Q&A with RADM Scott Giberson, Acting Deputy Surgeon General

Pharmacist Giberson encourages pharmacists to be confident and to lead


In an inspiring development for the profession of pharmacy, RADM Scott Giberson, BSPharm, PhC, NCPS-PP, MPH, U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), was named Acting Deputy U.S. Surgeon General and RADM Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, USPHS, was named Acting U.S. Surgeon General after Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, the 18th Surgeon General, stepped down July 16.

Giberson is the primary author of the USPHS report Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice: A Report to the Surgeon General 2011, which Benjamin backed in a letter of support. He was presented with this year’s APhA Distinguished Federal Pharmacist Award at the 2013 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Los Angeles. At APhA2012 in New Orleans, Giberson and Lushniak keynoted the Second General Session, asking whether pharmacists could achieve provider status. Giberson was profiled in the December 2012 Pharmacy Today.

Giberson told pharmacist.com that some of the best leaders he has ever known have been trained as pharmacists. Following is an e-mail interview with him.

Could you describe your new role and responsibilities?

I support the Acting Surgeon General in communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the nation.

In addition, I help oversee the operations of the Commissioned Corps, which include more than 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation.

What are your thoughts on working with Dr. Benjamin, who has stepped down?

Dr. Benjamin and I worked closely on multiple public health initiatives and the operational oversight of the Commissioned Corps. We also worked specifically on multiple pharmacy-related topics, including the Report on Advanced Pharmacy Practice. During her tenure, she was an advocate for pharmacists serving as essential members of the health care team.

With every leader whom I have had the privilege to serve with, I was able to learn and develop additional perspectives on how to lead and Dr. Benjamin was no exception. From a personal perspective, she is a compassionate professional who truly cares about the people she serves.

What are your thoughts on the professionwide push for provider status?

As stated in the Report on Advanced Pharmacy Practice, pharmacists provide care to patients in many settings and serve as one of the primary access points to address many health issues. Pharmacists are highly educated, understand the treatment of chronic conditions, build trust and rapport in the communities and with the patients they serve, and work in collaboration with physicians in many health systems to improve quality and access to care. There are many evidence-based models that exist (and have existed for decades) in which pharmacists successfully function in these expanded roles.

Anything else?

Throughout my career as a Commissioned Corps officer, I have utilized the education and training we receive as pharmacists to improve the health of the people we serve. We are highly trained to communicate, collaborate, prevent complications, and solve problems. Some of the best leaders I have ever known—regardless of profession—have been trained as pharmacists. I encourage everyone to be confident that you have the ability to improve care and solve problems. However, you also have the ability to become great leaders outside your more traditional roles. I look forward to the challenges and experiences in this acting position and hope to represent our profession as best possible.