Sylvia Trent-Adams

Sylvia Trent-Adams (born circa 1965) is a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps who currently serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health.[1] She previously served as the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States from October 25, 2015 to January 2, 2019. Trent-Adams also served as acting Surgeon General of the United States from April 21, 2017 to September 5, 2017.

Sylvia Trent-Adams
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health
Assumed office
January 2, 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
Deputy Surgeon General of the United States
In office
October 25, 2015  January 2, 2019
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byBoris Lushniak
Succeeded byErica G. Schwartz
Surgeon General of the United States
In office
April 21, 2017  September 5, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byVivek Murthy
Succeeded byJerome Adams
Personal details
EducationHampton University (BS)
University of Maryland, Baltimore (MS)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (PhD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
USPHS Commissioned Corps
Years of service1987–1992 (Army)
1992–present (Health Service)
Rank Rear admiral (Health Service)


Trent-Adams received a bachelor of science in nursing from Hampton University, a master of science in nursing and health policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.[2] After attending college on an ROTC scholarship, she served as an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for five years, on the oncology unit of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[3]


Trent-Adams has held various positions in HHS, working to improve access to care for poor and under-served communities. As a clinician and administrator, she has had a direct impact on building systems of care to improve public health for marginalized populations.[4]

Prior to joining the Office of the Surgeon General, Trent-Adams was the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). She assisted in managing the $2.3 billion Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 (Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program) for uninsured people living with HIV disease as well as training for health care professionals.[5]

Trent-Adams began her career in the Commissioned Corps of the PHSCC in 1992.[5] She has published numerous articles and presented to organizations and professional groups. Prior to joining the USPHS, Trent-Adams was a nurse officer in the U.S. Army. She also served as a research nurse at the University of Maryland. Trent-Adams completed two internships in the U.S. Senate where she focused on the prospective payment system for skilled nursing facilities and scope of practice for nurses and psychologists. She has served as guest lecturer at the University of Maryland and Hampton University. Her clinical practice was in trauma, oncology, community health, and infectious disease. She serves as chair of the Federal Public Health Nurse Leadership Council, and the Federal Nursing Service Council.[4]

Acting Surgeon General of the United States

On April 21, 2017, Trent-Adams was named acting surgeon general, replacing Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, a physician, who was relieved as surgeon general by the Trump administration.[6] In assuming the post, Trent-Adams became the second non-physician to serve as surgeon general. Robert A. Whitney, a veterinarian, served as the 17th (acting) surgeon general. She is the second nurse to serve in this role. Richard Carmona, who served in the role under George W. Bush, was both a nurse and a physician.[5][7][8] She was succeeded by Vice Admiral Jerome Adams on September 5, 2017.

Awards and decorations

Deputy Surgeon General Badge
Department of Health and Human Services Identification Badge
1st row Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Medal with one gold award star Public Health Service Outstanding Service Medal
2nd row Public Health Service Commendation Medal Army Commendation Medal Public Health Service Achievement Medal
3rd row Army Achievement Medal United States Public Health Service Presidential Unit Citation Public Health Service Outstanding Unit Citation
4th row Public Health Service Unit Commendation with three silver service stars Florence Nightingale Medal Public Health Service Ebola Campaign Medal
5th row Public Health Service Special Assignment Service Award with service star Public Health Service Foreign Duty Service Award Public Health Service Crisis Response Service Award
6th row Public Health Service Global Response Service Award Public Health Service Bicentennial Unit Commendation Award National Defense Service Medal
7th row Public Health Service Regular Corps Ribbon Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon Army Service Ribbon

In 2017, she was awarded the Red Cross' Florence Nightingale Medal,[9] the highest international distinction in the nursing profession.

Personal life

Trent-Adams grew up on a farm in Concord, Virginia[10] and graduated from Appomattox County High School in 1983.[11] She is married to Dennis Adams and has two daughters.[3]


  1. Bio: Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
  2. O'Shaughnessy, Patrice (July 2014). "From Candy Striper to Chief Nurse". American Journal of Nursing. Wolters Kluwer. 114 (7): 68–69. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  3. Chandler, D.L. (April 22, 2017). "5 Things You Should Know About New Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  4. (OSG), Office of the Surgeon General. "Biography of the Deputy Surgeon General". Retrieved February 28, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. Ivory, Danielle; Harris, Gardiner (April 21, 2017). "Nurse Replaces Surgeon General After Obama Appointee Resigns". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  6. "Surgeon general dismissed, replaced by Trump administration". USA Today. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  7. Who Is Acting Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams? Michele Gorman. Newsweek. April 24, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017
  8. Surgeon general is removed by Trump administration, replaced by deputy for now Lenny Bernstein. Washington Post. April 22, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017
  9. "Florence Nightingale Medal: Honouring exceptional nurses and nursing aides - 2017 recipients". International Committee of the Red Cross. May 12, 2017.
  10. Koerting, Katrina. "From Appomattox County roots to representing the U.S. for the WHO". Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  11. "Sylvia Trent-Adams gets big promotion in D.C. healthcare field". Retrieved March 25, 2018.
Military offices
Preceded by
Vivek Murthy
Surgeon General of the United States

Succeeded by
Jerome Adams
Deputy Surgeon General of the United States
Succeeded by
Erica G. Schwartz
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