News World Not a medical doctor: What you need to know about Trump’s personal doctor, Sean Conley
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Not a medical doctor: What you need to know about Trump’s personal doctor, Sean Conley

Dr Sean Conley was joined by a team of doctors, as he provided an update on the condition of Donald Trump. Photo: Getty
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The White House’s top medical officer Dr Sean Conley is not a medical doctor and was not Donald Trump’s first pick for the job.

It was only after his predecessor, Ronny Jackson, withdrew from consideration to serve as Veterans Affairs secretary that Dr Conley took on the role as the President’s personal doctor in March 2018.

Dr Conley had largely steered clear of public attention until May, when he signed off on Mr Trump taking hydroxychloroquine to protect himself from contracting the coronavirus.

That was despite scientists saying the anti-malarial drug should not be used to treat the coronavirus.

The White House physician made a stunning admission on Monday (Australian time) when asked why he was reluctant to disclose that Mr Trump had been administered oxygen while battling COVID-19.

At the first medical briefing on Mr Trump’s treatment, Dr Conley repeatedly dodged questions from US media about supplemental oxygen.

Then, at the second medical briefing on Monday, Dr Conley reported that Mr Trump’s blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly on two occasions in recent days, and acknowledged he had tried to present a rosy description of the President’s condition.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the President, that his course of illness has had,” he told reporters.

It raised questions about whether the doctors treating the President were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition.

So, who exactly is Sean Conley?

Dr Conley says Mr Trump is doing so well, he can return to the White House. Photo: AAP

The Virginia Board of Medicine states Dr Conley is an osteopathic physician, meaning he is a licensed doctor but not a medical doctor.

The site clarifies that a doctor of medicine graduates from a conventional medical school whereas a doctor of osteopathic medicine graduates from an osteopathic medical school.

Dr Conley is believed to be the first doctor of osteopathic medicine to become the President’s physician since the position was established in 1982.

He graduated with a doctor of osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006, after completing a Bachelor of Science at Notre Dame University.

He then entered a three-year residency program at the Naval Medical Centre in Virginia and undertook more training in emergency medicine at the same naval medical centre.

Dr Conley became the head of a trauma unit at a NATO hospital in Afghanistan for seven months.

Since 2006, he has served as an emergency physician with the US Navy, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The White House is known to recruit medical staff who served in the military.

Do the drugs that Mr Trump has been prescribed work?

The same day that the President tested positive for the coronavirus, he was treated with an experimental COVID-19 drug still in clinical trials.

In a memo, Dr Conley said Mr Trump received an eight-gram dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail before being taken to Walter Reed Medical Centre.

The drug shows promise in fighting against coronavirus infection.

Results from ongoing trials show the drug had “rapidly reduced viral load and associated symptoms in infected COVID-19 patients”, George Yancopoulos, chief scientific officer of Regeneron said last week.

The day after Mr Trump’s diagnosis, while in hospital, he was treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir, which was given emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration in May.

It was deemed a potentially life-saving drug that should only be used on patients in hospital with a severe case of the coronavirus.

On day three of his coronavirus diagnosis, Dr Conley announced that Mr Trump had started taking dexamethasone, a steroid treatment typically only recommended for the very sick.

Dr Conley maintained Mr Trump has been “doing very well” in hospital, but the fact he has taken three drugs in three days has only added to the confusion about the exact nature of his condition.