Ronny Jackson, Trump's Former White House Physician, Promoted

Alicia Ault

February 05, 2019

President Donald J. Trump's former personal White House physician, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, MD, is being promoted to chief medical adviser less than a year after he withdrew his name from consideration as secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) because of allegations of improper behavior.

Jackson will not, however, be conducting Trump's annual physical examination on February 8 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The exam will be conducted by Sean Conley, DO, who became the chief White House physician in March 2018, after Jackson stepped down.

Jackson conducted Trump's physical — the president's first — in January 2018 and declared Trump to be in excellent health, owing to his "good genes." Jackson said that Trump also had easily passed a battery of cognitive tests, which were conducted at the president's request.

Rear Admiral Dr Ronny Jackson AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

After that 4-hour exam, Jackson reported that Trump — at 6 feet, 2 inches in height and weighing 239 pounds — was obese, with a body mass index of 30.7. He had a history of hypercholesterolemia and had been noted to have "nonclinical" coronary atherosclerosis. His fasting glucose level was 89 mg/dL, and his hemoglobin A1C level was 5% — a normal measure.

VA Nomination

A few months later — in late March — the president nominated Jackson to take the place of David Shulkin, MD, the VA secretary whom Trump had just fired by tweet. The scrutiny shifted to Jackson, who withdrew from the VA nomination on April 26, denying allegations that as chief White House physician, he had overseen a hostile work environment and had overprescribed prescription medications.

Jackson, in a statement provided to Medscape Medical News at the time, said that the allegations were "false and fabricated." He added, "If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years."

The Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General (IG) opened an investigation into Jackson's behavior; that inquiry is continuing, an IG spokesman told the Washington Post.

The Post also reported that the Navy had submitted a request for Jackson to be promoted in 2018, before his VA nomination. A White House official, speaking on background, told Medscape Medical News that Trump asked for Jackson's Navy promotion again because the Senate had failed to take action during the last Congress on many individual nominations, including Jackson's.

"President Trump, like former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, view Dr Jackson as a trustworthy medical advisor and excellent physician," said the administration official.

Current White House physician Conley, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006 and completed a Navy emergency medicine residency program at Naval Medical Center (NMC) Portsmouth in Virginia in 2013, according to the American Osteopathic Association.

Conley served as head of trauma for a NATO multinational medical unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and he was director of the Combat Trauma Research Group at NMC Portsmouth from 2014 to 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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