Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams Becomes First Black Nurse to Serve as US Surgeon General

Hampton University alumna Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams is the first African-American non-physician to serve as acting US Surgeon General. Recognized as  “America’s Doctor,” Admiral Trent-Adams is responsible for communicating the best scientific information available on how to improve the country’s health.

A 24-year veteran of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS)—a group of more than 6,700 public health professionals working throughout the federal government – Trent-Adams served as the agency’s chief nurse officer from 2013 until 2016, advising the department on the recruitment, assignment, deployment and retention of nurse professionals.

Trent-Adams graduated from Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 1987 before pursuing an M.S. in Nursing and Health Policy and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

She formerly was a nurse officer in the Army and also served as a research nurse at the University of Maryland. She joined the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service in 1992 and served as the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration before joining the surgeon general’s office.

As of April 21, 2017, Trent-Adams replaced Dr. Vivek H. Murthy who was the surgeon general under President Barack Obama. Alleigh Marré, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on Friday that Dr. Murthy was asked to step down “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” Ms. Marré said Dr. Murthy would continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.


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