As part of the new administration’s transition, the White House dismissed U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy from his position on April 21 and replaced him with a nurse.
Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams previously served as the deputy surgeon general under Murthy, and is now tasked with directing the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She may be the first surgeon general ever who isn’t a doctor.
Murthy served as the 19th surgeon general for the U.S. and succeeded Boris Lushniak, who served for 1 1/2 years. He took office December 18, 2014 after being nominated to the post by President Barack Obama. His nomination received criticism from the National Rifle Association during his confirmation hearings for comments he made about guns being a threat to public health, but he was ultimately confirmed. His nomination received support from numerous public health organizations and two former surgeon generals.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement Friday thanking Murthy for his service, which lasted well over two years.
Today, Dr. Murthy, the leader of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, was asked to resign from his duties as Surgeon General after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump Administration. Dr. Murthy has been relieved of his duties as Surgeon General and will continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps. (Health and Human Services) Secretary (Tom) Price thanks him for his dedicated service to the nation. Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the current Deputy Surgeon General, will serve as the acting Surgeon General and assume leadership of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Murthy posted a statement to his Facebook late Friday night, reminiscing on his experience as the surgeon general.
Here’s what you need to know about Trent-Adams:
1. Trent-Adams Has Over 24 Years of Experience In the Public Health Service Corps
Trent-Adams has worked hard throughout her career to move up the ranks. She started her career with the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service back in 1992 after spending time as a nurse officer in the Army. Before doing that, she was a research nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center where she specialized in trauma, oncology, community health and infectious disease.
In November 2013, Trent-Adams was appointed as the chief nurse officers of the USPHS. She served in the role until May 2016, advising Murthy while he served as the surgeon general. She was tasked with recruiting, assigning, deploying, retaining and assisting with the career development of nurses in the Corps in the new role.
A few of Trent-Adams’ initiatives included working to improve health access for poor communities. When she served as an administrator, Trent-Adams was in charge of building systems “to improve public health for marginalized populations domestically and internationally.”
She also served as the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau. She managed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, a $2.3 billion program that seeks funding for medical care and treatment for people living with HIV disease.
2. She Graduated From Hampton University Then the University of Maryland
Trent-Adams grew up on a farm in Concord, Virginia and would always be the one to take care of sick family members. It helped that her great aunt was a nurse, as that’s who she gained advice she uses to this day from.
When she was a teenager, she spent time volunteering as a candy striper at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia. She delivered mail to patients at the hospital and only became more interested in being a nurse when she worked there.
Before officially starting her career in the medical field, Trent-Adams completed quite a robust academic career, gaining three degrees. She graduated from Appomattox County High School in 1983; that’s where she was pushed to be a nurse. A counselor at Appomattox reportedly took note of her desire to help people and encouraged her to become a nurse for the Army.
After high school, she received an ROTC scholarship and attended Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. The university was founded in 1868 after the Civil War to give education for slaves that had been released from slavery.
Eventually, she received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton and continued her education.
After attending Hampton, Trent-Adams received her master’s degree in nursing and health policy from the University of Maryland and then got her doctorate in philosophy from the same school. She became a fellow of the Academy of Nursing in 2014.
3. Trent-Adams Has Been a Guest Lecturer At Universities & High Schools
Throughout her time in the field, Trent-Adams has done her best to give back to nurses and students that have aspirations in the medical field like she once did and still does. She’s returned back to her alma mater numerous times to give speeches and advise students on their route going forward in the field.
She’s spent time as a guest lecturer at both the University of Maryland and Hampton.
While she served in various positions within the government, she was the author of many articles and research studies that were presented in front of various organizations and medical groups.
4. Trent-Adams, a Mother of 2, Was Pushed to Succeed By Her Mother
Trent-Adams is married to her husband, Dennis Adams, and has two daughters with him — Nadia and Alexia.
Her mother, Alease, was apparantely the one who taught her that in order to achieve what she wanted in life and go where she desired to be, she had to keep working and not expect opportunities to just be handed to her.
“There is no way you are going to be an underachiever,” Trent-Adams said in an interview with the Times Virginian. “While I was in middle school, she told me you are going to college.”
When she was appointed to the position of chief nurse officer in 2003, she spoke about how hectic it tends to be trying to raise a family and hold such a prestigious role within the U.S. Public Health Service.
“It’s been very busy, overwhelming and exciting,” she said, adding that it’s been a big undertaking to become experienced in her new job.
5. When She Worked At a Military Hospital, Her Life Changed “for Good”
Sylvia Trent-Adams, second from left, poses as an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
]After spending years in education, Trent-Adams worked in the oncology unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
In her time there, Trent-Adams said she would witness people die “everyday.” Being able to interact with the patients and experience their unfortunate end made a big impression on her; she said she learned to “appreciate life and live well” following the early opportunity.
“That experience at Walter Reed set the stage for my entire career,” she said in the Times Virginian interview. “It taught me to treat people with dignity and respect.”
In addition to working at Walter Reed, she worked at a hospital in Texas and another one in Georgia during that five-year span.