The Biden administration has selected nurse Susan Orsega to serve as the nation’s acting surgeon general, according to two people with knowledge of her selection, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the announcement.
Ms Orsega, a career commissioned officer in the US Public Health Service corps and a longtime infectious-disease specialist, would be among the first nurses to serve in the role of surgeon general, which is often referred to as “the nation’s doctor.” The announcement of Ms Orsega’s selection could come as soon as Tuesday, said one of the people.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a Trump appointee, resigned last week at Mr Biden’s request, and Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz, a career official, chose to retire after being passed over as acting surgeon general.
Frequently viewed as the nation’s spokesperson on public health matters, the surgeon general oversees the US Public Health Service, more than 6,000 uniformed public health personnel who work in various parts of the federal government, but has limited ability to make policy. In her current role, Ms Orsega oversees the corps’ personnel, operations and readiness.
Ms Orsega did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Health and Human Services department declined to confirm that Ms Orsega had been selected as acting surgeon general, but said the department is expecting an announcement as soon as Tuesday.
Mr Biden has nominated Vivek Murthy, a close adviser who served as surgeon general in the Obama administration, to return to his previous role as the nation’s top doctor. However, Mr Murthy’s confirmation hearings have yet to be scheduled, said an aide with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
“The committee is ready to go with an aggressive scheduling of hearings once we organise, with nominations being a top priority,” said Madeleine Russak, a committee spokesperson.
Ms Orsega is not the first nurse to serve as surgeon general. Former President Donald Trump in 2017 tapped nurse Sylvia Trent-Adams to serve as acting surgeon general after abruptly firing Mr Murthy. Richard Carmona, who served in the Bush administration, was both a physician as well as a nurse.