In honor of Black History Month, we will be running a blog series written by HSS physicians and medical staff. Our third installment is written by Dr. Michael Parks. Read our previous installments with Drs. Daphne Scott & Riley Williams here.
I was raised in Columbia, South Carolina and my parents, Marshall and Sylvia Parks, both worked in the field of education. Dr. Anthony Edward Boyd, one of South Carolina’s first African-American physicians, happened to be my great-great-uncle. After hearing stories from my grandfather about him as well as other African-American physicians who were friends of the family, I became motivated to become a physician myself.
My childhood inspiration came from many sources. My pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin O. Stands, took care of patients from a wide variety of backgrounds and I had great admiration for him. Also, my friends and experiences in high school directed me to aspirations of medicine as it combined my love for science and the desire to interact with people. After graduating in 1982 from Dreher High School in South Carolina near the top of my class, I attended Duke University, where I earned a degree in chemistry. As a student at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, I met with the chair of the orthopedic surgery department and was told that I should spend time at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Ironically I could not see myself in New York City. I returned to Duke to complete my orthopedic residency at Duke University Medical Center. My desire to specialize in orthopedic surgery stemmed from the desire to help patients return to life and function without pain. The interest in hip and knee replacement surgery began a little while after I started orthopedic general surgical rotation as a student. I was randomly assigned to an orthopedic elective during this time and when I saw my first joint replacement, I knew that was the field I wanted to go into. After residency, I came to HSS for the Hip and Knee fellowship and after spending time at Columbia Presbyterian and Mount Sinai Medical Centers, I have spent the last 10 years back at HSS.
I have had the opportunity to travel and see patients from around the world. My job is extremely fulfilling, allowing me to grow professionally and personally through ongoing challenges. I like that my job is bigger than I am. My role here at HSS is a wonderful platform through which I have found the ability to grow professionally as a physician caring for patients and in my ability to affect change through participation in orthopedic and medical advocacy that ultimately affects our ability to impact all patients. Ironically, I think back to my initial meeting as a medical student and realize how wrong I was about New York. You don’t know where you will end up in life, but in the meantime, just plan, prepare, and aspire.
Dr. Michael L. Parks is an orthopedic surgeon who performs minimally invasive total joint replacements, knee and hip revision surgery, and alternative procedures including partial knee replacements and arthroscopic surgery of the knee. Dr. Parks emphasizes patient function and pain as a guide to indicate the best individual approach to multiple nonsurgical and surgical alternatives for treatment of arthritis.