T wo years before graduating from the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Eric Parker was working on developing his own practice.
While job shadowing with Dr. Aaron Ison at his dental practice in Brownstown, Parker learned Ison was going to retire and close his office in December 2013.
That gave Parker the perfect opportunity to have his own office in his hometown right out of college.
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On Aug. 3, he opened the doors of Parker Dental LLC at 502 S. Main St.
“He has been so helpful in helping me get in here and get started, so I’m real appreciative of him,” Parker, 27, said of Ison. “I knew two years ago that this is what I was going to do. I just had to wait to graduate before I could come and actually do it.”
Parker spent a few months setting up the business infrastructure and renovating the office, which had been empty since Ison retired.
He also did some advertising and set up a booth at the Jackson County Fair to let people know about the business coming to Brownstown.
“The patients and the town of Brownstown have been so supportive,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t get to see somebody that I know, that I’m related to or that our staff knows, a neighbor or somebody. I love the small-town atmosphere, and I love knowing everybody and knowing my patients. I never see a stranger. It’s a blessing.”
After graduating from Brownstown Central High School in 2006, Parker followed his brother, Clint, who is two years older, to Hanover College. They played basketball together there until Clint graduated, and then Eric transferred to Indiana University.
Once Parker chose to pursue a dentistry career, he job-shadowed Ison and other dentists in the area and talked to some of his college mentors.
“All signs started pointing toward dentistry being what was going to fit me best,” he said. “I like the work. I like the pace. I like being able to help and give back and serve our community.”
In 2011, after three years at IU, he earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a chemistry minor. He then moved on to the IU School of Dentistry on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.
This past May, he was one of 121 students receiving a doctor of dental surgery degree.
“It is difficult. There are a lot of ups and downs,” Parker said of dental school. “But God carried me through every bit of it, and I know that it was his will for me to come here and start this practice. In so many ways, he has shown himself along the way in my journey. … That’s kind of what carried me through dental school is staying close to him and not worrying about the rest, let him work out the details.”
At graduation, Parker was named D4D Technologies LLC and Henry Schein Dental Outstanding E4D Student of the Year and received the Dr. Charles E. and Janice B. Kem Award for Clinical Excellence.
The first honor was for Parker’s technological dentistry work involving three-dimensional printing and imaging for dental restoration.
“I did basically most of those in our class and was presented the award for expanding education,” he said.
The other award is named after a man who operated a successful dental practice in a rural area and gave back to the community.
“That’s the same thing that I want to do, so it was a blessing to receive that award, being someone following in his footsteps and going into a rural community and serving in that way,” Parker said.
Since its founding in 1879, the IU School of Dentistry in Indianapolis has educated more than 80 percent of the dentists in Indiana.
“One of the biggest goals for the field of dentistry in our state from our school’s perspective is to turn out a good product for our state’s health care,” Parker said. “So half or over half of the class every year are Indiana residents. Most likely, they are going to go back to their hometowns or other Indiana towns and serve our state here.”
Parker said it was nice to have a job lined up before he graduated from college.
“It really drove my education my last two years to know that I’m going to be out there on my own starting my own practice,” he said. “It enabled me to have a little more motivation on my own education because it’s not just trying to get through and graduate, but I really need to learn this because I want to be able to help my patients the best I can.”
Parker Dental is a comprehensive office for all ages.
“I wanted to be able to serve the community best by doing everything we can and not having to refer as many people to other towns and offices,” he said.
Parker has three employees — a dental hygienist, a chair-side assistant and a receptionist.
“I have the best staff that I could have ever asked for,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things that God has looked down up me and smiled with a staff that money can’t buy. They are just amazing.”
The building consists of four operatories, Parker’s office and a waiting room with a television.
“One of the reasons we fixed the office up so nice was for the patients,” he said.
“I want people to feel comfortable here. I want to get over that stigma of being scared to go to the dentist. I want a nice, calm, homey atmosphere.
Parker said he would like to see the waiting room used by a church or community group as a lunchtime or evening meeting place.
“It’s two avenues,” he said. “I want to provide dental care comprehensively to families for as long as I can do it, and at the same time have a positive impact on our community that’s going to last and make a difference.”
Parker said he also wants to donate to school and community causes when he can.
“It’s a blessing to be home and working with family and friends and getting to give back to the community,” he said. “It has been great.”
Name: Eric Parker
Education: Brownstown Central High School (2006); Indiana University (2011, bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a chemistry minor); IU School of Dentistry at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (2015, doctor of dental surgery degree)
Occupation: Owner of Parker Dental LLC in Brownstown
Family: Parents, Larry and Paula Parker; brother, Clint Parker; grandparents, Larry and Ruth Parker and Paul and Jane Crockett
What: Fall open house, including tours of the facility, light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the doctor and staff
Where: Parker Dental LLC, 502 S. Main St., Brownstown
When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday
Information: Call 812-358-2037 or visit parkerdentaldds.com or facebook.com/parkerdentaldds