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Dr. Donna Parker has helped thousands of medical students during her career, acting as a lifelong mentor and helping them enter the medical community fully prepared to serve others.

“They are our future,” Parker said. “Our team has helped them to develop cultural humility, kindness under stress and the knowledge necessary to effectively address even the most complex social and medical conditions.”

Parker has spent more than two decades in various roles at the school and was instrumental in designing and implementing a data-driven tool to help match medical students with residency programs that offer the “best fit,” facilitating a remarkable 98% match rate. That work was published in the journal Academic Medicine and was presented as a poster at a national meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

“She has helped students, residents and faculty members make the best possible decisions for their lives, achieve their goals and grow as humans while doing so,” said Dr. Neda Frayha, who benefited from her mentorship as a medical student and served as an assistant dean in the Office of Student Affairs, working alongside Parker for eight years.

Under Parker’s leadership, the UMSOM designed and launched a new curriculum intending to develop lifelong learners who are clinically excellent and possess humanism, professionalism, scholarship, leadership, critical thinking and attention to social justice and diversity.

Most recently, she founded a Medical Education Leadership Academy to bring formal structure in fostering innovation in teaching and promoting the careers of young faculty. She has also long been intentional in connecting professionals from underrepresented groups with leadership opportunities.

“She is a strong, steady advocate, generous with her time and knowledge,” Frayha said. “Her selfless dedication has benefited our institution at the individual and systemic levels consistently, year after year.”

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.