Kelly Parsons
Novelist, Surgeon, Professor at the University of California San Diego

Dr. Kelly Parsons is a practicing surgeon, professor at the University of California San Diego, accomplished scientist, and the award-winning author of two acclaimed novels. Author Stephen King praised his first novel, Doing Harm, as the “best damn medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years.” His second novel, Under The Knife, has been called an “an engrossing story about revenge, grief, technology, and hospital practices” (Associated Press) and an electrifying thriller that “tops the charts in suspense” (Suspense Magazine) with “characters that leap off the page.” (


Dr. Parsons is a passionate, entertaining, and highly experienced public speaker. For over 20 years, he has lectured to doctors, nurses, hospital leaders, scientists, medical students, doctors-in-training, business leaders, patient groups, and community organizations.


Drawing on his unique observations as a surgeon, scientist, and novelist, he inspires audiences to tap their innate creativity and rediscover their passions.


He earned an A.B. in History from Stanford University, M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed medical training at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.

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St. Martin's Press

Biotechnology tycoon Morgan Finney is highly intelligent but shy and emotionally fragile. When his beloved wife Jenny dies of complications during a surgery led by Dr. Rita Wu, Finney’s grief turns to rage. He vows to kill Rita just as he believes she killed his wife.

Doing HarmA Novel
St. Martin's Paperbacks

Chief resident Steve Mitchell is the quintessential surgeon: ambitious, intelligent, confident. Charged with molding a group of medical trainees into doctors, and in line for a coveted job, Steve has a bright future. But when a hospital patient mysteriously dies, it becomes clear that it's a case of foul play. And the killer is set on playing a deadly game with Steve.

Science, Literature, and Creativity: Using Both Sides of Your Brain Maximize your creative potential in unexpected and innovative ways. Through Dr. Kelly Parsons' experiences as a surgeon, scientist, and novelist, he argues how our brains are much more interconnected than we may think, and explain how to tap scientific creativity in unexpected ways.
Doing Harm: Medical Mistakes Explained Nearly 100,000 patients die each year in U.S. hospitals from medical mistakes. Using real-life examples that inspired Dr. Parson's novels Doing Harm and Under the Knife, he explains what these mistakes are, how they occur, and how to avoid them.
Creativity and the Surgeon Practicing surgery or medicine is an art as much as a science. Dr. Parsons describes how creative writing has influenced his career as a doctor in wonderful and unexpected ways, and how his experiences may guide and inspire others in the health care and science fields.
Preventing Career Burnout by Nurturing your Passion The American Medical Association estimates that over half of all doctors in the U.S. suffer from burnout. Dr. Parsons describes how fiction writing reignited his passion for medicine, and how his experiences may help doctors rediscover their love for the healing arts.
Doctors as Storytellers: Discover Your Inner Novel Many doctors are aspiring writers. Dr. Parsons uncovers secrets for nurturing and releasing that inner fiction or non-fiction book, including the development of ideas, time management, and the process of writing from outline to publication.

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Take a look at Kelly Parsons’ interview with The San Diego Union Tribune

Listen to Parsons speak on KPBS Midday Edition  Read “Book Thrillers with Inescapable Settings” on, featuring Parsons’ novel Doing Harm

“Especially exceptional lecture…one of my favorite lecturers we’ve ever had…stupendous job…crystal clear and enjoyable.”

“One of the best, if not the best, lecturers at UCSD. Truly an engaging, informative, and memorable lecture experience.”

“I appreciate how deeply [Dr. Parsons] cared about us actually learning and remembering the material.”

- Medical Students of the University of California San Diego

Reviews for Under the Knife
“An engrossing story about revenge, grief, technology and hospital practices. The suspense level is high…[Parsons] is well underway to becoming one of the top authors in the medical thriller genre.”
Associated Press

“Tops the charts in both suspense and horror…Kelly Parsons has hit yet another home run.”
Suspense Magazine

Reviews for Doing Harm
“With a deft initial setup reminiscent of Grisham’s The Firm, urologist Parsons’s strong first novel paints a picture of the competitive, ego-driven realm of a world-class teaching hospital and the kind of personalities that thrive there…The attention to detail keeps the action chillingly plausible…”
Publisher’s Weekly

“[Doing Harm] certainly provides a dramatic view of hospital procedures in and out of the surgical suite. And once Steve finds out the identity of the ruthless killer, the pace picks up nicely, providing readers who like Robin Cook and Michael Palmer with incentive to add Parsons to their must-read lists.”

“This skillfully wrought debut gets high marks for building tension to a breathtaking climax.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“This spine-chilling medical thriller has so many twists and turns, you may feel compelled to finish it in one siting…whip-smart…the start of an impressive new career.”
Shore News Today

“Highly entertaining…delves deep into the ethics and competitiveness of the medical profession…Doing Harm starts strong and never loses momentum throughout the energetic plot infused with an intriguing look at modern medicine.”
Orlando Sun Sentinel

“This spectacular debut is a real nail-biter with startling revelations that build suspense throughout.”
— RT Book Reviews (Winner, RT Book Reviews Best First Mystery)