The Marshall M. Parks Medal

2018 Parks Silver and Bronze Medalist

Susan Day, MD

Born in Louisiana, Dr. Day’s formative years were immersed in the importance of education. Emphasis on science was everywhere and included space exploration, polio vaccines, and safer transportation. At home, art was the focus as both parents were teachers of music. It was the kindness of a pediatrician who first introduced Dr. Day to the merging of art and science as a physician. By sharing the experience of “rounding” in a nursery, the beauty of combining service, art, and science was first seen.

Susan Day Headshot


Upon graduation from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, it was San Francisco that became the center for Dr. Day’s ophthalmic career. Her residency at California Pacific Medical Center introduced her to the complexities of Dr. Art Jampolsky’s clinical practice, the creativity of Dr. Alan Scott’s oculinum research, and the oft-ignored emphasis of Dr. William Hoyt’s neuro-ophthalmic perspective on pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. Underpinning all of this early experience was the role of educational rigor and standards-setting brought by Dr. Bruce Spivey and Dr. William Spencer.

To gain further perspective on how children might be helped, Dr. Day spent her fellowship with Mr. David Taylor, a consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. As a tertiary/quaternary care center, the multitude of unusual diseases was offset by the realization that children’s needs were universal, and that the attitudes of those they met could mold lifelong behavior-vulnerability building trust, inexperience linking to creative thinking, relief from suffering resulting in gratitude. To supplement her training, Dr. Day completed additional strabismus education with Dr. William Scott and Dr. Marshall Parks prior to returning to San Francisco.

Dr. Day feels blessed to have practiced pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus for over 30 years, enjoying the welcoming collegiality of those who trained her as well as with future partners Drs William Good and Taliva Martin. Research colleagues at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute provided answers to clinically relevant questions and constant reminders that continuing education comes from diverse disciplines. Yet her compelling interest in learning and teaching led to increased activities in how residents are trained and how standards are set.

It was participation in such organizations governing these processes – the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the Association of University Professors in Ophthalmology, the American Board of Ophthalmology, the American Ophthalmological Society, and the Ophthalmology Residency Review Committee – that provided her with leadership positions to learn even further how miraculous it is that anyone can become a competent physician! Her favorite relevant quote, written by Abigail Adams (wife of our third president in the US), is truly the theme of her career:

"Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."

Since 2014, Dr. Day has served as Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, for ACGME International. In this role, she works internationally with places and programs who seek to build a system of education. America has the distinct reputation of producing high-quality physicians through its educational system which has evolved over a century. By exporting these high standards and allowing country-specific flexibility, it is her hope to contribute to the improvement of world health.