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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


Joyce Viloria

Joyce Viloria

Joyce Viloria '03

Primary Care Physician, Kaiser Santa Clara

Joyce Viloria ’03 knows a thing or two about compassion, persistence, and passion for your profession.  She observed those qualities in the physicians she shadowed as one of the Center’s first health care ethics interns in 2001-2002.  Now, as a primary care physician at Kaiser Santa Clara, she has come full circle, serving as a mentor to a new generation of Center interns.

Viloria’s vibrant SCU experience and health care internship with the Center played a pivotal role in her career.  Not only did she have the chance to observe how health care professionals confronted ethical dilemmas in practice, but she also participated in discussions on complex ethical issues in medicine. This was during a time when this type of reflection as an undergraduate in a collegiate setting was almost unheard of.  Ethical discussions led by one of her mentors, Anh Tran, SJ, now assistant professor of historical and systems theology at the Jesuit Theological Seminary, proved invaluable, as did her learning experience with Angel Islas, associate professor of Biology. Both remain on the SCU faculty today.

Viloria also values the hospital rotation experience, a foundation of the internship that continues today, as another key motivation for becoming a physician.  “My early experience in the hospital taught me the mantras I still hold to in my work,” she adds. “Do No Harm,” and “my three C’s: Conscience, Caring, and Compassion.”

One of  Viloria’s most memorable rotations was in the ER, where she experienced first-hand the excitement and chaos of emergency care. She also learned how jumping into a scenario at a moment’s notice, and the power of compassion, could translate to life or death. 

Her lessons in compassion serve her well today.  One of her most poignant recent memories is advocating for a chronically ill patient who suffered from alcoholism and Hepatitis C. “These are diseases that come from what society regards as problem behaviors,” she comments, “but it shouldn’t make a difference. Everyone should get a second chance at life. I fought to get a transplant for my patient, and not only did he recover, but he is thriving today. I know I did the right thing.”

Viloria is one of the fortunate and talented few who can say they realized their childhood dreams. “This is always what I saw myself doing,” she states about her career, “and I’m having a great time doing it.”

Born in The Philippines, Viloria moved with her family to East San Jose at the age of four. Their lives were not easy, but despite economic challenges, she flourished in her studies of the sciences. Growing up, she also witnessed the health challenges many in her family faced such as heart disease and diabetes, which only strengthened her commitment to creating a better health care system not only for them, but for everyone.

Viloria graduated from SCU in 2003, and went on to complete the Pre-Med Post-Baccalaureate program at UCSF, where she also attended medical school and completed her residency in Internal Medicine.   

Every day, she is thankful for her SCU experience—and not only professionally. She met her husband Alexander Keedy ’03 through the Center program, and today they celebrate their seven-year marriage and their three-year-old daughter.  

Viloria is thrilled to give back to the Ethics Center. She supervised two health care ethics interns in a primary care rotation at Kaiser last spring. One of them was Honzel Fellow Lucas Hill, who also went on to earn the 2016 Markkula Prize.  Now that this new pilot program has blossomed, Viloria anticipates her new round of students this fall with an enthusiasm for the world of medicine that, lucky for her patients, she will most likely never lose.  “I’m so thrilled, I can hardly wait!” she says.