What is a Surgeon General? What to know about the role Florida’s Joseph Ladapo holds

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New COVID-19 boosters have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet Florida health leaders aren't jumping to promote them.

Despite guidance from the CDC, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo recommended to state health officials to advise against anyone younger than 65 getting the new vaccine boosters recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive one new shot from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. The CDC guidance says those 65 or older, or people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, can get two new shots.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that Ladapo, who first strongly promoted the vaccines when they were announced but soon started raising concerns, addressed the state's new vaccine guidance during a panel discussion with health professionals who were critical of the shot.

With all the news surrounding Ladapo and its thoughts regarding the new booster, what exactly is a surgeon general?

Ladapo on COVID boosters: Florida health officials say most people shouldn't get new COVID shot, contradicting CDC

What is the role of surgeon general?

The role of Florida's surgeon general is the leader and senior spokesperson of the Florida Department of Health, which is an executive branch agency. The surgeon general tasked with protecting and improving the health and safety of Floridians.

Florida's surgeon general is appointed to a four-year term, with the only way to be considered for the role is to be appointed by the governor and Florida Senate.

Does a surgeon general have to be a surgeon? Or a general?

A surgeon general does not have to be an actual surgeon or a general in the military. However, they do have to be a medical doctor.

In Florida, the head of the Department of Health must be a licensed physician who has advanced training or extensive experience in public health administration, says Tallahassee Democrat reports.

How much schooling and experience is needed for a surgeon general?

There is no exact degree to becoming a surgeon general, as you need to be appointed the role. However, it is recommended to first become a licensed physician.

According to job data website Career Trend, going to school to became a physician is a lengthy process that begins with a four-year undergraduate degree. Individuals must then complete three years of medical school, followed by a residency.

In addition, it is recommended that a physician who is interested in becoming A surgeon general earn a second degree in a field that focuses on the political world in order to fully understand the aspects of the political side of the position.

Experts also claim the role requires extensive experience working in the public health sector, generally 15 to 25 years. They should also have involvement within the community and local governments, as well as national recognition and awards can aid in giving prospective candidates an edge.

What's the difference between a national and a state surgeon general?

As the name suggests, the U.S. Surgeon General, which is Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, considered the "Nation’s Doctor," providing all Americans with information on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

The Surgeon General oversees the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, an elite group of over 6,000 uniformed officers who are public health professionals. The USPHS mission is to protect, promote, and advance the health of our nation.

A state surgeon general provides the same care and performs most of the same duties, just on a smaller scale.

How many states have their own surgeon generals?

As of Sept. 14, only five states have created the position. Of the five, only four still have it, as Michigan has not filled the position since 2010. Here are the states with surgeon general positions:

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Florida

  • Michigan

  • Pennsylvania

Is it surgeon generals or surgeons general if there is more than one?

According to Dictionary.com, the plural of a surgeon general is surgeons general. “General” is functioning as an adjective. Nouns get pluralized in English, not adjectives.

Who is Florida's surgeon general?

Joseph A. Ladapo is the surgeon general of Florida. He was appointed to the position by Gov. Ron DeSantis in September of 2021, replacing Scott Rivkees who stepped down after serving for more than two years, most of that time from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Florida Health, Ladapo graduated from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, later receiving his medical degree from Harvard and PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

He completed his clinical training in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he received the Harvard Medical School Class of 2012 Resident Teaching Award and the Daniel E. Ford Award in Health Services and Outcomes Research from John Hopkins University.

What are some of the duties Ladapo does as surgeon general?

As the leader of the Florida Department of Health, Ladapo oversees the agency whose purpose is to protect and promote the health of all residents and visitors in the state through organized state and community efforts, including cooperative agreements with counties, according to state statutes.

The role oversees the central state DOH office in Tallahassee as well as Florida’s 67 County Health Departments; 22 Children’s Medical Services area offices; 12 Medical Quality Assurance regional offices; nine Disability Determinations regional offices; and three public health laboratories.

How much does Ladapo make in salary as a surgeon general?

He is paid over $362,000 annually in dual roles as Florida's surgeon general and as a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

As reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, Ladapo was also hired by the University of Florida, where he is a professor of general internal medicine, when he was appointed. He splits his duties 20-80 between UF and FDOH.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida surgeon general advises against COVID vaccine. His role, pay