Virginia Tech® home

Sarah Henrickson Parker, PhD

Sarah Henrickson Parker, PhD

Chair, Health Systems and Implementation Science
Experts @ VT Profile

Riverside 2 M120

Dr. Sarah Parker is the Chair of Health Systems and Implementation Science at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, an associate professor at The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech. 

Position Responsibilities

The chair for health systems and implementation science is responsible for the development and execution of the health systems science and interprofessional practice curriculum thread and for the administration of the department. This includes hiring new faculty and staff, managing the departmental budget, working closely with faculty to build successful teaching and research careers, managing conflict, supporting students’ learning needs, and ensuring that instructional, research and administrative needs of the department are met. The department chair serves as a voice of the department within the VTCSOM and the VT and Carilion Clinic communities. The chair reports to the dean of the medical school.

Professional Background

Dr. Sarah Henrickson Parker received her BA in psychology from Wittenberg University in Springfield OH and her MA in human factors and applied cognition from George Mason University in Fairfax VA. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked at Mayo Clinic applying human factors principles to various inpatient quality and safety challenges. She then pursued her PhD at University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She was a Ruth L. Kirschstein Post Doctoral Fellow, focusing on team coordination during trauma resuscitation. Her research has been funded by the NIH, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and many other local and national foundations.

Dr. Parker’s research interests include team performance and communication in high risk settings, applying innovative methods to better understand human performance, implementation science and using human centered design to improve healthcare delivery. The interdisciplinary, collaborative lab takes on projects spanning numerous clinical domains – from the ICU to the operating room to the outpatient clinical practice – and disciplines. The lab uses transdisciplinary methods from fields such as human factors, systems engineering, bioinformatics, computational modeling, industrial/organizational psychology, with an implementation science framework. Dr. Parker has presented at numerous national and international conference and published over 70 peer reviewed articles and book chapters on human factors and patient safety. Most importantly, Dr. Parker and her husband Michael are parents of Layla, Jack and Miles.

Education and Training

  • MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare: Postdoctoral Associate
  • University of Aberdeen: PhD
  • George Mason University: MA
  • Wittenberg University: BA

Additional Positions

  • Strategic leader Carilion Clinic Center for Simulation, Research and Patient Safety and Human Factors
  • Associate Professor Department of Surgery, Carilion Clinic
  • Research Associate Professor- Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech

Awards and Honors

  • 2021: Core 77 Design Award- Reimagining Medical Work Spaces
  • 2021: Carilion Clinic Quality Award- Faceshield Design
  • 2019: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Policy Fellow
  • 2019: National Quality Forum award for “Operational Efficiency and Design”, Next Generation Innovator
  • 2018: National Quality Forum award for Next Generation Innovator
  • 2014: Best Student Paper Award-55th Annual Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Meeting, Las Vegas, NV
  • 2014: Visiting Professor in Simulation-Mayo Clinic
  • 2014: Post-Doctoral Overseas Research Award- University of Fribourg Switzerland
  • 2013: Pitch Day Finalist- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • 2011: Alphonse Chapanis Best Student Paper award finalist - Human Factors and Ergonomics Society