Charles Park (or Charlie) was one of the founders of the Connecticut Academy of PAs. In 1974, he and his wife Betsey Park (also a PA) were encouraged by then Yale PA Program Director Paul Moson to host a gathering of PAs to discuss forming a state chapter. The Parks were joined by Chris Barber, Burdeen Camp, Bruce Fichandler, Ron Fox, Elaine Grant, and Jeff Heinrich at that meeting. Initially, their focus went beyond Connecticut as they sought to incorporate as the New England Academy of PAs. Eventually, they settled on a more local approach and became the Connecticut Academy of Physician Associates (ConnAPA). ConnAPA was incorporated in January 1977 and became a constituent chapter of the AAPA in February 1977. Recognition by the IRS as a charitable organization (501-c-6) occurred in March 1977. Charlie then served in 1974 as the first ConnAPA President and was reelected for a second one-year term in 1975. During his time as President, ConnAPA worked to gain state recognition of the PA profession. His contributions to the early years were recognized with license #0001 when Connecticut eventually licensed PAs.
Charlie was born in Hartford, Connecticut and attended the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut. Since his time in high school, he was always oriented to a career in health care. He volunteered as an orderly at Hartford Hospital. He attended Middlebury College in Vermont. During his college years he was an operating room technician. He also joined the ROTC at Middlebury. When he graduated in 1968, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. With the US fully involved in the Vietnam War and with his experience in healthcare, Charlie was sent to the Medical Field Service School at Fort Sam Houston. Around this time, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Charlie was assigned first as an Ambulance Platoon Leader and later as a Battlefield Surgeon Assistant, caring for injured infantry from his battalion. While in Vietnam, Charlie was awarded two bronze stars, a combat medic badge and a purple heart. Honorably discharged in 1970, Charlie entered the Army Reserves (inactive) and returned home to a series of odd jobs. Eventually, his father urged him to “get a real job” and he started work in the insurance industry. Fortunately, his boss recognized that was not the right place for him. He introduced Charlie to friends, Blaire and Fred Sadler. The Sadlers were key players in starting the PA program at Yale. Charlie applied and entered the second class of the Yale PA Program.
Immediately after his graduation in 1974, Charlie became a PA at Community Health Care Plan (CHCP) in New Haven, Connecticut. CHCP was one of a few staff model health maintenance organizations (HMO) established at that time on the east coast. Eventually, Charlie became the Lead PA. Charlie joined with Medical Director Ron Rozett, who knew of PAs from his time helping with the establishment of the Northeastern PA Program. Under Charlie’s and Ron’s leadership, PAs would be fully embraced as primary care providers at CHCP. Charlie also made sure that the PAs at CHCP would serve as clinical preceptors for PA students from Yale and later Quinnipiac. During his early years, Charlie also volunteered at Fair Haven Community Health Clinic. When CHCP itself was sold to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and later stopped providing care, Charlie was the only PA who, with a group of former CHCP physicians, established Southern Connecticut Internal Medicine. At the time, Charlie was one of a few PAs in the country who were practice owners. Honoring his military service, Charlie was very involved in establishing a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in his town of Wallingford.
Charlie retired from clinical practice in 2016. Always an entrepreneur, Charlie returned to his horse farm in Wallingford, Connecticut. There, he and his wife Betsey board horses and prepare maple syrup from trees on theirs and nearby properties. Charlie has two children and four grandchildren. He continues his work with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.