Who would have guessed that one of the best nursing jobs in the country would be to take over the role of “America’s Doctor”?
Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, was named acting surgeon general of the United States by Pres. Trump on April 21, 2017, replacing Vivek H. Murthy, MD, why had been installed as the country’s 19th surgeon general in December 2014 by Pres. Obama.
A statement by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) said that Murthy was asked to step down by The White House “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” Murthy’s term wasn’t supposed to be over until late 2018.
Murthy will remain as a member of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.
First non-physician to serve as surgeon general
Trent-Adams is one of the first nurses to serve as surgeon general, and the first non-physician to hold the office. She had served as Murthy’s deputy surgeon general before her appointment.
Previously, Richard Carmona, both a doctor and a nurse, served as surgeon general under President George W. Bush.
Trent-Adams has quickly taken over the surgeon general's social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook, with her information replacing Murthy’s by Friday night, April 21.
How long she will remain as acting surgeon general is unknown at this time.
The making of a nurse leader
RADM Trent-Adams received her BSN from Hampton University, a master’s degree in nursing and health policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She became a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2014.
In the early part of her nursing career, she served as a nurse officer in the Army and as a research nurse at the University of Maryland. In 1992, she joined the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). During her tenure, she has served in a number of roles, including chief nurse officer from November 2013 through May 2016.
She also served as the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) before becoming a member of the surgeon general's office.
As Murthy left office, he expressed his appreciation for the chance to serve as the nation’s surgeon general in a Facebook post, and offered some support for his successor, stating: “As my colleague Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams takes over as acting Surgeon General, know that our nation is in capable and compassionate hands.”
The role of the surgeon general
The surgeon general's office and staff are known as the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). The position is nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Often known as “America’s Doctor,” the surgeon general is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal and public health. The surgeon general also oversees operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 800 locations around the world to promote, protect and advance the health and safety of our nation and our world.
Sources: Office of the Surgeon General & The New York Times