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President Barack Obama has nominated a rural doctor from Gulf Coast Alabama to be the nation’s next Surgeon General. Dr. Regina Benjamin (above with the President) is a rural Alabama family physician who operates a nonprofit medical clinic along the Gulf Coast, makes house calls and accepts every patient who comes to her door. Benjamin is 51 and lives in the shrimping community of Bayou La Batre. She became the first black woman and the first doctor under age 40 elected to the American Medical Association’s board of trustees, and in 2002 became the first black woman to head a state medical society.
Dr. Benjamin saw her clinic destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and, once it was rebuilt by volunteers, watched it destroyed by fire. She rebuilt the clinic, telling the story of a patient who handed her an envelop containing $7 for the effort. “If she can find $7, I can figure out the rest,” Dr. Benjamin said. Benjamin received $500,000 in a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” that she used to help rebuild the facility. She must be confirmed by the Senate. She is the highest-ranking rural resident in the Obama administration.