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Office of Academic Affiliations

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Acting Chief Officer Biography

Portrait of Doctor Karen Sanders 

Karen Sanders, M.D.
Acting Chief Academic Affiliations Officer
Veterans Health Administration

Karen M. Sanders, M.D. is the Acting Chief Academic Affiliations Officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in Washington DC, where she oversees the largest health professions education program in the United States, including nearly 120,000 trainees annually in more than 40 different health professions.

Dr. Sanders has over 30 years of experience in health professions education and health care administration. She functions as the Chief Operating Officer for the Office of Academic Affiliations and operationalizes strategic plans and goals as well as overseeing day-to-day operations. She also plays other key roles in the Veterans Health Administration, especially as a subject matter expert on Mandatory Training.


2014 - Present Acting Chief Academic Affiliations Officer, Veterans Health Administration
2000 - Present Professor with Tenure, Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA
2006 - 2014 Deputy Chief Academic Affiliations Officer, Veterans Health Administration
2004 - 2006 Acting Chief Academic Affiliations Officer, Veterans Health Administration
1993 - 2006 Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Hunter Holmes McGuire Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia
1999 - 2002 Director, Extended Learning and Professional Development, Office of Continuing Medical Education, VCU School of Medicine (20% time)
1991 - 1993 Chief, Rheumatology Section, Medical Service, Hunter Holmes McGuire Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia


Certificate of Public Leadership, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC
VA Senior Leader Academy, Executive Fellowship Program
Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women
Postgraduate training, Rheumatology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University
Postgraduate training, Internal Medicine, Brown University Affiliated Programs, Providence, Rhode Island
M.D., New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY
Bachelor of Science, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York
Board Certified, Internal Medicine and Rheumatology


Alpha Omega Alpha
Phi Beta Kappa
VHA Coach and Mentor Certification, Level I and II


Workforce Committee, National Leadership Council – Veterans Health Administration Co-chair, VHA Mandatory Training Subcommittee
Co-Chair, VA Enterprise Training Advisory Board, Mandatory Training Subcommittee
American College of Physicians
Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME)


Publication record highlights scholarly interests in macrophage biology, rheumatologic diseases, medical education, and professionalism.