Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Dr. Maria Rosario S. Vergeire graces the event as the memorial lecturer and shares three ‘nuggets’ students and doctors can learn from.
St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial (SLMCCM-WHQM) hosted its annual Dr. Robert F. Kuan Memorial Lecture on October 7, 2021, virtually. The memorial lecture is the third lecture under the College since the passing of Dr. Robert F. Kuan — former chairman of SLMC (1996-2011) and SLMCCM (2016-2018), and the founder of fast food giant, Chowking.
Every year, the virtual event is held to commemorate the legacy left behind by the late chairman of SLMC and SLMCCM. The event started with an opening message from SLMCCM Dean and Chief Academic Officer, Susan Pelea Nagtalon, M.D., MSPH. The event is then followed by a presentation commemorating the life of the late Dr. Robert F. Kuan, led by SLMCCM College Secretary and Assistant to the Dean, Genevieve Padilla-Evangelista, M.D., FPCS, FACS. Finally, the memorial lecture was closed with the response from the family delivered by Dr. Kuan’s son, Mr. Robert Kelvin Kuan.
Chief Academic Officer and College Dean Dr. Susan Nagtalon delivers her opening remarks during the third Dr. Robert F. Kuan Memorial Lecture.
For the third memorial lecture, the event featured esteemed lecturer, Maria Rosario S. Vergeire, M.D., MPH, CESO IV. Dr. Vergeire is the current spokesperson of the Department of Health (DOH) and also serves as DOH’s Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Undersecretary for Public Services.
During her speech, Dr. Vergeire leveraged on her unique and vast experience in both the health sector and government sector. The Health Undersecretary empathized with the students by recalling her youth, where she was unsure where life would take her.
“There are times in our lives when it feels like we are destined elsewhere, but we forget that what we are experiencing right now is part of the journey towards where we are destined to be. Do your best wherever you are, whatever you’re given. In that way, you can proudly tell yourself that you have really done your best,” said Dr. Vergeire.
Having worked as a public servant for the vast majority of her career, Dr. Vergeire also placed emphasis on her realizations of what it means to be a servant-leader who is both evidence-based and truthful.
“My job is to call a spade, a spade. As the spokesperson of the DOH, breaking bad news to the public and saying “no” has been a regular challenge, but inasmuch as it is difficult, I do it with utmost pride, because this is what sticking to science and truth means.”
During the lecture, Dr. Vergeire mentions three “nuggets” that students, faculty and staff can learn from. Dr. Vergeire highlighted using science as the bedrock of one’s decision, maintaining a collaborative and adaptive attitude, and practicing a flat structure in knowledge sharing. The lecture ended with the Health Undersecretary asking her audience the question, “who and what do you live for?” doubling down that these are the foundations of what makes a meaningful career as health professionals.
To close the program, the Memorial Lecture featured Robert Kelvin Y. Kuan, M.A., son of Dr. Robert F. Kuan, to provide a speech on behalf of the Kuan family. In his speech, Mr. Kuan recalled how the pandemic used to be “just numbers” until he received news that it reached his friends and eventually, him. Mr. Kuan recalled his severe fight against COVID-19, one where he thanked the St. Luke’s community for helping him survive the disease.
Robert Kelvin Kuan, son of the late SLMC chairman Dr. Robert F. Kuan, highlights the importance of servant leadership during a health crisis as he closes the program on behalf of the Kuan family.
Mr. Kuan notes that his experience against COVID-19 made him closer to his late father’s teachings and legacy, a legacy that ushered St. Luke’s excellence which saved his life against COVID-19. Remembering his father’s love for servant-leadership, Mr. Kuan highlighted that being a servant leader in times of crisis is an essential trait a doctor must possess.
“To our students, we see the value of what you learned today. Create. Research. Adapt. Make mistakes and fail. Learn from those mistakes and failures, and try again. It is in that spirit of serving the community, that drive, passion, and vision, that we foster collaboration and innovation, bringing about meaningful change,” said Mr. Kuan.