Booster Shots

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Quick! Name the U.S. surgeon general!

June 15, 2010 |  1:14 pm

Benjamin Can't pluck the name of "America's doctor" out of your mental hat? Don't beat yourself up. Few Americans probably can. (No, it's not C. Everett Koop.) But ask us to name a celebrity doc and the names just seem to roll off the tongue: Dr. Oz, Andrew Weil, Dr. Phil...

Writer Marni Jameson takes a look at this phenomenon in the most recent Los Angeles Times Health section. She notes:

"Fame alone seems enough to make many Americans trust their health and relationships to men and women they've never met. Unlike just a decade ago, when television and books were the only way these media doctors reached us, we now have multiple channels of media serving them up — there's no avoiding them. And our growing appetite for health and wellness information fuels our addiction to their advice." Read the full story: The cult of celebrity doctors

Sure, they're articulate and, appearances would suggest, wise and trustworthy. But our trust in them might say more about us -- and today's society -- than it does about the docs.

The current surgeon general is Dr. Regina Benjamin, by the way. (This L.A. Times story of a couple years back offers a bit of background on the job: Why the surgeon general wears a spiffy uniform -- and more)

We won't even bother with the "name the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services" challenge. It's Kathleen Sebelius.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Dr. Regina Benjamin, known by some Americans as the U.S. surgeon general.

Credit: EPA

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