Monday, July 13

Rural family doctor Obama choice for US Surgeon General

President Barack Obama announced his choice for the next US Surgeon General today.

A family practice doctor who has spent most of her career working with poor patients in an Alabama clinic.

Dr. Regina Benjamin is a 52 year old family practice doctor.

A doctor who according to President Obama did not charge patients who could not afford to pay.

A doctor who took no salary when the clinic she runs, the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, wasn’t making any money.

President Obama referred to Dr. Benjamin as "a relentless promoter" of programs to fight preventable illness.

Dr. Regina Benjamin has her reasons for being determined to battle preventable disease.

Her family.

Her father died with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Her older brother died at the age 44 of an HIV-related illness.

Her mother died of lung cancer after taking up smoking at a young age.

Her mother's twin brother is currently "struggling for each breath" after being a life long smoker.

Her personal list of encounters with preventable disease is a long one.

Her educational experience is also long and interesting.

Dr. Benjamin received a bachelor's degree in 1979 from the predominantly African-American Roman Catholic college - Xavier University of Louisiana in 1979.

She then attended Morehouse School of Medicine from 1980 to 1982.

She received a doctorate of medicine degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984.

She is currently the Trustee of Morehouse School of Medicine. Thus making her the second Morehouse School of Medicine board member to be chosen for service by President Obama. The first was Eric Holder. Mr. Holder was vice chairman of MSM's board of trustees when he was picked as U.S. Attorney General.

Prior to her appointment to the board, Dr. Benjamin was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow in 2008, which awarded her a $500,000 fellowship grant to continue providing medical care.

Dr. Benjamin has served as the associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine and as president of the State of Alabama Medical Association, from 2002-2003.

Dr. Regina Benjamin was the winner of the 1997 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights.

She was also the first African American woman board member of the American Medical Association, and she has just served a term as chairwoman of the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.

Dr. Benjamin will still have to pass Senate confirmation hearings.

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