Black Nurse, Sylvia Trent-Adams, Becomes Surgeon General After Obama Appointee Is Pushed Out

Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams and then-U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Vivek H. Murthy on April 24, 2016 (Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As has happened to other holdovers from the Obama administration, reps of Team Trump asked U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy to resign Friday.


Murthy was replaced by his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, one of the first nurses to serve as surgeon general.

According to the New York Times, Trent-Adams will be in an acting role for now. The administration moved quickly and had updated the U.S. surgeon general page by Friday evening.

Interestingly, Trent-Adams may be the first surgeon general who is not a doctor, but there has been a nurse before. Dr. Richard Carmona, who served under President George W. Bush, was a nurse and a doctor.


Trent-Adams is also not the first African-American woman to act as surgeon general. That distinction goes to Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in his first term. The first female surgeon general was Dr. Antonia Novello, appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

The New York Daily News reports that Murthy, an Obama appointee, was pushed out because of his stance on gun control. He has repeatedly gone on record saying that gun violence a public health threat.


According to the Times, Trent-Adams received a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. She 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.

Read more at the New York Times and New York Daily News.

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Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.