Ruth M Parker, M.D.
Long Description: Since joining the medical school faculty in 1988, Dr. Parker has been active in medical school teaching. She has lectured in the medical school, the public health school, to residents and faculty. For the last several years, most of her lectures relate to how patients understand and use health information, and how providers can improve their communication of essential health information. She has mentored students, residents, and faculty at Emory for their projects related to health of the underserved, health communication, and health literacy. Her teaching in health literacy and leadership role with the AMA on their national foundation’s signature effort on health literacy led to their creation of a widely used curriculum (Health Literacy: Help Your Patients Understand) for improving health literacy. This kit includes patient videos and a teaching manual with case studies for teaching community health workers, medical students and practitioners about the issue of health literacy.
Dr. Parker has lectured at numerous national meetings of professional societies and health organizations on the topic of health literacy, and received national recognition for her work in teaching and communication about the issue.
Through work on the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy, Dr. Parker is also pursuing efforts to enhance national medical education through enhanced curricular and national standardized testing about health literacy. This is a follow-up to the IOM report recommendation about improving professional education about health literacy.
In 2003, Dr. Parker was jointly appointed to the Emory College faculty in the Department of Italian Studies. She developed a course on Medicine and Compassion, which she has taught yearly in the summer studies abroad program for Emory University. For 5 weeks each summer, Dr. Parker travels on a bus with 40 undergraduates and several undergraduate faculty, teaching a class that explores the meaning of medicine and compassion, rendered over time in Italian history and culture. She developed the curriculum for this course, and has now included a junior faculty member as a co-teacher in this popular undergraduate course. Students examine historical and recent writings from the medical humanities and work to understand the meaning of compassion, how it affects the care and health of people, and how it relates to the essence of professionalism.
Dr. Parker currently also collaborates with a group of faculty on development of an elective course for Emory medical students on global health. This course will be offered in the spring, 2007 for the first time.