times when as a chief resident, a patient would want to challenge her decision with the attending in the room. “I would always be appreciative when the attending would defer to me in my decision-making in these situations,” she said. “It helped assure the patient they were in good hands, and it also helped me see how the attendings viewed and respected me professionally.” 


She said Dr. Lockett was her advisor, and even though his field of surgical oncology is different from what she was interested in, he guided her adeptly. “I leaned on him quite heavily during my training and we still keep in close contact,” she said. 


In her chosen field, both T. Karl Byrne, M.D., and Rana Pullatt, M.D. were instrumental in her pursuing her career. “Dr. Pullatt was extremely supportive and continues to be instrumental in sponsoring me as a young surgeon,” she explained. “His influence in our bariatric society is why I have been fortunate to have several speaking engagements at our national bariatric meetings, for which I’m extremely grateful.” 


According to Dr. Johnson-Mann, during her MUSC residency, women faculty members were an integral part of the culture of inclusivity. They served as mentors and role models by excelling in their chosen field while managing spouses, children, and other intricacies that come along with being a female surgeon. 


“The women faculty had the unique experience of knowing what it was like to be in our shoes and provided us with invaluable advice on how to navigate certain situations or to push us in ways we didn’t know we needed to be pushed in order to become the best version of ourselves,” said Dr. Johnson-Mann. “Dr. Morgan, the department’s first female division chief, is an example of someone who saw my potential and helped me mature as a surgeon.” 


Since graduating fellowship, Dr. Johnson-Mann and her husband, Garrett, a healthcare consultant, have welcomed two boys to their family, Christian, age four, and Kelsey, who is eight months old.

Crystal Johnson-Mann and her family


She said having a family has allowed her to set boundaries to reduce burnout. “After two children, I realized the importance of establishing a good work-life balance and am more likely to engage in self-care,” she said. “In the end, this not only benefits my family – it benefits my patients. And ultimately, it lets me be the best version of myself.”