The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Alumni Society was pleased to honor Dr. Margarita R. Cabrera-Cancio, BS ‘79, MD ’82, FACP as the inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Service Award. She received a standing ovation as the award was presented during the MCOM Alumni Reunion on October 21, 2016.
Dr. Cabrera-Cancio humbly accepted the award and spoke beautifully about her gratitude and dedication to USF. She shared how her family arrived in the United States as political exiles in 1974. Within 2 years, she was ready for college but had very limited financial resources. USF offered a full scholarship for her undergraduate degree. When she was accepted to medical school, she again received financial aid.
She acknowledged teachers and colleagues at USF who inspired her to grow personally and professionally. She thanked Dr. Sinnott “for always being my teacher, my mentor and inspiring and expecting more of me than I thought I could accomplish,” noting that he continues to do the same for generations of students and physicians.
Margarita quoted John F. Kennedy about the importance of paying it forward: “As we express our gratitude – we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” In her own words, she shared, “USF has given us so much; it is time to show our gratitude with actions.” She noted that medical students today graduate with such immense debt. She encouraged our alumni to give back stating that as physicians, we have more opportunities to make a difference - for our patients, for our communities, and for our school, “Let’s show gratitude with action!”
Dr. Cabrera-Cancio completed her undergraduate degree, medical school, residency and fellowship at the University of South Florida. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Currently, Dr. Cabrera-Cancio is Clinical Professor at the USF College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine. Hospital appointments include Chief of the Department of Internal Medicine for four years and Chief of Staff for Tampa General Hospital for two and a half years. Dr. Cabrera-Cancio has served as secretary and trustee on the Florida Health Sciences Center Board for three years. Reappointed in 1992, she currently chairs the Quality Committee of the FHSC Board.
Dr. Cabrera-Cancio has also served on the TGH Foundation Board and was a member of the USF Board of Trustees, where she served for 10 years. She is the epidemiologist for Town & Country, Memorial, Kindred Tampa, and St. Petersburg hospitals. Dr. Cabrera-Cancio has served on the Clinical Affairs Committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In 1988, she started the Kidcare program at Tampa General Hospital and has served as Medical Director since then. She is the founder (and serves as Medical Director) of Infectious Disease Associates of Tampa Bay and International Travelers Clinic of Tampa Bay.
Over the past 25 years, Dr. Cabrera-Cancio has served on numerous medical staff committees at area hospitals and on several national medical boards. Additionally, she has been very active in our community as a member of the Hillsborough County AIDS coordination Council, the Suncoast AIDS Network of Florida, Shadow Program for College of Medicine Students, USF and USF-HRS AIDS Patient Care Clinics. She also served as the founding Medical Director of Tampa Care Clinic.
Dr. Cabrera-Cancio has received numerous awards, is the author of several publications and lectures extensively. Her interests include epidemiology, antimicrobial stewardship, employee health, transplant medicine, and orthopedic infections.