Kaalan E. Johnson, MD


My interest in helping children with complex airway, breathing, and swallowing conditions is one avenue to have a positive impact on some of our most important functions of interactive life. Working in medical simulation has allowed me to find ways to teach others to provide this care in a more effective way. I feel lucky to be at a place like the Seattle Children's and the University of Washington where I can work in all these areas in one amazing place.


Dr. Johnson is the surgical director of the Aerodigestive Program and the voice program, and he practices at Seattle Children's main campus, North Clinic, and Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center. He is an associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is a native of the northwest but completed his medical school in Southern California and residency in Virginia before completing a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology and first faculty position at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio.

Dr. Johnson began working at Seattle Children's Hospital in 2013 and started seeing patients with complex airway, breathing, and swallowing problems in the aerodigestive clinic in 2014. Additional clinical interests include tracheostomy / airway reconstruction, voice, exercise induced laryngeal obstruction, complex obstructive sleep apnea, nose and sinus surgery, and ear surgery. He has a long-term interest in medical simulation, and in addition to 3D printing and virtual surgical planning projects, he directs multiple simulation-based courses, and collaborates with the WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH) at the University of Washington.

He lives with his wife, three children, and their dog, and enjoys wakeboarding, snowboarding, and any other adventure he can do with his kids, as well as all types of music.

Current CV


Undergraduate Education: Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Wash., 2000

Medical School: Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, Cal., 2004

Internship: Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va., 2005

Residency: Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va., 2009

Fellowship: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2011

Board Certification: Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, 2010

Memberships: American Medical Association, American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Society for Simulation in Healthcare, Association for Surgical Education


Awards and Honors

2010: Unsung Heroes Award Winner, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

2009: Eunice Baxter Award for Outstanding Chief Surgical Resident at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital

2009: 1st Place, Resident Podium Presentations, Virginia Society of Otolaryngology Annual Meeting

2007: 1st Place, Resident Research Award, Basic Science Category, AAO-HNSF

2004: Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Member

College Recipient of Servant Scholar of the Year Award

SPU Scholar Award Winner (largest academic scholarship)

College Crew Team Scholar Athlete Award winner, qualified for National Crew Regatta

Clinical Interests

Aerodigestive conditions including complex airway, breathing, and swallowing issues, aspiration, laryngeal clefts, airway reconstruction, subglottic stenosis, obstructive sleep apnea, voice, and tracheotomy management. Additional interests include sinus and ear disease, and craniofacial disorders.

Recent Publications

Research Areas

Research Focus

Dr. Johnson's primary research interests center on aerodigestive and airway conditions including aspiration and airway evaluation. He also participates in medical simulation research and directs courses aimed at improving medical education and procedural competency.