Sean Conley

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Sean Conley
Dr-Sean-Conley (cropped).jpg
Doctor Sean Conley addressing the press during President Trump's COVID-19 hospitalization
Physician to the President
In office
March 28, 2018 – January 25, 2021
Acting: March 28, 2018 – May 4, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byRonny Jackson
Succeeded byKevin O'Connor
Personal details
Sean Patrick Conley

1980 (age 42–43)
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
SpouseKristin Conley
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BS)
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Commander
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
AwardsRomanian Emblem of Honour

Sean Patrick Conley (born 1980) is an American physician[1] and United States Navy officer who served as the Physician to the President from 2018 to 2021.[2] Conley served as physician to president Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic, often serving as the president's medical advisor, and treating the president when he tested positive for COVID-19.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Conley, born in 1980 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania,[4] graduated from Central Bucks High School East in 1998[5][6] and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2002.[7]

Conley received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006.[8] He is a 2013 graduate of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Virginia. He received the Honor Graduate Award, Nurses' Choice Award for Outstanding Senior Resident Award, and the Resident Research Award.[9]


Military service[edit]

Conley received a Romanian Emblem of Honor for his team saving the life of a Romanian soldier injured in an IED blast.[10]

In 2014, he served as an emergency physician with the International Security Assistance Force at Kandahar International Airport outside the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to NATO Role 3 MMU, and was appointed head of the trauma department. The unit received a commendation from the Romanian Land Forces for saving the life of a Romanian soldier injured by an improvised explosive device in 2014.[10] He served as the research director at Portsmouth Navy Department of Emergency Medicine prior to his assignment to the White House Medical Unit.[7]

Physician to the President[edit]

Conley became the physician to the president upon the nomination of the previous physician, Ronny Jackson, for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.[11] He became the acting White House physician on March 28, 2018, and on May 4, 2018, became the physician to the president.[12]

On May 18, 2020, President Donald Trump surprised listeners when he revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against COVID-19.[13] He confirmed that he was taking it under the guidance of Conley, who later issued a confirmation.[14] Several medical warnings[15][16] had been issued against the drug's use for treating COVID-19.

In the early morning of October 2, 2020, the White House announced that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 after they were tested as a precaution when Trump's top aide, Hope Hicks, tested positive. At first, Trump began self-isolating in the White House, but under the recommendation of Conley, he was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He drew scrutiny regarding his public assessments of Trump's health during the president's hospitalization.[17] In contradiction to Conley's previous statements surrounding hydroxychloroquine, he released a statement to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that he had decided to place Trump under an antiviral therapy, specifically remdesivir.[18] Conley described Trump's symptoms on the day of the announcement as "fatigued but in good spirits". Conley incorrectly identified a Regeneron product of monoclonal antibodies as a polyclonal antibody cocktail in a press release.[19] Later, he updated Trump's symptoms as "nasal congestion and a cough and fatigue."[20] With regard to the first lady, Conley described her as "well with only a mild cough and headache."[21]

On the morning of October 3, Conley gave a press briefing regarding Trump's health, stating that he and his team of physicians were "extremely happy" with the president's condition, and noting that most of the president's symptoms had subsided.[20] However, Conley stated that Trump was "72 hours into this diagnosis" which implied that Trump had attended a rally in Minnesota, knowing he was a potential COVID-19 vector at the time.[22] The 72 hour remark was quickly corrected by a press release indicating that the president was diagnosed the evening of October 1.[23]

'Sean Conley, Physician to the President, Provides an Update on President Trump' – video courtesy of the White House.

On the evening of October 3, Conley warned that Trump was "not yet out of the woods" with regard to his condition.[24]

In an October 4 press conference, Trump's medical team said that he was "doing really well" after his oxygen level dipped the day before and after he was given the steroid dexamethasone, which works by reducing inflammation in the lungs.[25] Asked if CT scans showed pneumonia or lung damage, Conley said, "There's some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern." He declined to say what was found, citing HIPAA guidelines that ensure patient privacy.[26] When asked why he was reluctant to disclose that Trump had been given oxygen during the October 3 briefing, Conley stated that he did not want to "give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction" and "it came off that we're trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true."[27] White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah later stated that it was "a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence, and you want to raise the spirits of the person you're treating," while also asserting that Meadows' anonymous statement to reporters was intended to "give you guys more information just to try to be as transparent as we can".[28]

At 2:37 p.m. EDT on October 5, Trump tweeted that he would be discharged from the hospital at 6:30 p.m. that day.[29] However, doctors said in an afternoon news briefing that Trump continued to be treated with dexamethasone and remdesivir.[30] The prospect of Trump's early release astonished infectious-disease experts, who noted that Trump planned to be discharged in a period when COVID-19 patients are particularly vulnerable (7–10 days after symptoms first appear) to unpredictable and rapid declines in condition.[31] Outside physicians stated that the depiction of Trump's illness as relatively mild was inconsistent with the aggressive treatment he was receiving.[31] Trump's medical team made cryptic remarks about his status and declined to say whether Trump's CT scans contained indications of pneumonia or lung damage.[31]

In the White House, Trump continued to receive dexamethasone and remdesivir. He conducted business without wearing a mask.[32] Conley said in a memo that Trump has "no symptoms" and is doing "extremely well."[33] That optimistic message was later called into question. According to the Associated Press, "then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said at the time that Trump’s condition was worse than Conley had let on".[34]

Newly inaugurated president Joe Biden announced on January 25, 2021, that he would appoint Dr. Kevin O'Connor as the White House physician. According to a CNN report, "Conley was seen departing the White House alongside Trump" on January 20, 2021.[35] The AP reported that Conley would be taking on a "teaching role" at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.[36]


  1. ^ Waller, Allyson; Morales, Christina (October 3, 2020). "What to Know About Sean Conley, the White House Physician". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  2. ^ Conley, Sean P. [@davidspunt] (February 8, 2019). "Just In: After an annual physical exam that took up much of the afternoon, the White House physician says President Trump is in good health. Memorandum just released" (Tweet). Retrieved February 8, 2019 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Slotkin, Jason (October 3, 2020). "Who Is Sean Conley? White House Physician To President Trump". NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  4. ^ "Dr Sean Conley: Physician to President Trump". BBC. October 4, 2020.
  5. ^ "Honor Rolls". Doylestown Intelligencer. December 13, 1995. p. 9.
  6. ^ English, Chris (October 2, 2020). "Central Bucks East graduate in spotlight as President Trump's doctor". Courier Times.
  7. ^ a b "Class notes, 2000s". Notre Dame Magazine. Winter 2014–15.
  8. ^ Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (2009). 2008 Annual Report (Report). Philadelphia, Pa. p. 37. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  9. ^ Aspillaga, Rosel Jovin (June 28, 2013). "NMCP Residents Graduate, Now Specialists in Emergency Medicine". Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on May 23, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Houston, Whitney (July 2, 2014). "NATO Role 3 hospital team saves Romanian soldier". Regional Command South, U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  11. ^ Korade, Matt (April 29, 2018). "Ronny Jackson will not return as Trump's physician, Politico reports". CNN. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Navy veteran DO is serving as President Donald Trump's physician". American Osteopathic Association. May 4, 2018.
  13. ^ Karni, Annie; Thomas, Katie (May 18, 2020). "Trump Says He's Taking Hydroxychloroquine, Prompting Warning From Health Experts". The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Conley, Sean (May 18, 2020). "Memorandum" (PDF). Retrieved May 19, 2020 – via The New York Times.
  15. ^ Commissioner, Office of the (April 24, 2020). "Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine for COVID-19: Drug Safety Communication - FDA Cautions Against Use Outside of the Hospital Setting or a Clinical Trial Due to Risk of Heart Rhythm Problems". FDA.
  16. ^ "Hydroxychloroquine plus Azithromycin | Coronavirus Disease COVID-19". COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  17. ^ Leonnig, Carol D.; O'Harrow, Robert, Jr. (October 4, 2020). "White House physician Sean Conley draws scrutiny for rosy assessments of Trump's health". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  18. ^ McEneny, Kayleigh (October 2, 2020). "An update from President ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩'s physician". Twitter. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  19. ^ "Memorandum From Trump's Doctor on COVID-19 Treatment". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. October 2, 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2020. and Cohen, Jon (October 5, 2020). "Update: Here's what is known about Trump's COVID-19 treatment". Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science). Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Segers, Grace (October 3, 2020). "Trump's physician says president is fever-free and not on oxygen". Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  21. ^ McEneny, Kayleigh (October 2, 2020). "An update from President @realDonaldTrump's physician". Twitter. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  22. ^ Pasquini, Maria (October 3, 2020). "Trump's Doctor Says 'We Are 72 Hours Into This Diagnosis,' Evades Questions on President's Fever". People. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  23. ^ Lemire, Jonathan; Colvin, Jill; Miller, Zeke (October 4, 2020). "Concerning signs in Trump's care despite word he's doing OK". AP News. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  24. ^ "The Latest: Doctor says Trump 'not yet out of the woods'". Associated Press. October 4, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  25. ^ Egan, Lauren (October 4, 2020). "Doctors say Trump on steroid therapy, health improving after brief 'episodes'". NBC News. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  26. ^ Eunjung Cha, Ariana; Goldstein, Amy (October 4, 2020). "Prospect of Trump's early hospital discharge mystifies doctors". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  27. ^ Sprunt, Barbara (October 4, 2020). "Doctors: Trump Being Treated With Steroid But Could Be Discharged As Early As Monday". NPR. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "White House aide says physician withheld health specifics to lift Trump's spirits". Axios. October 4, 2020.
  29. ^ Trump, Donald J. [@realDonaldTrump] (October 5, 2020). "I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Olorunnipa, Toluse; Dawsey, Josh (October 5, 2020). "Trump returns to White House downplaying virus that hospitalized him and turned West Wing into a 'ghost town'". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  31. ^ a b c Cha, Ariana Eunjung; Goldstein, Amy (October 4, 2020). "Prospect of Trump's early hospital discharge mystifies doctors". The Washington Post.
  32. ^ Willingham, A.J. (October 6, 2020). "5 things to know for October 6: Trump, Covid-19, SCOTUS, police violence, Kyrgyzstan". CNN. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  33. ^ "Live updates: White House doctor says Trump "reports no symptoms" of COVID-19". CBS News. October 6, 2020. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  34. ^ "Biden replaces White House doctor with longtime physician". AP. January 25, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  35. ^ "Biden replaces controversial White House physician". CNN. January 25, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021. Conley generated controversy in the fall when he admitted to offering rosy descriptions of Trump's condition because the White House wanted to project optimism.
  36. ^ "Biden replaces White House doctor with longtime physician". AP. January 25, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Physician to the President
Succeeded by