The Donald Trump White House asked the nation’s top doc, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. to step down as the nation’s surgeon general this week. Murthy was long known for his stance of addressing gun violence as a public health issue.
“Today, Dr. Murthy, the leader of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, was asked to resign from his duties as Surgeon General after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump Administration,” said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in this story from guns.com. “Dr. Murthy has been relieved of his duties of Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps.”
Murthy was the 19th United States Attorney General and came to the post after a narrow 51-43 vote of confirmation from a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate under President Barack Obama in 2013.
This story from guns.com says his confirmation came under “fierce opposition from Second Amendment advocates over statements he had made in support of gun control as a healthcare issue.”
In a statement last week, Murthy said he chose to be relieved rather than resign with two years left on his appointment.
“My reason was simple: because I would never willfully abandon my commitment to my Commissioned Corps officers, to the American people, and to all who have stood with me to build a healthier and more compassionate America,” said Murthy. “While that decision to stand on principle resulted in my termination prior to the end of my four-year term, I know that the Office of the Surgeon General is greater than any one person and its mission must continue.”
The job was taken by Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, a career nurse who joined the USPHS in 1992. She is not the first nurse to serve in the position—she is, however, the first Surgeon General to not be a doctor, according to this story from the Boston Globe.
Dr. Richard Carmona, who served under George W. Bush, was a nurse and a physician who sometimes referred to himself as the first nurse to serve as surgeon general.
The reasons for Murthy’s departure are not currently clear, according to the Globe.
“Surgeons general have little staff or power but generally use their positions to call attention to important public health priorities.
“Murthy has for years made headlines for calling gun violence a public health threat. In 2014, the National Rifle Association urged the Senate not to confirm him.”
Trent-Adams received a doctorate in philosophy form the University of Maryland. She was a nurse officer in the U.S. Army and also served as a research nurse at the University of Maryland. After joining the CCPHS she served as the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Health Resources and Service administration, before joining the attorney general’s office.