Virginia Tech® home

Sarah Henrickson Parker, Ph.D.

Sarah Henrickson Parker, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Sarah Henrickson Parker, Ph.D. headshot

“A surgeon's leadership style influences how the team performs in this complex work setting. Leadership can augment a team’s performance, such as increasing efficiency and decreasing miscommunication.”

Studying team performance to foster better health care

What makes a good team good? 

The Parker Lab conducts basic and translational research into the performance of teams in a crucial high-risk setting: health care. 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 including medical, surgical and nursing. 

Parker and her team use methods such as human factors, systems engineering, bioinformatics, computational modeling, industrial/organizational psychology, and implementation science, to studiy clinical team performance during direct patient care and simulations to better understand complex work and patterns of performance that lead to excellent patient care. To achieve this goal, the Parker Laboratory has three areas of focus: research, education, and front line staff integration.

The lab seeks to answer questions such as, what makes a good team good? What does it take to make you change your behavior? Is giving people immediate feedback on their performance good or does it push them off a cliff? Can we conduct individualized, real-time risk assessment for patients entering the hospital?

  • Research Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Research Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Science
  • Associate Professor, Departments of Surgery and Basic Science Education, School of Medicine
  • Chair, Health Systems and Implementation Science
  • Director of Human Factors Research, Carilion Clinic

Safford, S. Park, J. Lau, N., Tehranchi, K., Fitzgibbons, S., Henrickson, Parker, S., Fichtel, E., & Ponnala, S. (2019). Improving the intra-operative educational experience: Understanding the role of confidence in the resident-attending relationship. Journal of Surgical Education .

Kennedy L, Parker SH. (2018). Timing of coping instruction presentation for real-time acute stress management: Long-term implications for improved surgical performance. Journal of Healthcare Informatics Research .

Henrickson, Parker, S., Schmutz, J., Manser, T. (2018). Training Needs for Adaptive Coordination: Utilizing Task Analysis to Identify Coordination Requirements in Three Different Clinical Settings. Group and Organizational Management 43(3).

National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare
Director of Education and Academic Affairs

Georgetown University School of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine

World Health Organization
Data Analyst

Mayo Clinic
Human Factors Analyst

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Research Assistant, Human Performance Lab

Wittenberg University
Research Assistant, Learning Memory and Cognition Lab

  • University of Aberdeen, Scotland: Ph.D., Psychology
  • George Mason University: M.A., Psychology, Human Factors and Applied Cognition
  • Wittenberg University: B.A., Psychology
  • Visiting Professor in Simulation Education, Mayo Clinic, 2014
  • Postdoctoral Overseas Scholarship Award, University of Fribourg, 2014
  • Best Poster Award, MedStar Health Research Institute, 2014
  • Pitch Day Finalist, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2013
  • Selected Capstone Presenter, Teaching Scholars - MedStar Health Research Institute, 2012
  • Alphonse Chapanis Best Student Paper award finalist, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2012
  • Best Student Paper award, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Healthcare Technical Group, 2011
  • M. Alice Geiger Outstanding Female Senior Award, Wittenberg University, 2004
  • Alma Mater Outstanding Female Junior Award finalist, Wittenberg University, 2003