Dr. Vivek Murthy, seen here being honored by Vice President Joe Biden, was sworn in as the 19th U.S. surgeon general yesterday. Photo by Susan Polan

Dr. Vivek Murthy, seen here being honored by Vice President Joe Biden, was sworn in as the 19th U.S. surgeon general yesterday. Photo by Susan Polan

Dr. Vivek Murthy’s journey to his post as the 19th surgeon general of the United States was much longer than the U.S. “top doc” position’s 18-month vacancy, as he described yesterday during his swearing-in ceremony. His journey included his parents relocating to three nations before coming to America and a childhood in which he had a tough time connecting with other children.

Ultimately, as Murthy put it, a long line of supporters “were able to see something in me before I was able to see it in myself.”

“I was never supposed to be the guy giving speeches in rooms like this,” Murthy said at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., to guests including Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “And even after being nominated for this job by a president I deeply admire, I almost didn’t get to be your Surgeon General.

“Had it not been for so many of you in this room – and thousands of dedicated individuals that I have never even met – I would not be standing here. We got here by standing on principle.”

APHA and our members played a critical role in Murthy’s confirmation. In January of 2014, APHA sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions in support of Murthy’s candidacy and swift confirmation. And in May of 2014, APHA and its Affiliates joined more than 70 public health organizations in urging senators to confirm Murthy’s nomination.

Murthy outlined an aggressive agenda to improve the nation’s health, with numerous priority areas including: health promotion and behavioral health improvements, mental health awareness, combating prescription drug abuse and vaccine-preventable diseases, and “moving past the ‘Mad Men’ days of tobacco use.”

Additionally, Murthy described a health in all policies approach that he will bring to the position. “Public health doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” he said. “It’s intrinsically linked to education, employment, the environment and our economy. There is a whole world beyond hospital corridors and clinic waiting rooms where people are struggling with issues of transportation, housing and development.”

Check out the full transcript of Murthy’s ceremony online.