Nurse Appointed Acting Surgeon General

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Nurse Appointed Acting Surgeon General

Meet Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, RN, Ph.D., FAAN

By Working Nurse
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With the recent exit of Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., MBA, America’s acting surgeon general is now a nurse: Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, RN, Ph.D., FAAN. 

Top Nurse

Until the White House fired Murthy on April 21, Trent-Adams was deputy surgeon general, a post she had held since October 2015. She is only the second nurse — and the only practicing RN — to serve as U.S. surgeon general. (The first was George W. Bush’s first surgeon general, Richard H. Carmona, M.D., MPH, FACS, who was a nurse before he became a physician.)

We Salute You

A commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) since 1992, Trent-Adams is originally from Concord, Va. She earned her BSN from Hampton University on an ROTC scholarship and served five years as an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. She later earned her MSN and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

During the Obama administration, Trent-Adams held several administrative positions, including deputy associate administrator of HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau. In late 2013, she was appointed chief nurse officer of the USPHS, with the rank of rear admiral.

Temporary Position?

It’s not yet clear how long Trent-Adams will remain as acting surgeon general. Under federal law, the president has the power to appoint a new surgeon general, who must be confirmed by the Senate for each four-year term.

By law, surgeons general must be current officers of the USPHS Regular Corps with “specialized training or significant experience in public health programs.”

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