By Maggie Josephsen
Dr. Buck Parker is a Board Certified Surgeon who not only performs surgeries but also specializes in providing expert medical opinions on the Web, radio & TV programs nationwide. He relays medical knowledge to audiences in an uncomplicated and entertaining way. He recently participated in a 6 episode reality TV series called The Island, where a group of men were pitted against their environment to survive for 30 days without outside help.
Before he became a castaway fighting for survival on The Island, Dr. Buck Parker developed the skills that helped him endure and best the obstacles thrown in his way. When asked about the most important skill he was able to use on the show, he responded, “Honestly the most important thing in any survival situation is to believe in yourself and to never give up.” He recounts a story of being lost with his brother and a friend in the mountains on a snowmobile trip as a teen. The friend wanted to give up, build a snow cave and try to make it overnight in sub zero temperatures, but his brother refused to give up and made them keep going- eventually making it home and likely saving their lives. “I thought of that a few times on the Island to keep me going,” Parker acknowledged.
The Island, which boasts survivalist Bear Grylls as one of the executive producers, places 14 modern American men together on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean with only the clothes on their backs and minimal tools to survive for 30 days in the wilderness. Not the typical reality TV show fare, the participants are not competing for prizes or strategizing for team dominance. Instead, the producers’ intent is to discover whether the modern American man, used to all the conveniences of suburban life, still has the adventurous spirit and ingenuity to survive against the odds in dangerous and difficult circumstances.
In fact, part of Parker’s motivation to participate in the show came from his family life. His father loves outdoor life and hunting, along with his brother. He took the opportunity to prove to himself (and to them!) that he wasn’t as much of a “city slicker” as they all thought. Although he did spend time with them hunting, hiking and adventuring when he was younger, his time in college, medical school and surgical residency restricted his availability to get outdoors, and refine the skills that come more naturally to his family members.
Born in central California, Parker moved to Jackson, Wyoming when he was 12. After high school, he lived in Nevada, Wyoming, Belize, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri and Michigan before settling here in Kissimmee. He relocated to Kissimmee because he had made some health videos for YouTube and was contacted by a studio here in Florida to create more. Once he came down to meet with them, he made some great contacts and friends and then had an offer to work at Osceola Regional Medical Center, which cemented his decision to move to Osceola County.
Dr. Parker is passionate about communicating medical information to people in a way that is accurate and also understandable. During his residency, he realized while watching other surgeons consult with patients that many of those consultations ended with patients who desperately needed a better explanation of their situation and what solutions their surgeon was offering. This void in effective communication, coupled with his upbringing in a large Italian family that forced him to learn how to gain positive attention by entertaining his audience at the dinner table, led Parker to a zeal for conveying complex medical facts in new and interesting ways. He is a frequent guest on television and radio shows, in addition to his stint as participant and medical expert on The Island.
One of his most frightening moments on the show was grabbing a nine and a half foot boa constrictor by the tail. He explained, “I was at the tail for a reason…there was no way I was getting near the head of that thing! One look in the eyes of a snake that large and you kinda get this sick feeling in your stomach, well, at least I did!” He was also nervous when the group had difficulty finding water, although his anxiety came more from worrying that the show would end in three days and they would all look like fools rather than getting heat stroke like Taylor and Mike [two of the other participants] did.
Dr. Parker shared the biggest lesson he learned on the island by declaring, “Survival parallels life in that if you want to be successful, you just never give up. Decide on what you want, and go for it. When obstacles stand in your way, figure another way around them. The first rule of survival whether in the jungle or in regular life is just never give up, period.”