Commissioned Corps Leadership

Assistant Secretary for Health

The Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) oversees the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, providing it with strategic and policy direction. Under the supervision of the ASH, the Surgeon General of the USPHS provides operational command of the Commissioned Corps. The ASH serves as the primary advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on matters involving the Nation’s public health and science. The ASH runs the Office of Public Health and Science and helps coordinate the activities of the USPHS agencies on behalf of the Secretary. Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H is the Assistant Secretary for Health.    

Surgeon General

The Surgeon General, through the Office of the Surgeon General, oversees the 6,500-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. The Surgeon General is America’s chief health educator, responsible for giving Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury. The Surgeon General is appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the United States Senate for a 4-year term of office. Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin is the Surgeon General.

Deputy Surgeon General

The Deputy Surgeon General of the United States serves as the principal assistant and advisor to the Surgeon General regarding the development and implementation of programs, priorities, and initiatives.  As Acting Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Admiral David Rutstein maintains effective relationships and collaborations with executive leadership within the Federal Government and serves as Chief Executive Officer of the 6,500-plus members of the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Chief Professional Officers (CPOs)

Individual professional categories within the Commissioned Corps are represented by CPOs. These officers provide leadership and coordination of their professional category for the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As CPOs, they offer guidance and advice to the Surgeon General and administrative committees on matters such as recruitment, retention, and career development of officers within their professions. Click on the links below for additional information and a biography of the CPO in your profession.

  • Chief dental officer
  • Chief dietitian officer
  • Chief engineer officer
  • Chief environmental health officer
  • Chief health services officer
  • Chief medical officer
  • Chief nurse officer
  • Chief pharmacist officer
  • Chief scientist officer
  • Chief therapist officer
  • Chief veterinarian officer

Status of the Corps

As of May 23, 2008, more than 6,500 men and women serve in the following professional areas as Commissioned Corps officers:

  • Physician—988
  • Dentist—376
  • Nurse—1,405
  • Pharmacist—949
  • Dietitian—92
  • Engineer—404
  • Environmental health officer—365
  • Health services, including optometrists, social workers, physician assistants, and other health professionals—1,010
  • Scientist/researcher—247
  • Therapist, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and audiology—140
  • Veterinarian—85

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