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    Your Voice: The next U.S. Surgeon General must be a physician

    Dear President Trump,

    Congratulations on your first quarter as President of the United States. Citizens elected you, a non-politician, to head our federal government and political system, a daunting undertaking, for sure. We certainly appreciate your approach to individual rights, freedom, liberty, reduction of federal government bureaucracy, decreasing taxes on citizens and fiscal responsibility. To those ends, we support your honest efforts to drain the Washington, D.C., swamp of influence peddling, paid lobbying, special interest payola and career politicians.

    The U.S. Surgeon General has always been a physician for more than 200 years. The role began in 1871 as the first Supervising Surgeon of the Marine Hospital System. Later, supervision of the Public Health Service was included. All previous surgeon generals have been physicians. 

    As you know, there are two types of fully functional and licensed physicians in the U.S.: MD, medical doctors or allopathic physicians, and DO, osteopathic physicians. Both have 11-plus years of college, medical/osteopathic graduate school, post-graduate internship and residency training, depending on specialty. Nurses have half the training of physicians with four-plus years of college and clinical training. 

    As physicians, we recognize the importance of nurses in the healthcare arena. However, here is the job description for the surgeon general of the United States: “The Surgeon General reports to the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), who may be a four-star admiral in the commissioned corps, and who serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on public health and scientific issues.” 

    The need for scientific knowledge demanded by this job is so much more properly handled by a physician. From the more rigorous undergraduate requirements straight through the substantially lengthier training, a physician is more highly trained to answer questions surrounding scientific issues. 

    Imagine if the United States were under attack by a biological weapon agent, or infectious disease engulfing countless lives. Who do you want to handle these urgent situations? 

    Therefore, it is not appropriate to have an academic doctorate, nurse or other para-medical practitioner serve as surgeon general. Please consider a DO or MD for the role. We can provide excellent candidates upon request.

    Craig M. Wax, DO
    Mullica Hill, New Jersey

     

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