Obama's pick for Surgeon General: Dr. Regina Benjamin

As I was sitting home watching the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, I saw that President Obama chose a person to be the new Surgeon General. I was very impressed with Dr. Regina Benjamin's story. What really impressed me with her story was how connected she was both professionally and personally to the medical field in which she works.

During her speech Dr. Benjamin mentioned that she lost her mother to lung cancer, her father to diabetes, her brother to complications from HIV and currently had an uncle who was suffering from emphysema due to his years of smoking. I believe that having been impacted personally by all of the major diseases that affect Americans, she brings to the table a level of empathy and real-life understanding that should drive her to do well.

I also was impressed with her level of perseverance. She started her own clinic in a very poor town in Alabama. Hurricane Georges in 1999 destroyed it. Dr. Benjamin rebuilt it. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed it again, it was clear to Dr. Benjamin that the impact of this clinic was crucial to the people that it helped out. So she rebuilt it again. In what can only be described as terrible luck, right before she was supposed to re-open the clinic, a fire destroyed it. Dr. Benjamin went into debt to have it rebuilt for a fourth time. I believe that this perseverance will be her strongest trait as Surgeon General.

What her pick means for diversity is clear. Many of the past few Surgeon Generals have been minorities, most notably David Satcher, an African-American and Richard Carmona, a Latino of Puerto-Rican decent, who both served for four years. I believe that what may separate Dr. Benjamin is her connection to improving the medical situations of the poor in this country. Here's to Barack Obama for picking someone who will undoubtedly serve this country, especially the poor and oftentimes forgotten segment of society well.


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