American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Take two: Dr. Satcher on tap as nation's next surgeon general

From the November 1997 ACP Observer, copyright © 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

The nation is about to get its first surgeon general in three years. Family physician David Satcher, MD, PhD, director of the CDC since 1993, was tapped by President Clinton this fall to fill the post that has been vacant since the public firing of Joycelyn Elders, MD.

During his keynote address at ACP's Annual Session in 1994, Dr. Satcher called on doctors to beef up their role as community leaders in disease prevention and health promotion. Under his leadership, the Atlanta-based CDC has been studying firearms injuries as a public health issue. It also has focused on increasing the childhood immunization rate and on upgrading the nation's ability to respond to emerging infectious diseases.

Confirmation hearings on the nomination began last month. At press time, Dr. Satcher's appointment was expected to be approved by the Senate shortly. Dr. Satcher, 56, has also been nominated to be assistant secretary of health, a position that has been vacant since Philip R. Lee, MACP, stepped down earlier this year to return to the University of California, San Francisco. The last time the government's top two health care positions were held by the same person was during the Carter administration.

Before coming to the CDC, Dr. Satcher was president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. An Alabama native, he received his medical degree and doctorate (in cytogenetics) from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He also worked at Morehouse College School of Medicine in Atlanta and at King-Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.

President Clinton's last nominee for surgeon general, Henry Foster, a Tennessee obstetrician, withdrew from consideration after attention focused on the abortions he had performed.

Others have been on the move inside the Beltway this fall:

  • Bruce Vladeck, PhD. HCFA administrator since 1993, Dr. Vladeck left his post Sept. 13 to teach health policy at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
  • Nancy-Ann Min DeParle. Ms. DeParle, who is currently HCFA's deputy administrator, was nominated by President Clinton as Dr. Vladeck's replacement; the post requires Senate confirmation. She had been associate director for health and personnel at the White House's Office of Management and Budget. Before that she was Tennessee's commissioner of human services.
  • Margaret A. Hamburg, ACP Member. President Clinton appointed Dr. Hamburg HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation this summer. She was a professor of medicine at Cornell University Medical Center and professor of public health at the Columbia University School of Public Health. The new position oversees the offices of science policy and health policy, the HHS Data Council and the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. Dr. Hamburg was New York City health commissioner from 1991 through April 1997.

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