A Story of Friendship and Physicians

Physician's Money Digest, December31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 24

Nowadays, it's understandablewhy physicians seek outdefenders of their work. Toooften, thanks to big media'smyopic herd mentality, the true measureof doctors' dedication goes unheralded.

A frequent tribute we hear from ourreaders is that this magazine serves as anadvocate for America's doctors—praisefor which we are most grateful.

Enduring Friendships

I've learned that one way doctorsgain fresh perspective and positive reinforcementis through enduring friendshipswith their medical colleagues. Myphysician-dad was a good example.Although you'd never know it from hismostly dispassionate style, Dad hadscores of doctor-friends. They workedtogether, traveled together, and discussedmedicine and life together.

Among dad's many friends was JamesW. Parker, Jr, MD, a prominent and pioneeringAfrican American physician whodied this past October. Ever dedicated tohealing the less fortunate, even an illnesscouldn't bring him to entirely close hisoffice, and he only stopped taking patientcalls 2 weeks before his death.

Born a few months apart in 1918, thetwo men joined the staff of MonmouthCounty, NJ-based Riverview Hospital in1956. "Jim Parker was an accomplisheddoctor who cared for patient and communitymore than most," Dad said. "Hehad a busy practice because he treated theless fortunate, but also because he knewwhat he was doing."

The two doctors shared a mutualrespect and admiration. As a teenager, I'llnever forget one winter morning when Idrove my father to meet Dr. Parker. Dadhad been invited by Dr. Parker to join himand his friends at his Florida vacationhome for some R&R. My father—a manwho always judged people by theiractions, never their appearance—was theonly white person to be included in Dr.Parker's large entourage of travelers. "Iwas very much honored to be included,"Dad said, "and we had a great time."

Lessons Learned

The son of a physician, Dr. Parkerwas revered in his community for hishumanity. A man of large stature—physicallyand intellectually—Dr. Parker was afounder and member of scores of localservice organizations and boards. A lifelongresident of Red Bank, NJ, in tributeto his devotion, a borough health clinicand a street were named in his honor.

Known for providing care beyond thephysical, Dr. Parker, a 1944 HowardUniversity College of Medicine graduate,was a great believer in education. "Jimknew the power and worth of an education,and he championed it as a vitalmeans to a fulfilling life," Dad explained.