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Biden appoints nurse Susan Orsega as Acting US Surgeon General

The Biden administration has chosen Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, MSN, a nurse practitioner and an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Corps, to serve as Acting U.S. Surgeon General.

Orsega has significant experience in infectious disease and will be a welcome addition to the Administration’s healthcare division, given the nation’s current COVID-19 crisis.

In her new role, Orsega will serve as the Nation’s Doctor and provide Americans with “the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury,” according to the U.S. Department Health and Human Services. She will oversee the more than 6,000 uniformed officers and public health professionals who are part of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

“Rear Admiral Orsega is a longtime champion of public health whose visionary leadership has strengthened health care equity and access for our nation,” Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, said in a statement. “Her experience and training as an NP, combined with her unrivaled expertise in both public health and disaster response, are exactly what our nation needs to navigate our country’s current health care challenges.”

Orsega now belongs to a small group of nurses who have had the opportunity to serve as Surgeon General. The most recent appointment of a nurse to the job was Sylvia Trent-Adams, who ascended to the role after Murthy’s discharge, The Washington Post reported.

“We thank President Biden for acknowledging the critical role that nurses and advanced practice nurses play in our nation’s healthcare delivery system by naming Adm. Orsega to serve in this important role as our country faces the ongoing pandemic and the need to improve health care equity,” reads a statement from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).

President Biden asked for Trump-appointed Jerome Adams’ resignation from the Surgeon General post in an attempt to break with the previous administration. Orsega will serve in the role until the confirmation of Vivek Murthy, MD is complete. Murthy served as Surgeon General during the Obama administration until he was discharged by President Trump.

Biden has once again asked Murthy to serve in the role but his confirmation hearings have not been scheduled, according to a report from The Washington Post.

“Armed with scientific expertise and confidence of the American people, Adm. Orsega will provide excellent care for all placed in her charge as a distinguished, accomplished, and visionary professional nursing leader,” said Jessica Peck, DNP, president of NAPNAP.

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