Public Policy

Walking the halls of power


Improving the country’s health

Obesity, tobacco-related disease, mental illness, and addiction are some of the issues Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, targeted while serving as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. He was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2014, and was relieved of his duties by President Trump in April 2017.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy

Dr. Murthy, a hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston before he was confirmed as Surgeon General (at 37, the youngest one ever), also has an extensive record of health care-related entrepreneurship and outreach. He cofounded VISIONS, an HIV/AIDS education program in India and the United States, and the Swasthya project, a community health partnership in rural India. Dr. Murthy founded Doctors for Obama (later Doctors for America), a nonprofit organization of physicians and medical students dedicated to creating equal access to affordable health care nationwide.

Dr. Murthy has said that addiction should be seen as a chronic illness, not a character flaw, and last year sent a letter to 2.3 million health care providers nationwide, encouraging them to join a national effort to reform prescribing practices.

According to Dr. Greeno, each of these hospitalists illuminates new paths for others in the field. “I think for young people who are trying to identify what career path they want to pursue, this is something that can’t be anything but good for our specialty – and good for the health system,” he said. “Hospitalists have the perfect clinical background and mindset to help our health care system get to where it needs to go. It’s a huge challenge. It’s going to be a ton of work, and the stakes are very, very high.”


1. Thomas K. F.D.A. Nominee, Paid Millions by Industry, Says He’ll Recuse Himself if Needed. New York Times. March 29, 2017. Accessed March 31, 2017.


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