Former Surgeon General Issues Warning About Need for More PhysiciansSeptember 25, 2015
14th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Antonia Novello toured campus prior to speaking to students.
She is pictured with Dean H. William Craver III, DO, and second year Biomedical Sciences
students Namrata Patel, Samir Fala and Julie Wancik.
Dr. Antonia Novello, 14th U.S. Surgeon General, brought her wit and wisdom to students
at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine this week as part
of the Diversity Lecture Series.
Speaking on the topic, “Health Policy Management in the 21st Century,” she shared
healthcare disparity statistics, as well as medical school applicant information to
highlight the need for a more diverse group of healthcare professionals. In addition,
she issued a warning that in the year 2025, there may not be enough physicians to
care for Americans.
According to Dr. Novello, “In spite of the fact that about 30 percent of the US population
is minority, only 12 percent of them apply to medical school.” She added, “Today,
the largest number of medical school minority applicants are female African Americans.
The last data shows that only three percent of African American males have applied
in the last decade.”
Dr. Novello proposes that, “We must do something more to lure the African American
male to apply. The Hispanics and the Pacific Islanders are increasing their numbers.
My biggest worry is that in the year 2025, the country will have a shortage of 130,000
doctors. Even though the minority doctor numbers are rising, it will not be enough
to cover the needs of those who don’t have a primary care provider.”
Dr. Novello recommends that to bolster the number of medical school applicants, medical
schools like GA-PCOM “get involved in the teaching of science as early as junior high
school instead of waiting to interest high school students in health professions.”
“Obviously the economics are a crucial aspect of why minorities don’t go to medical
school,” she said, “but also important is the early training, the role models and
the people who believe that they can get to the top of their careers,” she added.
“That’s why I feel that my visit to GA-PCOM is on the right track to making this a
“Service is the rent you pay for living,” she preached to the 150 students who attended
Appointed by President George Bush to the Surgeon General position in 1990, Dr. Novello
made history by becoming the first woman and the first Hispanic to ever hold this
office. Her presentation was made on the Georgia Campus, a partner institution of
the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, in honor of Hispanic Heritage
Dr. Novello discussed the top 10 principles she has developed that she gained from
friends and circumstances that have helped her along life’s journey. They include:
10) Be a pioneer – don't be afraid to forge into new directions.
9) Do not deny your roots as you walk the ladder of success.
8) Never underestimate your capabilities; others will do it for you.
7) Achieve the highest level of education - it is the key to the door of opportunity.
6) Set goals for yourself and when doing so, make them realistic and then share them
with those who believe in you. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you do not
care who gets the credit.
5) When you get to the top, don't forget you owe something back to your peers, your
family and your community.
4) Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
3) Take care of yourself spiritually, physically and mentally.
2) Never lose your sense of who you really are, even when others believe they know
you better than you know yourself.
And 1) Plan big and dream greatness.”
Dr. Novello earned an M.D. degree in 1970 from the University of Puerto Rico. She
later completed medical training in nephrology at the University of Michigan where
she was the first woman to be named Intern of the Year. Dr. Novello became deputy
director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development where she
focused on pediatric AIDS.
Continuing her work in pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital, Dr. Novello earned
a Master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public
Health in 1982. In May 2000, she received a Doctor of Public Health degree. On assignment
with the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Dr. Novello helped draft
legislation for the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984.
Dr. Novello’s appointment as U.S. Surgeon General came after nearly a decade and a
half at the National Institutes of Health, during which time she served 18 months
on the U.S. Congress Health committee and was instrumental in drafting national legislation
regarding organ transplantation.
She recently retired as the Executive Director of Public Health Policy at Florida
Hospital where she was in charge of advocating, translating and implementing public
health issues across the board, as well as directing and organizing a lecture series
involving medical professionals across the nation.
About PCOM Georgia
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
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