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Burnham Potter

US Navy

First woman physician to become a flag officer in the military. Admiral Potter became a one-star Admiral in 1997, and a two-star admiral in 2000. 

A native of Piedmont, Calif., Rear Admiral Potter graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. Following completion of medical technology training, she attended graduate school at the University of California at Davis in Animal Physiology. She received her Doctor of Medicine degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1975. Following her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Naval Regional Medical Center, Oakland, Calif., she was Chief Resident from 1978 to 1979 and remained there as a staff internist and Residency Training Officer until 1983.

Rear Adm. Potter served as Assistant Head, Internal Medicine Department, Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va. from 1983 to 1987, where she was also the Command Intern Coordinator and Transitional Residency Program Director. In 1987, she transferred to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Bethesda, Md., where she served as Medicine Clerkship Coordinator, and Physical Diagnosis Coordinator for National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. From January 1989 to April 1993, she served at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda as Chairman and Program Director, Department of Internal Medicine. In August 1990 until April 1991, she deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm as Head, Medical Services, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). From May 1993 to May 1995, Rear Adm. Potter was Deputy Commander and Director of Academic Affairs at Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va. She served as Commanding Officer, Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, Calif. from June 1995 to January 1997.

Rear Adm. Potter became the Commander, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. in July 1997. During her time as the Commander, she also served as the Chief, Medical Corps, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Washington, DC from April 1997 to September 1999 and as the Chairman, Region 1 TRICARE Executive Board (Lead Agent) from July 1998 to August 1999.

Rear Adm. Potter is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, with a certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatrics. She holds faculty appointments at both the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Georgetown University Schools of Medicine.