JOYCELYN JONES ELDERS Biography - Famous Medicine & health care related men and women


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Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas on August 13, 1933.     
In college, she changed her name to Minnie Joycelyn Lee (later using just             
Joycelyn). In 1952, she received her B.A. in biology from Philander Smith             
College in Little Rock, Arkansas. After working as a nurse's aid in a Veterans         
Administration hospital in Milwaukee for a period, she joined the Army in May,         
1953. During her 3 years in the Army, she was trained as a physical therapist.         
She then attended the University of Arkansas Medical School, where she obtained       
her M.D. degree in 1960. After completing an internship at the University of           
Minnesota Hospital and a residency in pediatrics at the University of Arkansas         
Medical Center, Elders earned an M.S. in Biochemistry in 1967.                         
Elders then received a National Institutes of Health career development award,         
also serving as assistant professor in pediatrics at the University of Arkansas       
Medical Center from 1967. She was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and         
professor in 1976. Her research interests focused on endocrinology, and she           
received certification as a pediatric endocrinologist in 1978. She became an           
expert on childhood sexual development.                                               
In 1987, Elders was appointed Director of the Arkansas Department of Health by         
then-Governor Bill Clinton. Her accomplishments in this position included a ten-fold   
increase in the number of early childhood screenings annually and almost a             
doubling of the immunization rate for two-year-olds in Arkansas. In 1992, she         
was elected President of the Association of State and Territorial Health               
Elders became Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on September 8, 1993,       
appointed by President Clinton. She was the first African American to serve in         
the position. As Surgeon General, Elders argued the case for universal health         
coverage, and was a spokesperson for President Clinton's health care reform           
effort. She was a strong advocate for comprehensive health education, including       
sex education, in schools. She was outspoken in her views, and was forced to           
resign after only 15 months in the position as a result of a controversial             
remark about sex education. Her last day in office was December 31, 1994. She         
returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center as professor of pediatrics.