Obama’s Surgeon General Should Try Practicing Medicine

here’s an old story that just before John F. Kennedy announced he would be making his 35-year old brother Robert attorney general – because his dad made him – he quipped something to the effect of, “I don’t see what’s wrong with giving Bobby a little experience before he begins practicing law.”

President Obama’s new Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is in fact a political animal with relatively little experience working as an actual doctor. That should be no problem for Obama, who when he became president in 2008 was a political animal with little experience working at anything.

Murthy, who is 37, only graduated from medical school – Yale, from which he also received an MBA – in 2003. He completed his residency just eight years ago. I’m not sure I’d trust him with my gall bladder yet, let alone make him surgeon general.

And then, according to a profile in the Boston Globe, he got busy practicing . . . politics. And business.

His job at the Brigham is part-time, largely so he can devote energies to his other professional interests. Those include TrialNetworks, a software start-up company in Needham that he founded in 2007, to help drug developers efficiently collect information from clinical trials. In 1995, he founded VISIONS Worldwide, a nonprofit dedicated to AIDS and HIV education in India.

In the past five years, his work mobilizing the medical profession around Obama’s universal health care law has been a prime focus. In an article in Hospitalist News in January 2012, he gave his thoughts about why he helped start Doctors for Obama in 2008, which worked to get Obama elected and was later reborn as Doctors for America. He said he was “struck by how few physicians were organizing and gathering their ideas to actually make an impact on the candidates’ platforms and, ultimately, on a health reform bill.”