A nurse has become the acting Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams. The surgeon general is the principal spokesperson for the Public Health Service and operational head of its Commissioned Corps of uniformed officers, who form a non-combatant branch of the military. She is the first nurse to ascend to the position without a doctor of medicine degree, though a previous surgeon general was both a doctor and a nurse. Her most famous predecessor was Dr. C. Everett Koop in the 1980s, who goaded the reluctant Reagan Administration and the nation as a whole to respond adequately to the AIDS crisis; others have led campaigns against smoking and other threats to human health.

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