Dr. Roger L. Duncan III has inspired thousands of local students by spreading the mantra his parents impressed upon him: Strive to your highest potential.
Duncan, who serves as vice chief of anesthesia at Palms West Hospital, is the force behind a trio of initiatives designed to show students that “with or without a stethoscope, they can have a meaningful impact with a career in health care or the sciences,” he explains.
Health care jobs are projected to be the fastest growing in the nation through 2026, a fact of which Duncan is keenly aware. He beams when explaining the externship he founded for eighth-grade students to gain experiences at Good Samaritan Medical Center, from undergoing a mock trauma alert to toying with da Vinci robots. He also created the annual Health care and Science Stars of Tomorrow Career Symposium in conjunction with the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society, and is the mastermind behind A Day at the Country Club, which has raised funds and awarded more than 35 scholarships to high schoolers aspiring to pursue careers in pre-health and the sciences.
There’s more to the field “than being a boring doctor,” jokes Duncan, who views medicine as an ever-growing industry that affords a pathway from poverty to the American dream. “These kids are smart,” says the father of four. “These students from underrepresented or lower socioeconomic areas don’t dream big dreams because they don’t have the opportunities nor the role models in their day-to-day world. They have omnipotential but [need] people who believe in them.”
In addition to his work with students, Duncan is a fellow of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and has served on several local boards, including the Palm Beach County Medical Society, the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society, and Nova Southeastern University, Palm Beach campus. Duncan’s leadership in the community where he has practiced since 1999 is often recognized. Most recently, he was named one of the 2018 Delta Sigma Theta Men of Excellence.
Duncan credits his hardworking parents for teaching their four children that “education is the great equalizer.” In many ways, Duncan is carrying on the legacy of his parents—who invited Freedom Fighters into their home—and those who came before them. “What they instilled in all their kids was, ‘You stand on the shoulders of all your ancestors who helped to afford you opportunities. And you have an obligation to give to others.’” —Cathy Chestnut