The office of U.S. Surgeon General has been in the spotlight this past week. Dr. James Holsinger, the president's new appointee, faced questions from senators about his qualifications and politics.
Dr. Richard Carmona, the last man to hold the office, told Congress about political pressure he received from the Bush administration -- including a requirement he mention the president's name a certain number of times each time he gave a speech.
Surgeon General nominee Holsinger vowed that he would rather resign than have politics overrule science.
With all this attention on the office, we wondered what surgeons general are supposed to do, and how much influence they have over how physicians do their jobs.
MPR's Tom Crann posed those questions to Dr. Jon Hallberg, our regular medical analyst.