Dr. Bernie Fernandez, CEO of Cleveland Clinic Florida, spoke about his upbringing in Cuba and his passion for medicine during the second President’s Lyceum at Palm Beach Atlantic University last week.
Dr. Fernandez told the group of about 30 students there is a simple code that he lives by: People, attitude and work ethic. “I put people first,” Dr. Fernandez said, “people before anything else.”
|Dr. Bernardo (Bernie) Fernandez, CEO of Cleveland Clinic Florida, speaks at PBA during the second President's Lyceum.|
Born in Havana, Dr. Fernandez recounted the years in which his father, a professor of surgery, was sentenced to a labor camp for wanting to leave the country. One of his father’s assigned tasks was to clean the latrines, a job at which he excelled, Dr. Fernandez said.
“That’s what my dad taught me. If you’re going to do a job, do it well. It doesn’t matter what it is,” he said.
Dr. Fernandez’ family later moved to Spain and then to the United States. Dr. Fernandez was in eighth grade when his family moved to the U.S. and eventually settled in the western Palm Beach County community of Pahokee, where his father worked as an emergency room surgeon.
Dr. Fernandez later graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He received his medical degree from the Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and he completed his internal medicine residency and vascular medicine fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
He recently earned an MBA from the University of Miami School of Business, and he also is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business Executive Development Program.
“Don’t stop learning because there is always something you can do better,” Dr. Fernandez told the students.
Dr. Fernandez, an internist who specializes in vascular medicine, joined Cleveland Clinic Florida in 1991. He was named CEO of Florida operations in June 2006 and a member of the executive team for the Cleveland Clinic Health System in 2001, after serving several years as chairman of the Division of Medicine.
As a physician executive, Dr. Fernandez continues to treat patients and serves as head of the Section of Vascular Medicine and director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Laboratory.
The President’s Lyceum is a speaker’s series in which visitors who have distinguished themselves in various professions come to present their insights and experiences in a discussion with PBA students.
“I really appreciated his outlook on patient care,” Kyle Walding, a junior majoring in biology and chemistry, said of Dr. Fernandez. “I think he really cares about his patients.”
Morganne Bayliss, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she appreciated having a chance to interact with the speaker in a small-group setting. “The opportunity it presents is amazing,” Bayliss said.
The first President’s Lyceum was held in February, and a third event is being planned for April.