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February 2014

A To-Do List for the Next US Surgeon General

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):177-178. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12376

The surgeon general of the United States is a troubled position, largely forgotten by the public. In July 2013, Regina Benjamin, MD, resigned from the post, cutting her 4-year term short by 4 months. Several of her predecessors have publicly testified that political censorship and paltry resources weakened the office. Nonetheless, Dr Benjamin has been criticized for further diminishing the office through the obscurity of her term. Despite promoting preventive medicine, smoking cessation, and other worthy causes, Dr Benjamin was largely unknown to the public. Between November 3, 2009, when her term started, and July 16, 2013, when it ended, there were fewer than 20 unique mentions of her name in the New York Times, as determined by an online search of the newspaper’s archives.