A recipient of both the MacArthur Fellowship and Presidential Medal of Freedom spoke to students at the Shalala Student Center on Tuesday as part of Phi Delta Epsilon’s annual sponsorship event.
Dr. Pedro Greer, a distinguished gastroenterologist, spoke to a hall full of students and faculty about issues of public health, integrity and moral concerns in the field of modern medicine. The national chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon, an international medical fraternity, arranges for a speaker every year.
Dr. Greer emphasized how “embarrassing” it is that the United States healthcare system is ranked so low in the world. According to the World Health Organization’s rankings, the U.S. comes in at No. 37 in the world in overall health-system performance. But he said the students he spoke to have a chance to change that status.
“It’s wonderful talking to the students,” Greer said. “The future of society sits on the shoulders of your generation.”
Freddy Michaud, a senior studying biomedical engineering, said he was impressed with Dr. Greer’s speech and inspired by the message.
“It brought back the passion as to why people get into medicine,” Michaud said. “It’s great to see that there’s people in his position still working hard for the people who really need it.”
David Dorcius, a student leader in Phi Delta Epsilon, was ecstatic to have such a distinguished speaker come to UM. On behalf of the fraternity, he presented Dr. Greer with a plaque for “helping to promote the highest level of scientific and educational standards in the field of medicine.”
Dr. Greer has won a number of awards, including the MacArthur Genius Grant in 1993, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Obama in 2009 and the Great Floridian award in 2013.
The physician’s closing message emphasized the value of collaboration in improving the world.
“Working together is not such a bad thing. Now go out and make the world a better place,” Greer said.