Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shocked the political word Friday by announcing that she will step down at the end of the month andtransfer power to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

Palin made the announcement from her home in Wasilla, flanked by her husband, Todd, and family and state commissioners.

The announcement came on the same week that one of her top public health officials says she was forced out of office because Palin felt she wasn't in step on social issues.

Palin's decision now allows her to avoid the difficult task of running for president while serving as governor.

Todd Palin told FOX News that his wife will concentrate on "doing the things for Alaska and the country" that she is passionate about and can not do as governor with the limitation and constant opposition she deals with within the state.

Palin, who defeated incumbent Gov. Murkowski in a primary in 2006,.gained national prominence when GOP presidential candidate John McCain picked her as his running mate last year. But her approval ratings in the state have skidded in recent months.

Palin has been dogged in recent months by ethics inquiries. Her office last month announced the 15th dismissal of an ethics complaint against her or one of her staff.

On Wednesday, Beverly Wooley, who has worked more than 20 years in public health in Alaska, most of it with the municipality of Anchorage, ended her stint as state public health director.

She's the second top health official to leave within days. The state's chief medical officer, Jay Butler, left in late June after declining to take on Wooley's job along with his own. He now is in Atlanta, overseeing a U.S. Centers for Disease Control task force on a vaccine to protect against the H1N1 flu virus.

FOX News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.