Sarah Henrickson Parker, director of human factors research and senior director of the Center for Simulation, Research and Patient Safety at Carilion Clinic, has been named chair of the Department of Interprofessionalism at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Parker, who is also a research associate professor at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and in the medical school’s Department of Basic Science Education, centers her work on the study of human factors in health care delivery, working closely with clinicians to improve patient safety and quality of care.

In July 2020, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine expanded its Interprofessionalism curricular domain to Health Systems Science and Interprofessional Practice. While all faculty can contribute to this domain, the Department of Interprofessionalism is acutely involved in its planning and implementation.

“Dr. Parker will bring new energy and ideas through her role as chair, particularly given her expertise in human factors and health care. In addition to supporting the continued expansion of health systems science into the curriculum, she will build the department’s research portfolio in health care innovation and implementation science,” said Lee Learman, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “This is a role for which Dr. Parker is extremely well-qualified. Her research and its clinical application exemplify how the science of health care delivery can support innovations that improve health care quality and safety.”

Prior to her recruitment to Virginia Tech and roles with Carilion, Parker served as a research scientist at the National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare at MedStar Health in Washington, D.C. While finishing her doctoral degree, Parker was a data analyst for the World Health Organization in Scotland. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Parker was a human factors analyst at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“I am excited to take on this new role with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and further building a department focused on the health system and implementation science to improve patient care,” Parker said. “Research on implementation is the backbone of health systems science, with the goal of figuring out better ways to build a system where patient safety and quality of care are maximized. I am excited about taking the health systems science perspective and using it to enhance the department, education, and research opportunities for students at Virginia Tech and specifically within the medical school.”

Parker has presented her work at numerous national and international conferences and published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on human factors and patient safety.

Parker received her undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio; her master’s degree from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia; and her doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare in Washington, D.C., and recently completed a policy fellowship with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

“We are thankful to David Trinkle for serving as interim chair of the department while we searched for its new leader and are pleased he will serve as interim vice chair during the transition,” said Learman. Trinkle also will continue his service to the medical school as associate dean for community and culture.

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