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.