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Jan. 10, 2023

Parker grateful for Northwest education in preparation for medical career

In more than 20 years of practicing medicine, Dr. Heath Parker ’92 has built a résumé that features extensive and diverse experiences in emergency medicine, adult and pediatric hospital medicine, primary care and advanced wound care, including as a medical director with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But in all that time, Parker also found a knack for teaching and began work last June as dean of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn Campus in Alabama.

A Texas native, Parker was recruited to play football at Northwest, but he quickly realized the academic opportunity available to him at the University. From early on, Parker aspired to advance his education to medical school and majored in biology at Northwest, in addition to volunteering at what is now Mosaic Medical Center-Maryville to earn his EMT certification.

“I couldn’t be prouder of coming out of Northwest or more pleased with how well prepared I was,” Parker, who was a member of the Bearcat football team from 1988 to 1991, said. “I got a tremendously strong education from a pre-medical standpoint, and it prepared me. I can’t think of anyone from any other school that I went to medical school with or in my experience so far that got as good of preparation.”

Upon completing his bachelor’s degree at Northwest, Parker headed to Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio-sciences, where he earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. He then completed an internal medicine and pediatrics residency at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, where he was appointed chief resident and clinical instructor.

Dr. Heath Parker began work last June as dean of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn Campus in Alabama. (Submitted photo)

Dr. Heath Parker began work last June as dean of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn Campus in Alabama. (Submitted photo)

Parker has served as a medical director for multiple emergency departments, primary care clinics and hospitalist programs, including as director of hospital clinical operations for a multi-specialty facility and chief medical officer for an integrative care organization. Through all of it, he always found himself teaching.

“Starting in residency, I was always teaching; I was always interested in teaching students and teaching residents,” he said. “I was a chief resident at Baylor Scott and White for my final year there and got an academic appointment at Texas A&M, and that led to me continuing to teach a lot – even while I was practicing over the years.”

While in Knoxville, Tennessee, Parker served as assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he was the founding chair of pediatrics.

“From that time on, I was always working clinically but teaching predominantly medical students and eventually worked my way into a full-time teaching job,” he said.

Now with more than 10 years of academic experience, Parker previously served as associate dean of clinical medicine and chief administrative officer of the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine on the University of Tennessee campus. He also served as associate dean of clinical sciences, associate professor and chair of internal medicine and pediatrics at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.

With partnerships involving Virginia Tech University, the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn University, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine strives to prepare future physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations as well as promote research to improve human health – a mission Parker, with the team-oriented mindset he developed as a student-athlete – is dedicated to helping students fulfill.

“Our graduates can go into anything they want, but we try to find those students that are mission-centric, that are more likely to want to go into a primary care and serve underserved rural areas,” Parker said.

He resides in Auburn, Alabama, with his wife, Amy Austerman Parker. They have four children.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215