Dr. Regina Benjamin, a family practice doctor who works with the rural poor in Alabama, is President Barack Obama’s choice for surgeon general, Obama said Monday.
Obama praised Benjamin’s commitment to health care and to providing access to care for those who can’t afford insurance. She is the founder of the Bayou Le Batre Rural Health Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., a fishing village, and has served as its chief exective officer since is founding in 1990.
Benjamin has rebuilt the clinic several times, including after it sustain heavy damages by Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Benjamin, 52, received her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from Xavier University of Louisiana, attended Morehouse School of Medicine from 1980 to 1982, and earned her doctor of medicine degree in 1984 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Her medical schooling was paid for by the National Health Service Corps, a federal program where medical students pledge to work in underserved areas in exchange for paid tuition, earning one year of free tuition for ever year of service.
Atlanta neurosurgeon and CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was rumored earlier this year to be Obama’s first choice for surgeon general, but Gupta pulled his name from consideration, citing his desire to spend more time on his current work.
Benjamin’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.