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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Advisory Board Member Dr. Joyce Viloria: Health Care Intern to Health Care Mentor

Advisory Board Member Joyce Viloria

Advisory Board Member Joyce Viloria

Joyce Viloria ’03 has been involved with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and its Health Care Ethics Internship program since its inception. Since her graduation from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in Biology, Viloria has become a primary care physician at Kaiser Santa Clara and continues to be involved in the SCU community as a member of the Ethics Center Advisory Board and as a mentor for Health Care Ethics Interns. 

Viloria joined the Ethics Center community during her undergraduate career as a member of the first cohort of Health Care Ethics Interns during the 2001-2002 academic year. Over the course of her internship, Viloria shadowed at O’Connor Hospital, which was her first opportunity for in-person hospital shadowing and a formative experience in her medical career. At O’Connor, Viloria had opportunities to talk to doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains, all of which allowed her to “see the human side of medicine”. The experience helped prepare her for medical school, especially since the internship focused on the human and ethical sides of medicine as well as the technical. 

As a primary care physician, Viloria confronts ethical issues every day, especially during her communications with patients. As Viloria says, “health care is always balancing what is medically recommended with what the patients want.” She consistently manages treatment alongside patient misconceptions. The internet provides impressive resources, such as reputable sources for patient knowledge and examples of physical therapy exercises on platforms such as YouTube. On the other hand, however, the internet can also provide patients with non-reputable sources and misinformation, especially surrounding topics such as vaccination. This conflict between sources and uncertainty on the internet has led to a lack of trust in primary care providers, says Viloria. 

Over the course of her tenure as a primary care physician, Viloria consistently gives back to the SCU community by mentoring current Health Care Ethics Interns. In the years before the pandemic, Viloria had students shadow her for one to two months, allowing her to establish a relationship with the students and for the students to see the daily ethical challenges of a primary care physician. As Viloria explains, “SCU is under-represented in medicine,” which is why she provides her time and knowledge to current students interested in going into the healthcare field. Since the pandemic, Viloria has been invited as a guest speaker in a variety of classes, both on Zoom and in person. 

When Viloria was approached by Ethics Center Executive Director Don Heider, she was honored to be one of the youngest members to serve on the Advisory Board. In addition to representing a younger generation of Bronco alumni, Viloria also has current and recent connections to the SCU community, something that was valued by Heider in his selections. Viloria is also the only practicing physician on the Advisory Board, bringing a new perspective on “what is useful for people on the front lines.” When it comes to the work of the Ethics Center, Viloria says the information and conversations it fosters are extremely important. “We all use ethics every day, whether we know it or not.” For current SCU students, Viloria advises paying attention to ethical work in your own field and others. “Expand your horizons,” she says.


Jan 17, 2023


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