Longtime dermatology chair and professor Frank Parker, M.D. concludes a remarkable career

After six decades of practicing medicine, including more than 40 years at OHSU with 15 of those as the chair of dermatology in the School of Medicine, Frank Parker, M.D. is finally ready to hang up his dermatoscope.

Frank Parker was no stranger to inquiries about his retirement. After all, he began practicing internal medicine at the University of Washington in 1958. He’d been at OHSU since 1979 — serving first as the department chair until 1994 and subsequently as an instructor and physician.

“Everything depends on my medical condition…and it depends a little on how long everybody in the department can put up with me” Dr. Parker would quip.

But year in and year out, Dr. Parker continued to practice. He’d pick up extra clinics if needed, work on charts over the weekend, and as a notorious early riser, was always the first into clinic.

But the day was bound to come, and Dr. Parker finally thought it was time. He saw his final patient on December 31, 2019.

What were his main motivators for continuing to practice as long as he did?

Dermatology faculty with Frank Parker at CHH

“Well, I enjoy taking care of patients and I especially like coming in and working with the residents and doing some teaching.”

He served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of trainees throughout his career, working all but two years in academic medicine. And while the amount of knowledge he imparted through the years is immeasurable, he insists “they (residents) have taught me more than I ever taught them.”

What were some significant changes Frank witnessed over the years in dermatology?

There are many, he says. But one of the most significant is the amount of women dermatologists that are now in practice and in training. Women now account for more than half of all dermatology faculty and trainees at OHSU.

“A big change, an important change. It’s definitely been an addition, for the betterment of the department and the specialty. It’s given us better perspective on taking care of people.”

So what’s next for Frank Parker? Any big retirement plans?

“I play water volleyball at the Mirabella. We’re quite a group, all way over 65, and because you can’t wear hearing aids or glasses in the pool, we’re without all those senses banging a beach ball around. It’s a good laugh.” He goes on to add, “You know…I think I’m going to try to sleep in. I usually wake up at the same time, around 2 o’clock, but I’ll try and go back to sleep.”

Although he will be sorely missed by patients and peers alike, Dr. Parker’s legacy will not soon be forgotten. His mastery, professionalism and sharp sense of humor will live on each and every day through the lives he’s impacted at OHSU and beyond.

“Permission to abandon ship” he’d ask smirkingly to the department administrator each night on his way out.

Permission granted, Frank.

Celebrating Dr. Parker

There will be a retirement celebration for Dr. Frank Parker on Jan. 24, from 5 – 7 p.m., in the CHH1 Atrium. Colleagues, past patients, students and friends of Dr. Parker are welcome to attend. RSVP to: Dermevents@ohsu.edu.