On Thursdays, we highlight an oral history featuring a health care leader who shaped the past and laid the foundation for the future. Since 1978, the AHA has conducted more than 100 interviews as part of this project, and transcripts are available in the oral history collection on the AHA’s Resource Center webpage. The following oral history with Scott Parker comes from an interview conducted in 2013.

Scott S. Parker, guided by his father’s values of determination and optimism, became the first president of Intermountain Healthcare – a position in which he spent 23 years nurturing the organization. Before pursuing graduate studies in health care administration, Parker served for two years as a missionary with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held other jobs in retail men’s fashion. He left retailing behind to study with the legendary Professor James A. Hamilton, director of the University of Minnesota Program in Hospital Administration. 

Although challenging, his studies launched Parker on a lifetime of leadership in hospitals. He came up through the ranks at Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis under the mentorship of Stanley Nelson, and then went on to his first CEO positions in Mesa, Ariz., and Newport Beach, Calif. When the Church decided to divest its hospitals in the Rocky Mountain West in 1975, resulting in the creation of Intermountain Healthcare, Parker returned to his hometown of Salt Lake City to serve as the first president of the nonprofit multi-organization system until his retirement in 1998. He also has served in leadership positions with many other organizations, including terms as board chair of the American Hospital Association and president of the International Hospital Federation, among many others.

Interviewed together with his wife, Sydne, the Parkers recount the story of their lives together, building home and family, while tackling professional challenges. Also included in this edited transcript is, “A Letter to My Son Tom,” which outlines Parker’s thoughts on leadership.

To read the full oral history transcript, click here.