Lara K. Varpio, PhD

Lara K. Varpio, PhD

Lara Varpio

Name: Lara K. Varpio, PhD

Department of Primary Appointment: Dept. of Medicine
Position: USU Faculty
Title: Associate Professor and Associate Director of Research

Email: (link sends e-mail)
Room: Room A3073



Dr. Lara Varpio is an Associate Professor of Medicine, and Associate Director of Research for the Health Professions Education graduate degree program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). Dr. Varpio completed her PhD in English in 2007 (University of Waterloo) in collaboration with the Wilson Centre for Research in Education at the University of Toronto. This award winning research investigated Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and their impact on medical trainee socialization (2008 Outstanding Dissertation NCTE; 2007 University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal). Dr. Varpio spent the first 6 years of her career at the University of Ottawa before moving to the Washington DC area to work with USU.

Among the many awards she has won over her career, Dr. Varpio was most recently honored with the 2016 Diana Forsythe Award in recognition for the year’s best paper at the intersection of Social Sciences and Medical Informatics, and with inclusion in the 2016 Yearbook of Medical Informatics as one of the best papers addressing clinical information systems. Dr. Varpio is a Deputy Editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine, an Associate Editor for Perspectives on Medical Education (PME), and the Special Edition Editor for Lessons Learned from Health Professions Education Failures Surprises for PME.  She has served on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ national Medical Education Meeting planning committee since 2013, and has recently joined the Association for Medical Education in Europe’s research committee where she is Chair of the Grants Committee.

Research Interests

Dr. Varpio’s current program of research uses qualitative methodologies and methods, integrated with theories from the Social Sciences and Humanities, to investigate questions relating to how individuals (e.g. clinicians, patients, researchers, etc.) collaborate and perform in teams. Her most recent work in this program is related to: (i) interprofessional care teams (e.g., how EHRs impact interprofessional clinical reasoning and collaboration; the characteristics of successful military interprofessional healthcare teams); and (ii) health professions education scholarship units and scholars (e.g. the measures of success for these units in Canada; the institutional logics of these units that cross national boundaries). Dr. Varpio also works extensively with individual health professions educators (e.g. from surgery, internal medicine, nursing, pharmacy, etc.) and in a wide range of topics, including: resident assessment; transitions in undergraduate medical education; global health; resident feedback to faculty; diversity and inclusion in medical education admission processes; and medical humanities. Dr. Varpio is internationally recognized for her expertise in qualitative research methodologies and methods (e.g. from grounded theory to autoethnography, and from visual rhetorical discourse analysis to think-aloud / think-after interviews).


  • Philosophy of Science, USU
  • Rhetoric and Academic Writing, USU
  • Advanced Qualitative Research, USU

Areas of Expertise

  • Qualitative Research Methodologies and Methods
  • Health Professions Education Scholarship Units (HPESUs)
  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Communication
  • Information and Communication Technologies, most notably Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Select Publications

  1. Varpio, L., Ajjawi, R., Monrouxe, L., O’Brien, B., Rees, C. (2017). Shedding the Cobra Effect: Problematizing Thematic Emergence, Triangulation, Saturation and Member Checking. Medical Education. State of the Science Issue. 51(1), 40-50.    

  2. Rachul, C., Artemeva, N., O’Brien, B., Varpio, L. (2017). AM Last Page: Situated Learning in Medical Education. Academic Medicine. 92(1),134.    

  3. Humphrey-Murto, S., Varpio, L., Gonsalves, C., Wood, T. (2017). Using Consensus Group Techniques such as Delphi and Nominal Group in Medical Education: AMEE Guide. Medical Teacher. 39(1), 14-19.     

  4. Varpio, L., Grassau, P., Hall, P. (2017). Looking and Listening for Learning in Arts- and Humanities-Based Creations. Medical Education. 51(2), 136-145.    

  5. Varpio, L., Gruppen, L., Hu, W., O’Brien, B., ten Cate, O., Humphrey-Murto, S., Irby, D., van der Vleuten, C., Hamstra, S., Durning, S.J. (2017). Working Definitions of Three Roles and an Organizational Structure in Health Professions Education Scholarship: Initiating an International Conversation. Academic Medicine. 92(2), 205-208.   

  6. Watling, C., Cristancho, S., Wright, S., Varpio, L. (2017). Qualitative Rip Out #7: Necessary Groundwork: Planning a Strong Grounded Theory Study. Journal of Graduate Medical Education. 9(1), 129-130.  

  7. Joseph, K., Bader, K., Wilson, S., Walker, M., Stephens, M., Varpio, L. (2017). Unmasking Identity Dissonance: Exploring Medial Students’ Professional Identity Formation Through Mask Making. Perspectives in Medical Education. 6, 99-107.       

  8. Varpio, L., Aschenbrener, C., Bates, J. (2017). Tackling Wicked Problems: How Theories of Agency Provide New Insights. Medical Education. 51(4), 353-365.    

  9. Varpio, L., Paradis, E., Watling, C. (2017). Introducing A Qualitative Space. Perspectives on Medical Education. 6, 63-64.    

  10. Varpio, L., O’Brien, B., Durning, S., van der Vleuten, C., Gruppen, L., ten Cate, O., Humphrey-Murto, S., Irby, D., Hamstra, S.J., Hu, W. (2017). Health Professions Education Scholarship Unit Leaders as Institutional Entrepreneurs. Academic Medicine. In press.    

  11. Young, M.E., Thomas, A., Varpio, L., Razack, S., Hanson, M., Slade, S., Fischer, K.L., McKnight, D.J. (2017). Facilitating Admissions of Diverse Students: A 6 Point, Evidence-Informed Framework for Pipeline and Program Development. Perspectives on Medical Education. In press.   

  12. Varpio, L., Meyer, H. (2017). A Lesson from the Qualitative Rip Out Series: Let Go of Expectations for Universally Applicable Gold Standards for Qualitative Research. Journal of Graduate Medical Education. In press.    

  13. Humphrey-Murto, S.,Wood, T.J., Varpio, L. (2017). When I say… Consensus group methods. Medical Education. In press.    

  14. Larsen, D., Wesevich, A., Lichtenfeld, J., Artino, A.R., Brydges, R., Varpio, L. (2017). Tying knots: An activity theory analysis of student learning goals in clinical education. Medical Education. In press.    

  15. Varpio, L., Hu, W., ten Cate, O., Durning, S., van der Vleuten, C., Gruppen, L., Humphrey-Murto, S., Irby, D., Hamstra, S., O’Brien, B. (2017). Exploring the Institutional Logics of Health Professions Education Scholarship Units: An International Study. Medical Education. In press.    

  16. Humphrey-Murto, S., Varpio, L., Wood, T.J., Gonsalves, C., Ufholz, L.A., Foth, T. (2017). The Use of the Delphi and Other Consensus Group Methods in Medical Education: A Review. Academic Medicine. In press.    

  17. Varpio, L., McCarthy A. (2017). How a Needs Assessment Taught Us a Lesson about the Ethics of Educational Research. Perspectives on Medical Education. In press.