Dr. Rosario Parra: Setting the Anesthesiology Bar High

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Anesthesia has a mixed reputation. It definitely makes the top ten list of modern medical advances. Without it, we’d be more Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman than Gray’s Anatomy. But it also makes the list for Twilight Zone-esque life experiences. Think about it – where do you actually go when you “go under”?

Understandably, this quandary and other concerns can make patients nervous about anesthesia. But surgery without it? Unthinkable. So what’s the solution to pre-op anesthesia jitters? For starters, make sure you have a good anesthesiologist. The physician who delivers you into la-la land should be someone with experience, skill, knowledge, and an excellent bedside manner. It should be someone like Dr. Rosario Parra, the anesthesiologist on staff at Dr. Raul Marquez’s Robotic Orthopedic Institute.

Dr. Parra has been practicing anesthesiology in the Valley since 1997. Born and raised in Mexico, she attended medical school in Monterrey before completing her residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Many physicians stop their training at that point, but not Dr. Parra. Her goal was to practice two of the most challenging sub-specialties in her field: cardiovascular and pediatric anesthesiology. This wasn’t going to be easy. When it comes to the body’s most vital organ or society’s most beloved demographic, they don’t let just anyone into the operating room.

Practicing cardiovascular or pediatric anesthesia (or both at the same time) requires fairly extensive training. Dr. Parra jumped in without hesitation, traveling near and far to finish the additional requirements. She worked under world-famous cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley at St. Luke’s hospital in Houston, completed a fellowship at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, and even did a stint in London at the prestigious Hospital for Sick Children.

Now that she had this arsenal of anesthesiology skills, Dr. Parra’s post-training job search went predictably smoothly. She was hired off the bat by McAllen Heart Hospital and practiced cardiovascular anesthesia there for six years. Later, she moved to Rio Grande Regional Hospital, working in general anesthesia as well as her cardiovascular specialty. These hospital years were as much an education as Dr. Parra’s formal training. She saw a huge range of patients, worked with many teams of doctors, and provided anesthesia for procedures big and small.

After nearly ten years working in hospitals, Dr. Parra was looking for a new way to grow as a physician. She found it at the Marquez Robotic Orthopedic Institute, the full-service orthopedic clinic where she’s worked since 2008. There, in addition to being the clinic anesthesiologist, Dr. Parra is also the preoperative evaluation specialist. This means she meets with each surgical patient individually before they go into surgery. She assesses their health, takes their medical histories, answers their questions, and meets any other needs they may have. She then makes all members of the surgical team aware of what the patient is bringing to the table. It’s a mutually beneficial set up: not only does the medical team feel more confident, the patient feels safer.

Often, the patient feels safer because Dr. Parra has talked them out of believing some common anesthesiology myths. Even the most medically astute patients can fall prey to thoughts like “If you numb my legs, I might never feel them again,” or “What if I never wake up?” For these patients, Dr. Parra’s calm, matter-of-fact explanations are a soothing balm. In fact, patients will often reschedule their surgeries if the fall on Dr. Parra’s vacation or out-of-office days.

For Dr. Parra, this kind of personalized patient service is deeply satisfying. It wasn’t something she encountered often in hospital work – the hectic pace and sheer volume prevented it. Now, instead of hurriedly talking to people minutes before they’re wheeled into the O.R., Dr. Parra can get to know her patients. She can advocate for them and soothe their fears. It’s a great way to practice medicine, which explains why she’s still excited to get to the office after nearly seven years of work.

Experience, skill, knowledge, and a commitment to patient care are the hallmarks of any good doctor. They’re especially important if that doctor is the last face you see before taking an extended surgical nap. So if you find yourself in need of orthopedic medical care and want to be sure your anesthesiologist is up to snuff, find Dr. Parra at the Marquez Robotic Orthopedic Institute. You’ll be in good hands.