Why President Reagan’s Physician Resigned After One Term

The White House physician protects the president’s health, with the assistance of the Director of the White House Medical Unit. They are responsible for managing comprehensive medical care for the members of the president’s immediate family, the vice president, and the vice president’s family. The physician to the president is essentially the “shadow of the president” because they are always close at hand, whether the president is at the White House, aboard Air Force One, or overseas. White House physician Daniel Ruge, for example, was nearby during the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and supervised the president’s immediate treatment. Ruge, however, resigned after Reagan’s first term, calling his job “vastly overrated, boring, and not medically challenging.” He couldn’t attend most state dinners due to lack of space, but since he had to be ready for emergencies, he normally waited alone in his office, wearing a tuxedo. Ruge did say that one of the advantages of being the White House physician is that he could ask for anything and get it. "No doctor will refuse to consult,” said Ruge. Daniel Ruge died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm on August 30, 2005 at the age of 88.