Alpharetta, Ga., Feb. 15, 2013—Dr. Rick Parker, a practicing plastic surgeon at the Austin Plastic Surgery Institute, has been selected by as its inaugural domestic service honoree in the Mission:MD Physician of the Year Awards. The annual awards program honors physicians who donate their time to help underserved patients in the United States and abroad gain access to critically-needed healthcare services.

For his service to cleft palate patients in the Central Texas area and in missions abroad to Latin America, will donate $10,000 in Dr. Parker’s honor to Austin Smiles, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing reconstructive plastic surgery, primarily cleft lip and palate repairs, to the children of Austin and the 10 county area surrounding Austin and in Latin America. The award will be presented to Dr. Parker on Wed., Feb. 13 at the Texas Hospital Association annual meeting.

In 1977, Dr. Parker helped to form the Central Texas Cleft Lip/Palate multidisciplinary team, now housed within the Dell Children’s Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center, to treat children born with congenital malformations in the Central Texas area, preventing them from having to seek treatment in Houston or Dallas. In 1987 he co-founded Austin Smiles, the Austin Plastic Surgery Foundation, to support the mission on a larger scale. Through Austin Smiles, Dr. Parker and other participating clinicians have been able to treat more than 4,000 children in Austin and in annual mission trips to Latin American countries such as Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico. He also founded and organizes the annual “Shoot for a Smile” fundraiser for Austin Smiles. Now in its 16th year, the clay shooting tournament raises nearly $50,000 a year for the organization. Dr. Parker earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University and his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He was nominated by fellow physician Dr. Lauren Crawford, who has performed mission work alongside Dr. Parker.

“Dr. Rick Parker is a testament to the service physicians are providing across this country and around the world to make sure that people have access to the critical healthcare services they need,” said R. Shane Jackson, president of and executive vice president at Jackson Healthcare. “We are proud to honor Dr. Parker for his exemplary work with Austin Smiles as he continues to help children in Central Texas and Latin America regain their smiles and lead fuller lives.”

“Austin Smiles is blessed to have Dr. Parker on its team,” said Kendyl Richards, executive director of Austin Smiles. “We are inspired by his genuine compassion, critical care and concern for every patient.  The gift Austin Smiles receives in honor of Dr. Parker will continue to help hundreds of children receive the care they deserve.  We are grateful for for recognizing Dr. Parker’s benevolent service.”