Vicki Parrish, Dr. Jim Parrish and Dr. David Eisen, Chief of Family & Community Medicine
Hospitals have always been a part of Dr. Jim Parrish’s life. Long before he became a physician, he was surrounded by the stories of health care’s inner workings from his father, a mechanical engineer who consulted for hospitals throughout Toronto.
Dr. Parrish always thought he would follow in his father’s footsteps and, for a few years, it seemed that he had. As an engineer with a Master’s degree in biomedical engineering, Dr. Parrish began his career designing electronic cardiac monitors for hospitals.
However, the desire to make an even bigger difference in patients’ lives led him to medical school. In 1978, Dr. Parrish entered North York General Hospital (NYGH) as a family medicine resident.
“The education I received at NYGH uniquely prepared me for family practice,” reflects Dr. Parrish. “It was a learning experience with great responsibility. It set me up for success in my own practice when I became the chief decision maker.”
In 1980, Dr. Parrish became a family physician – and an official NYGH staff member. Once his career took off, Dr. Parrish and his wife, Vicki, began giving back to NYGH. Both come from philanthropic families who were dedicated to supporting their community.
When Dr. Parrish’s mother passed away, North York General Foundation received over $14,000 in memorial gifts. Along with a personal donation of their own, these memorial gifts helped the Parrishes establish the Parrish Family Endowment in her honour.
Directing the endowment funds to support medical residents in NYGH’s Family and Community Medicine was a natural fit for the Parrishes. “It is our honour to contribute to the institution that helped shape my career, and it is important for us to support the next generation of family physicians,” Dr. Parrish explains.
Over the past decade, the Parrish Family Endowment has enabled family medicine residents to attend medical conferences, bringing their learnings back to disseminate with their NYGH colleagues. The Parrishes trusted the Foundation to invest and grow the fund until the right opportunity came for them to make an even larger impact on the Family & Community Medicine Program.
That opportunity presented itself when Dr. Heather Laakso, a recent family medicine resident at NYGH, was invited to speak on the international stage. Dr. Laakso won a University of Toronto award over all other residents at the University’s affiliated teaching centres– and thanks to the Parrish Family Endowment, she will be presenting her NYGH research at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, early next year.
According to Dr. David Eisen, Chief, Family and Community Medicine and Program Medical Director, the Parrishes’ investment is helping NYGH continue to build its legacy as a leader in education and primary care research. “This upcoming expenditure from the Parrish Family Endowment will put NYGH’s medical residents on the international stage,” he explains.
For Dr. Parrish, who retired in 2014, contributing to NYGH is a way of continuing his service to his profession and his community. “NYGH was where I began my career, and it was my home for over three decades,” he reflects. “Supporting it helps me maintain a connection with an institution that has meant so much to me.”
To learn how you can establish an endowment to support education at NYGH, contact Dora.Boylen-Pabst@nygh.on.ca or 416-756-6898.