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Dr. Benjamin resigns as surgeon general

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 24, 2013

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U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, has announced that she will step down as the nation’s top doctor effective July 16.

Dr. Benjamin, a family physician who has held the post since July 2009, said she would spend some time volunteering at her medical clinic in Alabama as she considered her next steps. Her deputy, Rear Adm. Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, will serve as acting surgeon general while the White House searches for the next nominee for the position.

In a statement, Dr. Benjamin cited the National Prevention Strategy as one of her key accomplishments during her four-year tenure. She described the strategy as a road map for organizations to follow to help address health disparities and raise the number of people who are healthy throughout their lives. She said the next annual report of the initiative will show positive results in the areas of cutting smoking rates as well as deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Dr. Benjamin also singled out her Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation and her Every Body Walks initiatives, among others, as some of her top accomplishments.

American Medical Association President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, congratulated Dr. Benjamin for her work, describing her as “an effective public health advocate and spokesperson for the medical profession. Her focus on wellness and preventing chronic illness has achieved real results, with decreases in deaths related to heart disease, strokes and cancer. The AMA is dedicated to improving health outcomes for these chronic conditions, and our nation’s patients and physicians have been fortunate to have such a strong advocate for public health in the surgeon general’s office.”

Dr. Benjamin served on the AMA Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1998, becoming the first physician younger than 40 to serve on the board in a nonresident role.

American Public Health Assn. Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, lauded the outgoing surgeon general for her work on preventing chronic disease, reducing tobacco use and promoting fitness.

“Regina Benjamin taught America how to walk again,” he said in a statement. “She elevated walking as a simple yet important form of physical activity available to most Americans. Through her walks, she brought communities together and worked to make being healthy fun again.”

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