Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, a pediatric endocrinologist, was sworn in as the first African-American Surgeon General on September 8, 1993. She was the second woman to hold this post. Dr. Elders directed a 6,000 member corps of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and scientists, all responsibile for our nation's health. During the Senate hearing on her confirmation, Dr. Elders stated, "I want to change the way we think about health by putting prevention first. I want to be the voice and vision of the poor and powerless. I want to change concern about social problems that affect health into commitment. I would like to make every child born in America a wanted child.
The eldest of eight children, Dr. Elders was a college freshman before she made her first visit to a doctor. She was awarded a full scholarship at age 15. Upon graduation at age 18, she entered the U. S. Army as a first lieutenant and received training as a physical therapist. She attended medical school on the G. I. Bill and completed her residency in pediatrics and endocrinology. She also holds a Master's degree in biochemistry.
Dr. Elders believes that violence, sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, and substance abuse are the biggest threats to the health and well-being of our children. She also addresses the importance of good prenatal care, the future of healthcare reform, women's health concerns, and meeting the needs of older Americans.
Since leaving the post as Surgeon General, Dr. Elders has returned to the University of Arkansas Medical School. She divides her time between the classroom and the clinic, continuing her commitment to education.