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What do think about Sanjay Gupta for our Surgeon General?

By January 7, 2009 - 3:41pm
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Dr. Gupta is being offered the position, and is likely to be the new Surgeon General if he accepts (which is likely)

I watch him on CNN a lot and am personally very happy with Obama's decision.

What do you think of him? Do you agree with his philosophies? He has clashed with certain groups at times, on various issues but is held in high regard by many.

He is also very young - only 39! Yet has a very experienced background and even interned under Clinton.


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Great points, Virginia, to a really provocative question. It will be interesting to see how Gupta handles the crowd inside the Beltway and whether he can thrive in a world filled with red tape and bureaucracy.

Yesterday, Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC was talking about the possible appointment, and made what I thought was a good point: That Gupta, besides being an accomplished neurosurgeon, is a proven communicator, and that in a country where a broken health care system needs overhaul, that's a very valuable skill.

If Gupta were to take the position, much of the country already has a "relationship" with him on a more personal level -- he's been in their living rooms, telling them about aspects of health care. Right off the bat, he has a higher identification factor than even C. Everett Koop would have when he was named. Perhaps that "celebrity" factor will actually end up being in his favor in terms of how closely Americans listen to what he's saying. We have become, for better or worse, a society completely enveloped by star power.

Let's hope that his "outsider" status helps, and not hinders, the job he's got to do.

January 8, 2009 - 10:23am

It is a very interesting pick. Having worked in healthcare in the Washington DC area and knowing a little about the "culture" of organizations such as Public Health, I think he will have to face some biases such as being young or no having experience leading in the Public Health arena. He will also be giving up temporarely a lucrative career with CNN and private practice for a government job that will not pay more than $250K per year (I am guessing here)

The Surgeon General of the United States is an appointed position however the person on that job functions as a civil servant and his military peers (also Surgeon Generals) are equivalent to two star Generals or Admirals. Dr Gupta is a television figure, charming and has been building a path along the way for a political career, there is no question about it. That is why he embeeded himself as medical reporter with the Devil Docs Marine medical group during the Iraqui conflict and he even performed surgeries against a journalism code of ethics that limits reporters from getting personally involved in the stories they cover. This was viewed as a courageous move on his part that reminded him that he was a doctor first and saving lives was his business. Not a bad move on his part! I personally think he lacks the political experience for a job this visible with a very tough audience.

If he is appointed and accepts the job, I predict he will be very shocked with the way government organizations work. Looks and TV fame are not enough in DC, and he may quickly changed his mind and go back to his cozy, high paying CNN job and private practice. I hope I am wrong. But we are faced with a very serious health crisis in America and public health is a big chunk.

Here is an excerpt from an online news article which summarizes the key issue that will influence his decision: "Gupta's only hesitation in taking the post is said to involve the financial impact on his pregnant wife and two children if he gives up his lucrative medical and journalistic careers. But he is expected to accept the position within days."

His dilemma: Keeping the "hollywood" life style he enjoys with CNN and his private practice OR a civil service appointment where he will get beat up on a daily basis at a much lower pay. Former Surgeon Generals Koop or Carmona were highly respected because of their political savviness and in Carmona's case, his brilliant military background. Will Gupta be able to fill those shoes?

It will be interesting to see what happens. Obama has a clear agenda and wants to bring not only fresh blood but young blood too. Washington politics and bureacratic models of government are tough to break. I wish Dr Gupta well if he decides to take the job.

By the way, just wondering, how much does he think a pregnant wife and two kids will cost in DC? Let's get real! He either wants to serve his country by accepting a salary the tax-payers are willing to pay or he keeps his personal lifestyle...

January 7, 2009 - 11:02pm
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