S. Gupta MD for Surgeon General: A moment of pause please.
Posted Jan 11 2009 4:59pm
S unjay Gupta MD is being considered for the new Surgeon General of the U.S. under the Obama administration. This looks like it will be a polarizing issue. A few comments were mentioned in the New York Times from the blogging community that seemed to hint disapproval. Dr. Gupta is likely well known for his presence in CNN's health section. His credentials are clearly more than acceptable from a neurosurgical point of view, and yes he has spent some time walking the halls in Washington D.C. as a White House Fellow in 1977. Perhaps his main job will be curing the nation's many headaches.
One comment from the Times article mentioned that Dr. Gupta might not be taken seriously by legislators. I'm not sure why. If the legislative body in Washington D.C. takes Governor Schwarzenegger seriously surely they can take Gupta seriously. After all I seem to remember that one of crew members from the Love Boat is a congressman. I don't really think being taken seriously is so much the issue here.
My thinking is more along the lines of his qualifications with respect to public health. Yes he is a neurosurgeon and clearly that accomplishment denotes some level of ability and aptitude. That being said though, his specialty is not public health, epidemiology, or preventive medicine. The office of the Surgeon General deals specifically with those issues. The job as the SG should be given to someone who is qualified based on experience and credentials, not on public opinion necessarily, nor popularity.
I would also argue that while Dr. Gupta is clearly capable in his role as a healthcare adviser for CNN and he will likely be able to learn the ropes in Washington, I still come back to the credentials thing. From where I sit I would think a better candidate would be found from inside the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where they deal with public health issue every single day.