Obama Names Alabama Family Doctor as New Surgeon General

Although some doctors expressed concern today about Benjamin's lack of background in public health, many others responded with enthusiasm to Obama's announcement.

Dr. Doris Cope, director of the pain medicine program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said the pick "signifies a step to more basic, less complicated medical care."

"I have known of Regina's work with the disadvantaged in Bayou La Batre since my residency days at the University of South Alabama," Cope said today. "Her appointment highlights the importance of primary care physicians delivering hands-on care to patients. In the highly specialized world of academic medicine, the value of committed primary-care physicians in underserved, rural areas, is often underrated and underpaid."

But Dr. David Katz, associate adjunct professor in public health at Yale University, highlighted different qualifications he said Benjamin lacks.

"Dr. Benjamin is largely an unknown to the public health community and academic clinical medicine, making her qualifications hard to judge," Katz said. "She certainly does not have particular expertise in some of the more pressing public health matters of our time, such as the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases, which is a potential disappointment."

"But she clearly brings passion and dedication, both vital ingredients," Katz added.

Dr. Albert Levy, assistant professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said, "I am very proud of President Obama's choice and I am confident that this will be the sign for new beginnings in the general U.S. health system. The family doctor is essentially the one who represents the individual, the family, the community and our nation."

Benjamin said today, "Our health care system simply cannot continue on the path that we're on."

ABC News' Dan Childs contributed to this report.

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